I have a love-hate relationship with Facebook. I love seeing what friends are up to. I love connecting with people I don’t otherwise get a chance to “see” on a regular basis. And I love interacting with other authors and readers and like-minded folks (you know, animal lovers, wine drinkers, coffee addicts).
What I love less is the emotional energy suck. The last few months have been harder to play on social media than usual. Between personal things and political things (we’ll leave it at that), I’ve found myself spending less and less time on Facebook. And, at time, flat out dreading checking my feed.
I know a few people who deleted their accounts. Others who took breaks from Facebook for a healthy chunk of time. But I had a book coming out in May which meant I actually needed to be spending more time – or maybe I should say smarter time – on Facebook. And I did. It wasn’t always fun, it wasn’t always easy, but the job required it.
I thought I’d pass on a few of the lessons I learned during that time …
1) Filter. Just because you’re friends with someone or in a group, doesn’t mean you have to engage. At the beginning of the year, I flat out avoided posts from certain friends. Not because I didn’t want to be friends with them anymore or even because I didn’t agree, but because their passion on certain topics was draining what little emotional energy I had at the time. There were also a few people who were overly exuberant about their own success at a time when I was struggling to keep my head above water, and while I was happy for them, the over-gushing started to zap my enthusiasm.
On the flip side, there are people who can almost always make me smile and groups that offer interesting discussions. One Facebook group in particular has become my happy place. The people in BLOOM are supportive and enthusiastic and it’s like taking a coffee break with friends.
I learned to filter my Facebook feed. It was the only way I could manage both my limited time and limited energy.
2) Censor. You’ve heard this before but it bears saying again … not everything needs to be said, or in this case written. As an author, you probably have an equal number of Facebook friends you’ve never actually met as those who know you personally. Before you unleash a rant, think about who will see it and what the ramifications could be from hitting “post.” You may still decide to send it out to the world and that may be exactly what’s needed. But don’t forget to first a deep breath, then post with a clearer head.
There’s a flip side here, too. I’m one of those people who clam up when I’m stressed or upset. I learned that Facebook can actually be a good place to release some of that stress. I’ll post something that makes me happy and, as corny as this sounds, the interaction that usually results from those posts helps.
3) Discern. You’ve heard the old cliché: Sometimes the grass is greener on the other side because it’s fake. That applies to Facebook posts as well. Remember the censor comment about putting a positive spin on things? Here’s the thing, most people will post their happiest moments, their biggest accomplishments on Facebook. They will rarely, if ever, post the disappointments or failures (except maybe in select private groups but those are … wait for it … private).
Whatever stage of writing you’re at, take in the Facebook posts with a discerning eye. Don’t compare yourself to the gushing success posts from others.
Before anyone jumps up and down on my keyboard, I am NOT saying those success posts aren’t legit and we shouldn’t be celebrating. I squee with everyone else when an author friend has fabulous news to share.
But I’m human and there have been times, especially at my most vulnerable like, ahem, release day, when I had twinges of comparing myself to others. Those were the times I had to remind myself that many of those posts represent the shiniest moments only and even those authors had their doubts and gripes at one point or another.
4) Unplug. Are you done shuddering in horror that I would suggest this? Can I continue?
I removed the Facebook app from my phone for a few weeks. The first day was twitchy but here’s the shocking part … after I got over the initial panic, I realized that the world kept turning if I didn’t respond to a tag immediately and it really didn’t matter if I liked or commented on a post a few hours after it was posted instead of the moment it went up.
Unless I’m on deadline or have pressing messages to deal with, I’m not on my computer much in the evenings or weekends. That’s family time. And even though I’ve reinstalled the Facebook app on my phone, I find that I’m on it much less frequently than I used to be. The result has been that I now look forward to my morning check-ins again.
I’ll give you a bonus tip …
5) Enjoy. Do what makes you happy with Facebook. Find that in between of what you’re comfortable posting and how long you can spend on Facebook. Come to terms with the fact that some people can stress you out while others bring joy. It took me time to find that sweet spot, to adjust my expectations of Facebook as a tool, but once I did, I was able to turn most of the hate part of the relationship to at least like if not love.
As an author, you need Facebook. And it is your friend. Friendlier for some than others. But either way, it’s a great place to connect with other authors, readers, and friends.
So? What do you think about FB? Have any other tips for us?
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Orly Konig is an escapee from the corporate world, where she spent roughly sixteen (cough) years working in the space industry. Now she spends her days chatting up imaginary friends, drinking entirely too much coffee, and negotiating writing space around two over-fed cats. She is a co-founder and past president of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association, and a member of the Tall Poppy Writers. She is rep’d by Marlene Stringer, Stringer Literary Agency LLC.
Orly’s debut, The Distance Home, released by Forge on May 2, 2017.