How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Social Media
September 7, 2017 § 19 Comments
By Kathy Stevenson
This past November I took the plunge and jumped headlong into social media. Of course I already had a personal Facebook account for friends and family, but professionally I was way behind the curve. I didn’t have a blog, nor did I tweet. Whenever I had something published, I posted a link on Facebook, but that was kind of like the proverbial tree falling in the forest. My friends and my mom could “like” my link, but it was highly unlikely that an agent or editor would stumble upon anything I posted.
Part of the reason I was reluctant at first to start a blog or Twitter account, was that – like many writers – I am not so good at “tooting my own horn.” Even though I have published hundreds of essays and short stories, most copies of these languish as clippings in three-ring binders I store in my office closet.
One day though, after fretting and grousing about how out of the literary loop I was, I decided I would jump in, and I hired a young woman to help me set up a WordPress blog and Twitter account. It only took a few hours, and I was on my way. And, to my surprise, I discovered that I loved the whole enterprise! Here are some of the reasons why:
— I am very opinionated, and I am always right. (Just ask my family.)
— I’m old, in social media terms (or any terms, for that matter), but my online persona enables me to inhabit a new, witty personality, that – oddly – suits me very well.
— I can share and link to interesting essays, stories, books, and articles about the writing world with my “followers.” My family is happy that I now have an audience – other than them – for this compulsion to share. My mom has this same compulsion, which manifests itself as mailed newspaper clippings.
— I love making new “friends.” Even theoretical friends who I will never meet. And I can ignore nudists, religious zealots, gun lovers, and people who can’t spell.
— I can sit at home in my pajamas and act like I’m doing something in the literary world. I’m involved, even if peripherally and at third remove, with all these new people I follow: authors, editors, agents, publishers, and literary journals.
— Who doesn’t like being “liked” and “followed”? I’m all about immediate gratification.
— I can harbor delusional, but harmless thoughts that an agent/producer/editor will read my brilliant thoughts/tweets and “discover” me.
— I have something quiet and productive to do every day, when I wake up at 5:00 a.m. and everyone else is still asleep.
— Posting tweets and blog entries forces me to do something in the realm of reading and writing almost every day, or at least think seriously about doing something.
— It turns out that I’m really good at thinking up short, pithy random thoughts totally unrelated to anything else. Or, as I prefer to call them: aphorisms. Don’t laugh – Sarah Manguso recently published a book of aphorisms, 300 Arguments: Essays, with Graywolf Press, described on Amazon as, “A brilliant and exhilarating sequence of aphorisms from one of our greatest essayists.”
— Even though I know very few of my readers or new “friends” personally, I feel that I have found a group of people who are silently cheering me on. And that may be the be best part of all.
Kathy Stevenson’s essays and short stories have appeared in an eclectic array of newspapers, magazines, and literary journals including The New York Times, Red Rock Review, Chicago Tribune, Clapboard House, The Writer, Philadelphia Inquirer, the Tishman Review, the Brevity blog, and many other publications. She has a recent MFA from Bennington College, lives just north of Chicago, blogs here, and can be found on twitter at @k_stevenson01.