An Old Dog Learning New Tricks — A Writer’s View of Social Media
On June 29, 2011 | 2 Comments | Uncategorized |

The older I get, the more I start talking like an old person about the good old days. It’s easy to look back to “simpler” times and to ignore the struggles we had then. Still, as social media moved to the forefront, I felt unsure. Was it yet another way for us humans to disconnect from each other?

From the moment I first encountered Facebook, I said, “I don’t get it.” Between Farmville and various time-wasting quizzes, I struggled to make sense of this new phenomenon. All I knew was that some of my Facebook “friends” were offering some unappetizing comments that I didn’t want to read at my breakfast table.

For a while, disgusted by some of what I read, I unfriended everyone, leaving only Facebook fan pages, which I think are genius. I know what’s going on in some of my favorite travel spots: Paris, The Netherlands, and Vancouver Island, for example, which helps us plan future trips. I keep up with certain authors through Facebook, allowing me to create a sense of connection with them. I find out what’s going on at City Hall and at the White House. The opportunities are limitless.

Over time, I started to rebuild my Facebook friends, and now I’ve got a small but positive group of buddies. We may not agree on all things all the time, but we have a civil discourse.

Twitter left me scratching my head for months. I finally got a glimpse of understanding during the State of the Union Address, when Keith Olbermann and Andy Borowitz entertained me with a Twitter war, providing amusing commentary to the broadcast and giving me a whole different experience of the annual speech that normally sets my teeth on edge. I felt like they were in my living room, sharing popcorn with me.

Recently, as I’ve mentioned, I attended the Writers’ League of Texas Agents and Editors conference. EVERYONE was tweeting, including agents, and one of the special events was a “Tweet Up,” where writers could tweet their questions for a panel to answer. This made me realize that Twitter is here to stay. During and after the conference, I found interesting people to follow. My husband and I discovered that if we follow a blog, we don’t have to go hunting for it to see if there’s a new edition–we get a tweet when a new one’s been posted. Another timesaver.

Then, yesterday, someone responded to one of my tweets. I announced that I had finished another draft of my novel, and someone I never met said, “Good job.” Wow. We writers who toil in obscurity need all the encouragement we can get, and those simple words gave me the shot in the arm I needed to write another day. Hmm. Maybe there’s something to this after all! It really is about making friends with people.

Now that I’m getting my sea legs with this whole social media thing, now I’m ready to learn more. My next step is to take the Writers’ Digest Four Steps to Better Blogging course, which starts June 30. For anyone who’s interested, here’s the link:

You’ll get 15% off if you type in SUMMER11 in the coupon line, and you’ll get a bonus webinar where Jane Friedman, one of my new Twitter and blogger heroes, talks about e-publishing. In the webinar, Jane talks about ways to build relationships in social media over time–that we don’t jump in selling our wares right away, but we make friends. We get to know each other, take our time, and help each other out. I think I can do that. In the process, perhaps we can use social media to broaden our world and increase intimacy. Maybe I’m not so old after all.

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