I’m a compulsive writer. If I’m not working on an article for River Edges, I’m writing a speech for toastmasters, or writing outlines for future articles, or bantering on social media. The problem with the last thing on that list, social media, is that I’m also an impulsive person. There’s a well-known cartoon on the site xkcd depicting a person typing at a computer. He says he can’t come to bed yet, because someone is being “wrong on the internet” (Follow this link to see the cartoon).
That describes my dilemma on social media. I have strong political views, and it doesn’t take much to suck me into time-wasting argument. On facebook it isn’t much of a problem. Since people from a number of segments of my life and past are friends with me on facebook, I tend to be very careful about what I write.
Twitter is a different thing altogether. Since I don’t know most of the people who follow me on twitter, and since my tweets are public, I tend to dive into controversial topics at the drop of a hat. This happens at about three month intervals, and detracts from my serious writing.
So I’m going on a “social media diet”, starting with twitter. I’m not going to delete my account, and will continue to tweet announcements of updates to River Edges and to my longtime blog, Atlanta Larry. But for the most part I’m going to avoid twitter.
I actually love twitter, and think that the discipline of fitting thoughts into a 140 character limit is great writing practice. But the trade-off of spending an afternoon in a pointless argument with strangers off-sets the value of tweeting.
For many journalists twitter is a source of leads, and I’ll still keep tweetdeck running with searches targeted to the very local things I write about. But I’m going to avoid interacting with people on twitter, or even reading my feed, until I have a reason to do so that has a direct relationship to my primary writing.