October 2, 2013

Focus, Distraction and the Effect of Social Media

Dear M,

The lure of social media is the bane of a writer.

While it does give us tremendous amounts of information and helpful tips and positive advice every day, one could get lost in it, for hours. As I was saying yesterday, some people are very good at multi-tasking (as they claim), so they manage to work while social networking.

As for me, when I am networking, I am networking. When I am working, I am working (only sometimes do I take a peek at the social media updates). Mostly it is the work that suffers; the social space doesn't notice if I am gone for a few days!

It is very difficult to pull oneself away from the continuous stream of conversation and news and jokes and abuse and pointless discussion and everything else. Truth be told, these are interesting. Just like a daily show that we know is non-sense, but we watch nonetheless.

In the olden times (meaning until a decade or so ago), people used to be able to focus when they were at their desk and their door was closed. Now if we are alone, we are tempted to just check for a second to see what the rest of the virtual world was doing. And the world is there, all the time, day and night, ready to entertain.

The only way out is to treat yourself the way you would treat a child: allow a fixed time for television, and not permit any pining for it later. It is difficult when it is our own self, isn't it? It is a good idea to reward ourselves with social media time if we worked on our MS for two hours - or something. Good Doggie! Now go network for a while, you'll get a juicy bone.

I have seen writers update every minute as to how far they have progressed on their MS, all the time. I can understand when you're doing NaNoWriMo, but every other day, hour, minute? Annoying. And a waste of everyone's time. Besides being a huge waste of binary information getting transmitted all across the world. Imagine.

That's a phase. Everyone does that, because they think their life is important to everyone else, that if they write an autobiography today, it will be sold out tomorrow. But the older you get, the more time you spend on the social surfaces, the wiser you get, and you realise that the quieter you are, the more people appreciate you. (The best appreciation some folks can give you is to ignore you!)

So, the point is, allow a certain time for social networking, don't punish yourself by promising to stay away from it for two months. That's utter foolishness. (You won't last two days, and then you will end up spending a couple of days full-time on networking to get over the withdrawal.) And when you can't resist the urge to check, just check and close. It will serve you right - you will realise that there was nothing worth checking, and you were only giving in to a mad impulse.


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1 comment :

  1. The lure of social media is too strong.:( Nice post.