“Mom, I need to water my flowers or they’re going to die!”
When Nalah said this the other day, I looked around the living room anxiously. Were there flowers in the house? And if so, who purchased them because it wasn’t me?! Nalah loves these moments – when I’m absolutely clueless – so she laughed. “Not real flowers, Mom. In my game!” And almost every parent with a child between the ages of 5 and 16 knows what happened next. Nalah proceeded to tell me all about the latest virtual world she created.
I’ve thought about our exchange a lot, especially after reading this article on the effects of social media. But surprisingly, I am not worried about Nalah. She waters the flowers in her virtual world, spends a few minutes scrolling through Pinterest looking at art or reading comics, then she’s off to read a book, draw, score music (her latest obsession), or practice violin. Nalah is not attached to her phone, and I have friends who can attest to how anxious I used to get when she didn’t answer it. I have learned to accept that Nalah is not constantly looking at her phone or actively engaged in social media. I am, however, worried about myself.
There are two main areas of concern for me. The first, boredom, is more than likely the easiest to remedy of the two. After my surgery, confined to the bed, I spent much more time scrolling than usual. Sure, I did a little reading and writing, but more often than not, I picked up my phone to scroll through social media because I was bored. The second area is a bit more concerning – I feel a sense of obligation to post something, anything. I have to water my flowers or they’re going to die = I have to engage with my followers or they will unfollow me! There are times when social media feels a bit like virtual reality.
As a new author, social media is an essential part of my writer’s life. I love to engage with readers, especially those who have supported me since day one. (Thank you!) Additionally, it’s one of the easiest ways to introduce myself and my work to new readers. There’s also my village – fellow writers whose encouragement and support are invaluable. Then there’s family and friends, cute babies, puppies and food posts. And of course, my obsession for minimalist home inspiration! It’s easy to see how anyone can spend hours on social media without intending to. Which I guess is fine if there’s little else to do. But I have much to do. Much!
I don’t want to leave social media but I do want to manage my time spent in virtual reality. There are moments when I envy the authors who had but one task – write. But then I ask myself, what’s stopping you from just writing? As National Novel Writing Month approaches, I have to implement a structured writing schedule or I’ll never reach 50,000 words in one month. I will have to spend less time posting and scrolling, and more time writing. I’m sure I’ll lose followers but hopefully, the ones who believe in me and my work will stay.
What are your thoughts on the effects of social media and do you feel an obligation to post?