Back in the Dark Ages (when I was a kid), we didn’t have cell phones, Facebook, the internet, or even computers. When I explain this to my kids, they ooh and ah and look at me like I’m a species from another planet. I’m sure they feel sorry for me that I grew up in such a deprived environment. Kids seem to soak up technology, absorbing complex instructions for the latest device by osmosis. Need to figure out how to use your new Smart Phone? Ask a ten-year-old. They’ll figure it out in five minutes. Having a difficult time understanding the complexities of Facebook? Ask a teenager. Not only can they set up your profile page in thirty seconds flat, they might even Friend you, but only if you promise not to ‘thirst up’ their Timeline by commenting on and liking their statuses. (Learned that the hard way.)
Up until two years ago, I didn’t have a Facebook account. Though I’d often heard of Twitter and Tweeting, I really didn’t understand what it was used for. Oh, how times have changed. I crawled out of Dark Ages and abandoned my cave drawings in favor of Social Media. (Yeah, my kids had to help me with Facebook, but I figured out Twitter on my own!)
There were times I muttered at my Facebook account, frustrated by the difficulties of uploading photos. There were month-long stretches where I didn’t log on to Twitter at all. But I’m past all that now. After patient (and not-so-patient) coaching by my teenagers, and about a million kitten pictures later, I’ve finally come to fully understand what Social Media is all about:
Gone are the days when I’d fill those empty hours with cleaning and laundry. Now, I can’t possibly redirect my attention from my computer to the mound of towels waiting to be folded. I’m BUSY. You see, in my Dark Age mindset, computers equal work. Long ago, when computers were first introduced, they were only found in the workplace. I was twelve the first time I saw a computer. Our teacher wheeled one into our classroom on a big metal cart. It was huge and weird-looking, and while a few eager kids lined up, anxious to be one of the first to use it, I stayed in my desk. I was certain computers would never become mainstream. It was a passing fad. (Yes, I was a visionary. What can I say?) Back then, normal people didn’t have computers at home unless they were extravagantly wealthy. Even when PCs began to make their way into homes across America, a computer was a MAJOR purchase. Though millions of people spent time in chat rooms, I rarely touched the computer unless I had to. For me, computers equaled work.
- Computer + Me = Work
- Work = I’m Busy
I use these simple mathematical formulas to justify the dishes in the sink long past dinner time. In my mind, if my computer is on my lap, I’m working, which means I’m Busy. Right? Not so much. Sometimes, I’m writing or editing, in which case I’m actually working. Other times, I’m merely using the computer as a buffer between me and all the other things I should be doing. I’m hanging out on Twitter and Facebook and using Social Media as a way to procrastinate.
Let’s look at a few complex mathematical formulas, shall we?
- Me + Social Media = Procrastination
- Procrastination = Unwashed Dishes + Unfolded Laundry + Unmade Dinner + (4) Unfinished Works-in-Progress
- (4) Unfinished Works-in-Progress = Self Loathing
- Unmade Dinner = Unhappy Husband
Complicated, isn’t it? That’s why I never excelled in mathematics. By the way, my husband has a minor in Math, so he understands these equations perfectly (especially the last formula).
We all have to develop our own formulas when it comes to Social Media. For Writers, we have to make sure Social Media doesn’t get in the way of our work.
What’s your perfect formula? Do you limit the time you spend on Social Media?