I hate social media.
I love social media.
I hate that I love social media.
Can you tell I feel conflicted? Until recently I’ve been a casual Facebook user, posting mostly family pictures and observing the lives of “friends” I’m not really friends with in real life. It’s strange to know the dinner choices of people I went to high school with, even stranger to know about their cross-country move, their child’s peanut allergy, or their newborn niece when we haven’t laid eyes on each other in twenty years. Until this summer Facebook and I were casual friends—I was always happy to see her, but I’d be fine if we went a few days without talking.
Recently though, I’ve been feeling the addictive pull of it, the itch in my fingers to scroll through whatever happens to be in my feed this particular instant. This summer I’ve spent a lot of time using social media as a writer (exhibit A: this blog). I’ve “liked” the Facebook author pages of many writers I enjoy, both as a way to pay it forward and to see how other writers use social media. I just reactivated my Instagram account (I think I have two followers so far—follow me, please! Then I’ll have to actually post: https://www.instagram.com/emilycavanaghauthor/) and while I’m pretty comfortable with Facebook, Instagram is new territory. Now I’m not only lurking in the lives of former friends and acquaintances, I’m lurking in the living rooms of writers I admire. Though I know this is the whole purpose of social media, I feel like a peeping Tom. When writer Emma Straub posted her child’s birthday cake, was it actually intended for my eyes, some anonymous reader she’s never met? The idea of commenting on a stranger’s post fills me with the same anxiety I’d get in high school when trying to work up the courage to call a boy I liked. And it’s confusing--did I follow the personal page or the writer page? If I have to request to follow someone, does that imply they only want followers who actually know them? Did I just commit some social media faux pas without realizing it? Or is the whole purpose of social media to lurk in the lives of others, not just friends, current and former, but strangers and celebrities, large and small.www.instagram.com/emilycavanaghauthor/
I should just ask my middle and high school students for a tutorial. They’ll give me the lowdown. I bet if I gave them my username and password for an afternoon I’d have a thousand followers by the end of the day. However, that doesn’t sound like the smartest idea professionally (as a teacher, I mean. As a writer it would probably be the best thing to do professionally.). So since I’m not willing to risk my job, I guess I’ll have to bumble through this whole new virtual world and figure it out as I go. And while this makes me feel very old in some ways, I just found out that my parents’ generation primarily texts with their index figures (yes, really). The fact that I use my thumbs gives me confidence that I’ll be able to master this nebulous new landscape.
Next up: Twitter.