Facing Off With Facebook

windYesterday’s accidental New Year’s resolution was to spend less time promoting books I don’t like and would never read by authors I don’t know. (For the past few years, I’ve been posting book excerpts from any author who sent me one, and then promoting it via Twitter and Facebook.) Today’s accidental resolution is to spend less time on Facebook. This resolution isn’t accidental — I’ve been giving a lot of thought to where I want to go with my online life. What’s accidental is the timing. What was supposed to be simply a resolution has accidentally become a New Year’s resolution.

Like many authors, I joined Facebook as a way of promoting my books, and I “friended” as many people as possible to get the word out. When I realized I wasn’t getting the results I’d hoped for, I started going for quality — trying to get to know the people I was connected with. That worked to a certain extent — I’ve met wonderful people and have had interesting discussions with them — but now the site has lost its luster. Or maybe I am growing beyond what the site has to offer. I never did like the games that keep so many people occupied, but I liked the feeling that something was always going on, that there was always a chance for an incredible encounter.

A growing problem is that for me there are two Facebooks running concurrently. There is the professional side, where I meet and connect with other authors, and there is the personal side. I’ve tried separating out the two — I have both a personal profile and an author page — but I’m still connected to more than a thousand people on my personal profile that I don’t know, and the constant flow of their personal tragedies and triumphs is beginning to weigh me down.

I don’t know which is worse — the brags about how many books people have sold, how many pages they have written, what awards they have won, their ratings on Amazon, or the announcements of anniversaries, illnesses, hospitalizations, accidents, and deaths of relatives and pets. (Actually, I do know what is worst — the happy announcements of wedding anniversaries. They remind me of what I have lost.)

I sound curmudgeonly, don’t I? In a cosmic sense, what happens to each person affects us all, but in a microcosmic way, knowledge of these events can add an immeasurable burden. Yes, I’m glad of people’s triumphs. (Or at least I want to be.) Yes, I’m sorry about their tragedies. But how do my feelings make a difference to their lives? I’m a stranger to them as they are to me. And if I turn off my computer, they no longer exist. (Ah, such power!)

I can’t completely get rid of Facebook, nor do I want — it’s a good way of connecting with people and getting to know them — but I can curtail my time on the site, and that I will do.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+

14 Responses to “Facing Off With Facebook”

  1. rami ungar the writer Says:

    Where does the boundary between announcing good news about your books cross over into bragging? Usually I just say something good has happened to me and then I thank everyone who helped me get there. What does bragging sound like?

  2. Carrie Rubin Says:

    I keep my personal and public profiles separate. Of course, I only have about 14 ‘friends’ on my personal account, but that’s how I like it. It’s mostly family and friends of family. I interact more on my public site, but honestly, I don’t think that offers me anything more than what Twitter or my blog offers me. My FB followers seem to be all of my blogging buddies, and while I appreciate their support, I feel like I’m taking up their time to expect them to interact with me on both sites. My hope was to branch out with my FB connections. So to try and reach new audiences, I’m venturing out and ‘liking’ pages not specific to writing or authors (though of course, I still ‘like’ those). But I’m not yet convinced of its value, so I don’t invest too much time in it per day. Maybe 30 minutes at most.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      The best parts of FB, like blogging, are the people you get to interact with. I’ve met a lot of interesting people in both places, but by far the most interesting ones are those who stop by here and leave comments. I’ve certainly enjoyed “talking” to you.

  3. ROD MARSDEN Says:

    In the end you have to do what is right for you.

  4. Kathy Says:

    I’m right there with you! I think many people are feeling this way and not even logging in so you don’t even know who your audience really is. And now FB seems to be recycling people’s posts – they must have it programmed to repost if there’s a lull in posting such as when people are sleeping – lol!

    I’ve friended some writers hoping we would support each other. But I believe they narcissistically think I’m there to be their “fan.” I deleted those writers who never commented on anything I said – at this point I decided to use FB for personal reasons but even those reasons are become fewer and fewer.

    Maybe this is the year blogging makes a comeback – I think I read something about that. At least it may help to keep me off FB. 🙂

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Even if blogging isn’t making a comeback, we can make a blogging comeback! Of all the ways to connect on the internet, this is still my favorite. Writing helps focus my thoughts, helps me think. I never got the point of twitter — what can possibly be said in 140 characters that means anything?

      As for reposts on FB — I bet what you’re seeing is due at least in part to people paying FB to promote their posts. It used to be that everything you did showed up in the feed of all your connections, then FB changed their algoririthm so that only a few people see your posts. If you want more views, you have to pay for them.

      Best of luck in the new year, Kathy!

  5. HMCWriter Says:

    I’m really struggling with this too Pat and I think perhaps I need a Facebook break.


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