Why Social Media Is the Best and Worst Thing to Happen to Writers and Why You Should See this Show

by Abby on April 14, 2014

Young Woman Sitting Looking at Laptop ScreenSocial media is simultaneously the best and worst thing to happen to writers. The best because:

a) it gives you an instant audience of readers,

b) it lets you cut through the red tape and do stuff like publish and promote your own blog or ebook, and

c) it lets you connect with people all over the world, from a blog reader in India, to an editor in NYC, to a fellow writer in your own hometown. Even for the most outgoing among us, writing is a solitary pursuit, and social media makes it easier to interact with others.

On the other hand, social media may be the worst thing to happen to writers because:

a) it’s a distraction from writing and can be a huge time-suck if you let it,

b) most a lot of writers are not very self-promotional by nature and these days you’re pretty much required to be your own PR and marketing team on social media, and

c) it can be like shouting into the wind. There’s just so MUCH content out there. How on earth is anyone going to find your blog/take the time to read, let alone comment on, your writing/share or interact any further than clicking a “like” button?

Lately, social media feels very shallow to me. I KNOW. Blasphemy! I’m an old-school blogger. I love me some Twitter. I’m in a show that grew out of blogging and social media. But this is exactly WHY. Listen to Your Mother is so appealing and unusual because it’s live. Yup, it features real-life people doing real-time readings of their own words on an actual stage.

I’m not gonna lie: I know it requires effort to attend a show. You have to get dressed, buy tickets, drive somewhere, maybe even get a babysitter. The last 2 years I drove round-trip 3+ hours to attend the DC-area show in Northern Virginia on a Sunday afternoon. That’s a lot of time and effort. And a lot of listening to my husband moan/gloat about how he had the kids by himself ALL DAY LONG. (Hmm, what’s that like?)

But it was so, so worth it. And here’s where it gets tricky to explain. I tried to in this post. But some people still got the impression that the show’s like open-mic night at the coffee shop, or a downer filled with emotional birth stories. It is nothing like that. Oh, there might be some birth stories. But these are REAL WRITERS. These are STRONG WOMEN. These are people with LIFE STORIES. If you don’t laugh, cry, and see life differently when you walk out of that theater, I will personally refund your ticket price. Of which 25% goes to CHARITY, I might add.

But you know what one of the best parts about going to see Listen to Your Mother was for me? It made me feel things. It made me feel like a part of something larger. It made me feel like I am not alone, and I am lucky, and I am so grateful to know there are other people out there who get it and are struggling and celebrating and laughing and crying right along with me every day.

Let’s be honest: motherhood is a monotonous, isolating gig at times. So many times I have felt like nothing more than a milk cow, a diaper-changer, a laundry-doer, and a snack-server. I love my children and I love my life, but my Lord, there have been times I wanted to bash my head against the wall if I had to endure one more reading of the farm machines board book, one more evening of my husband falling asleep on the couch during “Elementary,” one more random stranger in the grocery store urging me to “enjoy every minute,” one more Facebook post from a shiny, happy childless couple living it up on a vacation I can no longer afford because of preschool tuition and swimming lessons. (#jealous)

But that brings me back to the social media thing. If we’re not careful, I fear that we’ll become a generation of isolated people who only know each other by our Instagram accounts and how we choose to portray ourselves on Twitter. People who are too busy to attend a live show in their own town when they can just follow along on Facebook and wait for the YouTube video. I’m sorry if that sounds finger-waggy, but I’ve been that person. I didn’t go to the conference or go on the trip or get tickets for the thing because it was too expensive, too much of a hassle, too far outside my comfort zone. But I didn’t do that with LTYM, either attending it or being in it. And I’m so, so glad.

If you can join me on Sat. April 26 from 6-7:30pm in Baltimore, please do. The cast will all be available to mix and mingle after the show. Real people, with real life stories, in the flesh. It’s so much better than Facebook. And if you can’t, I urge you to try something different, just for kicks. Whether it’s leaving your phone at home when you go on a coffee run, striking up a conversation with a person in line at the supermarket, or doing something totally out of character and out of your routine – going to a movie solo, knocking on the new neighbors’ door – do it. You’ll be happy you did.

RANDOM ASSOCIATION O’ THE DAY: I can’t write “social media is the worst thing to happen to writers” and not think of “Video Killed the Radio Star.” My friend’s 3yo daughter had a lot of questions about that song. “Who’s the radio star? And why was she killed? And HOW was she killed?”

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Angie Mizzell April 27, 2014 at 8:49 am

I love this post! And, YOU DID IT! A friend of mine who lives in the UK was asking in a Facebook comment thread about if/when LTYM will ever stream the videos live. I know, because he does social media for a living, that he was thinking that would be a good idea. But I explained that that wasn’t the point. The point was getting a local community together, in the same room, to watch a show live. And of course, having the videos posted later on YouTube is an added bonus… but it’s not the same as being there, and it’s not intended to be.


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