|Fabulous social media friends|
Candy Gourlay and Kathy Evans
At my book launch
I very definitely have a love-hate relationship with social media. Probably about ten years ago somebody I knew had a go at me because I used social media. They said 'you know the friendships you make on there are not real?' Well, those friendships I had made via social media then are still some of my greatest friends now. Many of them I've met in real life, and they have been with me through the highs and lows of the last ten-plus years. Proving that somebody very wrong.
I love social media because it is a wonderful place to celebrate the great news. When you shout about your book deals and publications. The wave of support is incredible. It is a wonderful way to keep in contact with friends and family too. With Facebook, I have a closed account for privacy so that my students can't access it, I am able to post things I want to share with my siblings. They can see photos of my children and grandchildren as they appeared. Plus family in Australia and the US can also catch up with what is going on here. Social media can be great for connectivity and communication. I should add, it is not just for the good times. It can be a great source of comfort during difficult times. Being like a huge hug as friends swoop around to support you.
I said I have a love-hate relationship. The hate element is because I am very aware that social media can have a negative impact on my mental health. Social media is fantastic if you are feeling positive. But if you are not having a great day, it can suck the life out of you. It can make you feel you are a total failure. You are not the one visiting all those schools, you haven't got all those events planned, you haven't got another book/film/tv deal. This is when you have to remind yourself that social media is the edited version of someone's life. Nobody shows their true life on there. You don't know know what is going on behind the scenes, what struggles they might be facing, and everyone's journey is a personal one. Plus you need to remember Matt Haig's brilliant words from Notes on a Nervous Planet:
This phrase is my mantra!
Also, I should mention at this point an element that I have not personally, so far, had to deal with and that is trolls. There are some people out there who seem to think that because they are behind a screen it doesn’t matter what they say. It gives them a right to say whatever they want regardless of how offensive and inappropriate it is because it is 'only on social media' and therefore doesn’t count. Yes, it does! You should never write anything on social media unless it is something you would be prepared to say to somebody face to face. You do not have a right to pass comment on somebody’s decisions, looks, children, careers, anything come to that. Don’t say anything unless it is supportive. Be kind.
|KL Kettle - |
It is also easy to become overwhelmed by social media particularly if you try to do all of them. There is not enough time in the day to do them all. Focus on what makes you happy. I confess I have taken a bit of a step back from Twitter as I find it rather shouty. I post some bits and any articles that I find interesting. More recently I have focused on Instagram. I find it a friendlier place at the moment. I have an author page on Facebook and as I said a closed personal page for the family. I am watching TikTok, in particular, K L Kettle and Kathryn Evans who are doing brilliant things on there. It is something I might explore soon. What I try to do is schedule things. I use Tweetdeck to schedule my tweets, so I don’t have to worry about those during the week. I have an Excel spreadsheet with potential tweets listed that I might use, so I do a single brainstorming session that covers a few weeks, then I just dip into the spreadsheet when I am scheduling. I plan my Instagram – particularly if I have a campaign I want to do. I then sort out my content and save it ready to post. I might spend a Sunday morning doing that, so it is ready. I do though have times when I step right away from social media to give myself and my mental health a break. It gives me a chance to decide what I want to include next in my social media and refocus my life. Remembering what my priorities are.
The important thing with social media is that you do what is right for YOU and what YOU feel comfortable with. There is no right or wrong (other than being kind and not abusive obviously). There is an expectation if you want to be published that you will have some social media engagement, but you have to mediate between their expectations and your needs whilst being aware of your mental health. Be social media savvy.