Social Media, Wendell Berry, and Writing

I came across a blog post at Terrain.org yesterday highlighting something I’ve been struggling with lately, and felt was worth sharing. The post is by Megan Kimble, and in it, she explains her conflict with a cell phone salesmen trying to convince her to upgrade to a smart phone. This anecdote broadens into a discussion of Wendell Berry and his own mixed views of technology.

Kimble highlights a quote by Berry about where one draws the line with regards to technology use, saying, “It is plain to me that the line ought to be drawn without fail wherever it can be drawn easily. And it ought to be easy to refuse to buy what one does not need.”

Enter my own problems.

I love social media. Love it.

I love the feeling of being connected, being recognized, and being able to recognize others. Seriously, I can’t emphasize how wonderful I think it is. But here’s the problem, where does it link into my life as a writer?

Social MediaMore and more I find myself getting distracted by the different types of social media I use. This distraction quickly turns into a terrible, terrible method of procrastinating. However, at the same time, I’m quickly finding them to be an extremely useful tool for connecting with other writers, editors, lit mags, professors, etc.

Where do I draw the line? If they are all helpful to connecting to important people in my field, but incredibly distracting, how do I determine which are needed and which are not?

So, to help fix this, I’ve decided to become more professional in my social media life.

Why?

Because what I need is the ability to get work done and have a professional presence online. What I don’t need is the ability to socialize with friends the way I have been online, I can do that in real life when I have the free time.

How am I going to accomplish this? Two ways to start out:

  1. Get rid of the social media that does nothing but distract me. (Read as: Sorry Tumblr, I know we just found each other again, but this is the way things have to be. You’re just no good for me.)
  2. Add family members and other writers on social media I use often (Facebook is a big one here). If the people I see post are people I actively want to avoid embarrassing myself in front of, I’ll likely post fewer irrelevant things, and more relevant things.

Hopefully, these two things can at least get me started towards finding a balance. Don’t worry, I’ll let you know how it goes.

I’m curious, though, how are others finding a balance between social media and productivity. I know I’m not the only one, so leave a comment below.

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About jekcarter

Farmer/Writer/Editor/Advocate for the Imaginary
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2 Responses to Social Media, Wendell Berry, and Writing

  1. Cathy Day says:

    Frankly, I don’t understand why so many students in the class use Twitter for their “Charming Notes.” Most writers I know are on FB, not Twitter. I think students are doing this as a way to “compartmentalize” their social media use, reserving FB as something “personal” and Twitter for the public, professional. The problem with that, as you point out, is that FB remains distracting. I need to do a lesson in our class about the importance of creating “lists” on FB.

  2. Cathy Day says:

    Reblogged this on Literary Citizenship and commented:
    John Carter confronts the question every writer I know is asking: how can I create an maintain a professional online presence without getting addicted and distracted by social media?

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