Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Sara and Melissa Talk About...Social Media

We've been running a column series (for three years now!) to get more personal with our readers. This month, we're talking about social media, which is how we stay connected with you all!

We're always open to topic suggestions, so please don't hesitate to share those in the comments. We'd also love to know if you can relate to anything we've said or hear your own thoughts on the topic. So don't be shy. :) We look forward to getting to know you as much as we're letting you get to know us. You can find our previous columns here, in case you missed them. 

Melissa Amster:

If not for social media, Chick Lit Central wouldn't have been possible. So I am actually thankful to it for that reason alone. And this is just when I was mainly using Facebook. I also wouldn't have connected with Sara. I met her through her husband a while back, which might not have happened without us all being on Facebook. I don't see myself just emailing with him and being like "hey, can I meet your wife?" It was a lot easier for us to make a connection via Facebook and it's been going strong ever since! I connected with most of the authors we feature on Facebook, as well as our review associates (although Jami told me she found CLC through Twitter). So when it comes to this blog and all the connections that go along with it, social media is definitely a positive experience.

Facebook is how I stay in touch with a majority of my friends. It's how I've reconnected with friends I thought I'd never hear from again. It's an easy distraction when I've had a long day and need to look at funny memes to pass along to my friends. It's also the main way I spread the word about all our blog posts. I use Twitter and Instagram too, but in different ways. I don't really interact on CLC's Twitter account, aside from posting our latest updates at the blog. I will sometimes interact via my personal Twitter account, but I am not on there as often as I'm on Facebook. Twitter is just too chaotic. I do use it to share my personal blog posts, as Facebook thinks those are spam and the only way for people to see them is through a tweet. With IG, I share the latest blog post updates from CLC, as well. I also have a Bookstagram, which I totally love. I've connected with some other really cool Bookstagrammers and even invited one to guest review for CLC!

There are downsides to social media though. It feels very noisy, like there's too much to keep up with and if I miss a post, sometimes I never see it again. The political climate has made things more intense on Facebook and Twitter, with people attacking each other over their beliefs. People have used social media in unsafe ways, such as trolling, doxing, cyberbullying, etc. I also get the feeling of FOMO when I'm on social media and I see people posting pictures from vacations, concerts, adventures, etc. It all can be too much after a while. Then I have to sit back and think of the reasons I do enjoy having social media around and I try to focus on those to feel better. I am glad social media wasn't around when I was in middle or high school though. I don't even want to imagine how people would have misused it back then. Only 1/3 of my kids currently is on social media, but he's also very careful and uses privacy settings. He only shares his posts with people he trusts and he allows me to see what he's doing on there. My other two currently have no interest in social media and I'm fine with that!

Overall, I am thankful for the connections I've made via social media and it has been mostly a positive experience for me, personally. 

Sara Steven:

Lately, Facebook has been showing me past posts and memories–the thoughts and opinions, the moments I’d felt were worthy enough to share with my online circle. Today, this memory popped up:

It was around the time I’d initially joined Facebook, a former devout MySpace fan who had held off as long as she could before she’d jumped from one sinking social media ship to something glittery and far more active, in those days. The ultimate sharing experience. 

I used to love social media. I’d been fascinated by America Online (AOL), as much as many other 90s teens had been when introduced to a means in which to connect with the outside world. Well, outside my own small corner of the world. Then there was MySpace. Then Facebook. And that’s where I’ve settled since 2009–fourteen years of socially connecting with family, friends, people who would later become my friends because they were friends of friends, and so on. In the beginning, I posted something daily or multiple times a day, like pictures of my kids or my spouse, or my house and the backyard of my house. Pictures of myself, sometimes posing, sometimes attempting to look natural so it didn’t look like I was posing. Nature shots. Memes. Inspiring quotes. Places I had traveled to. Vacation shots. Whimsical moments. And nothing thrilled me more than that quintessential "like" reaction from people who had paid attention, or even better: When they’d leave a comment. 

Somewhere in recent years, Facebook (and other social media outlets) began to lose that special glitter for me. It’s not that I’m not on there daily. I still am, and I still love to see what everyone else is up to, or give them likes and loves and cares, or comments. I scroll through my feed and pay my social media respect while maintaining important conversations with at least two good friends of mine who use Facebook messenger as their means of correspondence. I still post pictures on occasion, like when my children turn a year older, or when there’s an important milestone to be had. I’m sure plenty of people think I’m no longer active there, and I guess in some ways I’m not. For some reason, it’s gotten a lot harder for me to share my personal life with others via social media, and I’m not sure where that has come from. 

I don’t have any issues with social media. Obviously, if I still use it. I am on Twitter and eagerly promote the authors and books I’m reading for Chick Lit Central, the blog I’ve been part of now for over a decade, “a place where people can discuss chick lit books, read reviews, meet authors and win books,” yet I have a tough time promoting myself. It’s like I’ve lost interest in doing so. 

I attempted to make a New Year’s resolution this year that I would try to be better about my social media lack of interest. That I’d share more; do more. That maybe by upping my media presence, it would enable me to take more photos–something else I haven’t been as good at as the years have gone by. At some point I took on this mentality of wanting to be part of the moment, versus always being the one snapping photos of the moment, but it means a lot less memories that will forever live on in photo or image form. I’m not sure if I’ll ever get that zest back for social media platforms, or if I’ll find a better way to come out of my shell and share more. Maybe it’s some sort of love/hate relationship with it all that I need to figure out for myself. In the meantime, it’s been fun looking back at the old posts I’ve shared over the years, and the musings I’d had with not just myself but with others, too. Even if it was merely to say Happy Valentine’s Day to others.

My first shared photo on Facebook– when my eldest was three years of age.
He’s seventeen now!

What role does social media play in your life?

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