There were times, during my ill-fated attempts to promote my books, when I felt my whole life was being run to suit the demands of the internet. It was a hard taskmaster. Everything I could think of was swallowed up in the greedy maw of social media. More, it demanded, better. Not good enough. Out of date. Insufficiently liked. Not enough engagement. There was always something wanting. And there was always something new to be grasped, too; why are you not appearing live on Facebook, making book trailers, creating podcasts, using the right hashtags, gathering more followers? Keep up or you’ll never succeed. Out-shout everybody else if you can. Sink or swim. I can’t tell you how much I disliked it. I felt enslaved by the whole unholy, unforgiving thing.
When my health began to suffer I said enough, that’s enough. Surely, the internet is here to serve me? Surely I am not here to provide it with ‘content’, am I? I could weep, now, at the thought of the hours I frittered and fruitlessly wasted trying to please social media. It wasn’t all bad, of course – but oh, there were so many better things I could have been doing with my time.
I am at an age now where I care about time. I’m reluctant to waste it on anything that isn’t useful or beautiful (to hijack the words of William Morris) – or truly enjoyable. I refuse to be a slave to the internet any longer. In practice this quite often involves simply switching the damn thing off. It’s quite refreshing to escape the constant intrusion. I get more writing done, too. I highly recommend it.
It seems we have all forgotten how to inhabit our own little worlds, written them off as ‘limited’, and decided that only constantly engaging with the outside world in all its confusing variety is good enough. We have forgotten to live our own lives in the race to compare them with everyone else’s. Pity. The internet is not real life – it’s a distorted reflection of it. And we don’t have to constantly feed it.
Anyway, now I’m looking for ways to make the internet work for me instead of the other way round. It’s a wonderful medium for putting my writing and artwork ‘out there’, and I’ll use it, but I’m not going to let it tell me what to do, and I certainly won’t let its incessant demands run my life ever again. Here’s to escape!