Controlling the Lure of the Social Media Siren


Tracy Shawn, M.A.


I only ventured into the social media world because I’m a writer. Otherwise, I would have been content connecting with friends by picking up the phone, and building my platform by writing articles and blogs.

But there I was a middle-aged woman in the 21st Century, whose debut novel was going to be released by a small press. It was time to dive in. It was time to embrace a world of posts, tweets, followers, and virtual friends.

At first, I was freaked out. Crap, how do people get thousands of followers on Twitter when just building 25 seemed like a feat? Why did a number of friends on Facebook find it too arduous a task to click the like button on my author page? Why did some people on Pinterest decide it was a great idea to post porn on my “Books Worth Reading” board? (Please note: I’ve noticed that Pinterest must have increased their filters, as I no longer have this problem!) Anyway, my eyes blurred, my head ached; I felt as if I had been falling down the rabbit hole of a topsy-turvy realm of online communication.

Yet, I also felt a strange pull too. As time went by, I found myself on Twitter several times a day, on Facebook more often than necessary, and would spend hours checking the names of people (and then their profiles) who followed my board on Pinterest, hoping I’d follow people back who wouldn’t post any lewd images.

Finally, I realized that I was spending more time on social media than I was writing. I hadn’t just dived in; I had kept on swimming to the point of exhaustion. I was going to drown if I continually answered the call of the social media siren.

So what did I do? I learned to control how much time I spent posting and tweeting, and at the same time, focused on ways to enjoy it. Below are some suggestions that I hope will help you too:

  1. Focus Your Attention on Your Favorite Social Media Site:

There are so many sites out there and what works for one person may not jive with another. Find the one you enjoy the most (yes, enjoy!). If you’re going to spend time promoting your business, writing, art, music, etc., you’ll connect with more people and will feel more energized—not less—when you use it.

(Twitter happens to be my favorite because I can meet people from all over the world, plus I appreciate how placing a simple # before a word (such as #Anxiety) allows users a camaraderie that can be quite profound.)

I recommend almost daily visits to your site of choice (if you download the site’s app to your phone, then it’s quick and easy to check in).

On the other hand, it’s perfectly fine to log onto your other sites only once or twice a week. When you do, make sure to check your notifications and messages and you’ll find it’s easier than you may think to keep up without becoming overwhelmed.

  1. It’s Not All About Self-Promotion!

Even if you’re not promoting your art or business, make sure to support others while engaging in the creative and fun process of social media use. And if you are using social media to promote yourself, note that you’ll probably enjoy the process a lot more if you engage with others without constantly trying to sell yourself.

Of course, you can provide links to your art, music, books, and blog posts. Just make sure to reciprocate, appreciate, and respect your online friends. By doing this, you’re enriching your life by making connections with people who actually care. And…don’t forget that the occasional cute cat video can lighten up the mood!

  1. Keep Your Perspective

With time, I also learned not to take things so seriously. If the likes on my Facebook author page mysteriously decreased, perhaps it wasn’t that people who had clicked the like button had decided to click unlike; it was more likely a technical glitch. If people stopped following me on Twitter, they were probably playing the numbers game (trying to gain more followers than they were following). And, hell, even if they didn’t like something I said, so be it!

The upside is that I’ve learned to take a lot more in stride. I also learned that it was impossible to please everyone out there. That alone has saved me time and energy.

In the meantime, I’ll continue sharing my own work and (hopefully!) pithy remarks, enjoy learning from other’s tweets and posts—and will keep laughing out loud at those adorable cat videos!

Tracy Shawn, M.A. lives and writes on the Central Coast of California. Her award-winning debut novel, “The Grace of Crows,” is available on Amazon and other online book outlets. She is currently working on her second novel. Please visit her at: