fidgety fingers: i quit social media. now i'm free!

The day I finally accepted that I suck at social media and so I bade it goodbye!

fidgety fingers: i quit social media. now i'm free!
Photo by Becca Tapert on Unsplash

I deleted all my social media accounts today. Even the ones on Pinterest I didn't know I had. And it feels as if I've let go of a lot of mental weight I didn't realize I was lugging around all the time.

Yipee! 😄

I am what people would be quick to label as a very impulsive person. In fact, the very first blog I started somewhere in 2007 was titled Impulsively Me. Over the years, I've come to realize that my impulsiveness is not necessarily a bad thing because more often than not, it's accompanied by a startling certainty, which likely originated from a long period of subconscious brooding.

I couldn't sleep all night because of a nasty cough and at 4 a.m. I headed over to FaceBook to post about fellow writers' books as part of a promotional campaign I'm participating in.

And it occurred to me that for years, ever since I joined FB more than a decade ago (2011, it turns out), I had fallen into a pattern. First, I'd post too sporadically to gain any traction, then I'd commit to posting with greater frequency and regularity but soon get frustrated with the experience of being on social media and decide to back off, until the next delightful thing to post about would come to me and I'd fall into that loop all over again.

I've done this for years. The latest fiasco was exactly a year ago.

a social media experiment: four weeks in - i quit. what a relief!
After four weeks of posting poems on Instagram and Facebook, I quit social media. The relief I experienced as a result is divine!

With that realization I could finally accept the wisdom that author coach, Becca Syme, has been sharing from the outset; that being on social media does not sell books and that authors need not be on social media if they don't want to unless they like being on social media for its own sake.

In a more recent video, Syme talks about how when we try to do something and it doesn't work, we feel as if there is something wrong with us or the way we did it.
And we mistakenly believe that if we only kept bashing our heads against the wall, we'd somehow find a way to make it work instead of accepting that we tried something and failed at it and looking at it as a learning experience and moving on. (Listen for about 3-4 minutes beginning at the 40:00 minute mark for greater context).

Hearing her say that reminded me of the number of times I stopped and then resumed writing and posting weekly short fiction, most recently under the tag Tales for Dreamers, on an earlier version of this blog.

I posted my first tale on the old blog back in November 2011; it's reposted here as I slowly import all the old content over to this space. Back then I embarked on posting two very short fiction pieces every week. I tagged them Tricks from my Hat.

I gained a modest audience who seemed to love those tales and asked for more. But after about six months of writing to this schedule, Imposter Syndrome kicked in and I was convinced I was prioritizing quantity over quality and I decided to scale back to posting weekly. Eventually, I stopped posting altogether!

There were many start-stop phases that followed because I really loved writing those tales. In fact, as I grew wiser and learned more, I grieved for younger-me who had managed to convince herself that her stories were crap when they were anything but.

No matter what I did, I'd eventually stop posting those tales. Sometimes life intervened, such as moving from Singapore to Canada, starting an MBA programme, becoming a mother. Sometimes I'd be disillusioned by the lack of likes/comments or even reach on FB in the first place. Sometimes I'd feel mad about posting them for free and not valuing my writing enough.

It was a pattern set in stone, quite like the grooves I kept repeatedly treading in my relationship with social media.

Last month, I decided to kill my latest (and most certainly, last) attempt to resuscitate Tales for Dreamers once and for all.

That too was an 'impulsive' decision if I were to judge how long it took me to arrive at it. Not even half a day, I'm sure, even though I had been brooding over it for more than a decade. That instant I could accept that I was letting go of it, I couldn't wait to get rid of it fast enough.

paperback copy of 'Failed It!' by Erik Kessels places beside a MacBook laptop on a writing table
Photo by Estée Janssens on Unsplash

It was the same thing this morning. With great clarity, I knew everything was going to go. My FB account. My FB author page for Dream Pedlar. My Instagram account. My Twitter account. I even went and reset the password on a Pinterest account I had signed up for ages ago but never used just so that I could delete it.

KrA suggested to me this morning that I deactivate the accounts instead of deleting them altogether. I paid no heed to him. I knew with great surety in my heart of hearts that I was done with social media once and for all.

Afterwards, there were several instances when my fingers would automatically start typing fa.. but the instant auto-suggest would show me the link, I'd realize where I was headed and move away.

I'm not arguing either for or against social media. It's a tool like so many others we use. So many people earn a livelihood because of social media.

I've had my share of fun moments with social media too. Back in the days of Orkut, I once updated my relationship status to 'Committed', which prompted a lot of queries from relatives. When Dying Wishes went out into the world, I posted on FB and several friends and family members went on to purchase a copy to support me.

It's just that I tried to use social media as well as I could and failed at it in terms of building and engaging with an audience for my writing, so instead of repeatedly trying to make it work, I accept that it's not for me.

You know what works for me instead? Writing stories and books! Writing blog posts! Pouring my heart out here in words raw and unadorned, words that may touch you and speak to you, instead of trying to embellish my life in perfect pictures to stoke your envy and admiration, all the while keeping you hooked to the dopamine kick of scrolling and looking for something shiny and new, shiny and new, shiny and new ... endlessly seeking something that does not exist .