Yesterday I spoke on national radio in Canada. The show is Cross Country Checkup on CBC Radio. I reference the show in my
book Self-help for Stoners (it’s the last story, called Context.) I did get to plug my latest book, but I didn’t mention Context on the show, though. It wasn’t the same host. The topic was basically, Social Media: Good or Bad?
They tried to finesse it, but that was the basic, kind of clunky, out-of-date, black and white question. Thing is, I think I was in the minority in extolling the virtues of social media! I was a bit shocked about how many people called in to say how terrible social media was for the children, the zombified masses and the fate of our doomed society. After I hung up I realized that, though they did have a few social media experts to balance things out, the demographic of listeners to CBC Radio on a Sunday afternoon aren’t exactly social media mavens.
For all the hand wringing, most of the objections people raised about social media seem to come down to poor time management and either/or thinking. They couldn’t say no to their kids. They couldn’t turn it off or they were nostalgic for a time that never was.
Here’s what I said on the show (and a couple of points I didn’t get a chance to add):
1. Social media allows me to have the business I do. (Yes, here’s where the plug for Bigger Than Jesus came in.)
2. I like what social media does to my brain. More neural input leads to more complex neural output.
3. Social media allows me to meet people I never would. And I wasn’t at all social in person before. I pretend to be an extrovert here. In real life, I’m one long beard and a pack of chewing tobacco away from being a recluse.
4. My neighbours are fine people, but our relationships are infrequent and accidents of proximity. Social media gives me the tribe, followers and conversationalists I choose.
5. Get used to it. Social media is spatial displacement. I don’t have to be there to be there. Physical presence is not required. This should be obvious since I was speaking on a national phone-in show that’s broadcast around the world.
6. We are social animals. (If we weren’t, we’d be extinct.) Social media is the new place to be social. Wring your hands all you want. We aren’t going backwards. Is it just for narcissists? I’d say we are all so subjective, we are all narcissists. However, the guy who extolled the virtues of cutting himself off from the noise of social media so he could explore only what his brain could come up with? That jerk sounded like the King of the Narcissists.
7. With Twitter and Facebook, I get information pushed at me that I wouldn’t think to search for. The other day I saw a Lion’s Mane Jellyfish for the first time. (See the picture above? That’s one.) It’s amazing. It predates the dinosaurs and they are still floating around in the Arctic Ocean. Oh, yeah. Did I mention they are about the size of a huge cube van? They’re a-MAZ-ing! I ended up using a reference to the Lion’s Mane Jellyfish in my new crime thriller. (I know that sounds crazy, but you’ll get the metaphor when you read Higher Than Jesus this fall.)
8. People worry social media takes too much time. The founding fathers of the United States wrote reams and reams of letters in their lifetimes that must have taken hours out of every day. They still got a few things done, don’t you think? (You could argue that the founding fathers had slaves. True, though I read somewhere that all our modern conveniences which automate our lives so much actually replace the work of fifty slaves, so everything evens out except for the awful horror of slavery.)
9. Someone argued that social media reduces us to selling ourselves all the time. How is that different from always except we now have a more efficient way to do it? We sell ourselves, our time, our personalities to get a job, get a mate, keep a job, keep a mate and to avoid being disowned by our parents and children. Tools change quickly. We evolve slowly.
10. Social media has a tremendous power for good and just because the critics can’t handle it doesn’t mean the rest of us can’t love it and use it responsibly. Through social media I sell my books. Without social media I wouldn’t know all the cool people I know. Were it not for social media, I would not have been privileged to participate in a campaign to help a young man suffering leukaemia with his medical bills. (I wouldn’t even have known about his struggle in the first place.)
I probably irritated some CBC listeners because
I was one of the few who weren’t worried about the damage social media can do.
It will make them feel better to know that my appearance didn’t help me sell a single book.
So much for moving that needle.
(UBC #13 of 31)
- Ultimate Blog Challenge: Top 10 things I wish I didn’t know about readers (chazzwrites.com)
- Ultimate Blog Challenge: Can you blog a book? Sure you can. (chazzwrites.com)
- Ultimate Blog Challenge: Risk more (chazzwrites.com)
- Ultimate Blog Challenge: The Warm Chocolate Chip Cookie Exposition (chazzwrites.com)
- Ultimate Blog Challenge: Writing Books on Writing (chazzwrites.com)