Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Benefits and Negatives of Social Media

Social media has been developing since around 1960. The internet was invented to share information  from one computer to another in a different city. The concept resembles the purpose of the telegraph and then the telephone after that. And it created a new means of social interaction. It created a fast way to share large amounts of information across long distances. It was time efficient and convenient as well. For example, with the invention of the internet, companies no longer had to hold long telephone discussions with another branch somewhere else or visit that branch to get a report. They could simply look the file up of the internet database.

Social media has come a long way from databases used by companies to share information. We still use social media to share information, I should call it trading information, but I'll reserve that for a different time. We share things about our lives and what we find interesting or helpful on every social media site. This is social media at its core. On twitter we share links or short blurbs about our lives. On Facebook we share longer "statuses" about our lives and we share our opinions or joke around with our "Facebook Friends."

There are benefits and negatives to social media for everyone. But I want to concentrate on writers. Writers have stronger benefits in using social media than the average person using it.Writers also suffer more from the basic negative of social media.

And after an elaborate and useless drum roll, we announce the basic negative! Social media is, as we all admit, a prolific time waster. If used effectively and carefully it is not a waste of time. But when someone is constantly checking Facebook for no good reason (checking to see if a friend's relational status has changed yet again is not a good reason) and tweeting random stuff about his life is addicted to social media. If this person is a writer than he should understand the danger (financially) of spending too much time on social media. For writers, the saying "time is money" is far too literal.

Writing is a delicate craft that requires dedication to the max. Any time spent checking Facebook (and I'll admit I do this occasionally) is a distraction and cuts from your max dedication  to your work.

The benefits of social media for writers are fantastic. With social media we can do one thing that makes are lonely occupation less overbearing. That thing is networking. With social media  (even writing websites) this process is very easy. Facebook makes it easy to carry on light conversations with fellow writers. Twitter makes it easy to share and receive helpful writing tips or articles. Google+, I have found, is the best place to find and connect with other authors. I have also observed better feedback to a question and longer discussions there.

The other benefit to social media for writers is what some people consider link-dropping. I consider it an art. Sharing your own work such as a blog post, a short story, or a link to your e-book, is very important nowadays as an author. These things help get your stuff read and your name out there.

I am not condoning link-dropping. I am adding intrigue for my next post. When link-dropping becomes an art is when there is a balanced trade between the author and reader from a social media site. This concept of online trading (instead of the word sharing) is something I will talk in more detail about in my next post.

Wow! That was a long one! Thanks for sticking with it. I do hope you enjoyed the post. Let me know if you have any other disadvantages or advantages in regards to social media.


  1. Great post! I agree that it can have negative effects if we spend too much time and don't get our writing done. But as you said, it is a great place for writers to network and to share. I like to look at it like we are supporting each other. Sometimes it takes a writer to understand another writer. Thanks for your insight, and take care!

  2. Thank you, Lena. The point about supporting each other. I should elaborate on that in my next post.

  3. There is a neat meme floating around, you may have seen it on my wall on G+, "le me" running toward "life goals" with a huge pit labeled "internet". So much truth to it. Someone commented that there is also a bridge called "internet", but I disagreed. The bridge must be called "time management"!

    I agree about link dropping. When we do it wrong (wrong place wrong time), it hurts us the most. We need to give as much as we take.


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