I’m one of the 5 million who have had the privilege to test Google’s new social network, Google+. I’ve been sharing about g+ quite a bit on Facebook, to the point where one friend asked if I worked for Google. Social networking is an interesting phenomenon, especially for the generation of digital natives (I really don’t like that term by the way, as it isn’t accurate. Kids are supposed to natively adapt to technology. I don’t by it…kids play with technology, but don’t automatically see how it can be used for work.) Social networking is especially important for writers. Writing is an isolating career–most of us write alone so that we can concentrate. I know that I write better when it’s quiet, when there are no interruptions, when I sink into my creative process and frolic with my imagination. With this isolation in mind, it’s important for writers to come up for air, to know and talk with other writers; social networking is a great way to do this. Today I’m going to highlight the usefulness (and annoyances) of Facebook and Twitter. Part 2 will explore Google+.
The story of Facebook is well documented, so I won’t go into it here. What we have now in the network is connections with over 750 million people of all walks off life. We can connect with friends from high school and college, we can our favorite bands, magazines, businesses, the list goes on and on. If that wasn’t enough, you can play any kind of game to waste as much time as you want. As writers, we can easily network and connect with other writers and resources. The challenge behind Facebook is oversharing. If you are with family, coworkers, writers, and old school buddies, when you post something about your kids pooping on the toilet for the first time, it could ruin your professional image. If your high school friends talk about all the times you got high together, it could damage some family relationships (regardless of whether or not it’s true). If you have an artist page independent of your profile (which I’m working on), you then have two comment streams to monitor, two places to post updates, etc. On top of it all, the interface is cluttered, busy, and distracting. I haven’t harnessed to full potential of Facebook as a writer, probably because I spend too much time playing Bejeweled Blitz.
Weary of all the extras, I opened a Twitter account and linked it to my blog. Within weeks, I had networked with 5 or 6 poets, 3 journals, and random other people who are interested in my writing. I use Twitter to short poems, links to my blog articles, and links to other great writing resources. There are so many articles that never would have crossed my radar if I did not other writers and publications on Twitter. I prefer Twitter over Facebook because there’s less clutter, no room to spare, and nobody is asking me for secret potions to make mutant lambs (yes, you know who you Farmville people are. And for the record, I have never played). It’s easy to keep Twitter strictly business, though I can’t help myself posting about sports from time to time. Congratulations to the National League for winning its second straight all-star game. Woot!
It’s easy to be on information overload, so it’s important to create lists to make it all manageable. My students have often told me that they think Twitter is stupid and boring (another reason why they are not digital natives), but it’s such a great tool for quick links and bits of information. More teachers should find a way to utilize Twitter in the classroom.
I’ve had a better time networking on Twitter than Facebook, and my Facebook profile will soon be converted to a writing page, making that strictly business as well. Which brings me to Google+, the newest hottest social network around. My next post will cover how Google+ can simultaneously serve personal and professional needs without crossing the boundary of over-share.
What about you? How has social networking impacted your writing? Your writing network? Are either problematic for your work flow?