I confess, I’m a bit fed up with social media right now.
I don’t spend much time on Facebook unless I am participating in a specific group event or checking in with a particular community. I mostly cross-post to it, and have had some moderate success with Facebook ads.
But this past week, several of my ads have been rejected (won on appeal, but still) for no discernable reason, and in 7 days I’ve spent almost $50 without a single sale. I keep getting notices that my ads might not deliver because they haven’t been optimized, and yet the description of how to do this makes no sense whatsoever. As much as I was loathe to give FB any money, my ads there seemed to have a greater ROI than my ads elsewhere. Not any longer. I don’t know what’s changed, and I am exhausted by the notion that I either have to figure it out or pay someone else to teach me how to appease the new algorithms.
There’s a big #TwitterExodus afoot now in the advent of Elon Musk purchasing the site. Rumors of this event occurred back in April, but then he backed out, but was forced to honor his agreement. EM’s reason for purchasing the platform was to make it a private company and easier for people to speak more freely… which means that much of the ugliness and rampant misinformation found on such right-wing sites as Parler has gained ground almost immediately on the bird platform. For a list of all the massive proposed changes in just the last week, check out this list here.
Additional concerns about the chaos of misinformation flooding Twitter before the mid-term elections is here. Many big companies have paused advertising to see what direction Twitter will ultimately take, but EM himself cited a widely discredited website in a Tweet that implied the brutal attack on Paul Pelosi was not carried out by a far-right wing blogger but was related instead to an anti-LGBTQ “theory” about a skirmish at a local bar. The Tweet was eventually deleted, but there you are.
This kind of behavior, both by EM and on Twitter, has resulted in large numbers of the people I follow and interact with choosing to leave Twitter. Most are migrating to a site called Mastodon, which claims to be a decentralized platform that can’t be bought or sold at the whim of a single entity. Jack Dorsey, the original founder of Twitter, is planning a similar decentralized platform called BlueSky. Decentralized platforms mean you don’t just jump in and have content/people pushed toward you. You have to decide what toe you want to dip in where.
Most older people say this is much how the internet used to be–and they are embracing the chaos. To me, it feels like making the jump from cable to streaming: if I want to watch a particular show, I have to figure out what channel it’s on and whether I want access to it. The problem with Mastodon, is the search engine is VERY different. You have to know what server to join, and what “instances” to join (which are kind of like clubs on Discord, it’s all very confusing). The phone app sucks, and I’m not keen on given my information to a third party app such as Tusky (which is being recommended) to use Mastodon on my phone.
Then there’s the problem that while Twitter is an established platform like Facebook or Pinterest, and sharing buttons on media have evolved to include them, there is no such thing for Mastodon as it stands. Where I (or anyone else) used to be able to easily share information from this blog or other sites, it will take extra steps to share things to Mastodon. But if you want a primer on making the move, read this post here.
The important thing to remember is it is NOT Twitter. It’s been likened to entering a high school cafeteria with your tray and looking for a place to sit down with like-minded people, and I suppose that’s why my knee-jerk reaction to Mastodon hasn’t been good. I LOATHED high school and the clique-y mentality. I’m also at a point in my life where I don’t have a lot of time and I hate wasting it on learning things I may or may not use.
Many people are touting Discord instead, but instead of a high school cafeteria, Discord feels to me like a gated community, and you can only gain entrance if you know the password. Long, threaded conversations like you have on WhatsApp and in chat rooms have never appealed to me because I’m invariably late to the party and the thing I wanted to comment on was 50 entries back and everyone has moved off of it onto something else. Don’t get me started on Tumbler, which feels like a place where someone scribbles graffiti on a wall and others come by and add their own scribblings. The end result can be interesting, but it’s hard to have a conversation there.
At the moment, I’m spending most of my time on TikTok, which I never, ever said I’d do. I admit to having spent the last eleven months having a ridiculous amount of fun there but… and you knew there was going to be a “but” right?
I’ve scarcely written a word since joining TT. I’m spending most of my writing time drafting videos. I’ve learned how to do transitions, use filters, lip sync, and have bought a crazy amount of wigs and costumes. Somehow the learning curve it took to master TT has not brought me to teeth-grinding rage the way learning other social media–it was a lot more like discovering fandom and then teaching myself all the tools I needed to know in order to play in it.
At first, TT was a BLAST. I’m still having fun with it, but ever since publishing deemed TT was THE place to be (and truthfully, that was the only reason I made the leap), there has been a lot of pressure to be young, thin, attractive, and the kind of TT presence publishers deem valuable. There have been rumors that one of the big trad pubs told an author they couldn’t offer her a contract because she wasn’t young enough (she was in her forties…). There is also talk of publishers signing up hot young women and then pairing them with older women who ghostwrite their books for similar reasons–the youth and hotness are prime selling points on this platform.
Honestly, that doesn’t bother me that much. That kind of thing has been going on as long as youth and sex have been selling factors. But what does bother me is the rumors that TT is going to move to a paid subscription model. What bothers me is that I used to routinely get 300-400 views and now they’ve dropped to less than 100. TT is HUGE for making constant changes to the algorithm, and now the word is they want to be more like YouTube by offering longer formats (up to ten minutes) and you have to make your content searchable now with captions. It’s all about SEO to increase visibility and I get so darned tired of having to change something every time I think I have a handle on it. TT has been good to me in terms of sales. But it’s a time sink, I blame it for the bulk of the drop off in my writing production, and I’m not there in order to manipulate the ins and outs of algorithm changes. I’m there to have fun.
If it turns into another pay-to-play site, I’m gone.
I had a bit of a meltdown this morning, and my husband said something to me that made me do a double-take. I mentioned that I was so angry all the time, and he said that if I were an old white man, he’d say it was because I’d been watching FOX News. It took me aback because I’m about as far from that demographic as you can get… and yet I AM stoking my rage machine all the time over things I have very little control over.
Democracy is going to live or die one way or another. Same with our civil rights, climate change, the hope of a future for our children in a world running out of resources and becoming increasingly polarized and violent, and so on. My ANGER ALONE will not prevent these things from happening. I tell myself staying informed is the best I can do because I’m working so hard on every other front to keep my head above water I can’t spare any more energy for anything else. I’ve donated where I thought it would help the most, and I only get more begging letters and emails. I can’t stop what’s coming.
But I can stop adding fuel to a furnace already about to meltdown.
They say we can’t survive as authors or creators of any kind without social media. But I think I need to consider surviving as a person for a little while with less of it.