Category Archives: blogging

Thoughts on Social Media

IMG_20180408_145311397_HDR.jpg

Another one of my friends announced on Facebook today his intention to delete his account, so as to no longer feed his time and emotional energy into the social media monster. Well, when I say “friend”, I really mean “acquaintance”. I’ve met him only once in real life – he was one of my grad school profs, and as the school in question is an online university, all of our contacts happened in the cyber world. I was sorry to see him leave Facebook – there goes any further opportunity to get to know him a little better.

However, I also very much understand where he’s coming from. I’ve just come off a six-week hiatus from the FB world myself – I didn’t cut it all altogether, but restricted my facebooking to checking in on specific messages, and tried to avoid browsing and scrolling through my feed, let alone actually posting status updates or engaging in conversations.

Unfortunately, with the kind of work I do, I can’t really avoid Facebook and other social media altogether. I write books and try to sell them online. I write for an online magazine. I edit the work of writers who work online and I get new clients and professional contacts online. Getting off the cyber merry-go-round isn’t really an option – much as I sometimes want to.

But you know what? For all that I hate the amount of time and energy suck that social media generates, there are some real benefits I’ve derived from it. Apart from my professional contacts, I have made real friends through the Internet, and have rediscovered old friends and deepened existing real-life friendships. I have a network of connections all over the world.

Granted, the kind of relationships you form through social media is of a peculiar type. “Facebook is so terribly fake!” I’ve heard people say more than once. “I don’t want to see pictures of your lunch or your kittycat!” In fact, one of the several reasons my abovementioned friend gave for cutting the Facebook strings was the triviality of so many posts.

Yes, I agree – there is a lot of idle chatter, a lot of fakeness, a lot of posing. But, at the risk of sounding judgemental, the kind of person from whom I’ve most often heard comments of this kind is male and of the Baby Boomer generation. I don’t know what he (this generic middle-aged man) expects from social contact. In my experience as a slightly younger (i.e. GenX) middle-aged woman, trivialities are the very stuff relationships take their beginnings in.

You want to show me the snazzy lunch you had on your business trip? Please do! You like posting pictures of your funny cat? Bring it on! You think your kid’s jumping on the furniture is worth broadcasting on the Internet? Yes, I agree! Because to see how your children are growing, or that you love your cat, or that your favourite food is sushi, tells me things about you. You become more of a person to me. And what, may I ask, is a relationship but a connection from person to person?

If you’re the kind of person who has lived in one place their whole life, whose birth, education, career, friendships, and family life have all taken place in a 20 km radius, then what I’m saying might not apply to you. You know that your friend loves their dog because they live next door to you; that your buddy from Grade 2 just had another baby because you’ve run into her at the grocery store when you picked up milk; and that the guy you met at a professional development seminar is an arch-conservative because he has political placards all over his front lawn at every election.

But that kind of relationship circle has become very, very rare today. A Facebook friend (another grad school prof, as it happens) recently posted a quote that said something like this: “When future generations look back on us, the thing that they will find most puzzling is that we thought our online life was separate from our real-life existence.”

Just this morning, I was enjoying the stunning landscape photography of a childhood friend who now lives in Switzerland. I saw that an online friend whom I’ve never met in real life is having a great time on a trip to New York. I watched, in slow motion, as a friend’s small grandson leaped off the bed, his floppy blond hair flying, and it brought a smile to my face.

All these things are real. I know that if my online friend’s travels ever take her out my way or mine hers, we’ll meet for coffee and spend hours talking about everything under the sun – I know, because it wouldn’t be the first time that happened. Seeing the pictures of the sun gloriously glinting on the Alps means I’ve shared in a small piece of my now-Swiss friend’s life – before Instagram, I had no idea she was such a great photographer; in fact, I hadn’t spoken to her in decades. As for my other friend’s grandchildren, they are growing up so fast, I would never be able to enjoy the exuberance of their little lives in even such a small way as I do now if it wasn’t for Facebook.

This might all sound kind of Polly-Anna-ish. “Aren’t social media great? Don’t they give you the warm fuzzies? Isn’t getting the warm fuzzies the best thing ever?” Blah blah blah. Yes, I know that most of what scrolls by in a social media feed is sludge. I hate the politics, the mud-slinging, the preaching, the arrant nonsense, the sheer volume of all the jabber and beak-clacking. It eats into my sanity, drags my mind down into the muck of arguments and darkness. And that’s not even considering the big-picture societal problems that the social media phenomenon is implicated in.

There have been times when I’ve wanted nothing more than to hit the “delete” button on that Facebook account, be rid of its drag on my life. But I never did, because – see above.

I wonder if 15th-century Europeans felt about books and newspapers the way we do about the Internet. “Oh, I wish I could be rid of all this print! Shelves full of clutter, of people’s opinions, of paper! Let’s just go back to the day when people actually talked to each other!” But, of course, they didn’t go back. They learned to live with it, live with the new reality their world had evolved into. Yes, the invention of print brought problems – enormous upheavals, in many ways – but it also brought so much good.

And that’s the place we’re in right now. We need to learn to live with social media, learn to use it, instead of letting it use us. Oh, good grief – what am I using the “royal we” for? I need to learn it, need to get a handle on social media.

Sometimes, I think, that could mean pulling the plug entirely, like my friend is doing. I’ve never chosen to do that yet, although that’s not to say I might not do so sometime if the sludge threatens to overwhelm the joy. Or sometimes, it requires taking a step back – staying away from social media for a few weeks just to prove to myself that I can, and to build new habits.

“It’s not you, Internet, it’s me…” – and that’s the thing to keep in mind: I don’t have a relationship with social media, but with the people on the other end of social media. The Baby Boomer’s lament that “Kids today are always glued to their phones!” completely overlooks the fact that it’s not the phones the kids are interacting with, it’s their friends on the other end of the phone.

The word “social” in “social media”? It’s there for a reason. Social media isn’t good or bad – it’s what we make of it. I for one want to learn to use it, not be used.

Life, the Universe, and Social Media. Oh, in case you’re wondering – even my stuffed bear has Facebook.

 

Advertisements

7 Comments

Filed under blogging, life, this and that

Enchanted Conversations Introducing… Yours Truly!

Meet Angelika (2)

Just look at this: “Meet Angelika – The EC Team”!

That’s right – I’m being interviewed over on Enchanted Conversations by way of an introduction as their new “Contributing Editor”. What that means is that a couple of times a month, I get to write a post for their blog (sneak preview: some of it will be fairy tale flash fiction, which are short pieces between 100 and 500 words long), and I even get paid for it!

So head on over to Enchanted Conversations and find out what’s my favourite fairy tale (okay, one of them – they made me restrict myself to a single one, cruel people), whether I work from an outline when I write, and other fascinating and earth-shattering information about Yours Truly that I know you’ve been lying awake at night wondering about.

Life, the Universe, and a New Endeavour! It’s all very exciting.

11 Comments

Filed under blogging, fairy tales, writing

A Reboot

I’m rebooting my research blog, quillandqwerty.wordpress.com. Some of it (quite a bit of it, I think) will be reblogs from over here – no point in writing two posts on two sites, right? Anyway, quillandqwerty ho!

quill and qwerty

Has it really been two-and-a-half years since I finished my degree? Looks like it has. If you want to see what I’ve been up to in that time, you can check it out over at www.amovitam.ca.

However, in honour of the new “Beauty and the Beast” movie that’s about to hit the theatres, I think it’s time to start up again here at quill and qwerty. So, with an updated tagline and renewed vigour, we once again burst onto the stage of the blogosphere… Or rather, we quietly putter onto it, mumbling to ourselves as we turn the pages of an old volume of fairy tales.

Huh, what? Yes, quite. Just put the tea over there, will you? Thanks.

View original post

Leave a comment

Filed under blogging, fairy tales

This and That

We just spent a few days away, south of the border (they call washrooms restrooms there, and Mars bars are Milky Ways), which meant I didn’t have time to read all the blog posts that dropped into my inbox for the last few days. Which, in turn, made me realise just how prolific my bloggy friends are and how un-prolific I’ve been on the blogging front myself this summer.

But then again, that seems par for the course for me in summer. It gets hot and I get miserable, plus there’s all the canning and other food processing to do, plus there’s company, and trips away, and…

But I’ll spare you further excuses. And just so you can’t say that I never say nothin’, here’s a post for you today. With a picture, no less – highly symbolic, I’m sure: a guy painting a house a brand-new colour, right in the middle of Vancouver. New beginnings. From dated sky-blue to a tidy neutral white. Plus, the painter looks so decorative standing there on his ladder, like somebody put him there just for the sake of the composition. So that counts as significant and meaningful by way of a blog post, no?

painter

Life, the Universe, and New Paint on an Old Building. Happy September, what’s left of it!

 

Leave a comment

Filed under blogging, this and that

What Happens Next? Add To The Story…

Helen over at Journey to Ambeth started a chain story. Check it out! Read all the comments and join the fun. At the moment we’ve got a green-eyed drooling monster menacing the archaeologist in a gloomy crypt…

Journey To Ambeth

IMG_2594On Thursday I posted my usual Thursday Doors post, although my door this week was blocked up. It happened to tickle the fancy of Craig Boyack, who started to write a tale based upon what he thought was behind the door:

For over a thousand years, the ancient evil remained walled up behind a blessed doorway at St. Mary’s Cathedral.
In the summer of 2016, an overzealous archaeologist detected something behind the wall using electromagnetic sounding equipment…

Then I added another bit:

…entering through the old crypt, the archaeologist made their way through the vaulted chambers, footsteps echoing as they headed deeper into the dark…

Then Craig wrote another bit, adding that maybe we could invite participants:

The smell of moss and rot filled their nostrils. The light failed. A slight dragging noise came from farther down…

So I added another bit:

… the smell grew stronger, but…

View original post 67 more words

Leave a comment

Filed under blogging, writing

Wordy Wednesday

It seems time is just slipping through my grasp these days. Time, and the ability to generate words. It’s not that I don’t have things to say, but somehow, sitting down at the computer, opening a document, and putting those things into actual words and coherent sentences seems to not be happening.

There’s just been too much other stuff occupying my time and, more importantly, my headspace. For one, there’s a new project I’ve got in the offing which I will tell you about soon. [By the way, did you know that the word “offing” means “the horizon on a sea shore”? So if something is “in the offing”, it’s just showing up on the horizon and about to sail into harbour. I learned that from the annotations the last time I had to read Heart of Darkness in lit class. Anyway…] There’s stories to edit and get ready to publish – yes, they’re still coming. Soon! I promise! And then there’s ordinary life – you know, dust bunnies, family meals, laundry, emails… Between all of that, somehow, elaborate erudition on this blog has been elusive.

Hence the “Wordless Wednesday” posts; one picture being worth etc. etc. And it’s true – sometimes you can say so much with just an image. Why bother spoiling the impact with excessive verbiage? That’s even true for the writer’s craft: sometimes one single verbal image is worth more than pages of exposition (it’s what’s known as the “Show, don’t tell!” rule).

And even right here – I’ve run out of things to say that actually make sense. But I just didn’t want to leave you hanging in cyberspace, thinking that I’ve abandoned you all and gone off to party with the cyber fairies (they throw mean parties, those little critters). I hope that my thoughts will, soon, gel into sense again, so I can once more drop my pearls of wisdom (or witless waffling?) into your path.

Meanwhile, let me leave you with a picture worth of Wordy Wednesday – another act of random refrigerator poetry:

IMG_20160109_220123
And that, today, was Life, the Universe, and a Wordy Wednesday.

6 Comments

Filed under blogging, life, Wordless Wednesday

Guest Post: Baby Groot Interviews A.M. Offenwanger

I did a guest post! Baby Groot, who is Kate M. Colby’s writing mascot, interviewed me. Honest, he did! Ask Steve, he was there.

Kate M. Colby

I’ve never done a guest post before. Is that kind of like being a guest speaker, where you get bottles of water and an honorarium? What, no honorarium? Drat. Water bottles, at least? Oh, thank you, Baby Groot. [Takes a sip] So how do we go about this?

<I AM GROOT.>

You’ll ask me some questions, and I’ll waffle on from there? Sure, no problem. Let’s do this thing. [Squares shoulders, makes an intelligent face.] Go.

<I AM GROOT.>

Yes, thank you, I’m very glad to be here, too, and to get this chance to talk to your esteemed audience. So what would you like to ask me?

seventh son<I AM GROOT.>

Where do I get the ideas for my writing? Ah yes, that’s a question Us Writers get asked a lot. [Takes on faintly supercilious facial expression, then wipes it off again when she realises…

View original post 684 more words

Leave a comment

Filed under blogging, writing