In June of 2021 I took myself off social media for a month, and it went so well I just stayed off. Now, in October, I’m getting back on. This is my record of why, how, and what happens. I’ll update with progress reports over the next year and we’ll see how it goes.
This may be less an essay and more a ‘stream of conscious’ thing. But for about a month now I’ve been thinking about social media, if I should get back on it, do I want to get back on it, how I would get back on it, how to interact with it in a healthy way, yada yada yada.
Honestly? I don’t need to get back on. My life without social media has been pretty good. I miss some of my mutuals, but it’s kind of the way you miss your old co-workers. They were cool people you’d have enjoyed staying in touch with, but life moves on and you weren’t close enough for either of you to make the effort.
Okay, there are several folks I would love to have made the effort for but life kind of exploded in August and I didn’t have the damn spoons.
But mostly, that’s how it is.
So if it was up to me, I wouldn’t have considered social media again any time soon.
Unfortunately, I’m running into a basic problem that I’m a writer and I’m doing some work that may if I do it right turn into a small-scale nonprofit. Reaching audiences for both of those things kind of requires social media in this day and age.
Which sucks and I hate it because I feel like social media for the sake of promotion is part of the toxic everything that is our online world these days? And is it fair to folks to get back on just to promote my shit?
The thing is, even if I don’t need social media, I did enjoy it for many years. It’s kind of like football that way — I rarely feel a need to watch a game, but if the game’s playing I’ll be watching and cheering, because it’s fun, and why not?
And a couple weeks ago I realized that the idea of getting back on social media isn’t scary anymore. It’s actually… kind of nice? The way sometimes I kind of miss watching football, and look forward to seeing a game on at the local pizza shop.
Also, I’m noticing that practically every paragraph here is beginning with a conjunction and ended with a question mark.
After arguing around it for a while I decided that I am going to try getting back on certain social media, but only after setting boundaries. I don’t want it to become a toxic experience again. Or if it can’t be non-toxic, it can at least be managed to be less toxic.
So, how am I going to do this?
Individuals only — I’m not going to follow people based on interests or hashtags. If I follow someone, it will be because I have had actual conversations with them and want to have more. (This also means heavy pruning of the folks I’m already following. If I unfollow and you want to reconnect, feel free to reach out.)
No hashtags — not to follow and not to use.
Limiting my openness — I’ve generally been very ‘let it all hang out.’ I keep my stuff pg-13, but otherwise am very open. While I don’t regret my prior openness, I don’t really need to invite the whole world in to see my underwear drawer. So I’m going to be a lot less likely to share personal/family/relationship stuff, beyond the basics.
Silencing most notifications — The only notifications I need to see are replies and messages. Everything else is an unnecessary distraction that becomes an emotional landmine as I come to rely on ‘likes’ and ‘boosts’ to feed my self-esteem and need for social acceptance/validation.
Time limits — this is going to be the hardest. I’m going to limit the time I spend on social media. I’m still working out the details of this one. One thing for sure is I will continue to be offline for Shabbat. Beyond that, I might set myself a max time limit each day (say 30 min a day?) or I might schedule specific social media times (9:30-10 pm, after the kids are in bed?). I’m figuring it out.
No election anything — I was tempted to say no politics, but all know how meaningless that is in practice. So instead it’s no elections, no party politics, no government anything. I’ll find other sources for my political news, preferably local sources, and let the angst go right over my head.
No Quora — I enjoyed my time on Quora, and I like to think I did some good there. But the last year on social media I became kind of obsessed with using Quora notifications for self-esteem boosts. I used it more for that than for, you know, actually learning shit or writing shit or talking with people. So, no. I’m not flat-out deleting my Quora profile yet, but I’m headed in that direction.
I’m re-opening my profiles on Fedi and Twitter, but I’ll be using https://forget.codl.fr to keep my ‘tail’ short and my focus on talking with people ‘in the now.’ If this goes well, I’ll take another look at Reddit and/or Tildes (I’d rather prefer Tildes TBH, but it’s in closed alpha, so…).
That’s where my thoughts are at right now. This is a work in progress. For now, I’m giving it one month — from now to just before Thanksgiving — to try dipping my toes back in. Then I’ll reassess and see where I’m at.
First Update — 10/20/2021
Well, that was fast…
Last night, after taking another look at Quora and deciding that I absolutely did not need to get back on there and deal with the stress – I got an invitation to the Quora+ program. After years of trying every OTHER way to make money, Quora has decided to have a subscription set up and pay writers for our stuff.
My initial reaction was ‘fuck no!’
But, I spent several years where all my money came from freelance writing. I did not-horrible at it, and am still kind of sad that PTSD forced me to stop. It occurred to me that rather than treating Quora like a social/discussion website, I could try treating it as a gig.
I laid some ground rules, starting with maximum time spent on the site (2 hours a week) and writing goals (2 answers a week).
I set a time limit — two months. Two months to see if treating Quora as a gig is viable in terms of my health and in terms of getting any kind of income.
The rest of this week, I’ll be updating and reconfiguring my Quora settings. First, of course, to be able to get paid. Second, and nearly as important, to make working and writing easy, including time tracking, streamlining the process of finding questions to answer, and etc.
One thing I will not be doing is scheduling Quora time. This is a departure from my normal gig process, but I don’t want to feel tied to a schedule. I want to write when I can, as I can, and if I don’t feel up to it, not feel pressured to.
Second Update — 11/25/2021
That’s a bust…
I planned to give Quora two months, but really it’s not worth it.
I’ve barely managed to do any Quora writing, between getting sick and deciding to do NaNoWRimo at the last minute, but that’s not why I’m ditching Quora+.
The first reason I’m ditching Quora+ is that after a month I have, apparently, made $0.00. This is in spite of the fact that over the past month I’ve had over 60,000 content views, 43 comments, and 10 (external) shares.
Now, most of my content has not been monetized, but as best I can figure from notifications and stats, my monetized content got a fair bit of that interaction.
As best I can figure, because that’s the second reason I’m ditching Quora+ — the info available for writers is all but none existent.
I am in no way a fan of Amazon or Kindle Unlimited. Rather the opposite actually. But I have to admit they have a pretty good data set for authors. For KU books, you get a break down each month of how many pages were read and what you got paid per page, as well as total royalties, breakdowns by title, and a fair bit else.
Quora+? The sum total of info available to me on my monetized content is a single bar measuring how close I am to the $10 payout threshold.
Which, as I mentioned, is showing $0.00.
How many people have viewed my monetized content? How many viewed it for free as part of Quora’s variable pay wall? How did views on my monetized content compare to my free content?
Who knows? Not me!
Maybe if I threw my all into it, monetized everything, wrote a minimum of two articles a week, so on and so forth, Quora+ would be worth it for me. Maybe if I reached a payout threshold a bunch of stats would unlock tht aren’t currently available to me. Maybe Quora+ could be a wonderful thing…
I don’t have the fucks to give to find out. This utter lack of transparency combined with that $0.00 and the fact that I was basically done with Quora anyway?
Yeah, time to move on.
Over the next few months I’ll be going through my old Quora answers, moving the stuff worth saving to this website, and deleting what isn’t worth holding onto.
On the plus side…
the one month trial of Wandering Shop and Twitter has gone well, and I’ll be sticking around…. let’s say another six months. I’m upping my time allowance to 45 minutes a day, and otherwise keeping things the same. See you there!
One Year Update (almost)
I should have done a 6 month update, but life this summer was… well, it was.
Twitter ended up being a bust. I just never got back into the habit of posting there, felt like I didn’t have anything to say or know how to engage. Kind of weird how a relatively short time away could break such long term habits, but I had been drifting away from Twitter since I got comfy on Fedi, so…
I switched from Twitter to Tumblr.
(If you’ve been seeing posts from my on Twitter, it’s because I’m sometimes cross posting from Tumblr.)
Mostly been a good move. There’s still a lot of ‘discourse’ on Tumblr, but lots of fun and silly stuff mixed in. A few of my Fedi and Twitter folks were Tumblr, which made the switch easier.
Sadly, most of the folks I used to follow and interact with on Tumblr are gone. Many lost to eh Pornpocalypse, others for other reasons. Rebuilding connections has been slow, and not many folks are interacting with me. But I’m still enjoying myself, with or without ‘engagement’, which is what matters.
Two major bonuses — I’m starting to build connections to Jumblr (Tumblrs main Jewish community) AND afte a decade and a half of floating on the edges of fandom, have finally found a fan community that I can really get into. The Vorkosigan Saga doesn’t have a huge fan community on Tumblr, but it exists and when the first post from it tumbled across my feed I jumped right in.
Tumblr or course gets access restrictions too, but the first time I ran through all 40 mins in one sitting, I decided I need to break it up. So now I get 20 min of Tumblr every six hours, and they roll over so I can sometimes splurge on a long Tumblr dive, but mostly need to watch my time and not get sucked deep into any of the (frequent) Tumblr drama or I’ll get kicked off halfway through writing a post!
Wandering Shop is still a good fit for me, and there’s a few mutuals on there that I think are actually becoming friends. I never did get fully off of Quora and in fact did eventually get a payout from their program. I did go through and delete a bunch of old answers. After High Holydays I’m going to try to get back to that and really clean over there.