Science Fiction Novelist
Reclaiming Ennui: A Referendum on Social Media Usage
Posted on June 4, 2020
Category: Zeedub Inkwell
Zachry Wheeler, Science Fiction Novelist

Anyone who reads my blog knows that I am not a fan of social media. I use it begrudgingly as an author because I need to maintain a presence. At least, I thought I did.

Over the last year or so, I have been working through a pseudo experiment with my social media usage. In essense, I decided to bounce back and forth between platforms, playing them off each other while upping and lowering my engagement. The goal was to spike my analytics in order to identify what strategies work and what don’t. At this point, I am pleased to report back some interesting conclusions, as broken down by platform.

I have stopped using Facebook. After numerous attempts to squeeze value out of the platform, I have decided that it’s utterly useless. And that’s on top of the countless scandals, privacy concerns, and shady-as-crap business practices. I always feel dirty when I log into the site, and the handful of groups that I belong to are not worth the price of admission anymore. You can still find me there, but I have deleted all my posts and enabled the auto-reply, which instructs readers to find me elsewhere.

I have stopped using Instagram, in part because it’s owned by Facebook. I enjoyed the platform once upon a time, but I just can’t separate the fact that Zuck has his crooked little fingers inside of it. Same issues, different site. And then there was the infamous Mashable lawsuit, which sealed the deal for me. In addition, the “influencer” culture wields a level of pomposity that I can no longer stomach. I am done with the like-hunting game. And so, I deleted all my posts and set my status to private.

Twitter is the only platform I still use (kinda, sorta, but not really). It remains a toxic pit of despair, so I only use it as a one-way street for news and content distribution. No more likes, replies, or retweets. In fact, I cleared my entire history and now limit the time that posts stay active. My pinned tweet will always be a link to my newsletter. I want readers to scroll through my blog, not a graveyard of outdated tweets.

Admittedly, it was very tempting to delete these accounts outright. However, I think they still serve a mildly useful purpose. In deleting all of my social media content, I have created catch points for curious readers. If someone finds my account, it does nothing but redirect them away from the platform. It’s like waving a tiny middle finger at the attention monster before snatching a victim from its claws.

A popular refrain in digital marketing is “don’t build your house on rented land,” which is the core business model of social media. You may cultivate an account, but it’s still their audience and their rules. And of course, their profit from your hard work. I realized that the only avenues I have complete control over are my website, my blog, and my mailing list. They should be the sole home of my online presence, and so they shall from here on out.

One major upside, unsurprisingly, is that my mood has greatly improved. My relationship with social media has been reduced to a single pain point. Regaining sanity is as simple as closing Twitter. I don’t have the app on my phone and I only log in via my laptop. I also lock everything behind multi-factor authentications. That alone has abated the boredom factor. My down time has shifted away from social media and landed on my neglected to-read pile, which I think is a much healthier use of my ennui.

So that’s where I’m at today. Screw social media. I’m gonna read about space pirates and nerd out with my subscribers.

Read more:
A Marketing Breakdown for Indie Authors
My Big Fat Social Media Marketing Experiment
Rethinking Author Branding: Why Social Media is Marketing Poison