Living beyond 140

I posted the photo above on Facebook and Twitter this morning, more as a message to myself than any sort of external communication.
As if to say, “Okay, it’s time.”

And it is. Well past, in fact.

I started ostensibly writing The Sensitive early in September, the day after Labour Day, first day of the new year. I wrote a bit, then it stalled.

It had nothing to do with the work itself. Rather, the stall was more to do with the demands of the real world than with the writing itself.

September and October largely disappeared into a blur of moving, reviewing, teaching, speaking, a little bit of traveling, and a whole lot of stress.

The bulk of that is behind me now, and I’m about to relaunch into The Sensitive. Yes, there are still revisions on Black Feathers, first edits on The Fallow Heart, teaching, etc, but there are always going to be THINGS, right? Nobody ever gets to just write. As I tell my students, you need to carve out your time, so that’s what I’m doing.

But that’s not what this is about. Well, it is, a bit. Peripherally.
No, this is about social media, and why I’m not going to be around much any more.

I’ve been thinking a lot about social media in the last few weeks. No, not in a Jonathan Franzen way. God, perish the thought.
I actually LOVE social media. Likely a bit too much.

No, I’ve been thinking about social media in an Alice Munro way. In a Donna Tartt way.

The publicity around Munro’s Nobel crowning and the publication of Tartt’s latest novel The Goldfinch have been a reminder of what should be a self-evident truth: there are worlds without social media. Lives without Twitter. People who don’t check their Facebook in the middle of the night.

That realization left me with a vaguely unsettled feeling. And, strangely, a sense of yearning.

See, I love social media. I love it in an unbecoming, obsessive way. It might be my addictive personality at work, it might just be an insatiable curiousity, it might be the human version of the test where they put rats in front of a lever that dispenses cocaine at random intervals, and they keep pushing and pushing and pushing that lever until their little paws bleed. Likely some combination of all of the above.

While I might love it, though, I often don’t LIKE social media. It often — too often — leaves me feeling anxious, if not infuriated. Regretful, and dirty. Raging.

And none of those are good things, and they’re all especially bad when one is trying to write.

Tartt and Munro… I’ve been thinking about this a lot. They write. They live. They don’t try to be pithy in 140 characters. They don’t check their pages to see how many people have liked a status or favourited a tweet. They write, they live.

They write. They live.

So, I’m going to try that for a while.

I’m not going to quit social media (“Are you committing Twittercide?” someone asked, when I explained what I was considering last week. I laughed.) I’m not going to flounce out. There will be no manifestoes.

I just… won’t be around as much. If at all.

You know what it is?

I’ve always admired the quiet and taciturn, the folks who don’t say much, but when they do, you listen.
Maybe this is the first step toward that.

Anyway. Twitter and Facebook will get along just fine without me. You all will as well.

And me?

I’ll be writing. And living.

Beyond 140 characters.

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