I'd only read a few pages of Howard Rheingold's "Attention! Why and How to Control your Mind's Most Powerful Instrument" when my mind started to wander.
Some thoughts were slightly relevant:
I wonder if this will help my writing.
This font is too small; I’ll magnify it.
How many pages in this chapter again?
Others slightly less:
My foot itches.
I wonder if Lauren’s texted me back yet.
Did my phone just vibrate?
It only took a few more thoughts for me to catch myself and laugh. There I was, reading a chapter about the importance of paying attention, and not paying attention.
But how could I? As Brave New World author Aldous Huxley states, man has an “almost infinite appetite for distractions.” And in today's world of information overload, there's an all-you-can-eat distraction buffet.
I'm not a multi-tasker. I work best focused on one task with minimal distractions; but in our world of information overload, minimal distractions still take a heavy toll. My phone may be in the next room, but I can still easily hear the buzz of a text message or email, which can prompt a series of errant thoughts.
Ok, so let’s say I turn it off. Now I’m thinking about missing an important call, having to explain later that I didn’t have my phone on. Didn’t have your phone on? They scoff. Everyone always has their phone on.
Even turned off, the sheer existence of my phone pulls at my attention; and the attention-drain worsens when one considers the other multiple avenues of communication.
We expect each other to be available every waking moment and frankly, it’s exhausting. I feel as if technology is a toddler tugging on my skirt, shouting “Mom! Mom! Look at me! Now! Mom! Mom? Hello?” Yet when I finally look down at little Technology, I feel a wave of affection.
Without social media, connecting with readers and other writers would be much more difficult. Widespread use of the internet, social media, and texting has facilitated ease of information, connection, and communication across long distances. However, as a society we need to begin practicing mindfulness to function offline as well as on. Moms need a break, too.
*I previously published a version of this post for a college course.
I'm not the biggest fan or expert of social media. However, I've been discovering more and more that my social media presence is crucial to gain exposure to my writing. This probably seems like an obvious revelation to my fellow writers and readers, but I am just warming up to the idea. For a long time, it was difficult for me to believe my ideas and opinions relevant or interesting to my followers.
Social media is a strange beast that can create jealousy, unfair comparisons, and selfishness. However, when tamed, this same beast can foster understanding, motivation, and compassion. When another writer or reader comments on my writing, which they usually have discovered through social media, I feel a surge of validation and happiness, even if the comment is critical.
As a writer, I do not write for the validation or the audience, but rather for a need to release the stories inside of me. But I would be lying to myself if I dismissed the importance of validation and an interested reader. Good writing is meant to be read, whether by millions or a single person.
Through social media, I and thousands of other aspiring writers find our readers, maintain our confidence, share our stories.
What are your opinions of gaining exposure through social media? In what ways have you done so? Do you agree with my belief that writing is meant to be read? Please comment with your answers!
Thanks for reading!