The time-suck that is the Internet. Jo Carroll

When I first flirted with the idea of publishing, I was told that I needed an online presence - beginning with a blog. Well, that was easy - I'd begun a blog when I first went travelling, not for any literary reason but simply to keep in touch with friends and family at home. So extending that to write about writing wasn't so hard.

Then - that wasn't enough. I needed a website. So I set about teaching myself HTML, wrote my own website and, with a click of the mouse, it was live. It's a bit amateur, I know, but I can amend it myself, which feels important to me. (

Then - that wasn't enough. I had to be on Twitter. That was where all the fun was, where people could set up a chatty platform and leap from there into promoting books. So I joined Twitter, spent some time getting my head round it, and it was, for a while, fun. Though I've no idea if it sold any books.

Then - that wasn't enough. I had join to Facebook. I'd resisted Facebook as all my daughters used it as a way of keeping in touch, and I felt it important that I didn't spoil their party. But, hey ho, the marketing gurus had spoken, so I joined Facebook. And yes, it is a way of keeping in touch, and seeing what friends are up to, and occasionally mention of book or two.

Than - that's not enough. There's Instagram and Snapchat. I must …

No, I don't have to. I know I have books to sell. And I know I need a marketing platform. But more than anything I need a life - a real life, not one that exists in the ether. A real life that is filled with real people and real books and real writing. If my marketing efforts are ‘last year’ - well, that's how it is. Given the choice between playing on Facebook and reading a book - I choose the book. Given the choice between Twitter and writing a short story, I choose the story.

Given the choice between the hours that the Internet seems to demand and travelling … well, there's no contest.


Bill Kirton said…
I'm with you on all that, Jo. However, I don't think I have your discipline. Consequently, I neither commit to the full social media thing, nor do I just read or write instead of staring at pictures of breakfasts. I'm a suitable case for treatment.
Anonymous said…
I am so grateful to you for writing this. It is EXACTLY what happens. I've been through all those steps and now feel pressure to join Instagram, where all the young people are, apparently (having gone off Facebook, since that's where their parents hang out now). But I recoil from starting up yet another distraction which, while it may be fun, will soon start making its own demands on top of website, blog, facebook, twitter... all of which eat away time from things I should be doing like, um, reading and writing.

Bill, you're right about the discipline. Difficult to ignore social media altogether and, who knows, some of my tweets may have sold a book or two... but it can be hugely time-wasting. Oh for a happy medium. A Happy Social Medium. Ha, maybe that will be the next big thing.
JO said…
Thank you both - it's such a comfort to know it's not just me who feels like this.
Jo, you're right. I find it difficult these days to draw the line between using the internet and letting the internet use me. I know when I'm on the wrong side of that line, because then I feel irritable and depressed and angry with myself. But half the time I have no idea where this line actually lies.

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