I don’t normally share my newsletter posts over here, but I thought yesterday’s newsletter was one I wanted all of my blog readers to catch. (Also, why haven’t you subscribed to my newsletter yet? It’s so simple – you can do it HERE.)
When I left Facebook and Twitter six weeks ago, I wrote a farewell blog post. Maybe social media doesn’t play much of a role in your life, but for me it was a big deal – it felt like I was leaving some dear friends, and I wondered how in the world I would continue to expand my reach as an author without the tools of Facebook and Twitter.
But I also felt an immense sense of peace. Social media had grown into a time-consuming, distracting, noisy force in my life, and I needed a break. As I stepped away, it was with a strong sense that it would be a very long time before I returned. I certainly didn’t think that a mere six weeks later I’d be reconsidering my decision.
The primary force in getting me back into the social media circus is the fact that I recently signed with a literary agent. I reached out to various agents, through a few close writer friends, with the hope that an agent might help me take that next step in my career as a co-writer/ghostwriter, linking me up with more and higher profile jobs. As my agent and I spoke, she expressed her conviction that she could do that for me – but she also wondered if I had any book ideas of my own that she could try to sell to publishers. That sounded exciting.
As we wrapped up our conversation, she said something that left me with the realization that I had a decision to make.
“Okay,” she said, “Get working on your platform. Try to get your numbers back up.”
* * * * *
Social media silence can be a very healthy thing. It can give you the space you need to reevaluate how you’re interacting with the world. It can give you a quiet dwelling, the ability to actually hear and discern the driving voices in your head. But for some of us, either because of our careers or our personalities, social media can also be a huge tool, a wonderful way of staying in touch, or the thing that keeps us from becoming too isolated from the rest of the world.
Just as I was asking myself some tough questions (“Am I selling out by returning? But I miss my friends – wouldn’t it be nice to be back on Facebook and Twitter? How will I keep it from taking over my life again?), I read this, one of my favorite passages from Thomas Merton’s book New Seeds of Contemplation:
“But if you try to escape from this world merely by leaving the city and hiding yourself in solitude, you will only take the city with you into solitude; and yet you can be entirely out of the world while remaining in the midst of it, if you let God set you free from your own selfishness and if you live for love alone.”
You know, there is a way for all of us to find the silence we need, even in the midst of social media’s chaos, the 24-hour news cycle’s din, the bickering of politics. We can take part in these things and still experience a life-giving practice of silence, if we can step away from our selfishness, if we can set our sights on living a life of love.
So I guess this is the next challenge for me. Returning from my solitude, yet somehow keeping the wonderful peace I found. I hope you’ll keep traveling with me. I think we all still have a lot to learn when it comes to silence, solitude, and living the best life we can…even with Facebook’s little red numbers flashing on our screens.
BIG QUESTION: What are social media’s positive affects in your own life? How do you keep a balance between its noise and finding the silence we all need?