Facebook is a kind of visual quicksand. It’s too easy to slip over there for a few seconds, start reading, start surfing through what my friends are doing, get caught in a thread and get lost in the maze of other people’s friends. Do I know him? Her? Hasn’t it been days since I got any new friends? Aren’t I falling behind, when other people have thousands of friends? Shouldn’t I respond to some of these comments? Post an update of what I’m doing now? (Lately that’s mostly coughing) Put up some new pictures? (of me muffled by a wad of tissues) Look at other people’s pictures. (How come they’re not sick?).
Writers are playing tag. They’re writing on each other’s walls. They’re writing on my wall. And it is all the best of fun. Facebook is like one of those giant-sized boxes of chocolate. You know the kind–the kind best kept to yourself because then you can do that wicked, wicked thing: pick up a chocolate, take a bite, and if it isn’t a favorite, or not what you’re in the mood for, you put it back and bit into another one. Hey…I can go on for hours. I’ve got over a thousand friends.
And suddenly…half an hour…an hour…more than an hour have passed, and no work has gotten done. That is the downside. A very dangerous downside for a writer, who has no one but herself to keep her on task. Herself, her deadlines, and the screaming little voices in her head that are trying to get out. For ’tis a simple truth about writers–we’re allowed to hear voices in our heads and people don’t (necessarily) think we’re crazy. We’re supposed to have imaginary friends.
After a long session of work, I need a break. But I should be getting out of the chair, not drifting over to the internet to see what Rush Limbaugh is up to today, or to chat with my friends about whether Armed Forces Radio really should carry the man’s ugly drivel. Not drifting away from Limbaugh to see that all the other political chitchat is still going on. There are still petitions to sign and charts and graphs about how rich most people in Congress are. There’s another set of charts and graphs about the glaring disparity between articles by men and articles by women in many prominent magazines. How women are far less often chosen to review books; how much less often their books are reviewed. http://www.vidaweb.org/the-count. I start a chat about how long Sisters in Crime has been working to address these disparities. I realize the other people in this chat are very young. They have not been in this fight so long. They don’t remember “Help Wanted: Male” and “Help Wanted: Female.” This is how time slips away.
So, no more posting. Just a quick moment to appreciate the daily bit of happiness from Dru Ann Love. And another spectacular photograph from Joanne Arnold. Maybe I’ve got just enough more time to play a quick game of Scrabble, never mind that Paulette always beats me by a hundred points. I did just finish a 34 page non-fiction book proposal this morning. Surely I’m entitled to some time off. But, the voices whisper, it should be out of the chair. Sit ups are good. Planks are good. Crunches are good. Sitting is bad.
Then my doorbell rings. It’s an actual human, my tall and elegant neighbor, standing there with a copy of my new book, Redemption, in her hand. She can’t come to the book launch on Sunday, will I sign it for her? I smile. I sign. I’m still in that wonder phase where just seeing the book is terribly exciting. I head back for my chair, reminded that I write books, and there’s a new one that needs to be started.
My fingers stray toward “facebook.”
I pull my arm back, and google “software that locks you off the internet.” And up comes: FREEDOM. For just ten dollars, I can have an app that locks me away from the internet so I can be more productive. I am very tempted. I have not put my money down yet.