As of December 4, I will be stepping away from social media, including my personal Facebook account, for at least the next 13 months. The reasons are many and varied and both personal and professional.
My Facebook Author page will continue to be updated with new blog posts, publication announcements, and my speaking schedule. My Twitter account will do the same, mostly automatically. For the time being, I will also continue to facilitate discussion in the Rural Community Builders Northwest Facebook Group — something I am paid to do for a few hours each month, believe it or not.
Facebook and Twitter just aren’t the places I should be focusing my attention right now. Not only am I working on multiple complex writing projects, I want to spend more time in face-to-face conversations, writing and reading real letters, journaling (I stopped journaling when I started using social media), having a thought and sitting with it for a while and maybe not sharing it with anyone, reading fiction and poetry, and favoring news sources that provide ample space for story and context and nuance.
Most people can do all these things while still being active on social media. I can’t. At least it hasn’t proven to be the case so far. So I’m stripping away almost everything — I’m even leaving Goodreads — and then, eventually, but no earlier than January 2018, I might start reintroducing social media in moderation.
There are many ways we can still stay in touch, which I would very much like to do. I love snail mail. You can send me a letter or postcard here:
P.O. Box 889
Silverton, OR 97381
If you’re near Silverton, let’s grab coffee, a beer, or a meal, or let’s take a walk together. I will also be publishing a regular “Letter from Silverton” on my blog. We can even make plans to chat on the phone or over Skype or Google Hangouts.
You can also email me at johnepattison [at] gmail [dot] com. For better or worse, Facebook Messenger has become another email inbox for me, and so I can be reached there as well, though I will check it less frequently. The one social media channel where I will still be “active” on a personal level is Instagram. Mainly because I don’t spend a lot of time there anyway, because I can’t conflate mobile photography with my writing work, and because my parents want to see pictures of grandkids.
I recognize that this decision might inhibit my writing career. Writers and artists are encouraged to develop a robust digital presence sometimes referred to as a “platform.” But for me a Platform needs to be something I intentionally step up to, not a de facto home where I essentially have to live and work in public. I haven’t been able to find a good balance, and I think the quality of my writing has suffered.
Ultimately, however, I’m not setting out to prove a theory. I just want to live and work as deeply, artfully, and fruitfully as possible. Spending fewer hours in front of a screen, and favoring slow communication over fast, feels like the most authentic place for me to start.