How do you Scroll?
MOMS NAVIGATING OUR DIGITAL LIVES:
What's Your Social Media Scroll Style?
I. THE BOYCOTTER:
"Whatever you're looking for, it's not on social media" Delphine, NY
II. THE SKEPTIC
You're working it out. "It’s like a relative I’d rather not deal with or maintain a relationship with but I have to because we’re related." Courtney, CT
III. THE HEALTHY JUGGLER
No Rules, No Probs
Scroll when I wanna Scroll: "I keep it uncomplicated. No emotion attached." -Shannon, TX
IV. The MOMPRENEUR
Happy to Hustle
For Branding, it's a Non-Negotiable! "My social media is so crucial and important for my business. About 90% of our business comes from instagram. It's my number one marketing tool." Carol of Shop Merci Milo, LA
MORE FROM OUR CONVERSATION WITH COURTNEY MAUM, THE SKEPTIC:
What is your relationship with social media?
Very contentious. It’s like a relative I’d rather not deal with or maintain a relationship with but I have to because we’re related. Certainly, for my career as an author and a writer, social media is so excellent for networking. I’m able to get in touch with other writers and personalities I admire in a casual, fun way, that can, with repeated online interactions, allow us to develop an actual relationship, and that is a wonderful thing. It’s also a nice way for me to support other people’s work—I really like to share photographs of the books I’m reading, for example, that can go a long way in generating buzz, that kind of sharing. Instagram drives a lot of book sales now, so I really do feel like I might be contributing positively when I #bookstagram.
But honestly, most of the time, social media is a chore. It’s part of the job description. At this point in my life, if it didn’t have so many uses and benefits professionally, I wouldn’t be on it. I kind of just don’t care. I’ve always been pretty old school. Nothing delights me more than an actual phone call, or a walk with an old friend. I still have pen pals. I cried when my mother in law installed WiFi in her beach house, which is one of my very favorite places to be, and to write.
Do you follow any rules or guardrails for yourself with social media? Feel free to send a pic of a scribble or post-it notes if you actually do!
I’ve always had good willpower, so normally when I am intent on accomplishing something, I don’t let social media distract me. It’s rarely pleasurable, anyway, so I know that taking a break from writing to visit Facebook is probably going to see me finding some information that I would rather not have had, and then I will have broken whatever magic writing flow I had going in the first place. But I do have rules. Mondays and Tuesdays are my hardcore writing days. I usually turn my phone off, or put it on airplane mode, and from the minute we get our daughter on the bus until around 2pm, I write. I’ll check my email around lunchtime to make sure there isn’t anything urgent, but I don’t usually use Monday or Tuesday time to reply. I’ll do something outdoorsy in the end of the afternoon, something for me to get out of my head and away from whatever I’m working on, and I try not to work or even reply to emails in the evening, I try to spend time with my family. Wednesdays are the day I’ll usually wake up and deal with whatever emails I need to attend to. It’s communication and errand day. Ditto for at least half of Friday. Although Thursday, I’m usually back to work. It just isn’t manageable for me otherwise—if I take a break on a Monday morning to attend to emails, I’ll never get back to whatever fiction I’m trying to write and I start the workday week off on the wrong foot.
This schedule works pretty well for me year round, but everything breaks down when I have a book out and I am in the promotion stage. Although it’s a real privilege to have books published, the pre-publication and publication stages are murder on your psyche. It’s just all too easy to think that if you stay on your computer with all your social media windows open, it’s simply a matter of page refreshments until Oprah tweets about your book. So when I’m in promotion mode, I have to get really draconian with my time. I’ve attached a picture of the schedule I made for myself—check emails at noon, and I only allow myself access to social media on Wednesday mornings and Friday mornings. I leave the rest of the weekly calendar blank—it calms me down. One evening per week, I play polo, which goes a long way toward helping me deal with anxiety and stress, as you certainly can’t be on social media while you’re galloping around on a horse!
Another thing I do, out of disinterest, not really consciously, is I never update my phone or laptop or upgrade to the new models. I mean, I still go running with a 2005 iPod for Christ’s sake—it has my initials on it, this was when the iPod first came out and you got your initials on it for free. My computer shuts down if I have too many windows open, it’s incredibly unreliable and I never installed plug-ins or whatever the hell so I can’t watch Netflix, I can’t really do much on it besides use Word and email—it’s a dinosaur. Ditto for my phone. The camera is so disgusting and ancient all of my photographs look like they’ve been taken behind a screen of Vaseline. The touch screen is worthless—it takes me like 5 tries to send a text, and for days at a time I can’t get email on my cellphone: the pinwheel spins and spins. The result of all of this is that rather than my cell phone being something I’m addicted to, it’s something that annoys me. Which works out pretty well.
How do you keep curious in this overstimulated info-age? (Is there still a sense of discovery out there like when we used to buy random used cd’s based on the cover art and race home to find out if we love or hate them?)
I use our town’s public library a lot. The fiction acquisition department at the Norfolk Library is a modern hero—I’m constantly discovering new books by both small and large presses that I take home and devour. And they’ve got a super selection of films and magazines. It’s a nice way to go and be in control of the way that I am digesting media, instead of having it flash up at me in a screen before I’ve even decided that I want to see it.
Also, I founded an interdisciplinary creative retreat called “The Cabins” that is an ongoing experiment in fostering curiosity. It takes place annually for four days in these lovely cabins around a lake here where the Internet is worthless. It’s not just for writers, either—it’s like an intellectual adult summer camp where makers across different disciplines come together to learn alongside one another. The idea is to learn about a discipline you don’t master from someone who does—we had a class in translation recently, which is a subject that a lot of people don’t think about, and another on photography—real photography, with paper floating in liquid and all that—it’s very hands on, very tactile, and preparing for the retreat each year keeps me rooted in the vital process of curiosity.
Will you give your kid a phone?
We’ll see! Hopefully by the time she is of an age where she might need one, pagers will be cool again and she can have one of those. You know, she’s only four, and already, she’s asking for an iPad because some of her friends have one. I always tell her that all the activities she could possibly desire are right inside her head. She’ll get a cell phone when she’s proven that she knows how liberating boredom can be, when she’s established interests and passions of her own, and when she is mature enough to step away from the draw of social media. We’ll hold out for as long as we can, and probably start with a nice, reliable, full-battery-for-days dumb phone.
Isn’t everyone “busy?” What does “Busy” even mean and why does it represent status?
This “busy” thing drives me nuts. Not only is it offensive—I mean, who isn’t busy these days? Who hasn’t taken on more than they can handle? Show me one American who feels in control of their schedule and their life—but it’s also a meaningless term. When people say they’re “busy”, I think what they usually mean is that they’re distracted. That their time isn’t focused, they can’t even identify blocks of free time any more because within that free time, they could get a push notification that changes what they were planning to do with their free time, they will go down the Instagram or Facebook rabbit hole, their mood will be changed by something they read on Twitter. So telling someone you are busy basically means, “Oh, I will probably be tied up trying to delight my many followers at that time, so I don’t really know if I can break away to have a coffee with you, an actual person.”
Personally, I try to be specific when I’m talking to people about schedule stuff. Like, I’ll say, “I’ve taken on more projects than I can handle, and it feels kind of scary to step away from my current work load.” I find that really explaining what’s going on in your life opens up a path for real dialogue whereas “I’m really busy” shuts all possibility for conversation down. You might as well put your hand up in someone’s face and say “Talk to the hand” when you tell someone you’re busy. I think it should be an illegal word.