Like everything, this begins with a story. Recently, I started reading Patrick O’Brian’s Master and Commander, and I’m enjoying it so far. He begins the book with an author’s note explaining how he bends history to serve his narrative. In this introduction, he states that while the book is thoroughly researched, he takes creative liberties in regard to historical figures and battles. (Though I usually find such forewords unnecessary in historical fiction, I appreciated O’Brian’s care, and I know some Royal Navy enthusiasts probably did as well.)
“My point is that the admirable men of those times, the Cochranes, Byrons, Falconers, Seymours, Boscawens and the many less famous sailors from whom I have in some degree compounded my characters, are best celebrated in their own splendid actions rather than in imaginary contests; that authenticity is a jewel; and that the echo of their words has an abiding value.”
—Patrick O’Brian, Author’s Note, Master and Commander
Whenever I start a new book, especially one as lauded as Master and Commander, I do a quick Google search about it. I’m not sure why I do this. Sometimes, it’s to find ephemera I might otherwise miss. Sometimes, it reveals little details not mentioned in the prose. Sometimes, I want to check out maps or illustrations that are not in my copy of the book. Over the course of the search, I stumbled across another book claiming to be the real story of the real master and commander. I have forgotten the title, and, to be honest, it’s not relevant. However, I found it amusing. Here was a book written and published decades years after O’Brian’s novel that pretended to be a response to it. Its author ignored O’Brian’s foreword completely and was like, “NO! You need to tell the REAL history of the Royal Navy’s heroes!”
Which now leads to Twitter. While at a BBQ, I was explaining to a friend how I found this amusing. His comment (I’m paraphrasing): “Funny, that’s like Twitter but before Twitter, and the guy actually took years to write a response.”
I found that comment funny and poignant. Over the last few days, I’ve been dwelling on his statement. It’s resonated with me. In a way, it is like Twitter, but as my friend observed it’s also very different. You see, Twitter removes that time in between. It gives us an instant connection for good or ill. Twitter lets us respond so quickly—we often don’t realize how our comment will make others feel. We don’t take the time to write a well-honed response, we just react. We laude. We celebrate. We resist. We obey. We re-tweet. We sub-tweet. We call out. We insult. We cast aspersion. We make accusations based on 140 characters and a profile picture. Twitter has ceased being a conversation and has become the mass reacting to one another. We’re no longer listening, which means we’re no longer responding.
I don’t want to do that. I’ve seen what the toxic nature of reaction-culture can do to communities. I’m not interested in playing those games any longer. This is why I’m going to shift the majority of my thought back to the humble blog. For me, this format forces solicitude and introspection. It makes me slow down, and it tempers. I never published posts the day I write them (even this one)—I let them sit and simmer which in turn discourages knee-jerk reaction. I have drafts of posts I’ll never publish because I wrote them while my ire was up. That’s a good thing. It lets me get those emotions out without dragging someone else down. It’s therapeutic in a way.
The biggest trick of social media, like Twitter and Facebook, is that you need to be on social media to somehow be successful. It’s a lie. Yes, you need a web presence, and you need to be on social media, but you don’t need to let it control you. There’s a big difference in running a business online versus throwing yourself into the volatile social media landscape. Humanity is just now starting to see where the latter leads, and I’m choosing a different path.
TL;DR—So, what does this all mean?
Well, first off, I’m not deleting my Twitter account or anything like that. I still run a business and Twitter is a part of that, and it’s an important part. After all, I gotta keep the lights on and the bills paid.
This blog is my primary platform; it’s where I’ll be doing most of my thinkin’. So while I will be posting more links elsewhere (probably a lot of links.) Most of those links will bring you back to here. Likewise, instead of writing Twitter threads, I’ll be writing posts. Posts are easier to read anyway; Twitter is garbage for long content.
- If you’re interested in continuing to follow me here are a few options:
Do nothing and keep following me on Twitter; I’ll continue to post links to news and blog articles there. But my content will primarily live here.
Click the “Follow” button in the footer to follow my blog via e-mail.
Follow me on Facebook where I also share news and articles.
Subscribe to my newsletter; that’s what the cool kids do. It’s where I share news about my books and preview secret stuff like sales and giveaways.