Nice to Meet You, What’s Your Handle?

The Internet has changed in the last five years.

This sounds like an obvious statement. I know it comes off that way. But it’s true — the Internet I have returned to is not the Internet I left.

Let me back up a little bit. Five years ago, I was completely dedicated to my writing. I was fortunate enough to have a small number of pieces published. I had been lucky enough to write, produce, and direct a small play at a local fringe festival. I was making a move to a small northern town and I couldn’t have been more excited. But somewhere between the move, getting married, and having children, my writing life became less and less prominent. My writing identity as L.M. Magalas slid to the backburner.

Fast forward to now. I’ve come back, ready to immerse myself in writing and all it has to offer. I start actively engaging in writing groups on Facebook. I familiarize myself with Shunn’s manuscript format again. I scribble character notes on pieces of paper as my sleep-deprived brain shifts between parent mode and writer mode. I think of my identity as a writer and try to start the process of immersing myself as much as possible into all it involves (like reinvigorating my @Lmmagalas Instagram account). Five years ago if you wanted to get people interested in something, you started a Facebook group. Facebook was instrumental in getting my play recognized, getting butts in the seats and reviews in the papers.

In the last five years, I feel as though social media has gone from “strong force winds” to almost cyclonic. There’s a line I remember hearing once, about how if it wasn’t recorded somewhere on the internet or Facebook, then did it actually happen? This seems to be the case more and more.

Let me be clear: this is not a social-media-is-the-death-of-conversation kind of post. I think it has so many good points that it would be impossible to list them all here. But what surprised me is just the sheer volume of people, videos, memes, etc., that there are now. There’s over a billion Instagram accounts now. A billion. That’s a billion people making, sharing, commenting, communicating. That’s a lot. It’s almost too much to imagine.

Now imagine you’re a writer (although you might not have to imagine much if you are). You’ve got a working knowledge of all things “Internet”. You understand the importance of social media. You understand the importance of networking, of connecting, with other writers. But you have to admit that sometimes, it can be too easy to get too involved. To let social media take over and swallow you. To watch and count every little comment, like, or new person who follows you.

That’s how I felt when I returned to the Internet, to social media. To Facebook and Instagram. That it was all just so much more than it had been when I left it. And it is, because it’s grown. But sometimes we forget the most important thing. At least, I did. Amidst the friends and the posts and the trolls and the threads, I forgot the most important thing.

The writing.

It’s about the writing. At the end of the day, what matters are the words that I get on the page. That I sit down and put one word in front of the other. That’s what matters for now.

And when it comes time to gain more followers? More hits and likes?

I hope I’m lucky enough to let my writing do the work.