The Perils of Social Media

Guest Blog by Tosca Lee

Our guest today is Tosca Lee, author of Demon: A Memoir and Havah: The Story of Eve. She is also the co-author with Ted Dekker of the NYTimes bestseller Forbidden. The next book in that series will be out this Summer. A sought-after speaker and former Mrs. Nebraska, Tosca was a senior consultant for a global consulting firm until turning to writing full-time. She holds a degree in English and International Relations from Smith College and also studied at Oxford University. Please visit her web site at


Facebook. Twitter. Shoutlife. LinkedIn. Dopplr. Google+. Plaxo. Blogger. WordPress. Shelfari. Goodreads. Writer’s loops. Conference loops. Endless loops.

By the time I finish updating my status, writing my blogs, tweeting, pasting my bulletins, my newest pictures, my URLs and YouTube links, recruiting friends, recommending friends, sharing reads, rating reads, ranking reads, ranking friends, tagging friends, responding to posts, responding to friends, responding to blogs, ranting, reblogging, re-bulleting, re-accepting (plants, gifts, pinches, bits o’ karma, flowers, flare, tickles, candy, drinks, siege warfare by angry goats and lil green patches–what the heck is a lil green patch anyway??) it’s time to repost my status–and respond to those responding to my status who are reading their walls, shuffling friends, organizing bookshelves, recommending contacts and waging mob wars.

By then, the day is over. I have missed my hair appointment, my deadline and a conference call, needed to go to the bathroom three hours ago, blown off dinner, ticked off my friends (who live in town and did not check my wall to see why I never showed up), neglected my Significant Other, alienated my family, and defaulted on my mortgage.

I’m already grossly behind on an article and some reading, on projects for friends and the synopsis I owe my agent… and yet I cannot tear myself from Facebook because I might miss something important–say, another lil green patch–and then I will have gone from being behind with writing, reading and work, to being behind with the relational fiber of my life that is supposed to make the reading, the writing, the work all meaningful.

Bouncing back and forth between the social, networking and professional sites I signed up for to catch up with friends, connect with readers and promote my work, it’s plausible that I might never have time to write another book–or if I do, it’ll be 360 pages of 140-character one-liners.

I don’t know half the people in my extended network, but they came highly recommended. And even though I may not actually know Marlene in Dekalb, I’m fascinated by how white her teeth are in her picture and the fact that her relationship status just changed from “In a relationship” to “Single.” I’m wondering if they broke up or she forgot to change it before her last boyfriend. And if I know any friends of friends willing to dish.

I’m fascinated by hub friends, who seem to know and be on everyone’s page, horrified at how many colleagues know schoolmates who have seen me do stupid things, appalled friends’ exes who never had the decency to settle down more than one degree away.

It gets a bit uncomfortable–I worry if raucous friends will offend the straight-laced among my network (or vice versa). I wonder whether I’ll say something dumb that will haunt me forever–or at least until it scrolls off the new bulletin list, pushed down by the newest rants, requests, ramblings or reciprocal idiocy of others.

The only way to know, of course, is to stay pasted to the screen. I find that trolling for feedback is an especially convenient time to spy on high school friends and frenemies, the real lives of people I only see in suits, my exes, my readers (it seems only fair), my colleagues, my neighbors. And I am at peace with my virtual social life, holed up like a voyeuristic hermit, my picture neatly made up in the window as I sit stinky and unkempt at home in my sweats.

One of these days, God willing, I’ll start a new project. Crickets will chirp from the void that was my blog. The status line of my Facebook page will stare blankly at no one. Invites will turn kudzu on my homepage, and my Shelfari shelves will grow dust. Concerned friends will send notes like morose pings into the ether as I wrestle with metaphors and confront the empty page, wishing I could trade my Roget’s for the tiniest lil green patch or bit o’ karma.


Tosca just sent you a lil green patch.

[Accept] [Decline] [Ignore] [Wage Mob War Instead]




30 Responses to The Perils of Social Media

  1. Avatar
    Michelle Sutton January 9, 2012 at 5:53 am #

    LOL! Tosca, you are too funny. I just ignore most of that stuff. When people ask me if I saw their latest post on facebook, I say no, that I don’t go to other people’s pages as I don’t have time. Social media can be very distracting, so I do the basics and let the rest slide by. Love you, girl! You’re always going to be one of my favorite writers no matter what, and I can’t get my husband to stop telling the world how much he loves your work. Good thing I know he’s a fan of mine, too. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  2. Avatar
    Sherri Wilson Johnson January 9, 2012 at 6:36 am #

    This was the most awesome article I have read in forever! Thank you for making me laugh and consider how I use my time at the same time .

  3. Avatar
    Diana Lesire Brandmeyer January 9, 2012 at 6:42 am #

    Love this post and yet I was nodding my head in agreement with most of it.

  4. Avatar
    Julie Arduini January 9, 2012 at 7:33 am #

    The one positive about maintaining a “life” through social media without losing my writing life is I’m a speed reader. I can read fast, click a few likes here and there, give someone a RT, and I’m done. But this post is a gem. As an aside, I love Tosca’s hair! ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Avatar
    Barbara Ellen Brink January 9, 2012 at 7:37 am #

    If I didn’t feel compelled to come over here and read this very funny article I might be getting some writing done. Thanks a lot!

  6. Avatar
    Ruth Douthitt January 9, 2012 at 9:06 am #

    Oh my, Tosca, you hit it right on the head! I KNOW I am on social media way too much, but I have a product to sell (my book!) and a brand to push (ME!).

    But it can get rather hectic. I try and get out for a run every now and then just to listen to music, breathe for a while, and try not to think about what to put on my FB status!


  7. Avatar
    Meredith Smith (@MeredithNSmith) January 9, 2012 at 9:36 am #

    I’m on my social media network loop at this very moment, having clicked to your article through the Twittersphere. Shortly before, I got an email from an IAM meet-up group to discuss this article: I love when things relate! Love the stream-of-conscious treatment to your blog post, Tosca. Well played!

  8. Avatar
    Davalynn Spencer January 9, 2012 at 9:53 am #

    Thank you, Tosca Lee. When I curl up on the couch in the evenings, it isn’t with any of the above mentioned life-leeches, it’s with a book. Whether e- or otherwise, it’s still a book that takes me where I want to go.

  9. Avatar
    Casey Herringshaw January 9, 2012 at 10:34 am #

    Perfect! Competely agree…though Facebook is where I saw this articale. Oops.

  10. Avatar
    Ann Shorey January 9, 2012 at 11:08 am #

    Love this post! Too true. Yet here I am commenting on a blog post when I should be writing. ๐Ÿ™

  11. Avatar
    jubilee January 9, 2012 at 12:26 pm #

    But, do you know what your Klout and Alexa scores are?! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  12. Avatar
    Karen Ball January 9, 2012 at 1:55 pm #

    How hysterical is it that this has gotten 32 Tweets??

    • Avatar
      Steve Laube January 10, 2012 at 11:46 am #

      And it is now up to 52!

  13. Avatar
    Patty Smith Hall January 9, 2012 at 2:08 pm #

    Thank you! Thank you! Did I say Thank You!

  14. Avatar
    Sharon A Lavy January 9, 2012 at 2:25 pm #

    My husband cannot understand why people want so many people to know their private business. He avoids all the social stuff.

  15. Avatar
    Stephanie Karfelt January 9, 2012 at 2:50 pm #

    Completely and utterly relate. I need a twelve step program. I think there’s an app for that…

  16. Avatar
    Kayla Ousley January 9, 2012 at 3:56 pm #

    I’d take ten minutes to leave a proper reply, but you’ve convicted me. I’m going to use those ten minutes writing. Thank you, Tosca! ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. Avatar
    Cathy Richmond January 9, 2012 at 4:57 pm #

    Amen! Put down that little green patch and write another great book!

  18. Avatar
    Janalyn Voigt January 9, 2012 at 10:25 pm #

    I have just one word for all of that: hootsuite. ;o) Thanks for a smile.

  19. Avatar
    PW Creighton January 10, 2012 at 6:25 am #

    While social media may happen to be the largest time-sink of any writer today it is what we signed up for when we decided to get published. The only way it can stay manageable is to set a time-budget for each piece and stick with it. Great look at it though.

  20. Avatar
    Jessie Gunderson January 10, 2012 at 10:50 am #


    Too much #caffeine or not enough?


    LMK how that works!

    Okay I’m just kidding about all the garble but you did make me laugh this lonely morning and instead of logging BACK into facebook before coffee I’m going to drink up and get back to my novel. Thank you for your fun sense of humor. I’m sharing this and then I’m waging my own mob war, ON the mob, the social media mob. So my Facebook peeps can talk to the hand. I’m going to get something done.

  21. Avatar
    Amelia January 10, 2012 at 1:25 pm #

    Love. Love. Love. And now I must go share this on Facebook and see how many people agree and Tweet it and see how many retweets it gets. Such a wonderful slice of perspective, and a nice break from working on…uh…chapter two of my book.

  22. Avatar
    Pete Missing January 11, 2012 at 2:29 am #

    I loved reading this. I have also walked thru most of these dilemmas and have had to find my own sense of balance. One executive recommended Twitter to me, but then kept telling me about the meal he had with his wife or what paving stone he was standing on, which was bad enough, but I also found that anyone who asked to follow me, simply stopped following as soon as I followed them, which has made me distrusting and resentful of Twitter. My general is to let these channels work for you, not the other way round. I spend a limited amount of time each day, generally to make one meaningful post on an issue of the heart rather than trivia and I always feedback and show an interest in all comments, because my only hope in building my brand is to be engaging. I do not, however, chase other postings unless they are meaningful, consistent with my strategic position and offer some reciprocal value.

  23. Avatar
    Stew Sutton January 11, 2012 at 8:08 am #

    What a hoot! Too close to the truth for most of us. ๐Ÿ™‚

  24. Avatar
    V.V. Denman January 11, 2012 at 8:19 am #

    Hilarious because it’s all too true. Thanks for helping to keep things in perspective.

  25. Avatar
    Jeanette Levellie January 21, 2012 at 9:33 am #

    Oh good, I’m not the only one. But my little patches are orange–it matches my hair better.

  26. Avatar
    ChadJ September 30, 2012 at 12:52 am #

    There seems to be a trick–one which I am missing entirely–to keeping the the platform work: managing the brand, identity, etc separate from the writing work. If you figure it out please let me know.


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