Why I Am There And Not *There*

Today I feel more tired of social media than ever before and more thankful for Substack than ever before. Yesterday I deleted my Twitter account, having been briefly drawn back there for the usual reason: the desire to give books I’ve put every ounce of myself into the best chance possible of surviving in the world. But in fact what I repeatedly deduce is that I’d rather sell fewer books than voluntarily drink mind poison. I intend to keep my resolve this time. I hope I do, because the five weeks I had it deactivated for earlier this year is uncoincidentally the period in recent times when I have possessed my deepest powers of concentration and been at my least prodded by anxiety.

I am reminded constantly of its alleged necessity and that it’s supposed to go with the territory of being an author in the 21st Century, but I have never relished being an aftercare sales representative for my books. As I do it, I come to the same conclusion again and again, which is that I just want to write. The conclusion becomes more crucial and acute, the older I get. I had a couple of jobs selling stuff in my late teens and I wasn’t very good at it. It’s one of the reasons I decided to become a writer instead. I love hard work but I want the hard work to be solely in the creativity, in challenging and broadening and sharpening myself more with each book. After fourteen books, I badly want that to be enough. And, if it isn’t, I want to become strong enough to deal with that. I want to write more on Substack. I don’t want to be repeatedly reduced to some inaccurate, algorithmically moulded version of myself on Instagram, or Facebook or Twitter or X or whatever this week’s replacement for it is. The more writing I do, the more I put into it, the more of an insult to it that algorithmically shaped version of what I do seems. I’ll go further than that: it makes me feel thoroughly violated and sad. Each time I do something on social media that could potentially help me find new readers, I also risk breathing false life into that version of myself. Of course, that version can’t really breathe, because it’s not living. It’s not here, right now, in the room with me. I’ve never even met it. It is part of something created by the most socially ruinous form of modern capitalism working in diabolical zombiebrain harmony with people so hopelessly addicted to social media they won’t follow links but will obediently create narratives from the words and photos accompanying the links themselves, then scream at each other about those narratives, just like technobillionaries and their accountants hope they will. As I logged in one last time to Twitter, solely to delete my account, the last thing I saw was a troll, yet another sewerskimming mouth horn, reacting, claws out, to something I hadn’t said in a piece they hadn’t read, based on a quarter of a sentence – it seems they don’t even do full sentences now, that’s all a bit 2017 – I’d written to accompany a link to it. It felt sort of poetic: a fitting end to something I’ve given far too much of the sand in the hourglass of my life to and has precisely fuck all to do with actual writing or the nuances and complexity of the human experience.

I know I’m not the only one on Substack who feels this way. I sense things are changing, and the site gives me hope. I would love to get to a point where all I do is write and put the results in books and on there or/and this website. That’s easier said than done, but I’ve always been an optimist, and I’m resolved to give it my best go, because I’ve had enough of the way my lingering outmoded half-devotion to the other method makes me feel so wretchedly sad inside. Thank you for being one of the ones who are here with me, rather than with that other version of me – the other version of us – that doesn’t exist, and never has done.

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2 thoughts on “Why I Am There And Not *There*

  1. You could join Mastodon? There are quite a few authors on there now and although you might not get the reach you had on Twitter people are generally friendly and inviting. No ads, no algorithms.

  2. I fully appreciate why you left Twitter, it’s a creativity sapper and a time stealer. I think I’d write more, and more often, if I wasn’t on there; but I do like it for networking and information. I found you on Twitter, and I now have the joy of reading your wonderful and hilarious words because of that. Perhaps I’d have stumbled upon you another way, perhaps not. I’m just thankful I did when you were still there.

    I’m currently listening to ‘21st-Century Yokel’ on Audible. I’m about a third through and I’ve decided I have to buy a hard copy. There are so many funny things I want to underline and refer back to. I’m also thinking about who I could buy a copy for for Christmas. With family in Devon and in-laws in Suffolk, I think lots them would appreciate your stories.

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