A few thoughts on social media, finding positivity, but also not letting you kid you into believing there’s only one way to do things.

Hello and welcome to the spot on the site where each week we talk about things to do with mental health, general wellbeing, and trying to find bits of light. This week, I’ve been seeing lots and lots of advice on my social media feeds, so wanted a quick natter about that.

For those who like to write, the likes of Twitter has no shortage of must-follow tips for getting words down on a sheet of paper. Just today I’ve been told that if I want to be a writer, it’s important that I write every day. Also that I have to accept I’m going to rewrite everything 300 times or something. And that I need to set myself certain times of the day to write. If I’m serious about writing, I must do all these things.

Chums, no. We’ve got to stop this.

I’m zeroing in on writing because it’s something I actually do, and I can tell you with some experience that it never goes in a straight line. At least for me. That one bunch of advice might be useful, and another simply won’t work for me. There’s a reason that there are dozens of different books on screenwriting for instance that are regularly on the shelves, and that’s because one size simply doesn’t fit all. Never has, never will.

Yet if you follow social media, and in particular the tone of the language on social media, it has a horrible habit of dealing in absolutes. Whether it’s someone telling you that an article is ‘must read’, or that you’ll never be any good at something you want to do if you don’t do this, there’s a lot of well-meaning advice (and sometimes less well-meaning advice) that’s being put across almost as, well, pretty much orders.

I’m not someone who believes that social media is a negative force. I use the block functions of the services I engage with, and find with a little pruning I can push aside 90% of the nonsense that comes with it. I appreciate that’s not the case for everyone, of course. But I follow and read the feeds of people, and love the core human drive to share knowledge and ideas. It’s out there, as is encouragement and applauding others. I’m not naïve, I know there’s a lot of other stuff out there, and I’ve been on the receiving end of lots of it. But still: there’s good to be found.

Yet it needs to be on your terms. I do feel that. And if you want to make, I don’t know, parachutes for a living, don’t be put off by someone telling you there’s only one way to do so (although I advise strings). Part of life is finding our own paths, not always successfully, to what we want to do. Take in the advice, certainly, but don’t let social media kid you into thinking your way might not be worth a go.

Again, I come back to writing, because I at least know something about that. I’ve worked with hundreds of writers over the past few years, who’ve come from all sorts of backgrounds, through all sorts of routes, and generate a wide range of material. I’d wager that had they all followed the absolutes of social media, not all of them would have found their voice. I’m just glad they have. I hope you do too.

You all take care. This column, as always, will return next Wednesday.

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