Goodbye, Facebook. Am I Ready?



By Candy Gourlay

I am leaving Facebook. I have decided. I have said it out loud. I have begun the process.

There's a lot to do before I close shop and so I am still seeing my Facebook feed, and I'm already missing all the buzz, all my friends, knowing what's going on.

And yes, I am hesitating.

Marketing guru Seth Godin, in the first episode of his podcast Akimbo, describes the constant 'pressure to hesitate, to hold back, not to launch ... (because) if you can't have a home run, you probably shouldn't even try.'

Seth cites some examples of people who committed to their dreams, despite unfavourable conditions.
Gutenberg, pioneer of movable type, launched the book when there were no bookstores, and when no one knew how to read, and when reading glasses were required but hadn't been invented yet ... The Grand Opening, Akimbo by Seth Godin 

If I had invented moveable type in an age when nobody knew how to read, would I plunge on?

Seth also cited the example of Carl Benz, who launched a car in a Germany where it was against the law to drive a car, there were no passable roads, and there were no gas stations.

It feels a little bit like that at the moment.

I am abandoning a successful Facebook profile, with almost 3,000 friends, and an author page that gets thousands of hits a day. And I'm scared. How can I replace all that? Especially in a world where everybody wants instant access to people in the public sphere, even children's authors like me.

But even apart from the ethical concerns I outlined in my recent blog post I was beginning to question the value of what I was doing on Facebook.

So much time spent in multiple, micro-performances, for a huge, amorphous audience. And so little time spent doing the things I enjoy – writing, drawing, making ...

By forcing myself to leave Facebook, I hope I can make more time to be of real value to my readers. I can do this in my own space, on my website. I will have more time to create useful content for librarians and teachers who would like to share my book with their students. I will have more time to answer the questions of young people reading my book. And most importantly of all, make real time for real friends in real spaces. (Do stay in touch by subscribing to my updates or following me on Twitter).

But of course it's hard, and of course I'm hesitating. Can I really commit to a Facebook-less life?

Then it occurs to me that I do this everyday. I hesitate before I commit.

I have a chronic skin condition that only improves if I go through a tedious routine of applying moisturisers and ointments and protective bandages everyday. And everyday, I hesitate. Do I really have to? And then I commit. I do it. And at the end of the day, I feel better for it.

Everyday, I need to walk up a steep hill near my home. It's exercise before spending the rest of the day in front of my laptop. But that moment before I put on my coat and walk out my front door is the hardest. Do I really have to? And halfway there, when the hill is at its steepest, and I feel like jumping on a bus, the doubt becomes even more intense. But I do it. And I feel better for it.

Everyday, I have to write. Just enough words to get my novel closer to The End. But it's hard. There are so many other things I would rather do. But everyday I sigh and open my laptop. And then months, sometimes years later, it's done. I've written a novel. And I feel better for it.

I hesitate, then I commit, and I'm always glad I did.

I know I will be glad I left Facebook. I am excited about the change of routine but most of all about the creative challenge of finding other ways to achieve what I have previously been reliant on Facebook to deliver.

Seth says the alternative to a huge platform is to engage with people who want to hear you.

Says Seth:
"You put an idea in the world. Not to everyone in the world, just to people who want to hear it. And then maybe it spreads. And if it spreads it grows. And if it grows you get to do it again ... The goal is to go the people who care. To invite them in and to tell them something they didn't know before ... Not with a grand opening but with a whisper. Here, I made this. That's our work."
Here I am at Adarna Books in Manila. Adarna has just published a Filipino translation of my first picture book, Is It a Mermaid, which in Filipino is SIRENA BA YAN?



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4 comments:

  1. You are very inspiring, Candy! I love your examples. I tend to hesitate too and agonize before making a decision. Hesitate but do it anyway!

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  2. It is amazing how this short blog just jolted me. I hesitate too. And there are times, I do not commit. It is a bit strange to be inspired by a blog on uninspiration, and yet there it is. Just that first step. And the next one will be easier. Yes, Candy. Do this. I will take inspiration from your hesitation. And I will continue to follow you. Godspeed all the way, Candy. A huge fan here!

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  3. Tempted to do likewise, Candy, as FB is beginning to irritate me more and more.

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