Do writers need Twitter?

Who Made That Twitter Bird? - The New York Times

An excellent question. I’m sure some sociologist will make a cushy career out of answering it some day. But for now…. eh. Who knows. Some people are skeptical, others embrace. Not sure I’ve ever sold a book with a Tweet, but I may have made contacts that helped me earn money in other ways. For me, Twitter is more valuable for what I can get from it than what I can give it. I keep it to keep current. And to slowly mindlessly scroll away while trying to forget that I’m slowly disintegrating into old age. So what I’m saying is, I have my reasons.

Twitter terrifies me. Somehow, I’ve equated my lack of popularity on this admired social media platform with my writing ability. Every tweet is posted with a racing pulse and a flood of underarm sweat. Often to be deleted moments later. But I’m told Twitter is the way forward for emerging writers.

On Twitter, everyone wins prizes and gets published. I leave every scrolling session more deflated than I started. Why does it invoke the worst in me? The jealousy, insecurity, the unhealthy comparisons with other writers. Do I need to put myself through this? I figured it was time to go back to my journalistic roots and attempt some nonfiction. It can’t be any worse than my prose.

When I attended a John Hewitt workshop a few years ago, Twitter was hailed as an excellent resource for writers. I resisted for a while, but the fear of missing out made me cave in and sign up. Initially, scout’s honour, I joined to source writing opportunities. However, when I won a few small competitions, I couldn’t help posting news of my success. That was the Twitter way. But then I was filled with a strange sense of self-loathing.

Had I turned into that person? The person whom I rolled my eyes at when they tweeted of being blessed, honoured, thankful, humbled, delighted, stunned, amazed, awed by some sort of writing success. I felt vain and vacuous for jumping on the bandwagon of braggadocio. What was I trying to prove? Why did I feel the need for others to praise me? Am I that insecure? Yes, yes, I am. And I loved the support. But I hated myself for loving it.

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