Sarah Pinborough is a bad influence on me. There was the time we stole a baby koala from a petting zoo. The time we were engaged for twenty-four hours. The time were arrested in Florida for doing something not easily described with words. (At least one of these examples is 100% true).
Now, Sarah has convinced me to go offline for the entire month of October — although, truth be told, it didn’t take much convincing. You’ve no doubt noticed, this website is now just news items — book releases and such, as they happen. Any in-depth Blogging, essays, rants, etc. have been taking place in my weekly email newsletter. That is by design. If you’ve been reading the newsletter, then you know that I have plans for next year, after this Farewell (But Not Really) Tour ends. I intend to reduce my availability and access, limiting myself to the weekly newsletter, my weekly podcast, and an occasional convention appearance or bookstore signing. This is also by design. I intend to let social media such as Twitter and Facebook act as mirrors and signal boosters for this website, the newsletter, and the podcast. A lengthy explanation as to why can be found in a past issue of the newsletter. Here is a snippet:
‘Yesterday, I interviewed filmmaker/author Kevin Strange and author/editor John Bruni for my podcast. Kevin said something I found very true — social networking was about making friends and connections. Social media is about Facebook and Twitter selling advertisements.
In between those advertisements, there’s a lot of ugliness — and that ugliness seems to be spreading like cancer.
Online conversation is being replaced by online proselytizing — sort of dovetailing into what I wrote here last week. And you know what the best part of what I wrote last week was? How a certain segment of the Internet immediately proved my point by reacting with intolerance, venom, hate, and threats simply because they disagreed with an opinion I’d politely expressed.
Now, if you’re reading the above and saying, “You sound like a grumpy old man, Brian,” well, guess what cupcake? I am a grumpy old man. All I know is that I was there when the Internet began. You’ve grown up with it in your life and don’t remember a time when you didn’t have it. But I’ve been here since the start, and I’ve seen it change and grow and transform into what it is now. Yes, there have always been trolls. Yes, there have always been assholes. But the tenor of things these days is something far, far different, and it’s not a conversation I wish to participate in. I’m 49. Next year, I’ll be 50. I’d much rather talk to my children and my girlfriend and write books and be left the fuck alone and say “Hello” twice a week from my podcast and this newsletter.’
Which brings me back to Sarah Pinborough and #OfflineOctober. The way Sarah explained it to me is this — for the entire month of October, a bunch of writers go offline, temporarily suspending their Facebook and Twitter accounts, and limiting their email usage and other online activities to one hour per day. In theory, this will give us more time to write. More time to write is something I desperately need right now, so I decided to join the cause, along with Sarah, James Barclay, J Scott Marryat, and several others. But I also intend to use this as a test run for 2017, when I reduce my online interaction permanently.
Here’s how Offline October will work for me — Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. will be set to autopost, meaning if something gets posted on this website, it will automatically appear on my social media, as well. If I post a picture from October’s various signings and appearances, they will show up on social media, too. But as far as interaction — as far as commenting on things and responding to requests and such — I will be missing in action. I’ve disappeared from social media before, usually a week here or there when I was under a deadline, but this will be the longest stretch and I’m curious about the impact. As I said, this is a test run. I’ll be checking algorithms and watching click-through rates and such, because I’m curious about these things. And while my fellow authors will be limiting their email and such to one hour per day, I’ll actually be using this offline time to get caught up on replying to email. (As of this morning, there are currently 1,329 unread emails in my inbox. Newsletter subscribers know this number fluctuates every week). And I’ll be using it to get caught up on missed deadlines.
What I’ll be most curious about is to see how many people miss this announcement, miss the fact that a link to it is pinned at the top of both Twitter and Facebook, and will wonder if I’ve died.
Not yet, kids. Not yet…