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Sunday, February 10, 2013

Sunday Salon: The Online Trend of Going Offline


The Sunday Salon


If all goes well, today will be a review-writing day. Last night I raced to finish a book of short stories for a blog tour this Tuesday, so I'll be writing that up. I also hope to get my thoughts down, finally and with some degree of coherence, about We Need to Talk About Kevin; I finished the audiobook a few days ago, but it's a novel that definitely needs to simmer a little.

I also hope to keep making progress with a chunkster-ish novel--did we agree awhile back that 400 pages was the minimum threshold for "chunkster" status? Then this isn't an "-ish," it's a bona-fide chunkster, and the fact that I'm reading it as an e-book doesn't negate that--for an online book club launching a week from Thursday, and I need to get started on the books for one more tour this month and March reviews for Shelf Awareness. Considering that February is short of days compared to other months, I think I may have overbooked it! (I'll pause now while you groan at the bad pun.)

And--somehow--I've made a good dent in my feed reader this week, where I've noticed what seems to be a new trend. Lately, there's a lot of talk online about getting away from being online: #FACEBOOKBREAK, the social-media hiatus, powering down.

Getty Center Gardens, February 2013 (www.3rsblog.com)The online space as the venue for these conversations feels a little weird and ironic, and yet also totally appropriate. And since I've been kicking some of these ideas around in my head for a little while, I wanted to open up the conversation here, for what will probably not be the last time.

The new challenge of "balance" is maintaining our connections--many of which are nurtured by social media--while trying to keep "being connected" from eating up our lives.

Aside from a couple of Facebook groups and the G+ Book Bloggers community, I feel like I'm doing more broadcasting--sharing links and promoting content--than conversing online lately. The social-media beast has changed dramatically during the nearly six years I've been blogging--it's bigger and more fragmented, like blogging itself. I'm coming to feel that I don't do the "social" part very well these days, but I'm not sure I feel a need to fix it.

There are so many online outlets now--Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest and Instagram and Google+ and other networks I probably don't even know about--that I've accepted that "catching up" is futile. I feel better when I just don't try. Besides, even after so many years and despite frequent reports of their impending death, blogs are still alive and well, and the pace and content of blogging continues to satisfy me more than anything else online.

Then there's this: If you want to blog about books, you have to make time to read books, and follow that up with writing blog posts about what you've read. And if the amount of time you can make to do those things is limited to begin with, you have to choose your activities carefully so you don't limit it further. A book blogger has to step back from the online midway in order to keep the blog healthy and well-fed. This is a niche that depends on powering down in order to stay powered up.

"Power Down," a biweekly podcast with the SITS Girls, Heather King, and Amy WhitleyThe Power Down Podcast is a biweekly conversation about figuring out how to "find peace in the chaos." It's the kind of talk that often takes place at conferences and workshops and other places where online people meet offline, and it seems like talk a lot of us may be ready to have. I hope you'll give it a listen--they've done two shows so far, and a new one will be up this Wednesday, February 13. Maybe you can even do some reading while you listen.