One reason explains why anyone chooses to stay off the internet: Fear.
Old people fearful of computers. Young women avoiding stalkers. Writers burned by lousy reviews from clueless, jealous readers?
I'm enormously skeptical of those who fear the internet without some kind of solid reason for it. Did they once prowl the internet but suffered a bad experience, and that’s the reason for shunning it? Safety and security from all the criminals who live online? You can lose a lot of money to online scammers. Come to think of it, you can do the same offline, but your chances of being scammed are cut in half if you stay away from the internet.
To my surprise, some digital scribes are counseling writers and authors, of all people, to stay off the internet. I see someone by the name of Emily Gould has written an opinion piece for Salon with this advice. I didn't notice it until now because, seriously, who reads or writes for Salon or follows what they say except radicals whose opinions are worthless? I've never once thought: I really need to check Salon for some great opinions!
And sure enough, Gould's advice is downright silly. Writers should take long walks or do volunteer work instead of spending time on the internet. This is a great Exhibit A of why I don't read Salon.
A writer needs to be on the internet to build an audience and interact with a following, and to promote his writings, especially when there are thousands if not millions of writers online hyping their books. If you want to be a well-read author, is it rational to ignore the digital world? Sure, some can succeed while doing that--roughly something like 0.01 percent of all authors.
Any writer not on the internet and not already a success needs his or her head examined. Sure there are dangers and things to fear. Idiot reviewers who prove they don't understand a book they review (I can relate), revealing unsavory details about oneself that may repulse some readers and customers. So the answer is...hide yourself so nobody knows what you think?
When I think of people not online, what image pops into my mind? Rural, small town America. A farmer plowing his fields. Uncle Joe on Petticoat Junction. Mayberry RFD. The Indians of the Amazon region in South America. I don't think of authors. Maybe because I see every day on my twitter feeds how many are out there already.
The power levers of the world make it harder to stay offline. The push is insistent from educators and the government to find more reasons to stay online. That sounds ominous, doesn’t it? “Educators” and the “government” are without question the two biggest worries we have right now for keeping a great country and not deteriorating into some banana republic. The White House, Congress, Washington DC and the “teachers” in schools at all levels. When I think of those things, I think of the Robot on Lost in Space: “Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!”
A writer can't let fear dictate her strategy for building a reputation. A writer doesn't back down from that. A writer out-writes her critics and naysayers and emerges victorious in the end. A writer without that belief surely lacks self-confident in her abilities to set original ideas on digital paper and win the war of words.
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