Social Media as Competitive Sport

Social media is about being connected, staying in touch with old friends, finding out what’s happening in the world.

Unless, like me, you’re a competitive soul. In which case it’s a matter of keeping one step ahead of, well, honestly, my husband.

Yes, yes, I profess to only be competitive with myself. And for the most part that’s true. Unless I perceive a challenge by a boy, in which case my competitive streak gets the best of me. I think it has to do with having the only mom in elementary school who was a welder. I am extremely supportive of my female friends, but if the boys think I can’t do something, I’m going to prove them wrong.

Ready to head out for the Seattle-to-Portland Bike Ride
A male coworker told me he was doing the Seattle-to-Portland bike ride. I thought it sounded interesting. Most people camp after a 100 miles and make it a two-day ride. “No way,” my friend said. “If YOU want to camp, fine. I’m doing it in one day.” Challenge accepted! Took months of training, but I did it: 200 (hilly!) miles in 14 hours. It was a proud (extremely tired) moment crossing that finish line.

In the best of times, this streak pushes me to be a better person. But in most cases, it merely pushes me to do stupid things, like trash talking my way into a chicken wing–eating contest. Yes, a chicken wing–eating contest. I trash talked so badly that the single goal of my main competition was to, and this is an exact quote, “Shut Jenny Brown’s ENORMOUS pie-hole.” I did not win, but I did beat that team and I came in with a respectable 45 wings. I should note: This was not a college prank, but something I did as a grown married woman in my 30s.

This competitive streak has had me bike riding 200 miles in a single day, running marathons, traveling solo to Bulgaria, and it turns out, joining social media.

In 2001, I had heard of this thing called “a blog.” I’ve never been as techy as some of the other folks I worked with (it was Amazon and I was an editor in a world of coders), and didn’t give it much thought. Until it turned out that my then-fiancé—also not a coder—had started a blog. I give you the first words of my blog, from October 2, 2001: “Okay, so if Adam can have a Weblog, so can I.” This was actually one the few times my competitive streak served me well, as I now have approximately thirteen years of my life recorded, from the last year of my life as a single person through parenting tweens. (I stopped updating it when I sold my novel and was told I needed a more professional web presence.)

I thought this was it. I was advanced. I had a weblog, people! What more could there be?

Until this Facebook thing came about.

Sometime around 2006 or 2007, I said to my husband, “My friends are talking about Facebook. Is this a thing?”

My husband said, “It’s okay. Kind of a time suck.”

To which I said, “WHAT! You’re already on it?”

“For work, you know.” This is his standard answer. Husband works in high-tech and often has to test the product, so he’s constantly signing on to new things.

Facebook account went up the next day. Twitter we joined at the same time. Instagram, he joined first, but I’m the only one who posts pictures. Do you know I even have an Ello account? I thought for sure I had beaten him there, but when I said, “Ha! I got an invite!” he replied, “Oh, I didn’t know you’d want to be on it. I could have given you one.”

The one social media site that I used first and way more frequently than him is Goodreads. I’ve always loved recording my books and finding new great reads that way. (If you’d like to friend/follow me on Goodreads, I welcome you! And I’d be honored if you added MODERN GIRLS to your to-read list.)

So I am fully media-ed. But now I’m the more active user of the two of us. What was originally just a way for me to be snarky (Facebook) is now a place where I’m a member of a number of writing groups, which have provided valuable advice and suport. It’s also where I have my author page, where I can post my writerly happenings and things of interest I find while researching. And what was originally just a way for me to be snarky (Twitter) is now a place where I find news articles and book releases and have made a few friends. My one goal on Twitter these days is to have more followers than (are you surprised?) my husband. The gap is closing but he’s still ahead by about 100 people (if you’d like to help me out, you can find me @j_s_brown). My blog on my website has connected me to the world in a much more tangible way: I wrote about my genealogical searches on it once, and a distant family member found it through Google and contacted me. And voila! I have a new cousin!

I’m still working on finding the balance for social media. I find it depressingly easy to fall down a rabbit hole of needing to know what everyone else is doing. But I get so much out of it that I don’t want to stay away for too long. I use Freedom (the program that disconnects me from the Web) liberally, which helps my writing time. Yet I enjoy interacting and making new friends online.

I thought all was well and good in the social media world. Until last Friday. When I got this text from my husband: "Hey just a heads up. I'm downloading snapchat onto my phone. For work."

If you’ll excuse me. I’ve got some chats to snap.

Where You Can Find Me on Social Media

Facebook Author Page: www.facebook.com/authorjennifersbrown
Twitter: @j_s_brown
Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/jsbrown
Goodreads: MODERN GIRLS
Instagram: brownjennys
Google+: +JenniferSBrown
Website: www.jennifersbrown.com

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Jennifer S. Brown is the author of MODERN GIRLS (NAL/Penguin). The novel, set in 1935 in the Lower East Side of New York, is about a Russian-born Jewish mother and her American-born unmarried daughter. Each discovers that she is expecting, although the pregnancies are unplanned and unwanted, in this story about women’s roles, standards, and choices, set against the backdrop of the impending war. Learn more at www.jennifersbrown.com.

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This article has 3 Comments

  1. You don’t need “Freedom” to get yourself off the internet. You just need to get your internet from Hughes Satellite and then you’ll be off when you try to watch a news clip or you share too many of your vacation pictures on Facebook in one day or the wind blows.

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