The Internet – An Illusion of Community

Allow me to be both cynical and optimistic simultaneously. Since coming back to writing I have expanded my dive into the online community of writers afforded by both Facebook and Twitter. I created a Twitter account (@ALBnovelist) and joined, well let’s just say several, Facebook groups for writers. I have a whopping total of 29 Twitter followers and am using so many hashtags that I annoy myself, #amwriting.

I joined these online communities mainly to pick the brains of people who get to call themselves authors and I have yet to really be disappointed by the viewpoint that I have been afforded. Picking brains is nice and all but don’t we all want to be KNOWN online, followed, and sought? If I’m not talking about you that’s cool, I’m not talking about myself either, not really. But the draw is there. I make a post and I want people to see it, like it, share it. After I make a post I find myself going back to it several times just to see if anyone has identified with it enough to “like” it. At first, I was a little put off by my own internal self-assumption but upon closer examination of myself, I’m ok with the fact that I want my work to be seen. Why, after all, am I writing a book? I would not just be disappointed but probably devastated if no one ever read it or identified with it in some way. I am writing for me, for joy, maybe to fund a plane ticket to Scotland one day, and to tell a story that speaks to my heart, but I am also writing to share a piece of me with other people.

This is where things get tricky, the internet is seedy, cruel, and mischievous place. Let’s think Bo Burnham lyrics here. Writers are all over the internet searching for acceptance, help, and success but are we looking in the wrong place? The short answer is yes. Of the 29 followers I have let’s be honest; maybe 2 or 3 are organic followers that might actually be interested in what I am writing, the rest, upon observation, are participating in these ridiculous “writers lifts” where a person has an illusion of community by following thousands of people in hopes of a follow in return. I am so far not seeing a ton of benefit to this cycle, though for entertainment purposes I will likely keep my Twitter going.

Now, onto Facebook groups. Here is what I have found: The bigger the better. No, actually it’s the opposite of this completely. The smaller and more niche-y the better. Writers Helping Writers and Fiction Writing have HUGE membership numbers, in consequence, they are overly moderated and posts easily get lost in the shuffle. In contrast, smaller groups such as Moms Who Write have smaller but still substantial membership numbers and in turn, posts are more likely to be seen and responded to. I also think the variety of writers in the large group can be beneficial for getting unexpected viewpoints, however, you are much more likely to encounter trolls, spammers, and overall negative people. Essentially, when it comes to Facebook, treat it like real life, find a small-ish group that is ACTUALLY helpful and that you can relate to for best success.

For a small-town girl like myself, I am unlikely to find a coffee shop group that meets once a month to discuss writing so the big bad internet will continue to be a presence in my writing process. For now, in re to the internet my thoughts are: I will not get sucked into writers lifts for false hope. I will not let a man who is writing a physics textbook criticize the name I chose for my main character’s nanny goat in my historical fiction novel. I will not go searching for real community on a global scale.

Published by ALNovelist

A mom, wife, educator, and fledgling author all rolled into one.

2 thoughts on “The Internet – An Illusion of Community

  1. I agree about small, niche Facebook groups. In “Authors with Tourette Syndrome” there are about 15 of us and everyone is really supportive. The need for validation on the internet (mostly from wordpress, I dropped twitter a year ago) is really a huge problem for me. I’ve actually just engaged a therapist to start working on this issue. It almost makes me not want to blog, but of course, I’m seriously addicted to any hint that someone might notice me. Good, relatable post.


    1. What a huge step to recognize you need someone to talk through this need for validation with you. We all have that need. I think figuring out external validation will never be enough is a hard pill for any of us to swallow because we will ALWAYS have that need in some form. Good luck with your therapy and your future endeavors. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment!


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