Common Excuses For Not Using Social Media

Last week I was emailing back and forth with a real-life friend. We’d both gotten busy in our lives and hadn’t been able to spend as much time together, so I off-handedly suggested we stay in touch via Facebook. She quickly dismissed the idea, saying she “doesn’t have time” for it.

I didn’t push her even though I thought it would be a great way for us to stay more connected between the times we’re able to chat face to face. In fact that’s one of the things I really like about my personal Facebook account, staying in better touch with real life friends.

My email conversation with this friend got me thinking, however, about the excuses we often make for not trying new things. My friend isn’t a writer and obviously doesn’t have the same motivation for branching into social media that a writer pursuing publication would. In fact, I respect her choice. Not everyone is going to like or want to connect through social media avenues.

And yet, I often I hear excuses from writers seriously pursuing publication. Here are just a few of the most common excuses I’ve heard:

Excuse #1: “It’s just not my thing.”

Any time we start something unfamiliar, it takes a while before we get the hang of it. We shouldn’t let the frustrations of setting up accounts and learning how things work prevent us from dipping our toes in the water.

Remember the first time we tried using a computer or the internet? They were strange, cumbersome, and often frustrating. But most of us now have laptops surgically embedded to our fingertips, and we run to the internet every time we need information about anything.

If we’re serious about a writing career, then we have to be willing to step out of our comfort zones. As technology continues to advance, we’ll need to challenge ourselves to branch out and give new ideas a shot.

Excuse #2: “I don’t have time.”

When my friend said she didn’t have time for facebook, was she implying that I did? That she was busier than me? Or was she hinting that I’m wasting my time using social media, time I could devote to other more worthy causes?

The bottom line is that there are very few of us that have much time. I'm probably just as busy as anyone else. But we can make the time if we want, especially for the things we feel are important. Perhaps the “I don’t have time” excuse stems more from a fear of mishandling time, the knowledge that we’re weak in self-discipline, and that if we add one more social media outlet, we’ll get sucked in too far. Then the issue becomes knowing how to set appropriate boundaries—the same way we must for everything (including eating, TV viewing, etc).

Excuse #3: “I’ve tried Twitter (etc.) and I didn’t benefit from using it.

If we don’t think we’re benefitting, then perhaps we need to re-evaluate exactly what we’re defining as the “benefit.” More sales? More recognition? If we’re attempting to use social media in the traditional marketing format, we won’t get much out of it. In fact, we’ll probably risk alienating our followers.

Instead, we need to get a better grasp on successful social media strategies. As I’ve said plenty of times on my blog, social media is ALL about being social. To make the most of twitter, facebook, and blogging, writers need to understand that relationships drive the success or lack-thereof.

~Obviously, like my real-life friend, there are some writers who just don’t want to use social media. However an online presence is an increasingly important aspect of the future of publishing. When a writer reaches a point in their writing careers when they’re seriously pursuing publication (at the querying stage or beyond), then they need consider long and hard whether they have a truly legitimate reason before saying “no.”

What do you think of the excuses? Have you ever used one or heard someone else offer one as a reason for not being willing to try social media? What do you think constitutes a legitimate reason for NOT using social media?


  1. Hi Jody..I have heard this particular excuse "This social media is just not my scene," several times from many friends.

    I think what it means is that they just do not want to make the effort to interact with other writers and readers using a social networking site.

    A friend has told me that she thinks its a sheer waste of time and she would rather do something constructive (Whatever that means).

  2. I am sure there are real reason's why people hate social media. I however, LOVE it. It is what keeps me sane and connected to other writers.

    I just think it's a matter of watching your time and checking your priorities. Family, friends and God first. Social media second :)

  3. "I don't have time for xyz" is a common excuse for all manner of things. Sometimes the people who use it even believe it. Most times, I've found that it just means they don't want to do whatever "they don't have time for" and that "not having time for it" is just a generic excuse.
    Unless you have reason to believe that a slight was intended, it's fairly unlikely it was intended as an insult.

    Specifically on the subject of excuses for not taking part in social media: you are working from the premise that writers should want to. Although it can be an excellent tool for promotion, it does take up a significant amount of time and it is no way an absolute requisite for getting published. Many authors thrive without it or with only minimal online presence.

    I can understand preferring to use one's time differently.
    That said, I'd rather someone tell me "I'd rather write than spend my time talking to people".

    Many people prefer to give a weak excuse than be upfront about it... The hard part is that all those weak excuses can hide any number of valid reasons that, for one reason or another, the person can't or won't admit (even to themselves).

    -I'd rather be writing that socialising
    -I don't actually like the person asking me to join a network
    -I don't like people in general
    -I'm worried about my creepy ex husband cyber stalking me
    -I'm don't understand technology and I feel insecure about it
    -I am afraid people will hate me the way they did in high school
    -I can't afford the hardware
    We can imagine any number of scenarios.
    The question becomes: "Why won't people express their real reasons?"
    Because of peer pressure, because of commonly accepted senses of propriety, because of shame, because of minor dishonesty with one's self and with the world, because of weakness, because of pride, because of laziness... Again, we can imagine a plethora of reasons.
    If we dig further we need to start analyzing human interaction in general, and how certain sets of preset social mannerisms make society feasible, if not pleasant. But questioning this can lead to questioning one's place in a society.
    I am aware that I'm not a useful example as I'm not an author: but I like neither twitter nor facebook.
    I don't want superficial contacts with more people I can give my full attention to, and my friends deserve no less.
    I don't like talking unless I have something to say.
    Some of my friends (including one author) don't use them either, but when asked, they have given me solid reasons and reasoning behind their decisions.

  4. I am an IT person who is thrilled with technology and yet I don't I limit myself in social networking. My problem is if I do it all and do it well, my real life suffers.

    However, social networking is useful for a writer's exposure. It works and should be used.


  5. Jody, I try to overcome these and other excuses and use social media because, as a writer, I believe it helps broaden my name identification. But in the interest of "fair and balanced" reporting, sometimes I want to unfriend everyone and withdraw.

    On Twitter, I hate it when people use the @somebodyorother function to carry on a meaningless dialogue with a friend, rather than direct messaging them.

    I gnash my teeth at a Facebook invitation to an event in Lower Moosejaw, Montana, wishing the inviter had individualized the list instead of issuing a blanket invitation to all his/her friends.

    And so on.Yes, I use social media, but it frustrates me from time to time. Am I the only one who feel this way sometimes?

  6. Facebook I understand. Twitter, well, not so much.

    I have an account, I post every now and then, I follow a group of people, and yet . . . I still don't get it.


  7. I initially balked at facebook and twitter, now I am starting to enjoy them and use them to help me and bless others. :O)

  8. I think working on craft and actually writing is a very good excuse. Though I have found blogging and twitter to def. have its benefits, writing is more important esp. prepublished.

  9. One of my dearest friends and I had this exact conversation yesterday. She's just not open to FB, etc. In her understanding it strips away from the value of face to face falsifies it somehow. I see her point, but couldn't agree b/c of the many beautiful connections I've made primarily through blogging.

    I appreciate her stance though. She has a point. For her, right now it isn't right. Maybe someday. Until then I have to wait to see her in person (which bites b/c she's now in Chicago).
    ~ Wendy

  10. As usual, a fine post. However, the crux for me is balance.

    How does a writer find the time to do all the things she/he feels led to do? There are only so many hours in the day.

    Your time management post a ways back provided a framework for how TO cut to the important things.

    And as you said, some things just have to go.

  11. I had a Facebook account and it got hacked into and terrible, sexual messages were sent to everyone. It took a lot of time, frustration, anxiety, tears and help to straighten out the horrendous mess. The result was that I had to delete my account.

    I'm queasy at the thought of starting again, but do miss the social activity with friends and family. And if I Twitter or Facebook, I will have to teach myself better discipline because I love chatting with everyone and it could easily take over my whole day!

  12. Great post, Jody.

    As for the time issue, you're right on when you wrote it's all about MAKING time.

    Most of the folks I know who write off Twitter as useless have never tried it or don't know how to use it properly. When you figure out how to make these tools work for YOU, that's when they become super valuable. It's all about keeping an open mind.

  13. I couldn't agree with you more about making the time. That's really what it boils down to. I mean, I'm as busy as the next person, but I make time for the things that matter to me. Facebook is an excellent tool for staying in touch with people you don't get to see or talk to often enough, and it can also be a terrific tool for networking. It's just a matter of stepping out of your comfort zone and exploring what's out there.

  14. Thank you, Alesa, for sharing your thoughts on social media excuses. I appreciate hearing the depth of your well-thought out views!

    And I think that as you say, everyone should have solid reasoning behind any decisions that they make for or against social media.

  15. Doing something new always takes time and energy. There is no doubt about it.

    It helps me to remember that I can choose how I use these tools. I can take a day off. I can select the amount of involvement that fits my schedule. It doesn't have to consume time which I need to spend elsewhere.

    With social media, doing some, even a fairly small amount is better than doing none. When we're in a busy period of life, it's hard to think this way. But our lives will have busy seasons, and slower seasons when we can do more.

  16. Dr. Mabry asked: Yes, I use social media, but it frustrates me from time to time. Am I the only one who feel this way sometimes?

    My Answer: No, I completely can relate to the frustration with unwanted "spam." I really think this stems from people not understanding how to use social media effectively. I've had to "unfollow" one or two people because their "spam" got to be too much for my inbox. But I suppose it's just part of the job, in a way. Kinda like agents receive unnecessary questions or emails. And I'm sure as authors, we will too at times. I'm trying to handle it as graciously as possible!

  17. I'm not a writer but read your blog from time to time.

    I don't see why a person needs a reason to not use social media. It's a personal choice how to interact with people.

    And by needing a reason from her, or anyone, why they are not doing it, puts them on the defensive. It's just an easy thing to say, I don't have time, without getting into an argument about why not to.

    Just something to consider.

  18. Hi Linda!

    Thanks for chiming in the discussion today! It's great to hear the perspective of a non-writer. :-) Sometimes it's easy to get tunnel vision as a writer and it's nice to hear other views!

    Even though I was slightly bummed that my friend didn't want to stay connected through Facebook, as I said, I really did respect her choice. I didn't ask her to explain herself or badger her about it. I just let it go, because I didn't want to put her on the defensive.

    And I also respect the choices of other writer friends who've carefully considered their options and decided against social media.

    However, with the increase in the importance of an online presence in marketing, I really do think writers pursuing publication should make sure they have valid reasons before deciding against it.

  19. Great observations, Jody!

    I'll just say this: I have noticed that two publishing industry insiders started blogs in the last few months. One of them uses Twitter. The other does not.

    Despite the fact that both blogs are equally valuable, the Twitter user has attracted several hundred followers in short order. The non-tweeter has not.

    I resisted Twitter for some time, but I now see that it plays a unique role in social media: it's more professional and less personal than Facebook.

  20. Patrice KavanaughAugust 11, 2010 10:37 AM

    Hi Jody, Timely post. I just signed up for an online class this month on how to use social networking. I'm doing this mostly because I am now at the point in my writing where I need to have an active online presence...and I want to learn from the get-go how to do it in BALANCE with all my other priorities. That's my goal. Patrice

  21. It's interesting to talk about this. I use social media and sometimes I don't understand people who say they don't have time for it or that it's a waste of time. Use what you like and avoid the rest. And it is nice to unplug sometimes. But that's the beauty of it: You can unplug. You can dive in or just put your big toe in. (I think, however, with Twitter, you have to follow at least 50 people for more than a week to give it a good try-out.)

  22. Nice question, Jody. As Alesa said in her comment, there are many other reasons why people are reticent to use social media, and I'm reluctant to judge their decision without full knowledge of what's going on inside their head. Newcomers to online forms of communication often leave themselves open to terrible experiences like Donna's, so I'd never urge anyone to take the plunge till they're ready.

    For a techie like me, though, Facebook, blogs and Twitter are an absolute boon. I keep up with friends and often suggest lunch or coffee to them, so I see them MORE than I would otherwise. I garner tons of useful information and knowledge about trends. I get networking contacts and make new writer friends. Twitter has brought me leads, paid work, ARCs to review, a critique partner and an incalculable amount of encouragement for my writing. Skype allows me to talk face-to-face with clients hundreds of miles away, and with my parents in England.

    And all this for a relatively small investment in terms of time. I can tailor the time I spend networking to fit in with how busy I am with work and "real life" activities. I don't let these forms of communication take over my life; when I'm busy, I turn them off.

    All this has taken a bit of work; there's definitely a learning curve. But if I were afraid of hard work, I wouldn't be a writer :)

  23. I don't have time for all this social media stuff, but I love it for the relationship-building it promotes, as a writer and as a person.

    My mom told me today that she was closing her facebook account b/c it was an invasion of her privacy. I can respect that. It's not for everybody.

  24. Whenever I hear the excuse, or when I myself make the excuse, of "not having enough time," really what it means is you (or me!) don't want to MAKE the time.

  25. I love social networking. I think probably some people are hesitant to have their lives become so, well, transparent I guess would be the word, and I understand that. I have my professional blog available to whoever wants to check it out, but my family's personal blog is by invite only and I keep my facebook profile hidden and on private. Otherwise, people can add me on Twitter or Goodreads or Writers Digest and I find it a fantastic way to network and meet other writers of like mind.

  26. There are all types of personalities out there, and there are those who aren't as social as others. I'm like that. I know when I have to stop blogging, twittering, etc. because I start getting really, really depressed. Seriously, I try to be a social butterfly, but it's just not me. I know I have to keep trying in order to be a writer--and then I get really, really depressed. If God had allowed it, I would be the old-fashioned type of writer who lived in the middle of nowhere and hid away from people most of the time. Instead, God has given me 4 children and brought me to this point in my life where I have to continue stretching myself and changing. So I'll keep trying and hopefully will get to the point where it doesn't send me into the pits of hell. BTW, I do a lot better with people when I meet them in person and have a real life connection with them. But that is not what the internet is about. It makes me wonder if the most successful modern writers will be the social ones who yhrive off of social media.

  27. Good points. I use some of the social media offerinfs but I need to balance them carefully with other commitments so it doesn't get out of hand. I prioritize (okay, usually:) and that helps me stay on track.

  28. Interesting post, Jody! I must admit I've scaled back on Facebook because I'm weak-willed and spend too much time trying to catch up on everyone's posts. You're living proof, though, that it can all be juggled. :-)

  29. I think it all boils down to an individual's preferences for how he or she likes to interact with people socially. I don't do Facebook; I blog. My best friend does Facebook; she doesn't read my blog at all.

  30. Excuses, excuses. Actually, sometimes they are the real deal. Other times it's a great 'verbalization' for what's not getting done. I think a lot of times we just don't want to do things that are new and might sound a bit 'techy'. it's hard to get used to all these new internet applications especially since technology is moving at break-neck speed. I get it when people say they're not into it. It simply translates into they haven't tried it and maybe are afraid to.

  31. I resisted social media because I'm a wee shy little thing. But I've learned to love it. I particularly love blogging because there is more depth to it.

  32. I'm still attempting to figure it all out & juggle it with my day job, family and writing it's difficult to fit it in. I love FB on the personal side. I'm trying out twitter & blogging for my writing. I'm working on finding a balance. I also sometimes have trouble with knowing what to say on twitter. Who cares what I had for lunch or that it's a hundred degrees outside? I am aware that I need to do a better job at connecting.

  33. I've heard these excuses, and I just don't get their arguments. If they used email, Facebook or Twitter that would help them have MORE time. What's so difficult to understand? You can email when it's convenient for you. They can reply when it's convenient for them. It's not rocket science and yet for some it is. :(

  34. I think I need to educate myself on how to use Twitter more effectively. I'm slowly learning, but I think it would eat up less time and energy if I knew what I was doing. LOL. : )

    As with anything, the more we become familiar with it, the easier and more comfortable it will become. And that's when I think we will see the benefits.

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  36. Social media has been instrumental for me in meeting and connecting with other writers.

    I do think that having a balance between what you are comfortable doing and pushing yourself is a must because things change so fast. When I first started using Twitter I thought I didn't like it b/c I didn't understand how it worked. Now it's my favorite way to communicate with other writers.

  37. Great post - I love social media - I have made many friends :)
    I wish my IRL friends would jump on board ... but they too have similar excuses.

  38. An old friend of mine said exactly that, "she didn't have the time" and like you I actually thought it would be easier to keep up through Twitter, especially because 8 years ago she moved across the country.

    I have to work at being social, as I am naturally more comfortable off by myself reading or writing but it is limiting to shut yourself off from the world like that on a regular basis.

    Nice post. I'm looking forward to following your posts on Twitter.


  39. Terrific post!

    My agent urged me to hop on the social media bandwagon back in February, and since then, I've been pouring myself into it 110%. I feel like I'm seeing results, so it stings sometimes when friends or colleagues dismiss it as "not that important" or "that's great for you, but I don't have time for that sort of thing."

    Thanks for spelling out so clearly why I shouldn't let their excuses get me down, and why social media IS a very worthwhile investment in my writing career.


  40. I love it, but it can be a little time sucker, so I have to keep my social media addiction in check! :) I totally understand people's reservations about time, privacy and even their general disinterest in it. I think as just a regular person you can take it or leave it. However, as an author I think it's an invaluable tool to develop relationships with people who are like-minded and a way to learn from industry professionals.

    Great post!

  41. At last I have just got my writing and social Internet life, to run alongside my offline commitments. It took some jiggling but was worth it to keep in touch with everyone in my life.

  42. If I weren't pursuing a writing career I'd have a different attitude towards the various forms of social media. Jane mentions FB, blogs and Twitter as perfect for suggesting lunch or coffee dates, whereas, while I do interact via my blog and FB, I would find e-mail and iChat (or Skype) more than adequate for such things.

    But being a writer puts a whole new slant on the importance of the other media. Expanding our online presence, building new relationships and staying in touch regularly with a broader audience all require a more efficient method of communication than the one-on-one kind. (Although it's still important to maintain that, too.)

    I'm still not using Twitter, with the excuse that right now I don't think it's the best use of my time. But as I get closer to publication I know I'll add it to my other communication tools. For me, it's a matter of time management and using the right tools at the right time.

  43. Social Media can be quite overwhelming for people and it is a real shame but I can understand it. If you do not take the time to actually understand how to best use it for you and your life it is like being stuck in a traffic jam when you need to use the rest room.

    Great article. Thank you.

  44. Great post, as always, Jody!

    The most frequent excuse I hear is, "I don't care what somebody had for breakfast" and this pisses me off to no end.

    First of all, I don't know ANYONE that actually posts what they had for breakfast (unless it was truly spectacular or they're a food blogger). Secondly, we talk about little mundane details of our lives ALL THE TIME to "real" people. Networking events are just full of mindless chatter, but even if it's "not our scene" we go anyway because we recognize the benefits. Same with Twitter. I've made some amazing friends, contacts, clients, etc just because of my networking efforts online. If someone wants to dismiss this avenue because it's different or juvenile or hard, then fine. I just don't want to hear about how mindless Twitter chatter is when people do that every day in person.

    Teehee. Sorry, I spend far too long definitely my career!


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