“Duck and Cover.”
This was the name of a 1950’s animated movie featuring “Bert the Turtle” and he taught American school-age children how to respond to a nuclear bomb attack. Bert the Turtle taught the kids to drop to the ground (duck) and get into a shell (cover).
We may laugh now at such a movie, but generations ago, the government produced this film in hopes of educating children and reducing their fear of a nuclear attack.
Maybe you or someone in your family remembers practicing the “duck and cover” drills at schools. As we know, a nuclear attack never happened (may it always be that way!).
While the threat of nuclear attack still exists, our fears are reduced because we have confidence in our ability to prevent or mitigate such an attack.
Right now, our social media world feels like there’s an impending nuclear meltdown. Is that meltdown happening now? Will it happen? Who knows. What we do know is that social media feels threatening these days. While there isn’t a way to define what constitutes leveling a “social media nuclear bomb,” we are launching plenty of grenades and hate-heavy verbal missiles at each other.
In the midst of our weaponized online world, how you can “duck and cover” to survive?
“Duck and cover” isn’t about running away from what’s happening. It’s not about denial, nor about cowardice. Rather, “duck and cover” is about learning how to protect your platform and offer cover to your audience.
Earlier this week, one of our Books & Such Authors asked whether authors should expand out to the newer social media platforms because of the toxic Facebook environment.
For some, just the thought of adding another social media platform elicits a giant UGH. It’s like a mom and dad who finally get the hang of operating one-on-one defense with two kids, and then they have a third kid. The game changes to zone coverage, meaning that they have to spread themselves a little thinner and leave a few more gaps. It’s possible, but it’s harder, too.
As I reflected on the 1950s “duck and cover” strategy, here are a few thoughts that transfer to what we’re facing now as we’re looking at a deeply divided social media world and how that impacts us writers and our audiences.
- “Duck” is about choosing to get down to a solid foundation if there is a threat in the atmosphere.
For us writers, this is our email list. If social media blows up or our audience fragments into dozens of social media silo platforms, our email list is the one thing that we can control AND that no one can take away from us.
Should we run after our social media audience if they choose to flee from well-established platforms to new platforms? That’s a question that you have to ask yourself. But, might I add a few other questions to the conversation:
a. Do you know for sure if your audience is fleeing?
There’s a lot of talk on social media, but how much real action? Remember, people are creatures of habit AND people are drawn to drama.
b. Where is your audience supposedly fleeing?
Also, a sensitive follow-up question: If your audience seems to be running toward new platforms that segregate them from people different from them, should you let them go?
c. If you’re wondering if you should follow a segment of your audience, will following them pull you away from who you’ve been called to reach or serve?
- “Cover” is about protecting yourself and the opportunity to create protection for your audience, too.
The most proactive measure that we can take while watching to see what happens on social media is to take care of the mailing list that we have built.
The people who’ve signed up for your newsletter, subscribed to your podcasts or registered for your online courses are counting on you to add real value to their lives based on your specific God-given gifting.
Keep in touch with them. Ask them how they’re doing. Equip them to resist the weaponized culture by offering content that’s literary, poetic, musical or scriptural– content that protects their hearts and minds and uplifts their souls.
Writers, if you create life-giving cover for your email audience, they will gratefully shelter with you.
Let’s hope and pray that what feels like an impeding social media nuclear meltdown never happens. It may feel bad out there, but that’s also an indication that your creative work is needed now more than ever.
JOIN THE CONVERSATION:
QUESTION #1: What questions are you wrestling with about your social media platform these days?
QUESTION #2: If an email list is a writer’s best “duck and cover” in a volatile online culture, then why do you think writers are more stressed than ever over social media?
everyone demands a voice,
but to keep the nuts deflated
we still happily have a choice
to freeze them out and turn away,
leave them talking to the air,
and then, upon one bright fine day
they will not be there,.
for they’ll have learned at heavy cost
that their anger and their hate
will at the end have crossed
the line, and it’s too late
to call back thoe they thought to woo,
who now have better things to do.
I’m standing and clapping to that, Andrew. There may also be a fist-pump. Well said.
Such wise words – thank you, Barb!
Thank you for a fresh way to look at the situation. I joined one of the newer platforms a few weeks ago to see what it’s about but haven’t left any of the others yet.
I’m getting back to writing and writing-related social media after a season of needing to step back. My biggest struggle at the moment is being confident and courageous in sharing those posts to my personal pages so people see this other side of me and can follow if they’re interested.
Hi Leigh, welcome back! Praying for confidence and courage for you. You can do it!
Shirley Raye Redmond
Good advice. Thank you.
Shirley, thanks for stopping by and I’m glad that the post resonated with you.
This is a great blog on many levels and very timely. Thank you.
I am not necessarily stressing about my social media platform since I don’t stress about building one. I focus on building community and serving those who are part of that. There’s a difference in my heart between platform and community.
I think writers are stressed because they’re afraid if their main/favorite social media place changes, the question arises as to how they will continue to post what they have in the past.
I think we need to simply focus on doing the next right thing (yes, I know that’s a bit cliche lately, but it’s true). We cannot allow the enemy to distract us from doing what God has given us to do. We need to be faithful to Him alone.
Hi Susan, thank you for joining the conversation today and sharing your thoughts. You’ve made some great observations and I love your wisdom about “doing in the next right thing” – while all of the distractions make that tough, that’s still a great focus!
Barb, I’ like to share this lovely thought from a most unlikely source, the film “Love and Monsters”. It applies to social media, and the world around us, in these dark days.
“Don’t settle. You don’t have to. Not even at the end of the world.”
Thank you, Barb, for this sage advice. You articulated the thoughts that have stumbled and tumbled relentlessly in my mind for a few weeks now. I keep thinking, “Remain faithful, Nan, as the Lord is faithful.” Don’t do a knee-jerk. Seek His wise counsel. Wait on Him and continue to overflow with His love and light into this hurting world.
I’m working hard to grow my email list. You’ve given me some fresh ideas about how to approach the subject with my readers. Thanks.
Kristen Joy Wilks
Thank you so much, Barb! I have been watching the chaos with numb features, blinking my eyes in amazement as friends and family flood away from the only social media platform I know how to properly use. But your advice gives me courage to do the things that I can, be a voice that points to Jesus, and to focus on the very thing that marketing people have been telling us to all along. That newsletter list! Your post was so timely and a breath of fresh air in the storm.
Kristen Joy Wilks
As I think about this more and peer at other platforms with trepidation, I realized that I do use two additional platforms. Not as well as the first one, but I could learn to use them with more skill. Perhaps it would be wiser for me to put my time into educating myself with these rather than something completely new. My heart feels a tiny bit lighter at the thought. I think that’s a good sign.
Joy Neal Kidney
I’m so encouraged that so many friends are staying, with their own compelling ministries–a cartoonist and author, a photographer who’s all about capturing the light, a woman who shared color-coordinated memes and photos, a man who shares a short story always ending with “Be Love,” a water colorist who includes something pithy to think about, as well as a couple who regularly post a short Bible verse.
I admit to “unfollowing” those who post mainly political or Covid-related diatribe, but I’m so blessed by those who are still sharing the Light.
I am a reader and from Australia. I have had authors say they are leaving and then had one send me a message on messenger with the details of her account and the berate me for not wanting to join a new social media platform. I don’t mind if authors change where they are or not but the ones I really am interested in I am also on there newsletter and I agree the email is important.
At present in a newsletter Authors can carefully consider what they want to write to readers where as on Social Media there have been some nasty posts which as a reader I then wonder do I really want to interact with this person. (The one who sent the nasty message has been block).
Most readers if interested will sign up for a newsletter or even check out the website. I know I tend to look at the website before checking out other social media.
No second opinion that is really essential in today’s business environment and simply ignoring ranting from angry customer on social media won’t make it go away. You need to work on Social media crisis management when it goes off the rails