Same Old Shit

PageWhen do you reach the end of the Internet? In eight years on Social Media, I’ve watched it change – from friendship and sharing all over the world, to place where people have forgotten their manners. Not everybody, by all means, but enough to leave an unpleasant taste in the mouth. I’ve watched advertising saturate everything, all of it becoming more and more ‘targetted’ leaving less room for creativity and fun. In my earliest days on Twitter, everything was new and original – and I’m not sure if that’s because everything was new and original, or if it’s because I just hadn’t seen it before. Somewhere between the two, I suspect…

…but Social Media has make the world a smaller place, for better or for worse.

And this week, I think I’ve reached the edge of something that once seemed infinite. I’m seeing the same memes and jokes and cat videos turning up on FB and Pinterest time and time again. As Matt Dillon said, take the same meme, slap a Minion and a funny slogan on it, and hey! Clickbait win. And because Twitter is regulated and all about the numbers, and because FB and Pinterest now place the most popular posts, or the posts they think you’ll like best, at the top, I’m even seeing things I posted myself a couple of years ago – coming back to haunt me like last night’s curry.

livesAll the spontaneity has gone. Like the High Street being the same shops in every bloody town, like blockbuster films having the same plots and character archetypes, so the Interwebz has become the same jokes in every feed.

because it’s safe, I suppose, Guaranteed sales, guaranteed bums on seats, and guaranteed Likes.

I rather like that Instagram is the exception. While there are third party apps that will repost from your timeline, it’s not something that I often see. Sarah Langton comments that it’s immediately personal, and used by a lot of artists – who absolutely want original content and to keep their own content original. (Not sold by someone else for ninety grand, thank you). It’ a great showcase for their graphic design.

And it’s a great showcase for fun content. It’s always new. Okay, you might have to to face a lot of pictures of clouds and cats, but at least they’re different every time.

Perhaps that’s one of the reasons why it’s become so successful – it’s the only thing that seems to have escaped the common-denominator-saturation of everything else.

And thanks to Craig for the inspiration. I’ll never look at SOS the same way…

Writing with Pinterest

Above my writing desk is – has always been – a collage of images.  They’ve shifted and changed over the years, but the ideas have remained. Up there now is my world map, pictures of characters, creatures, settings and inspirations, my cover art. It reminds me to keep working.

And for years, when I’ve started a new chapter, I’ve downloaded a relevant image as my desktop background – something that gives me the setting or the mood of where the event is occurring. Shift my word file sideways, and I know where I am.

So what does in the internet bring us? Oh look, it brings us Pinterest.

Quite apart from the glorious prevarication of hunting out and storing images and telling yourself its work, it’s a perfect place for finding character, costume, setting… a thousand, thousand images, more darkness and more light than you can fit in your head, on your desktop, or your wall. It’s a fantastic place to discover your characters, and to record how they’d grow and change. And it’s a perfect place to construct a plot – to build yourself a literal storyboard that can follow how your narrative will diversify and grow.

It’s also a good place for discovering writing theory. Follow Jennifer Jones’s Writers’ Workshop or author Trisha Goyer for insight and wisdom, and Cat Rambo has one of the most astounding collections of beautiful and inspirational imagery, plus some solid writing help to boot. Publishers are getting on the brand-wagon, as well – Tor keep boards of book covers and tantalising snippets of marketing information.

Keep a page of your own stuff – as Ecko’s presence grows, I can hoard it like treasure, all in one place, and no-one actually really needs to know how stupidly scared and happy it all makes me…

Above all, use it to dream – use it to record what you dream. It’s where we all started with this writing lark.

One last thought though – and back to the subject of desktops and wallpapers… please Pinterest – can you let us make screen savers out of our boards?