Margaret Atwood on social media, Wattpad, and anonymous authors:

“Well, you don’t have to be in social media. You can turn it off. So for writers I would say don’t go there if you find it uncomfortable, you know. But your publishers will say “Oh, you need to have a Facebook page,” you need to, now they’re saying an Instagram. I had to get an Instagram because there were two people on Instagram pretending to be me. And the same thing happened with Twitter. There were two people on Twitter pretending to be me, and one of them was tweeting this really mushy, romantic stuff that I would never do. So, I mean, it was offensive. Not because it was vulgar, but because it wasn’t vulgar enough. But this world is not for everyone, and I know a lot of writers who just don’t do it at all. Although they may still be having their lives ruined by email, they don’t do the social media stuff.

However, your real question is, What about young people? What about kids whose parents have ill-advisedly let them have smartphones at too early an age? I would have really strongly advised against that because the Internet is not the real world. It’s out of the matrix. Some of the people on it are real people, but other people are not, and other people are pretending to be people that they aren’t. And it can be quite dangerous in that way, especially at the point in which the Internet intersects with the real world and some child predator wants to set up a meeting. So you can, parents, get a thing that allows you to oversee what your kids are viewing and receiving on these platforms.

I’ll say a positive thing. Ready for this? Brace yourself. There is a platform called Wattpad, and that’s a user-generated, story-sharing site they try to keep pretty positive, like, free of trolls and abuse. And it’s used quite a lot by young writers, and the beauty of it is, when you were in high school, it used to be the only thing you were asked to write was [“My Summer Vacation,’] and students did not exert the best of their talents on such subjects. But had they written the steamy vampire story they really wanted to write, their peer group, their parents, and their teachers would have known it was them. That’s why they didn’t do it. But they’re doing it now, and they’re doing it on Wattpad under a pseudonym, and we know, because you get comments back from your readers, we know that once such a person knows they have an audience, they up their writing game. So that’s pretty positive, don’t you think?”

-Margaret Atwood


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