Author Gillian Harvey’s Love/Hate Relationship with Social Media [GUEST POST]

Author Gillian Harvey and her son Robbie overload on sugar.
Gill and her son Robbie overload on sugar. (Photo courtesy Gillian Harvey)

We love the premise of the novel, Everything is Fine, which is about a woman who has it all… at least on her Instagram feed. But in real life, things aren’t always what they appear. But how does a writer—who depends on social media platforms to get the word out about her work—truly feel about this aspect of online culture? Find out in today’s candid guest post from author Gillian Harvey. Enjoy! —J&H


How do you feel about social media?

Personally, I probably couldn’t survive without it. I moved with my family to rural France in 2009, and would be the first to admit that without Facebook I’d probably have lost touch with at least 98% of my friends and ex-colleagues.

As someone who’s naturally shy, social media has also enabled me to connect with new people in a way I might never have done. I’ve made new friends – yes, proper friends I now see IRL – work connections and have even communicated with some of the authors I most admire (Sophie Kinsella anyone? David Nichols? Lindsey Kelk?).

Weirdly though, I also kind of hate it.

I hate the falsity of it – the edited photos, the upbeat statuses, the puff and self-promotion. I hate the way it’s warped our idea of reality until we’re not quite sure where the news ends and the fakery begins.

It’s this weird conundrum that inspired me to write my novel ‘Everything is Fine’ where protagonist Jessica Bradley is trapped in her own social media nightmare. She started a blog for fun, but one post led to another, and now she’s suddenly found herself shoved into the role of influencer. Only, while her followers see her ‘living her best life’ in reality things are far from perfect.

The book was actually inspired during a conversation with my sister. She lives in the UK, and I’d been browsing her pics, feeling rather jealous of all the parties and great meals she seemed to be having. Rural France has an abundance of wildlife, but the nightlife? Not so much.

“You seem to be having such a great time!” I moaned.

“But that’s Facebook!” she replied. “Everyone knows that Facebook isn’t real.”

Of course, I knew what she meant. I knew that unless you live stream your entire life, Facebook contains just your cherry-picked ‘best bits.’ That even those of us who set out to be ‘real’ present an unrealistic snapshot of reality.

So what is it for? It’s certain that some people use social media to project a glamorous lifestyle and gain followers. Others have a business or book to promote. Some use it to keep up with friends and family. Others for a bit of socially-distanced banter. Many of us wear several different social media hats.

Ironically, since publishing a book that’s been reviewed as “a clever swipe at the cult of instagrammable perfection,” I’ve relied on social media more than ever. I’ve hash tagged my way around Twitter and am dipping my toe in the Instagram bubble in order to connect with readers. Like Jessica, I am thrilled when I’m ‘liked’ or ‘retweeted.’ And whether I like it or not, despite always trying to be honest online, I know that the image I portray is a kind of puffed up, exaggerated version of the bits of me I like the most.

Don’t get me wrong: I’ve always aimed to keep things pretty real. I can’t take a decent selfie to save my life and posting one for others to ‘like’ (or not) feels completely odd to someone from my generation (late 70s), whose childhood wasn’t spent finding the best angle and pout pose. I don’t lie in my statuses, and err on the self-deprecatory rather than self-serving.

But of course, even my Tweets and posts don’t really give a full picture of my life (hint, although it looks like I had a great time at the park with my kids in my latest pic, what I actually had was a great couple of minutes, during an average to dull afternoon.)

Like many things in life, social media is a double-edged sword. You have to take the rough with the smooth. The jokes with the jealousy; the photoshopped abs with a sensible amount of scrutiny and the news with a giant pinch of salt.

When you do all that, you can reap the rewards – meeting people you’d never stumble across in real life, sharing jokes or debate with strangers you’ll never meet again, finding your ‘tribe’ in a world where many people feel isolated or lonely.

Love it or hate it, social media is now a fact of life. Miss it, and you really do miss out.

But get too drawn into its murky depths, and you’ll probably – like Jessica – find yourself heading for disaster.

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ABOUT EVERYTHING IS FINE

Gillian Harvey's EVERYTHING IS FINE
Orion Books

Jessica Bradley has it all. Gorgeous boyfriend, perfect daughter, successful PR business, influential healthy eating blog. At least, that’s what her followers believe.

IRL, her boyfriend just left her over Post-it, she’s been eating more chocolate cookies than kale, and her perky online persona has never been further from the truth…

But Jessica knows you have to fake it till you make it. Some little white lies, a few staged Instagram pics, and she can keep pretending that everything is fine. Bust as her life starts to spiral out of control, how can Jessica tell the truth from the tweets? And will she recognise real happiness when it’s right in front of her?

Hilarious, heartwarming, and oh-so-relatable, prepare to fall in love with Jessica Bradley’s search for happiness. Perfect for fans of Louise Pentland, Anna Bell and Lindsey Kelk.

Gillian Harvey
Gillian Harvey

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Gillian Harvey writes nonfiction articles for UK magazines and newspapers, as well as short stories for several different publications.

Everything is Fine is her first novel and was released by Orion Fiction in May 2020 (UK) and is due for release in paperback in January in the US. Her second novel, Perfect on Paper, is due for a UK release in May 2021.

She lives in France with her long-suffering husband Ray and their five children: Lily, Joe, Tim, Evie and Robbie.

To find out more, visit GillianHarvey.com, like her on Facebook, or follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

EVERYTHING IS FINE
By Gillian Harvey
384 pp. Orion. $15.99

Pre-order Everything is Fine direct from Jathan & Heather Books or from one of these other fine online retailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Half Price Books, Hudson Booksellers, or IndieBound.

About Gillian Harvey
I'm an author and freelance writer, currently living in France with my five young children and long-suffering husband. My debut novel 'Everything is Fine' was released by Orion Fiction in May 2020 (UK) and is due for release in paperback in January in the US. My second novel 'Perfect on Paper' is due for UK release in May 2021.

One Response to Author Gillian Harvey’s Love/Hate Relationship with Social Media [GUEST POST]

  1. Pingback: Gillian Harvey’s ‘Everything is Fine’ Reminds Us to Stop Taking Ourselves so Seriously [REVIEW] | Jathan & Heather

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