My therapist tells me to be more honest. That people respond to honesty. I’ve been debating whether or not to post this (whiny) missive for (attention) a while. The post editor here on my website says I’ve revised the draft fifty-three times (fifty-four, now) over the last couple of weeks, so I hope it has crept closer and closer to honest with each rewrite.
You may have noticed my absence on the socials. Don’t worry; it’s not you, it’s me.
Wait. No. That’s not right. It’s not you or me. It’s them.
You know who I mean. Those mouth breathers who spew lungfuls of negativity with every post, tweet, or comment. Those annoying little social seagulls that craw and shit all over everything, then fly off to circle some other unsuspecting target before diving in to pick at a fresh scalp. (True story.) It’s an epidemic. Social media is the world’s biggest playground, populated with besties as well as bullies, except the besties are often only okaysies and sometimes Idon’thaveanyideawhoyouaresies, and the bullies in real life usually leave you alone if you crack ’em once or twice with a good old Stockton slap. Real life bullies don’t like it when you fight back because they feed off of fear. Show them you’re not afraid, show them you’re willing to fight back, and all of a sudden they gotta go because their mommies are calling them home for dinner.
There is no fear on the internetz because the internetz is not real. Well, it is, but it’s a strange, distorted sort of real. A Twilight Zone where likes and hearts are priorities and pics or it didn’t happen. You fight Negative Nancies on the socials and all it does is encourage these douche spigots. (That’s right, they are like faucets full of douche. Problem is, once you turn them on, you risk drowning in gooey pools of douche because THE HANDLE IS BROKEN AND THEY NEVER TURN OFF.)
Now, I’m hardly the first person to point out that social media is infested with pinheads who talk shit because there are no repercussions. And I’ll be among the first to admit it’s kinda silly when people announce that they’re leaving Facebook or saying Bye Felicia to Twitter because of this, that, and the other thing.
I get it.
It’s just as narcissistic as posting ten selfies a day with your tongue waggling out of your face. Akin to showing up at a party that’s not so much fun, and instead of just slipping away quietly, you jump up on the coffee table and announce that you’re splitting because this party SUCKS and HARRUMPH. Or like writing a thousand-word essay about the illusion of social media, and how it’s not really social at all but just one big mess of self-importance that bleeds into itself and becomes a cesspool of nonsense, on your website that only a handful of people will read. I know. Guilty. Put the cuffs on and holster the taser. Don’t worry. I won’t try to run.
Sure, there are plenty of good, normal people out there. But it’s exhausting, don’t you think, sifting through all the garbage to find the gems? Filtering it out. Unfollowing. Blocking. Deleting the apps from your phone one day and then reinstalling them a few days later because, goddamn, Instagram tastes just like crack. Go ahead, lick an Instagram post if you don’t believe me. (And then Snapchat it ’cause EVERYONE WANTS TO SEE YOU LICKING YOUR PHONE.)
Sure. You can quit anytime you want. You just don’t want to. And so could I, but I learned it by watching you!
As a writer, I used to think it was necessary to have an active social media presence if I wanted to sell books. And publishers will often demand that writers have an active Facebook fan page (even though Zuckerberg’s Edgerank algorithm has strangled organic post reach to 3% – 6% of your fan base, forcing you to buy ads or “boost” posts (for cash money honey, of course) if you want anyone to–GOD FORBID–see them). They’ll say you have to tweet a certain number of times a day, and they even give you a formula – 80/20, meaning that only 20% of your tweets should be promotional in nature, while the other 80% should be spent “building relationships.” They tell you to adhere to the Fair Follow Policy, whereby you immediately follow every single person who follows you, therefore, you can promote your work to the same 5,000 people who are actively trying to sell you their work to you.
While some of my books may have been sold through social channels, I’m not convinced the number is substantial enough to really matter. In a recent post about this very subject, author Chuck Wendig wrote, “Social media can sell some books. Publishers, however, don’t want to sell ‘some’ books. They want to sell all the books.” While I’m certainly leagues away from Chuck’s level of notoriety, I do have five of those little word collections available in various parts of the world. And though I’ve done *some* online marketing (GAH, THAT WORD!), I’m just not sure they would have sold much better if I’d spent more of my time “building relationships” on the socials. And I’m not sure they would have sold significantly fewer copies if I hadn’t promoted them at all.
Reading this, you may be thinking I’m a hypocrite. You may be saying, “You’re responding to online negativity with a post that reeks of negativity.” And you’d be absolutely correct. Positivity is contagious, and negativity, for me anyway, is even more so. It’s difficult to remain clean when you’re bombarded with trash at every turn. And as someone who naturally tends to reach toward the half-empty glass, I find it all just making me angry and depressed.
So I think I’ll step outside for awhile.
In the meantime, I will be finishing up the second draft of a novella that is very quickly expanding to novel length, and continuing to work with my agent to see Relentless – 30 Years of Sepultura published in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Finland. Bookmark this page and check back frequently for updates, rants, ravings, and revelations that will hopefully make my therapist proud…
…or at least stop shaking his head with disappointment.