I like social media. Some of it, I like a lot. I joined Facebook a million years ago for the sole purpose of seeing an out-of-town friend’s baby pictures. Well, that friend is no longer out of town and the baby is a whole child now and I’m still on Facebook all the damn time. Are blogs considered social media? Because I like blogs. I like Pinterest probably more than I should and I’m getting better at liking Twitter. I still don’t get Instagram. Snapchat is not even on the radar in my world.
I’ve had to start thinking A LOT about social media and how I use it. My book will be out next year, but I have to think about building a platform NOW. Which, as I am learning, is done primarily online. I mean, some of it can be done in person but that costs more and I’m not quite there yet.
As I go along on social media though, it becomes more and more clear that I am STILL socially inept even online.
I’m most comfortable on Facebook. When I started out there, it was just to hang out with my friends. Being on Facebook is like being at a party that is mostly a class reunion but only with the people that I like. Well….no, that’s not exactly right. There ARE some people I accepted friend requests from but I should probably have declined because, if we are all honest, we’re not really friends and never were. Or maybe we were, but that was fifty-eleven years ago and I DON’T EVEN KNOW you anymore. Maybe they are curious to see how a weirdo like me turned out.
Building on that party analogy, sometimes people come up to me at the Facebook party and I don’t know them. Sometimes I accept their friend requests because I know where they know me from – maybe I know we both go to the Moth story slams, or maybe we both like cheese. I’m pretty sure I want to get to know those people.
I have an author page on Facebook that I created in the hopes that people could follow if they don’t know me but are interested in the Book or the Author part of me, and not my bleeding liberal heart or pics of my kids or inside jokes with high school friends. So far, I think three people who aren’t my actual real friends have followed me on there.
I love the CONCEPT of Twitter. If Facebook is a weekend house party full of friends, Twitter is a cocktail party where someone you know invited you as her plus one, and then once you get to the party, you only see her dashing past on her way to get more wine. Maybe you mingle a little bit, trying to make friends. You don’t get to know anybody very well, but it’s mostly fun, although sometimes someone asks you to join their multi-level marketing scheme because you seem like a real people person. When you get home, you’re pretty sure everybody there hates you and you swear you’re never drinking gin again.
I’ve had a couple of real high points on Twitter.
- A tweet I wrote was favorited by Mira Sorvino, whom I love, and who is, CLEARLY, very awesome. The situation was, I had just listened to her on the Nerdist podcast and I tweeted that it was a great show.
- I tweeted to Susan Orlean, journalist, author, and red-haired awesome person, who not only favorited it but re-tweeted it. (She posted a picture of a feather and asked if anyone knew what it was. I responded.)
- I was followed by this guy for like, five seconds.
- After the kerfuffle with Cecil the Lion, I followed (my idol) Neil Gaiman’s advice and put my money where my outrage was, and donated to a wildlife conservation organization. He favorited and retweeted my tweet. THen he came to my rescue when there was a Weird Misunderstanding.
I have an Instagram account. But if Facebook is a friend-full party and Twitter is a cocktail soiree, Instagram is kids hanging out behind school with a stack of Poloroids. Or something. Honestly, I don’t know. I put things on Instagram but I don’t understand the RULES. The rules of hearting (is it ‘liking’ or ‘favoriting’?) or following or sharing. I don’t get the differences between Twitter and Instagram – why not just post a picture on Twitter? But I like the filters on Instagram so… I mostly post pictures of what my writing life looks like.
Pinterest is a classic shy person’s social media. It’s like sending your scrapbooks to strangers who then look at them and maybe copy some of your pictures to put in their scrapbooks. I find it the least social of social media but gawd do I love it. I have a couple of boards dedicated to the Book and also the world of the Book. But I also have stuff on cooking, parenting, and “my style” which is mostly pictures of dresses I would like to own.
Those are the social media platforms I use. But as I think more about engaging on them, I get nervous.
I’ve had a couple of (minor, compared to this and this) dust-ups on social media. One was during the above mentioned Neil Gaiman Twitter thing. Someone on Twitter asked me something about donating (I can’t remember exactly – thanks mushbrain…) and I said something like, “It really gave me ALL THE FEELS and I felt like I had to do something.” Well, the capitalization put the other Tweeter on the defensive and s/he thought I was yelling and being nasty to her/him. It’s a long story – it turned out that this person is on the autism spectrum and has trouble with reading emotions, especially the nuances of emotion in language. Also, this person wasn’t savvy with references to memes or jokes, etc. (Side note: Neil Gaiman totally came to my rescue and gently suggested that I meant no offense, because we are actually best friends, even though he doesn’t know that.) It was a misunderstanding, at its heart, but like so much online, it had the potential to blow up into something that left everybody mad/sad/bitter.
This happened again a week or so ago when I made an offhanded comment that aimed to capitalize on the over-use of “-shaming” online. Someone got offended because she thought I was implying that people who do not have literary agents should feel bad about not having literary agents. I wrote and re-wrote a response and finally hit POST on it. Someone else said, “Oh I get it.” But the originally offended person never responded with anything. No “You’re still an asshat.” Or, “Oh, I get it, thanks for clearing that up.” Which for me, is like, DEVASTATING.
But that shit has to stop. I have to stop letting that sort of thing bother me. In less than one year, I’m going to have 85,000 words out in the world, plus all my blogs/tweets/statuses/instagram crackers, and I’m going to have to be ready to answer for all of them. People are going to call me names or worse (in my mind at least) – THINK bad things about me.
Add on top of that, I’m a woman, and I’ve written a fantasy novel. Women are consistently denigraded, shamed, and dismissed for doing things like writing words and also being women. Don’t believe me? Ask Kameron Hurley.
So as I build my social media platforms, as I wade into the waters of authorhood in the 21st century, I feel cautious and a little fearful. I have time to gird my loins.