I Blog Every Thought That Wafts Through My Brain
Danielle L. Parker
Well, actually, I don’t. Be very glad, people.
But I’ve recently discovered that other people do:
- They record what they had for lunch, and what they shop for.
- They post endless pictures of pets in cute poses.
- They air family feuds to dozens, sometimes hundreds, of people who’ve never met the combatants.
- They vent their feelings: “Everyone’s been an ass this week!” (Your friends and colleagues thank you for that).
- They trade risqué remarks with people they’re not married to. One wanted to know what cure her “friends” could suggest for “friction sores” in, um, a delicate part of her body. (I hated to think about that one).
- Another gave a running commentary on her day. “It’s ten o’clock and I’m doing the laundry.” “Twelve noon and UPS delivered a package.”
Pass the paint-drying DVD, please. If a spot on the wall was good enough for Virginia Woolf, it’s good enough for me.
And if anyone wonders, no, I’m not making up any of the above. Facebook has truly been an education.
How did I get there? Well, in preparation for the re-launch of my first novel and its new sequel (see Mercury Retrograde Press for more details), the publisher asked me to set up a Facebook account. Guess that is de rigueur for writers now.
Is this foray into the attics of other brains an effective marketing tool? I don’t know yet. I have “friends” I’ve never met or talked to now, “friends” who in turn have thousands of “friends” themselves. Do they give a darn about my book launch? I guess we’ll find out.
And yet I now have an understanding of the strange fascination of social media I never had before. At one point, I fell into a volley of fast-paced exchanges on a totally stupid topic with two acquaintances. Back and forth we went, and suddenly the day was over.
I looked at the exchanges that evening, at the stupid jokes and comments I’d made, and thought: I wasted a day on this? This is me? Do I want people to read this? The answer was no. And yet it was so easy to do. The exchanges had an addictive quality.
I now treat Facebook with the radioactive respect it deserves. I remember the old adages A fool is considered a wise man until he opens his mouth. Say what you mean and mean what you say. I know to beware of the addictive allure of “mouse talk”: meaningless squeaking that can expend a whole day.
But I’m still not immune to the great surge to Dump It All Out There. To appease my publisher, I started an author blog on Goodreads , the one social media I am prepared to spend some time on. The purpose of Goodreads is to talk about books. Now that, I can get into.
What’s your opinion on social media? Comment and tell us.
Copyright © 2011 by Danielle L. Parker
Thank you for the hard-hitting editorial, Danielle! You show vividly that there’s a big difference between contacts and friends and between shmoozing and conversation. I can think of other appropriate adages: Time is money, but money is not time. And: You get what you pay for but caveat emptor.
I have nothing against social media as such. As your Managing Editor I regularly receive e-mail inviting me to join Facebook, LinkedIn, Plaxo, and other social networks. Usually I know the people involved, but sometimes I don’t. I appreciate the attention, be it personal or automated; however, I do not respond. I don’t belong to any of those networks and have no intention of joining one.
I’m not unsocial; I simply do not have the time. Putting up an issue of Bewildering Stories is the equivalent of editing a small weekly newspaper or large newsletter. My name rarely appears in the authors index on our home page mainly because my priority is to put our contributors in contact with our readers. I’m the middleman.
On a related topic, Bewildering Stories might benefit from a blog. It might even be more accessible and readable than our forum; I don’t know. In any event, a forum and a blog require constant oversight by a full-time moderator.
Our publisher Jerry Wright reports that the Analog and Asimov’s forums were recently crippled by a “troll” posting porn. That’s a shame, and it is disquieting evidence of a Zeitgeist amounting to a vast conspiracy.
The “conspiracy” — to give it a label, if not a name — may be loosely or completely unorganized, but its purpose is clear: to stifle public discourse that might encourage critical thinking and challenge propaganda. And it does not stop short of criminal activity, such as website sabotage.
Thomas Jefferson was right: eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. We must therefore guard against attacks from without and, as you have shown, Danielle, the decay of language from within.