Monday, August 2, 2010

Writing Avoidance and "Social Media"

The New York Times' business section is something I usually scan and toss--until today. I kept reading articles--one on Tumblr, touted as a cross between Facebook and Twitter. Another on author Buzz Bissinger's conversion from Twitter con to Twitter pro, as in he used to despise it, now lives by it.  As psychological release during writer's angst.

Reading the first piece, my visceral reaction was: "Both Facebook and Twitter are such colossal time-wasters, and they're turning everyone narcissistic. Now there's another tiresome 'social network' to soak up the day for suckers." Simultaneously, my other brain is thinking, "hmm, better join Tumblr."

Because unlike Buzz Bissinger (right), who wrote the sports classic "Friday Night Lights" 22 years ago and, while yet to duplicate that success, keeps churning out product, I use any number of procrastination, distraction and obfuscation techniques to keep from completing projects I could be whipping out.
Do I need Twitter to jump-start my industrious spirit?  Do I need to emulate Buzz Bissinger, who Tweets, "When people call me over-the-hill I react with profane defensiveness. But maybe it is true. It crawls into my head every minute, every day" and then, unburdened, returns to his keyboard?

Um, maybe. Writing is lonely, but if there's something to say--and someone waiting for it--you really can't dither around much.  But now there's Facebook and its tempting voyeuristic sense of skulking around people's lives.  Email, the old standby, provides an hour of diversion.  Web links, another hour, and then it's time to pick up a kid, or listen to the can't-miss radio show, or start cooking, or get to the market lest we're out of milk.  I wonder if Buzz buys the milk in his family?

On the other hand, Twitter and Facebook and now Tumblr and any number of their competitors can be seen as promotion.  Authors need audiences; even more, they need purchasers.  You don't make money on Twitter, and probably not on Facebook or Tumblr, but supposedly they're required to promote the author "brand."

Truth is, for many of us, the psychological bugaboo is probably low self esteem; fear of failure; the same fear Buzz Tweets about--being told you're no good, over the hill, unworthy.

The over-the-hill idea fits because anyone who grew up with My Space and Facebook and YouTube doesn't have that fear.  Used to being "right out there," casually insulted, and publicly teased--and even more often, praised and "friended," kids just don't care about others' judgements.  Their self-esteem is so secure, so lauded, so intact, they'll easily put up a video of themselves singing off-key the 3,000th "cover" of a song, just because the world can see it. Once you can click onto a website and see yourself singing, you're famous; you feel good.  Now, just get other people to subscribe to your channel and "follow" you. No need for any authorities to validate your worth.  These are the seeds of the out-of-control egos and "look at me" mentality that are everywhere.  America's got talent, and YouTube's got everybody.

Note to self: get over it and learn some bravado from your son, who just had his 18th birthday Friday and has many, many followers of his YouTube channel.

What? Counting followers?  The world's laughing--maybe. Better check Facebook.