Friday, April 6, 2012

The Narcissust Today

Because it’s all about me.


I was chatting with the husband the other day about a comment a fellow RWA local made to me about Facebook being really just an exercise in narcissism. At the time I had no real comeback for her other than a sorta ‘…well…oh yeah…!’

I wasn’t really articulate that day.

But I’ve thought about it a lot. And paid attention to my Facebook usage and you know…she’s right but she’s wrong. It’s about me, but it’s also about you. Or whoever is on Facebook. It’s a community that supports each other. (At least on my newsfeed. I know others end up with a lot of battling and name calling, but not mine.)

Ever notice how many people post when they are feeling depressed and the call goes out that one of our own is in need. Suddenly, stories appear about personal demons, how one person made it work, and things got better. It makes one feel less alone.

It also works if you need a new recipe for chicken. Ask on Facebook, you’ll get a ton of ideas.

Of course, it’s a time suck, but my god, since I have an ongoing battle with depression, I find Facebook a sweet way to duck the isolation that is my life and feel like I am part of things. And console myself with the thought that people care. And perhaps that is narcissistic, but if I don’t believe people care about me…well, why should I care about me? Why should anyone buy my books or read what I write? It is all about me. At the heart of things.

As an author, I am told to promote, promote, promote! Well, I do, but I try to keep it simple and not shove my books in people’s face. Same with Twitter. But I do understand it’s a fine line.

When I went to see Jeff Dunham last week, I paused and twice, I posted to FB about being at the show. Why? Because there might be people out there who would enjoy hearing about Jeff, and it might start a conversation. I write books, I need people to find me interesting. Or if not interesting, then I hope they think I do interesting things.

I’m not faking anything I post, but I am putting myself out there. And I might get slapped down, I might find a gremlin who will attack me for no other reason than they are in a bad mood. (Which is why I love the bury this feed option.)

The new era of social media is very ‘me’ oriented. But it’s also very ‘we’ oriented. It’s all in the perspective.

I’m getting ready to leave for my first convention of the spring/summer and I blather about RT on FB. I hope people will stop by and see me because they read something I posted on FB. Or want some of the swag I put up. Of course, I’m selling myself! It’s my job!

What is your take on the whole FB, Twitter, Goggle+, stuff? Is it self-centered gibberish or is it a community to you?


Marnee Bailey said...

I use FB more as a personal thing. I'm connected with family, with hs and college friends, with sorority sisters. I post pics there. I'm hooked to some authors but mostly authors I know.

Twitter is another story. I use that as more of a promotional tool. I am pretty much only connected with other writers there.

I haven't gotten into Google+. Mostly because it confuses me. LOL!!

I do think sometimes people use FB to stroke their ego. In fact, I know people who will use Foursquare to check in at the gas station. I find that all very silly. But if it's something interesting, then I think it's fine. I think just telling everyone you've gone to the bathroom or had Cheerios for breakfast, I think that's strange. Now, if it's your schtick, then fine. As in "LOL, there's Marnee, eating her Cheerios again!"

Did that make sense to anyone?

Olivia Kelly said...

I think that Twitter and Facebook are some of the best tools an author can use to get their name out there. Of course, it helps if you write a great book, lol! Seriously, though, it's a way to connect personally to your fans and others int he writing community, in a fashion that wasn't possible before social media. I love it.
I have an author FB page and Twitter feed, and I use them every day. This is so important for me, because I'm not signed yet and I don't have a contract. But I do have something small self-pubbed, and since I'm looking to go the traditional route, I think networking is vital. Get my name out there, let people see who I am, and maybe, just maybe they'll be interested enough to read something I've written. And that's the point, isn't it?

Marnee Bailey said...

*waves at Olivia!*

Networking is vital. And I love the community feel of Twitter and FB. Writing can be so lonely, just sitting in your house or in some coffee shop like a troll. (Or that could just be me. LOL!) It's nice to have somewhere to go, just to feel like you're not the only one arguing with imaginary people.

Maureen said...

Marn - You bet! I see drabble on FB all the time. Though more on twitter I think... Twitter might restrict posts but gods, I remember when I first got on seeing a bazillion posts from this one editor about shoes, ugly shoes. Over and over and over and I thought... WTF? Who cares?

Evidently a lot of people did.

Still don't get it.

And the checking in stuff, constantly... "I'm here! I was there! Now I'm going over here!" ... like stalker paradise.


Maureen said...

Olivia, I totally agree! I've made some sweet connections with readers via FB and even a few via twitter - which I'm not terribly good at so don't use it so much...but still!

I've seen some authors make perfect use of FB and I envy them. I'm not that good yet. But I strive to learn more.

To me, FB is a way to show who I am and you're right, perhaps attract people to me so they'll want to read my books!

Because it is all about me, afterall! ;-)

Maureen said...

Imaginary people? ;-)

The fun, or not fun if you look at it that way, thing is this... For all we know, the people we interract with on FB and Twitter aren't even...real people.

Could be people pretending to be other people!

Or is that just my writer's imagination taking off?

Maybe...they are aliens! Or computer intelligence!

MsHellion said...

I've participated in self-absorbed gibberish about myself, but lately, I've taken it more as a place to share updates about Dad. You know, some people share stories about their puppy or child, but I share stories of a fiesty but calm 90 year old, who sounds like Yoda one minute and a bit of a frat boy the next.

But the thing is that when I started posting updates about Dad, I got such a positive response that I wanted to keep going. I think the kinds of posts, as you said, that inspire conversation and community are the good things. It gives the feeling of being in a coffeehouse with your friends and just chatting. But chatting about something meaningful--not just the shallow: "I ate 2 eggs and some bacon today. I'm going to work. I can't wait until 5 pm so I can come home to do nothing." I mean, I can't deny that's also true, but again, not the interesting.

I think Facebook is almost an exercise in dialogue. You don't write dialogue in your books that are the "Hello. How are you today?" "I'm fine. How are you?" "I am going to the store." --YOU DON'T DO IT. You find the interesting thing to say. Facebook is good practice of finding the thing that causes discussion. It's a tool you can use in your regular writing. It makes you a more thoughtful observer.

But yes, it's DEFINITELY a great time suck. *LOL* Balance is key.

MsHellion said...

I'm HORRIBLE at Twitter. Mostly I use it to promote other authors if I use it at all. It has even less of an attention span than Facebook, and holding attention on FB is a challenge for me. :)

Maureen said...

Hels, I love reading about your Dad and think it's a great way to almost prewrite things. You could take all those wonderful vignettes and put them together in a Eloisa James did!

Now, don't get all teary eyed, but one day, when he's gone, you'll have those FB posts to look back on and it will be a very good thing.

You've mastered the art of sharing what is important without blathering and all I can say is, well done!

For those of us who have lost a parent...well, they are great posts.

And I don't think there would be a way to work it with twitter, at all.

Sabrina Shields said...

Stopping in for a moment but I'll be back later... You all know I love twitter but I've managed to avoid facebook but I have a feeling I'll set up a writer "me" one soon.

Maureen said...

It's okay, can do it... It doesn't hurt...and we'll all friend you!

MsHellion said...

Yeah, I think of my little stories in that way--they're like snapshots I can look on again later and remember the good times. :)

Maureen said...

I do hope you are collecting them somewhere. I so wish I had done something similiar through the years.

P. Kirby said...

Hellion. I love your Dad stories. :)

If it's an account on the Internet, I have it. The only one I never set up was MySpace, but nobody cares about Myspace anyway. Over time, however, the majority never get used or are abandoned. I spend most of social my network-y time on FB and Twitter. I have an author page and a personal page on FB, with the personal page getting the most action, because I've never promoted my author page. I. Suck. At. Promotion.

In general, I spend more time commenting and liking stuff on FB than posting my own updates. Because I'm not good at sharing, I don't discuss the unpleasant stuff in my life. I'm not saying people shouldn't; just that I have a hard time letting people in. (OTOH, I have this one negative Nelly friend, who is constantly going on and on about how hard her life is. She has a couple of rambunctious toddlers and significant medical problems. But, oy vey, enough already! I'm rather tempted to "unfriend.")

I like Twitter, but I usually treat it as more of a news feed. I follow a lot of authors, but I also follow celebs, politicians, pundits, etc. It a great way to find interesting information and entertainment.

Like you, Maureen, I struggle with depression. There are days when just logging onto the Internet and reading people's updates, even the silly stuff, is a powerful tool in managing the problem.

Maureen said...

That's what I mean, you and we, are not alone. And sometimes that is all we need!

MsHellion said...

Reading posts sometimes helps me with my lows. The world is not about me. There is happiness to be found. :)

Maureen said...

Yeah, and the smarmy stuff can be hysterical. Like Katie Harper, her snark is awesome. And non-confrontational. Just a good example of an author who shows her writer voice to the world thru FB. And she's funny!

It's also an easy way to feel better about yourself by offering encouragement, or simple commaraderie to others, doing the birthday wishes stuff...all of that!

Janga said...

I love reading Hellie's posts about her dad. So often they make me smile and think of my dad.

I think your linking the "me" and the "we" is astute, Maureen. There's a phrase from Carson McCullers's The Member if the Wedding that I love: "the we of me." I think human creatures are in search of that "we," and in an age of diminishing real communities, social media offer virtual communities to be, or at least to enlarge, the "we."

I have two FB pages, one for family, school friends, former students, etc, and one romance community page. I do more reading than posting on both. I do better tweeting. It seems more dynamic to me, but I do wonder about some people who seem to be on Twitter no matter what time you check in. I don't want to be connected to anybody 24/7.

Maureen said...

Janga, I guess that is what was at the heart of what bothered me about my chapter mate's comment. She didn't get the 'we' part and I hadn't really put it together myself until I paid attention to what I read on FB that interested me and what I posted that seemed to echo with others.

And it was the 'we' stuff. I look forward to seeing her this Saturday and addressing her observation.

I'm just not much of a tweeter, though I do enjoy the interplay I observe. And I can sometimes make a one-on-one connection with someone, but it seems to come easier on FB for me.

Donna Cummings said...

I've finally succumbed to Facebook, but I don't use the personal profile -- I got on there just to use the Fan Page, and I'm having fun with it. I'm still trying to figure out how to interact with people who have personal profiles only -- they can "like" me, and I can comment back and forth with them, but I can't "like" their profile. LOL I just don't want it to feel one-sided to them.

I still like Twitter best. It feels more dynamic, and "of the moment", and it can bring a lot of people together quickly, just from sharing a tweet.

I'm also enjoying Goodreads, although I keep finding way too many books to add to my TBR pile as a result. LOL

Maureen said...

Goodreads is difficult to me. The interaction stuff confuses me. But the iPhone ap is great! I've gotten so wonderful reader feedback there.

With FB ad an author page you can't 'like' people. Have to have a personal page. But I think you can like other professional pages...

Maureen said...

You know, I love my new phone but it freezes up when I try to correct replies! Anyway, I've gotten some wonderful reader feedback on Goodreads.