cross platform meaningless approval seeking

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Do you remember when passing a notebook among your friends was your idea of social media?

I was wondering what the next big thing after Twitter would be, and apparently it’s Instagram, but do I really even want to use that? That’s what I thought when Twitter was new, and here I am, but I don’t want to play this lame keeping up game. I don’t want to prove that I am cool, smart, funny, creative and interesting 140 characters at a time anymore. Nor do I want everyone in the world to “like” my “status.” Whenever you’re posting a status update, your true status is, “Wasting time on Facebook while real life passes by.” People used to think gamers were lame (back when they were just called “computer nerds”), but now what about all these so-called “normal” people whose emotional lives revolve around getting virtual “likes” from people whose opinions ultimately do not matter?

I’m still on Twitter and Facebook, of course, for the same reasons everyone is still on them. I am no better than everyone else. I need a way to obsessively click through photos of the lives of people I no longer actually know so I can compare myself to them in the least realistic light possible. And I need a way to tell the world I’m funny and cool and stuff. Plus, it’s how I get my news. Hate me for it if you want, but I know I’m not alone. I can hear the trolls already: “You are what’s wrong with America!” Yes, dear. Aren’t we all?

I know several people who have decided to cut back their use of social media. Incidentally, social media can be shortened to “SM” if you ever get tired of writing it out. I find that appropriate. Anyway, some have quit one site or another entirely. Some have stopped all forms of digital sharing with the general public. Some are simply being more selective than they used to be, keeping everything very professional: no profane tweets, no drunk tweets, no passive aggressive breakup drama tweets.

Others have diversified: Joining Polyvore, then Pinterest; starting a Tumblr, then reaching back to Live Journal for that old school flavor; maybe even re-activating a Diaryland account (yeah, it still exists). Some of us are cross-platform blogging and bringing in Soundcloud and Youtube clips, although it’s a little hard to call Youtube social these days. And if there were a way to ad texture to a blog post a la that fuzzy bunny book everyone had as a toddler, you know I’d be first in line for that beta … unless of course it already exists and I missed it because I’m terminally uncool. Also possible.

Some people are still on Myspace. Heh. That always makes me feel better.

For me, the impulse is a complicated combination. I need to stay focused and not waste a lot of time and energy on a lot of outlets that at the end of the day are just meaningless-approval-seeking devices. I don’t want to take endless photos of myself, add sepia filters, adn upload them to the internet with faux ironic captions indicating I am pretending not to believe I’m a rock star fashion icon.

But here I am. And just like the would-be fashion icon, I am deluding myself that I can reach the world with my art via Twitter and Facebook or Pinterest and Instagram or whatever your social media flavor of the day is.

And now it’s time for a solution … I don’t have one. I am a writer, not a social media maven. And fuck the word “maven” anyway.

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why i <3 @AnneLamott

I checked Twitter immediately upon waking up this morning because I’m a little on the OCD side like that (isn’t everyone these days?) and I learned that Anne Lamott is now on Twitter. This makes me pretty seriously happy.

While I had my coffee and vitamins, I pondered why Anne Lamott is my favorite writer. Here’s what I came up with:

Actually, there are a lot of reasons I love her writing, like how compassionate she is, how she deals with the shortcomings of her characters in such a loving and positive way, how she gives such solid advice about writing. But lots of people can give good advice and even be lovely and compassionate without being interesting at all (myself, for example). But I really think it’s the overall joyfulness of Lamott’s writing that makes me love it the most.

So, how about you? What is it that really makes you love your favorite writers?

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