By Letitia Coyne
Posted January 3, 2013
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I’ve been reading up on the benefits of removing yourself from social media outlets. There can be no doubt at all that the time spent updating and following SM accounts, for most us, will never pay any dividends. The more you engage online, the more you receive invitations to participate in other SM platforms, with profiles that need updating, and comments needed, and time spent engaging – or a whole list of obsolete accounts with random information about you float in the ether, forgotten and entirely unlamented.
A big part of the anxiety disorder that goes hand in hand with SM use is the ‘comparison and failure’ aspect; the same old school yard popularity games still being won by the same old faces. And because we are there with them, because their words and deeds are beamed into our own homes, our own computers, we think we are involved in the processes that unfold. When we feel a sense of failure, it is often associated with a sense of being rejected and disliked.
When I sent out a pile of Christmas well-wishes to my SM associates this year and received back one brief ditto, I was reminded of a line in James Goldman’s wonderful ‘The Lion in Winter’.
[Seriously, if you haven’t seen either the 1968 Peter O'Toole, Katharine Hepburn and Anthony Hopkins movie, or the 2003 Glenn Close, Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Rafe Spall, and Andrew Howard movie, both brilliant – do yourself a favour – SEE IT.]
A little backstory:
Everyone knows Henry II favoured Prince John, while his beloved enemy, wife Eleanor of Aquitaine, favoured her lambkin, Richard Cœur de Lion, to ascend Henry II’s throne after the untimely death of their eldest son, Henry the Young King. [Forget all their daughters, half-siblings in France, and illegitimate titled brothers] We know about The Lionheart and his Crusades, and John Lackland, the phony king of England, who didn’t really fight off Robin [Hood] of Loxley at all.
But did you know about Geoffrey II, Duke of Brittany and Earl of Richmond?
That’s right! Between their eldest surviving son, Richard, and their youngest son, John, there was another legitimate son – Geoff.
Unless you are a history buff, you’ve probably never heard of him; history didn’t provide him a wide stage. He did not lack political skill; he was a wily and sugar-tongued diplomat with not one single scruple. He was fast on his feet, too; he changed allegiances often and without warning.
He could have been a contender! But he wasn’t. He was pushed aside by four of the most skilled, aggressive, politically astute, powerful, determined, and unscrupulous people royalty has ever produced – which is really saying something.
So here is Geoffrey II, Duke of Brittany and Earl of Richmond, in Goldman’s screenplay, bargaining for power from the leftovers between Eleanor and Richard, and Henry and John. In a moment of passion, when Richard’s dalliances with King Philip of France are revealed and Henry II cries, ‘Thank God I have another son. Thank God for John!’
Geoff says to his father:
‘And who shall we thank for Geoffrey? You don’t think much of me.’
And HERE is his father’s answer, the line that came to mind for me and my Christmas well-wishes:
‘Much? I don’t think of you at all.’
Geoffrey was in the thick of it. He was manipulating and bargaining with the best – he was working his brand and raising his profile. He thought that because he was a player, he was important. He thought because he was putting in the time and effort, it meant something, his market share was growing. He thought that his assistance was valuable, that the support he gave would be rewarded.
He thought that the fact that his father did not figure him into the schemes and land grabs meant he had been willfully rejected by his sire, and his skills disrespected.
He was wrong.
We are wrong when we imagine we have any role in the SM world. The chosen ones have their role to play. In publishing they are the lords of creation, the feted creatives by whose offerings society judges its own worth.
I am white noise. I am a matter of supreme indifference to the successful.
It is so freeing to realize that and to move on.
Years ago I saw it, but it didn’t sink in. I wrote a poem about it then:
He went to market to sell magic beans.
A million million beansellers stood there, screaming.
Glassy eyes and pursed lips.
“I have to sell my beans,” he said.
Beansellers split his tongue.
Moving bravely through the crush,
He gripped his small brown beans,
“I need to sell my magic beans.”
But no one went to market to buy.
He saw beans sparkle, glow, sing songs.
Standing near the lovely beans,
Searching faces for smiles,
He hid his ugly old beans.
“They’re all I have.”
He asked about the shiniest beans,
But his thick, split, stupid tongue twisted and bled.
And beansellers screamed. A million million beansellers.
Narrow eyes and lemon lips screamed.
He shrugged, trudged home, and made burritos.
Years ago, too, I read an article on the mass closing of independent bookstores that said the first reason for failure was not Amazon or big publishing houses, it was that there were more people writing and trying to sell books than there were trying to read them.
So I knew it, years ago.
I have removed myself from the hundreds of pages with their mailing lists which I had subscribed to. Finger on the writing/publishing/marketing pulse, stuff.
I never got twitter. I don’t go there anymore. In two years I have had two conversations on twitter. It seems to me that everyone in the world is tweeting what they think, as they think it, all at once. No one seems to be listening, everyone is too busy talking.
I enjoyed facebook, briefly. But now each time I engage an audience and begin to gather actual real life conversations, facebook simply cuts back the number of feeds my posts appear on. I post on 1889 Labs facebook feed and my posts do not even appear on my timeline anymore. I am not one of the 5%.
I enjoyed blogging for a while. But every time there is a break in the flow the work done to build an audience is immediately lost. You build up regulars who come back each week to chat about your thoughts. Then there is a pause. Gone. Just gone.
I tried Goodreads. Why? I don’t have time to read enough or a desire to discuss what I read, and I don’t want to listen to a constant stream of self-pubbed authors who have a handbook on how to spam.
You know all the others. Same.
I am not going to unpublish, as some are doing when they realize how much of their time they have thrown away. But I’m done with trying to engage people whose real need and drive is to engage me in their sales pitch. Very best of luck to them all. I wish them well.
Here are some links on disengaging that might interest you. Or not.
3 Reasons You Should Quit Social Media
Is Social Media Destroying Your Self-Esteem
Social Media Study
Social Media Vocabulary: Disease and Disorders
Going Unsocial: How to Disconnect from Social Networking
Social Media Disconnect: Are Marketers Out of Touch?
Camp Kivu’s Quest to Get Depressed Teens to Disconnect From Social Media
Etc. Google it.
[The 'passé' thing is a joke, not an error. My sense of humour ....]
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