egotist, n. a person of low taste, more interested in himself than in me.
–ambrose pierce, the devil’s dictionary
i am both an aspiring memoirist and a very private person. what can I say? the onion that is me has many layers. memoir writing chose me—it’s what makes me feel tethered to something instead of just flung out into the wild by myself. and i’ve been told that in order to get published, i need a “platform” (i assume to have something off of which to jump when the insecurity arising from social media engagement is too much to bear). so to attain that platform, i’ve started a blog; and to build up that blog, i’ve made a deal with the devil: facebook.
so here i am, a few weeks into my social media blitzkrieg: i’m on facebook (go like my blog’s page); i’ve turned myself into a twidiot (go follow me @danifleischer); and i’m hash-tagging my ass off on instagram (go follow me @sum_of_my_pieces). i tend to go balls out once i set my mind to something.
and actually, social media has been really helpful—facebook especially—because now there’s a quantifiable way to know whether or not i should like myself—to know exactly how liked i am, how worthy my words are, and most importantly, how i stack up against my friend from third grade whom i haven’t seen in a quarter of a century. plus, as an added bonus, if you have a fan page, facebook gives you “insights” into its activity: how many people saw each post versus how many engaged—and of those who engaged, how many merely commented and how many liked it. so now the over/under on how long it will take me to jump off that platform is one simple math problem away.
which is all to say: this is why i didn’t have a facebook page until now. let’s set aside for a moment the privacy issue, as well as my belief that there’s a natural selection in life that weeds out people who aren’t supposed to be in your life anymore. and let’s forget about the problem of comparing my insides to others’ outsides. what’s most troubling is that i can’t help but measure my worth by how many likes each post gets. once i put something out there, i’m finding it really goddamn difficult not to care how it’s received.
and this isn’t just about ego, it’s about my writing—my writing—which creates the perfect shit-storm of doubt and insecurity. ‘shit, should i have posted that? did that make me look dumb? why hasn’t X liked it yet—i wonder if he’s mad at me. oh my god, that picture of the thing in the place with the person barely got any likes—see, i knew it! i knew my writing was shit and i’ve been living in a fantasy world to think that i’ll ever get published and—oh my god 6 more people just liked it! yeah i knew it was funny.’
don’t even pretend that you haven’t asked yourself those same questions or felt a similar shame when you post something that you think will kill and instead it dies a slow, painful death. it all feels like i’m standing in front of the class in my underwear. actually, given the personal nature of my writing, i’m standing in front of the school naked on a windy day, watching my underwear get raised up the flag pole as i try to cover up all my shivering bits.
now look—i realize that a lot of people are idiots, and i shouldn’t worry about what they think about me or my writing. all i have to do is look at how many likes someone’s spinach omelette gets, and i realize that maybe mass approval doesn’t say much. (i really don’t get the food pics people. unless you’re a professional chef or that picture can reach through my computer and give me half of that omelette, i really don’t give a shit what you’re having for lunch. but what’s more troubling to me than the actual pictures is how many people like them.)
i also realize that if i want to get published i’d better grow some thicker skin, and that my career does not hang in the balance of how many likes a ralph waldo emerson quote gets. (but sidenote: i put up an emerson quote that’s one of the truest and most eloquent things ever said, and it only got 6 likes?? why am i always so much more right than everyone else?)
yet despite all the things that my better, more confident self knows to be true, my lesser, more fearful self cares about the social media response. and over the last half decade or so i’ve actually done a lot of work to create a better sense of self-worth—work that, i believe, has yielded some positive results. and yet social media has me fixated and almost blinded, trying to make this blog of mine wildly successful in the one month that i’ve been doing it.
what i know i should remember—what’s difficult to call up when i need it to resonate the most—is the pride i should feel at just putting myself out there, results be damned. there was a time not too long ago when the idea of rejection would have kept me quiet and alone, not doing the thing that i love to do.
in an interview in the new york times, marilynne robinson said: “it comes down to fear; the fear of making self-revelation of the seriousness of ‘i sense a sacredness in things.’” i do sense a sacredness in some things, and that admission carries with it a vulnerability that scares the shit out of me. but here i am anyway, because how can it be any other way?
so let’s cut the bullshit: if you’re sitting there with a bemused grin on your face—if you’ve been mildly entertained, or identified in any way with what I’ve said here—if you really do like this blog, then click the link below and like the damn blog. it’s hard to put yourself out here like this and this fledgling writer needs some support.