"Can You Hear Me?" - Anonymity in the Age of Social Media
I’m not speaking of type found in chat rooms and comments sections, pertaining to the GIFT postulate (see: Penny Arcade) that we all know and do not love. I am speaking of unintentional anonymity, that of crowded spaces, where everyone is given a voice and very few are heard above the shouting. Social media was supposed to be a boon to the artist, and undoubtedly it is…with the right amount of luck, timing, persistence, and circumstance. But it is also incredibly easy to get lost in the crowd, for with the oversaturation of individuals—creative and otherwise—vying for attention comes a malaise on the part of the beholder, who simply starts…skimming. Suddenly it becomes much easier to focus on Aunt Boo’s latest Facebook meltdown than their crazy-smart cousin’s brilliant (but complicated) Kickstarter.
And then we have an economy-panicked Hollywood to thank for spreading the philosophy that Original Ideas Are Scary, and therefore unknown creators and franchises are, too, but not everyone buys in to this, and many actively resent it. But still, with so many celebrities on social media (or their agents standing in for them, for some celebrities are bugf*ck nuts and can’t be trusted with a Twitter account), some people don’t even notice the non-celebrities; or, even worse, they view them as non-persons, as though fame sprung from a vacuum and the high-profile people they admire never had to work their way up from nothing.
Luckily, persistence, cleverness, and good work can raise one’s profile (see: The Oatmeal). But a word of warning: raising one’s profile can bring on the attackers (see also: The Oatmeal). So once more, persistence, cleverness, and good work will cause one to prevail (see: The Oatmeal, once again). It’s a narcissistic age, and some people frankly can’t tolerate the success of others, even if they themselves are successful, for that success may feel precarious or meager to them. They’ll frame their attacks in the language of condescension or outrage, but look at the timing. And for god’s sake, make sure it really wasn’t something you said…you might think your racist joke was “edgy,” but no, darling, that’s just racist. And stupid.
Personally, I think my fear of spamming and my hatred of Twitter keeps me a little on the Luddite side of book promotion, which isn’t good, but I make up for it on the convention circuit, where I can talk to people face-to-face, something I’m much better at. Where I get really frustrated is when I discover the work of someone that I think is truly gifted, perhaps even a borderline genius, and I spew their praises all over Facebook and Tumblr…only to find that it’s been skimmed over or ignored. I want to shake my stubby little hands at the sky. And yet, sometimes I’ll discover later that someone did notice, in their lurky fashion, and that they bought the album/ebook/art/etc. And now that artist has one more fan, and is one step closer to being better known. Even small steps matter.