“You like me!”
Writers (and for the record, it took me more than 5 minutes to decide whether to actually apply the term to myself here), are a bit like toddlers. We want to be applauded and praised and will pitch a fit of hellish proportions if you try and tell us we are doing something wrong. I would be lying to myself (and you) if I said I didn’t flush with both embarrassment and pleasure at the positive feedback I’ve had so far. And this is where I struggle, trying to reconcile myself to the new world order of things, navigating the slippery slope of vanity and self worth in the age of Social Media.
A solid blue-collar (lapsed) Catholic girl, one of high moral (ahem) standing such as myself, shouldn’t go around fishing for compliments. It’s just not how I was raised. But isn’t that exactly what I am doing? Just by virtue of writing this, I am essentially shouting to the world “MY IDEAS ARE WORTH READING”. It is mortifying, humbling, and exciting all wrapped up with a neat, pretty bow. And then I hit the ‘publish’ button and cross my fingers that no one hates what I have to say. But the thing is, if they do, if I don’t get someone hitting the ‘like’ button or sharing a post on Facebook, does it mean that my ideas really aren’t worth reading?
If a tree falls in the forest and there’s no one around to hear it…..
I used to do readings of short stories in New York City. Sometimes I would have someone approach me afterward to tell me they enjoyed it. But they were present, face to face, making the effort and decision to speak with me. In writing classes in college, we would share work and comment and criticize, but constructively. Now that a large chunk of our interactions with each other are taking place in 140 characters or less, commenting and criticizing have been reduced to hitting the like button, or leaving a blistering anonymous comment. But on a much, much larger scale. I am not reading to a small back room in a smoky bar or sitting in the relative safety of a classroom. I am out there in this alternate reality known as the ‘blogosphere’. I am opening myself up to criticism (and it’s a lot easier to be harsh when you are not looking at someone in the eye), but I am also opening myself up to praise.
It’s the rare individual that doesn’t crave a bit of attention, some positive feedback, a hearty ‘well done’ every now and again. I am no different. When I put myself out here, I knew that I was going to get feedback (good and not so good). That’s the point. Otherwise I would have biked down to the local bookstore and picked myself up a nice diary with a lock and key.
So please, read and comment. Seek me out, or post anonymously. I promise not to let myself be swayed, in either direction, by the number of ‘likes’. And if you hear me humming Carly Simon, you have my permission to pinch me.