I’m one of “them”- the thousands of people who post on social media and then stew over responses. Years ago, when I resisted entering the social media fray, I scoffed at those people who lived and died based on how many likes or clicks or retweets they received. Now, I am one of them.
It started out simply enough. I wrote a book; a book that needed to be marketed during the time of COVID lock downs when the mere thought of book signings and author events or even speaking face to face with a store manager about carrying my book was a mere pipe dream. Having people talk about your book is how book sales happen and so I turned my fledgling and little used social media accounts into marketing tools. I started an author Facebook page and an Insta account and converted my personal Twitter, something rarely used and even less understood, into my COVID “word of mouth”.
The accounts grew in fits and starts and then stagnated when it appeared I had nothing much to say other than “please buy my book”. I get it and totally understand. After so many posts about the same thing, it’s easier to snooze someone or block them completely rather than have your feed filled with things you have already seen and dismissed.
Then the second book came out and, because my publisher is big on social media presence, I became more creative and tried ads targeting audiences outside of my admittedly small social circle. Other authors offered tips and tricks and while the marketing of my second book is still in its infancy, and the coveted reviews on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Goodreads are still in the low numbers, the book is selling. It was incentive enough to try a boosted Facebook post containing what I think is an attractive ad aimed at the summer beach crowd. Thousands of people have seen it and done the Facebook thing of liking in one of the many categories.
However, this is when I knew I had become one of “them”. My boosted post has thousands of blue thumbs up and hundreds of those coveted red hearts and…………..three of the angry face emoji’s. Three out of thousands and for the life of me, I am beyond frustrated by it. How could an innocent post these three complete strangers saw for one brief moment have elicited an angry face?! How did I so offend them that they clicked on that emoji that appears so far to the right that they had to move their finger to do so?
Worse yet, why am I not focusing on the thousands of positive responses to the post? Why am I not happy about that?
Probably the single most painful part of being an author is critique. Hearing negative things about your work is painful and certainly not for the faint of heart. When those responses become public, the pain is only magnified and that’s what happens with social media. One three star review among dozens of four and five stars can become a knife in the heart.
That’s the way it seems to be for those who are really into social media. An innocent post, taken the wrong way, leaves you open to anger, spite and vitriol that defies the old adage of “when you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all”. People hide behind their social media accounts and say the most hurtful things without remorse or remembering that there is a living, breathing human being on the other end of that account.
Of course, the immediate reaction is to post a retort, but I learned something back when newspapers were the way to express opinions. “Never argue with someone who buys their ink by the barrel.” Don’t get into arguments on social media. When you’re outnumbered by people who believe differently, you’ll never win and in the end, you’ll feel worse and it’s important to remember there are consequences to this very public way of arguing.
In the extreme, those who are subject to such undeserved anger may harm themselves rather than continue to deal with the posts that never go away. On the other hand, like me, they may lose a couple hours of their life stewing about a negative response before remembering that life is not lived on the pages of a social media account but rather through face to face interactions with other people who may have different opinions than ours.
To the three people who responded to me with angry face emoji’s, I apologize if something about the ad you saw for my books was difficult for you. I hope whatever you were feeling the moment you clicked on that angry little face has passed and your life is better today.
For myself, I will try to remember yet again that everyone is different with different likes and dislikes and in the grand scheme of things, social media is not the real world. More importantly, the next time I don’t like something or have an extreme response to something I see on social media, the best response is to say nothing at all and to simply move on.
Finally, if you have begun to feel like social media is ruling your life and you can’t put your phone down for a moment, it may be time for a break. Give yourself a month without social media and, if you can’t go that long, try it for even a day. Rediscover the physical world around you and the people in your life. Rediscover how wonderful your life could be without the lure of social media and pick up a book!
Be well my friends….