I'm not even 30 yet, and I'm becoming a grumpy old man. Facebook is mostly to blame, I think.
If you happen to be on Facebook, you know just how aggravating it can be at times. Sure, it's nice to see what your friends and colleagues are doing, staying in touch with friends you've met online and might not actually ever meet in person.
But then you have the spammers.
Only they're not really spammers, at least in the traditional sense of the word. If you're a writer and you have a lot of writer friends on Facebook, you know exactly what I mean. These are the people who seem to think success is dictated by just how many "friends" they have, or how many people have become "fans" of their work. Or if we're talking the world of Twitter, success for them is how many followers they have.
I don't mind when people pimp their stuff on Facebook. It's expected. But when pimping is all they do, each and every day, it becomes rather redundant. The first writer I ended up hiding was someone who constantly updated their status asking people to go check out his story at such-and-such a place. It was a bit much, but when he had a status that said something along the lines that his grandmother had just passed away and he had written a poem about her and would love for everyone to read it, I felt enough was enough (and no, I'm not exaggerating about that at all -- this writer really posted that).
But the constant status updates begging people to read their work or buy their books is one thing.
Receiving constant event or fan invitations is another.
The way Facebook is set up (at least the way I find it set up) is that the very first time someone sends you an invitation for anything, there is an option to ignore all future invites from that friend. If you don't click on that, then you're screwed. As far as I can tell, there's no way to get it back, so what happens is that particular friend is now free to keep bombarding you with invitations for things you probably have never heard of nor care to ever learn anything about.
I've found that certain writers are the worst at this. Almost every other day I would receive an invitation to become someone's "fan." Again, it's that sad idea that the more "friends" and "fans" they have, the more successful they are. Keep in mind I'm not faulting them completely. I know how hard it is for a writer or for any artist to get their work looked at. As writers we all want to be read, but the problem is finding readers to read our work. So we put our work out there, hoping people will read it and like it enough to search out more of our work ... or we bombard the readers with our work, hoping to wear them down to the point that they have no choice but to relent and learn to like us.
A few weeks back I kept getting invitations from a particular "friend" to become a fan of a particular journal. I kept ignoring them. This particular "friend" kept sending them. Finally I'd had enough. I decided to "unfriend" (the word of the year, didn't you know) this person, but first wanted to make sure that they knew they were being unfriended, and why. So like a jerk I tagged them in my update status that I was happy to have unfriended so-and-so for sending an obscene amount of fan invites in a short amount of time.
Later that night I received this private message from the person:
Since you tagged me in a note and then unfriended me so I couldn't read it, I'm assuming you're talking about me and my journal.
I figured since you friended me in the first place (even though you've never met me), that you were a writer or interested in writing, as that is the vast majority of who my facebook friends are.
I thought you might be interested in my journal, XXXXXXX, as something to read or as a place to submit your work.
I'm sorry if my fanpage requests bothered you. I don't know if you know this, but facebook doesn't tell you when or if someone turns down an invitation; if I knew you weren't interested I wouldn't have sent the request. You could have written to me and I would have stopped sending.
When I received this it was late Saturday night and I was out with some friends at a bar. I'd had a couple drinks, and I was pretty furious. Because see, I had never friended this person, just as I told them in this reply, tapping away at my phone, my thumbs frantic:
For starters, I never friended you. I know this for a fact because I don't even know you. When people send me friend requests and we have mutual friends I accept thinking it won't be a big deal. But then when you keep sending fan requests, it gets tiresome. My suggestion is when someone sends you a friend request, you send them a private message saying thanks and inviting them to become a fan of your journal. That way people who want to become a fan can become a fan without receiving countless requests.Take care,
See, this person had over 1,000 friends -- something like 2,000 friends, I believe. Which, if you think about it, is a ridiculous amount. Sure, not if you're a really major author and a lot of people love your work and keep sending you friend requests, but if you are the one sending friend requests just to up the number of friends you have ... not so much. And this particular person was one of those, sending friend requests to anybody who would accept them, and then asking them to become a fan of their journal.
So what have we learned here? My time on Facebook might be coming to an end, as it's turning me into a grumpy old man (or rather grumpy young man). I've learned from now on though not to accept friend requests from people who already have over 1,000 friends. That's more than enough, and they don't need one more.
Again, I don't really fault these people. They're just trying to promote their work. Everyone is different, and everyone responds differently to things, but that constant in-your-face-marketing just isn't for me. Personally, it doesn't make me want to read your work. If anything, it makes me remember your name so that if I ever do pass by something you've written, I'll immediately skip over it.
But like I said, that's just me.
GYM (grumpy young man)