Being an author of fiction in 2015 sucks. It sucks because the virus of social media has grossly warped the expectations people have of artists, of celebrities, of athletes, their peers, even themselves.
Along with the responsibility of 99% of the promotion of your books on your shoulders, you’re also expected to play your own publicist, keeping yourself from posting anything that could be construed as offensive or negative on social media. In other words, anything real.
We’re not even going to get into the social media sites themselves throttling down your exposure to the point that you’re only getting your fake nice, non-offensive posts out to ten percent of your audience without you throwing serious dollars at them.
What this creates, in essence, is an entire network full of 1950s Stepford wives towing strict political and social lines, effectively only reaching a tiny echo chamber audience who agrees completely with your carefully orchestrated bullshit.
This is not how art is supposed to be consumed.
Artists should not give a fuck what anyone thinks about them. If you think that the way I talk on social media is a detriment to my career as an author, then you’ve never read anything I’ve ever written. Where do you think this rage and contempt for politicized popular opinion goes? You think I write nicey nicey liberal stories about marginalized characters overcoming bigotry? Do you think you’re my audience?
There is a 99% chance the only reason we’re connected on social media is because we’re pressured into creating a “network” of creative people. NOT that you’re a fan of my fiction. My fiction is some of the most raw, harrowing, nihilistic shit you’ll ever read. My hatred for mainstream culture IS WHAT DRIVES ME TO WRITE IN THE FIRST PLACE.
If authors like Philip K. Dick wrote his tales of paranoia and government corruption today, what kind of posts do you think he’d make on social media? He’d be the guy you battled with for hours and hours in comments about the conspiracy theories and alien abduction links he posted online.
If Thomas Ligotti was new today, what kind of “friend” would he make on facebook? Always complaining about being depressed. Always ranting about the futile nature of life and reality. You’d unfriend him in a heartbeat because you “don’t need that kind of negativity in my life.”
Do you think H.P. Lovecraft would be calling for a rebel flag to be removed from South Carolina in the wake of its most recent tragedy? Fuck no. Hunter S. Thompson would troll political groups morning noon and night. Trent Reznor would post nothing but memes about ex girlfriends fucking over their boyfriends. Eminem would fight publicly with Kim, starting drama all over the internet every single day. Would you call him the most brilliant lyrical rap genius of all time? Or would you delete him for being an “internet drama queen”?
We must learn the art of not giving a FUCK what other people think of our “social media footprint”. These books will exist for hundreds of years after we’re all dead. After #rapeculture has absolutely no meaning. After fighting about transgender and transracial politics is indecipherable nonsense. You are NOT the fake shit you project onto the internet. You, as an artist, are THE WORDS AND IMAGES YOU CREATE. And you will FOREVER be remembered for them. Not what you posted about Bruce Jenner’s gender identity last week.
If you make your reading choices based on social media personality, I feel so sorry for you. You’re missing out on a vast, rich field of creativity that you marginalize with your high school lunch room politics. And I don’t give a single fuck what you think of me. My fiction speaks for me.