So, I had a Facebook author page this year . . . It was a short-lived experiment.
Before I go into how I ended up caving into the pressure of creating an author page on Facebook, I’ll give you some background on why I try to avoid Facebook at all costs. For the longest time I resisted getting a Facebook. In fact, even though Facebook was very popular when I was in college, I didn’t even know what it was or why I “needed it” (according to others), but I kept getting asked, “Do you have a Facebook?” “No,” I said, “What is that?” The typical reply I’d get was something like: “It’s a social network, like MySpace.” I had seen MySpace before but I had never joined it. Maybe it’s because I’m mostly an introvert, but there was nothing about MySpace or other social media that appealed to me. I figured that if I wanted to talk to friends or family, I’d pick up the phone or meet them face-to-face. Needless to say, I was unpopular, but that was normal.
The first time I had (reluctantly) signed up for Facebook was after I had joined a writers’ group in town. On Facebook, the group had information such as when they would be holding meetings and whether those meetings had been cancelled. The group leader said that I needed to get a Facebook and join the group page for her own informational purposes on group members and so I could stay up-to-date with the schedule. I was annoyed with this, but at the time I wanted to be in the writers’ group, so I complied.
Soon after joining, I invited friends and family, and I shared things I thought were interesting or important. I looked up old friends and tried connecting with them again (they didn’t seem all that interested in chatting with me, which filled me with disappointment). Not too long after I had joined Facebook, however, I had to leave due to stalking and harassment from someone I had met online years ago who tried to make my life a living hell. This person reported me (and my partner) as “fake” so we were locked out of our Facebook pages. I reluctantly and angrily scanned my ID and sent the pic to Facebook to get back in. My partner didn’t even bother trying to get back in because he hates Facebook and how “creepy and stalkery” it is anyway. I don’t blame him.
So I got in, deleted everything, and told everyone I was leaving Facebook for good. The next time I went to the writers’ group meeting I told them the story of why I no longer wished to be a part of Facebook and the group leader allowed me to continue going to meetings even though I was no longer joining them online.
I was happier being away from Facebook and finally started getting more things done. Some of my friends were sad that I was no longer on the social networking site, but I was perfectly okay with having other things to do with my life besides Facebooking. Then, perhaps a year or two later, one friend convinced me to go back Facebook to see some videos and pictures she had posted of her guineas. I didn’t know much about them or what they looked like, so I was curious. Looking back, basing the decision to go back on Facebook because of this seems rather silly, but there you have it. So, I was back and I joined some groups and liked some pages and shared more stuff. Then, I started having problems with the Facebook groups I had joined. I got banned from groups for all kinds of strange reasons that to this day make me question my own goodness and sanity. I started wondering, “Am I really such a bad person? But that’s not what I meant at all! Why do people always interpret my words in the strangest ways and assume the worst? Is it really me? What’s wrong with me? Am I somehow incapable of making my words clear enough so that others can understand their meaning?” There were many sleepless nights where I questioned my sanity, my judgement, and whether or not people saw in me a kind of horrible monster and I was somehow blind to it. Once again, I deleted everything and gave up on Facebook; feeling defeated; feeling like the most unsociable, unlikable monster that ever walked the earth. I felt as if I had hurt too many people and let them down.
That was enough. I had quit forever . . . or so I thought.
Then, after having published Transmogrified, I realized I wasn’t getting many sales. So I started reading up on how to market my books and all the advice I had been reading kept telling me: “You need to have a Facebook author page or else you are depriving your fans of a fan club!” (or something like that). Not wanting to disappoint my potential book fans, I decided to create an author page on Facebook. I was dismayed to find that in order to create an author page, I needed to have a personal page as well. Facebook has a way of sucking me in and draining my time, energy, and happiness all at once. After a while on Facebook, the familiar depression and guilt from those times before came trickling in, little by little. That voice in the back of my mind kept telling me things like, “This is depressing. This is stressful. This constant barrage of bad news is making you sick — literally! Look at how many fevers and sinus infections and stomachaches you’ve gotten this year! You’re wasting your time. You could be doing so many other things! Why did you spend so many hours/the whole day staring at Facebook?! Why do you keep coming back to this place if it’s making you so profoundly unhappy? I think this is some kind of addiction. You’re not getting anything creative done. You haven’t finished playing Persona 5. Look at all these books you have yet to read; don’t you want to get on that? What about typing up those 14 journals you have? What about working on your second novel? What about practicing art? What about spending time with your guinea pigs? Why don’t you call your friends? The chores are piling up. Your parents are going to start yelling at you. You haven’t gotten any exercise lately,” and on and on.
I would have left so much sooner if I hadn’t started that author page. I was worried that if I left, no one would ever see or read my books. I didn’t want to disappoint my fans (and potential fans). But I had to leave. I had to leave for the sake of my mental health.
Maybe my books will never catch on with readers. Maybe readers will never find my stories, and I will go out of this life in poverty and obscurity. That’s a sad thought for a writer and an artist, but I just can’t do Facebook anymore. I don’t care if “everyone else is doing it.” I can’t do it. Not if I want to preserve whatever fragile sanity and life I have left.
Leaving on a happier note, here is how I feel right now: I am finally FREE! Free from the tyranny of creepy, stalkery, “Big Brother” Facebook! Hooray!!!
Yes. There is more to life than “social networking.” Peace!