Thursday, June 26, 2014


by Giselle Renarde

No, you can't be my Facebook friend.  Sorry.

Was it here or on Twitter that Annabeth Leong and I were talking about not having a Facebook account?  I don't remember.  I don't remember much, these days.  But yes, it's true, I am a (relatively) young person (or, at least, I keep telling myself I am...) and I don't have a Facebook account.

How did I become a Facebook resistor?  I remember having reasons, but I can't recall what those reasons were.  I think I always felt like I didn't want my whole life on the internet but, honestly, if you read my posts here or at Donuts and Desires, or if you follow me on Twitter, you know I tell the internet everything.

Oh, and my life is in my work, too. Duh. There's a reason my writing has been called "scary honest."

There are lots of little reasons I still resist setting up a Facebook account, despite pressure from those who care about my marketing efforts. Thing is... I'd feel sleazy establishing a social media account for the sole purpose of selling stuff.  People with low self-esteem shouldn't be allowed to run businesses.  My self-deprecating brain is always thinking, "It's going to bother people if I keep telling them about my new book."  (Although, to be honest, it does irk me when someone's Twitter feed is a steady stream of book ads. I usually unfollow them.  So I don't want to be that guy.)

There's an obvious solution: set up a Facebook account and don't be a dick. Ta-da!

But, you know, it's just one more thing to babysit. It's one more password to remember.  One more goddamn online presence.  One more thing I need to remember not to forget to sign into and keep up with and provide content for on a daily basis.

It's exhausting, all this, isn't it?

I went to a St. Vincent concert last week (See? I told you I was young! I go to concerts... just like young people!) and a lot of the songs on her new album speak to the digital experience.  In Every Tear Disappears, she sings, "Yeah, I live on wires. Yeah, I've been born twice."  Every time I hear that, I'm like tell me about it!  I spend most of my life as this internet incarnation. I miss the days when, if you wanted to know something, you had to read about it in a book... or experience it, first-hand.

Anyway, I'm swerving a little off course.  I came here to talk about why I'm a Facebook resistor.  And now that I've talked about it, I realize that none of my reasons sound all that convincing.

When it comes right down to it, I just don't want an account. I want to hold on to what's left of my privacy.

And as I write this I realize these concerns about the online sphere extend seamlessly to my personal life. Why would I invite Facebook friends in when I can't even invite flesh-and-blood friends?

I've always kept people at bay because I'm still afraid (after all these years!) someone might get a little too close and see a little too much of my ugliness, my messiness, my unsavoury-ness. It's funny how there are some things you never quite get over.  This pushing people away is a blatant leftover from growing up in an alcoholic household. You know (or can imagine) how it is: we were all too ashamed to bring friends home. My family was so insular because we had a secret to keep.  As open as I seem to be, I'm still haunted by a wide variety of demons.

Sorry, potential friends, but I'm just too psychologically damaged to join your social network.


  1. In our commentary about spirituality and sex we didn't explore the concept of Original Sin-guilt for a sin you didn't commit. If there is anyone who actually lives with original sin it is the children of alcoholics. And more likely it's shame, not guilt. (guilt says I did a bad thing, shame says I am a bad person). I don't want to sound like Dr. Phil but I wonder if you have explored therapy. Most advice you get from well wishers is probably bad advice. I hate to say it to a resistor but one of Facebook's redeeming functions is finding communities of people with a similar situation.

    I find Twitter to be hopeless noise. I've all but stopped tweeting but I was wondering the other day, what if I died? My wife doesn't know my Facebook password. I haven't put it in my advance directive. I still get product recommendations from a classmate who died a few years ago. What an odd kind of immortality. I'm curious to know how you think your condition is expressed in your writing.

    1. Therapy? Yeah, mission accomplished or I'd never be able to tell all you internet people about the shame. Oh, the shame! *faints*

  2. I spend a lot of time enjoying myself on Facebook every day... and I am here to validate your choice NOT to be there.

    First, as a person, you obviously don't want to be there; ergo, you shouldn't be there.

    And if you don't want to be there as a person, why should you be there as an author? As a group, "friends" does not equate to "fans." "Family members" does not equate to "fans." "Colleagues" does not equate to "fans." (Everyone here, just consider the number of colleagues who applaud when you release a book versus the percentage who actually read it. I am not saying that's a bad thing. I'm just saying a colleague, even a supportive colleague, even a colleague who admires your writing, is not necessarily a dedicated fan. Writers don't always have much time to read, and when they do many will intentionally read outside their own genre.) Yes, there's overlap, of course, among friends and fans, colleagues and fans, family and fans—and, up to a point, we all want to cheer on the people we love and hear about their professional successes—but if you're not interested in being on Facebook primarily to have friend-and-colleague-type interactions, then in my opinion you're basically stuck there as a merchant promoting your wares to the wrong audience. [Long rant about publisher-mandated, misdirected overpromotion via social networking redacted. (:v>]

    Unless... one sets up a Facebook fan page, instead of a personal profile. Now, based on things you've said at OGAG, Giselle, it seems that you probably do have an actual fan base of some size (unlike me, for example). Artists with actual sizeable fan bases ought to be able to use those Facebook fan pages (as opposed to personal profiles) to seriously promote to their actual fans (and not expect their friends and colleagues to necessarily sign up for those pages). Unfortunately (at least according to what I've heard from people I trust), Facebook has turned that mechanism into a totally dysfunctional fiasco: people have to pay fat fees to push their content toward their fans, and even then FB doesn't reliably deliver it to everyone.

    1. Oh Jeremy, I always knew I loved you. Thanks for validating my important life choices... like not having a Facebook account.

      And this=> "Writers don't always have much time to read, and when they do many will intentionally read outside their own genre." Sooo true! I now make a point of reading every day (I've altered my mindset and now tell myself reading is part of my job, as a writer) but I actively seek out books with no sex. I've got too much sex on my hands as it is. (???)

      And your long rant about "publisher-mandated, misdirected overpromotion via social networking"... I can only imagine of what it consisted and that's one reason I'm so glad I've started self-publishing. (Who knew I could make more than $2.09 per quarter? Wow!) I've received two different emails from two different publishers chastising their entire crew of authors en masse for not pushing their products enough. I found it so unprofessional and blame-y I never sent either any new work after that.

    2. Yes, I think there's more and more of that going on: "It's YOUR job, authors, to do our company's publicist work! (What did you think your job was? Writing the stories?)"

      (If you want the full rant, Giselle, you can e-mail me for a private peek. [I saved the snipped text in my ever-more-voluminous "not posted" file. (:v>] jerotic AT gmail DOT com)

    3. It's getting to be that publishers only want to take on writers with a "platform" already in place, i.e. an established fan base or celebrity status in something other than writing. At the very least you need to be able to have your distributors tell prospective book-buyers that your book is comparable to some other works known to be best sellers. (I found this out when trying to get into a slightly different niche than the one I was lucky enough to enter when it wasn't quite so difficult.)

  3. I can't imagine having time for Twitter, but I do have a Facebook account. A rather conflicted one, since I do use it a good deal for promotion, but value it most for the contact with writer friends and some friends from "real life." I'll post a few intensely personal things, like my mother's death last year, and be touched by the outpouring of support, but really, not that much of interest occurs in my life outside my writing career. I post pictures of my garden or the river at my NH cabin once in a while, but getting the photos onto my new-ish computer from my camera is complicated, so by the time I'm in a position do it, it feels too late. (I have a Macbook Air now, with no disk drive, so I can't use the disk software from my Canon camera on it. I do it onto my old computer and e-mail it to myself to transfer it, but the old machine's touchpad is so wonky it takes a while to get to job done. Yes, I know there must be an easier way, but I'm so tech-challeneged that I shouldn't be allowed near anything more modern than a typewriter, and then the question of Facebook/Twitter/etc. would be a moot one.)

    1. I have similar Canon-related difficulties. There must be a way to directly download the software from their site without having to use the disk, but I haven't looked into it. That's one of those "bugs me but it's so far down on my list right now" things.

  4. Hi Gisselle!

    You said-
    But, you know, it's just one more thing to babysit. It's one more password to remember. One more goddamn online presence. One more thing I need to remember not to forget to sign into and keep up with and provide content for on a daily basis.

    A fucking men. That's basically where I'm at. Had to join FB for Naughty Nights Press, but I must say I only check in maybe once a week. And I announce my blogpost here every other Wed.

    I'm sure my antiques business would have been more successful if I'd been able to shift over to on-line sales, but it sure wouldn't be the same. I'd have missed all the one-to-one human contact that made the biz what it was. As a matter of fact, I did have a website for a while, but could probably count the number of sales on two hands. Since I had to pay someone to maintain the site, it was always a hassle when I sold something and the info had to be replaced. It's not a good business model to be afraid to sell something. Then this was all fifteen years ago, and things are probably more user friendly now. Still, I can't afford the time to learn (or get the gumption up to do it.)

    I find my ERWA subscription and OGG fulfills my on-line presence. Once we get to a certain age, everything takes so damn long to do. If I started spending more time on Fb, etc. there would be no time left for writing, and I'd be doing it as a bachelor.

    1. Daddy, I feel like I can't keep up either. I keep thinking, "If I live to be my grandmother's age (she's in her mid-80s), imagine how much technology will have changed." The only solution is to bootstrap knowledge, I guess, and always keep up just enough so that learning the next thing won't be too too difficult.

      Although, by the time I'm in my 80s I'm sure humanity will have self-destructed anyway, so...

  5. I actually have 2 FB for my personal life under my real name, and one for my author name, that has some book pages linked to it. I've never been able to figure out how to create an author page, so both are just person pages.

    I go on the personal one when I get something on my other email that lets me know I'm mentioned or tagged by someone, usually my daughter. I like that one since people from my college/high school have found me. And some have either let me know how important I was to their lives, which I never guessed...or apologized for some wrong they did to me that has bothered them ever since. Both were immensely satisfying and worth having a page. But I still only go on sporadically.

    Even more sporadic is my logging onto my author page. I have it linked to my blog, so any new posts on my website show up there. But other than that, I'm rarely ever there. Don't tell my publishers!

  6. Giselle, stop apologizing!

    I'm not on FB as Lisabet Sarai. I have a FB account in my real name because, years ago, my sister started setting up a group of far-flung family members and I wanted to participate. Whole weeks go by, though, without my logging on. I belong to a couple of groups, e.g. a group from my high school graduating class. I am very leery of posting anything personal at all, though it's sometimes fun to see what my family members are doing. (Though often it's so trivial that I wonder why they bother...)

    Lisabet is not ever going to be on FB because it would take the data mining algorithms no more than a day or two to connect my writer's identity with my real identity, and that would be a disaster for me. In any case, I don't *want* to spend my extremely scarce time on FB. I'm not convinced that most of the "friends" one has on FB are really friends at all.

    I use my blog and my email list as my primary online marketing methods. I find this is a lot more personal. It's slow to build a readership/following, but I do see growth. I just added three people to my mailing list today. Only three, you might scoff? Hey, one reader at a time, one day at a time. Any one of them might be the one who falls so in love with my work that she spreads her praises all over the net.

    1. Three new subscribers in one go is a lot, by my measures. That's awesome!

  7. For the record, this conversation was on Twitter. As I said there, I'm in full support of avoiding FB (and I believe people should only do social media that works for them and that they want to do, as Jeremy suggested).

    I've had people lecture me about how I should be on FB "for marketing reasons," but I deleted my account for reasons related to those algorithms Lisabet referred to, and have no plans to ever go back.

    Those are the easier reasons to explain, though. There's also the way I struggle with staying present since my every instinct is to withdraw when I'm uncomfortable. Considering how much I do on the Internet, it's probably hard for anyone else to properly understand how uncomfortable the Internet makes me, and how it becomes almost impossible to keep participating in stuff when I'm in a "withdraw" phase. That's basically a long way of saying that I want a T-shirt with your ending to this post printed on it: "Sorry, potential friends, but I'm just too psychologically damaged to join your social network." Amen.


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