Thursday, February 10, 2011

Blog Chain Post: Social Media - the New High School Lunch Room

Amanda started this round of the blog chain by asking:
Are you a good social networker? What aspect of platform building do you focus on the most? Which aspects freak you out?
What an interesting topic. I guess what surprised me most about social media is that it created a type of virtual high school lunch room. Before social media, I lived in this pretty little fantasy world where all writers were created equal, we could all be friends, and we helped each other get by in this difficult industry. But -  thanks to the likes of Facebook, Twitter, and blogs - I learned this is not always the case.

Now, don't get me wrong, I love writers. I love being able to connect with other writers from around the world and talk shop. I love that, through social media, I've made real and true friends. But there's also another side. A dark side where the cool kids sit at the cool table and if you don't have a big publisher, a big advance, or big buzz, don't you think for a second you can hang with them.

Shock and appall, right?

I know it's happened to us all, a group of people you are tight with go off and form a group blog without asking you to join, you get left off of someone's "follow Friday"/blog award list, or, my personal favorite, a big name author follows you on Twitter and you think, "How nice!" and follow them back, only, when you do, they drop you like a hot potato (they just wanted your follow - not you.)

It's enough to make anyone feel want to unplug from the Internet and crawl into a hole. Now, here's where I'm going to share with you a little secret. It's been my life motto for as long as I can remember. Just ask my husband, it's something I mumble to myself before I get up on stage to sing, speak on a panel, or walk into a party where I don't know a single soul.

Fake it until you make it.

It sounds dumb, but I swear it works. Before any public event I go to, I look at myself in the mirror and say, "You're good enough, you're smart enough..." Okay, so I don't say that. Hee. But I do tell myself that I am the person I want to be. "You're Cole Gibsen. You're funny, confident, and people are glad that you're here." And it helps me every time.

You can't hide from social media. (Well, you can but you're going to be missing out on an opportunity to meet some really awesome people.) And you can't stop sucky people from sucking. But you can change the way others perceive you and, in turn, how you perceive yourself. Just because you don't feel confident, that doesn't mean you can't act confident. You may not feel like a success or that you deserve the same accolades as that six-figure-advance author, but that doesn't mean you can't act like you do. Sometimes people act like jerks, they hurt your feelings and make you feel bad. But that doesn't mean you can't rise above it.

Edit: And Windy makes a really good point in the comments. Sometimes people do things that hurt our feelings without even realizing that they are hurting our feelings. And, again, this is another unfortunate side of the virtual world. I, myself, have said things thinking I was being funny/sarcastic, but the person reading it took it wrong (curse the lack of a sarcastic font!!) and I hurt their feelings without meaning too. This is just another example of, not only should we not take things on social media sites personally, but we should also watch what we put out there as well and how it might be interpreted. 

For more links on this chain check out Sandra's post before mine and Eric's on the twelfth!


  1. Wow, this is a great post. And I agree. But I never wanted to be a cool kid anyway. I always liked hanging out with the misfits. We should totally start a misfit blog ;)

  2. Cole, you said everything I was thinking! Great post. I need to try that trick of yours. And I love the SNL reference. I haven't thought of that skit in years! HAHAHAHAHA

  3. way to be honest! i think some of the time people do things that they don't intend to be "cliqueish" but it is and people get hurt and that's just not cool. we live in a much smaller world than people realize and sometimes i wish the sucky people realized that.

  4. Being polite and accessible to others is a great way to dispel any notions of being clique-y. Everyone has friends they're closer to--I talk to my crit partners and agent mates more online over Twitter than I do other people--but some of it is basic manners. Just tweeting back to people when they tweet at you or saying, "Thanks" if someone posts something to you is all that's really needed.

  5. Doggone it, Cole, we really like you!

    May I join the misfit blog too? ;)

  6. Cole, I've thought these same things. This is a really great post! Thanks! And, I owe you an e-mail to see how you're doing. :-)

  7. Ha! Misfit blog! We'll be the ultra-cool misfits everyone will want to hang with on Twitter. Word!

  8. What a great post this is - and so so true. Also, I need that sarcastic font to be created as well - it just is so tough to get across in type. And, I need the misfit blog too!