Facebook: A Writer’s BFF
Most of my real friends, you know the non-virtual, flesh-and-blood kind, often comment that Facebook is ‘bull crap’ for lack of a better term. They complain that most people do not know the majority of their Facebook “friends.” They just want to feel “cool” and fill a void in their socially-stunted lives. Meanwhile, behind closed doors, they secretly check into their Facebook accounts and know how to manipulate their privacy settings better than Mark Zuckerberg himself. I know that they’re right, but what’s so wrong about feeling cool?
I am a freelance writer, and like many in this line of work, I don’t get out much. In fact, my computer is my slave master and even when I take it to the local yuppified coffee shop, I can’t get away from its tyrannical presence. Do you know that rare person on Facebook who only has 30 or 40 friends he actually knows very well?…that was me a year ago. I always told myself “I’m not going to add anyone I don’t know because they are not really my true friends.” But, then that day at the coffee shop, I had an epiphany. I’m not sure if it was caused by the barista’s loud welcome and Sweet-n-Low smile, or the scalding coffee that burned my tongue and woke me from my writing-induced stupor. All I know is that in a moment of clarity I decided to completely change the way I approached Facebook.
I began to shamelessly send friend requests to anyone under the sun. Unlike in the real world, where a writer often lives a life of quiet desperation, eating cold pizza and navigating a pile of rejections, I found that I received few rejections in Facebook land. Suddenly I was friends with comedians in New York, strippers in Cambodia, human resources managers in Canada, gang members in LA and many more.
Here I was amassing 20 Facebook friends daily, when I had previously only had a total of 20 friends! I sent so many friends requests to strangers that Facebook actually prevented me from sending any more requests for 4 days. While this forced me to slow down the outgoing requests, a steady stream of Facebook friends kept coming in, to my ever-growing delight.
After a few weeks, I had a few hundred friends and began posting links to my articles on my Facebook wall. I was amazed to see how many people I did not know were actually clicking on my links and commenting on my articles. I heard praise, which I loved, as well as harsh critiques, which did not bother me. The important thing was that people were clicking, and I was receiving a good deal of constructive feedback. Finally Facebook was making sense to me. I was not lost in a virtual hinterland of other people’s profiles any more. I was treading a clear and concise path to building my brand and promoting my content, at the same time that my self-esteem was getting a healthy boost. Did it matter that my wall was completely cluttered up by the feeds from all of my new friends? Was it important that I attracted some crazies that I eventually had to “unfriend,” like the woman who kept posting pictures of her cats on my wall and kept asking me to donate money to them? No, what really mattered is that suddenly I had hundreds of new readers! And to an aspiring writer, that’s all that really matters.