A modest contemplation of life amid 340 social media sites + information from every corner of the world (not all of it useful or good)
My boozy luncheon buddy Sherman had to go to LA this week for work, as he frequently does, which left me in the perilous position of having to have my lunch alone. So I grabbed a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and sat back down at my computer to ponder online marketing opportunities for my book.
A word of caution: Never deny a writer his rituals. It only leads to madness.
Is all of this really necessary
Do I need 340 different web sites to share with the world news about my book? To avow the things I like and excoriate those I can’t stand? Is anyone listening anyway?
While ‘dining’ on my pb&j I was on the Publisher’s Weekly site looking at job postings in the publishing industry – What? you say. Jobs in publishing? Oxymoron…In any event, there I was trying to keep drips of jelly from falling between the keyboard keys – yes yes, pun masters, to avoid jamming them up – when I noticed in the lower right quadrant of my screen the PW Twitter feed. In the matter of time it took to realize that I had no interest whatsoever in being a publisher’s personal assistant (pay his bills?…I don’t even pay my own) there scrolled no less than 15 tweets on the topics of publishing, at least half of which urged that the hardcover book hasn’t died.
I have an online friend – she’s really just a hyperlink and an avatar – who has over 10,000 Twitter followers. She herself follows nearly 12,000. Can you imagine if every one of those followees posted a single tweet in the same day? Assuming it took her 2.5 seconds per tweet, it would take my good friend 8 hours to read them all. The poor woman would never get any work done. And that doesn’t count her own replying and retweeting and following of dead-end links or adding yet another thousand bookmarks to her list of favorite web sites either in her browser or on any of the 340 web sharing sites listed to the left.
Did you know that, on average, as reported in April 2011, Twitter users sent out roughly 140 million tweets per day? Let’s assume that you followed every single registered, active user on Twitter. (Yes, but– and I’m playing the role of absent Sherman here – that would be insane! Nobody would do such a thing! Nevertheless..) Imagine if you will that someone’s job was to subscribe to every single Twitter user on the planet and read every single tweet put forth. Assuming an unchanging rate of twittering, it would take the poor fool 2.4 years to read all the tweets sent out in a given year, if we’re kind enough to allow him 5 hours sleep and a 1-hour martini break each day. At that rate, the poor son of a bitch would wake up every day 42% behind schedule.
By the time Twitter went out of fashion – let’s give it 5 years before our hypothetical reader’s mind implodes from this twisted blue bird sort of information hyperload – it would take an additional 6.8 years to finish reading all of the tweets. An entire cycle of purgatory spent reading more than 102 billion bits of information that have long since lost their shelf life.
(Maybe now you’ll understand why it’s dangerous to deny a writer his routines.)
By now we all know that social media was instrumental in the Arab Spring of 2011. (Those are the only tweets that are truly worth reading and archiving: history alive.) And so, social media has, for the moment, established a place in 21st Century history. We are just now starting to see the promise of the internet as espoused in the early days of the Internet Boom, back when the web was touted as, at last!, the great global equalizer and democratizer. Ironically, back then it became a tool of the rich and crafty to get richer, leaving the vast lot of industry workers high and dry when the mirrors turned to dust in the Silicon Valley’s own Spring of 2000.
Used effectively, social media can be useful. One simply has to define the limits of one’s own involvement. I for one have limited the news sites I regularly visit, and yet still seem to find myself perpetually hungry. Sherman, on the other hand, has evolved an online personal strategy that revolves around Manhunt, Grinder and Facebook to his abundant satisfaction.
Take a close look at the list to the left. These are the 340 social media and site sharing web services available through AddThis. (Google it yourself. I’m not hyperlinking this one.) Imagine if I were to set up an account on every one of these services to join their communities and promote my work. To join the conversation!, speak up!, digg it!, whatever…With all that wasted time I wouldn’t have a a book to promote.
This list, by the way, this image, is 6 feet 4 inches long. Open it in Photoshop and you’ll see. It’s taller than I am and probably filled with more irrelevance and social detritus than any of my good friend’s 11,000 Twitter followers could conjure or imagine in 20 cycles of purgatory.
Even with an online chat forum.
I was planning to write a blog post that went on as long as the AddThis list but at this point I’m only halfway there and craving a hard copy of the New York Times. With that in mind, I’ll do what some really awful tweeters should contemplate doing before they put fingers to keys: I’ll shut up.
Hint: there’s a brilliant one who follows my good friend with the 11,000 followers but I won’t tell you who this 20-something is. He’s shockingly bad. If he ever hopes to apply for a job and somebody finds his Twitter feed, he’ll be in for a shock. To out him would amount to shaming, which he doesn’t deserve: he’s done nothing to me except allow me to waste 7.5 seconds of my life.