Mitch Mitchell of I’m Just Sharing opens a can of worms over Liking Or Sharing Your Own Stuff With Others; Let’s Talk…
My opinion on this has flip-flopped, over the years. First, it seemed to me that promoting my own work was like being seven or eight, again, standing at the end of the diving board and screaming, “Lookit! Lookit! Watch this!” over every unremarkable dive. Pretty soon, you’re doing half-gainers and nobody even spares you a glance. They might not even notice if you hung out around the drain, 12 feet under, just a little longer than the average person can hold his breath…
Actually, someone did ask me to stop doing that, once. I was freaking out the older folks who didn’t know whether to risk life and limb to save me, or whether they should call the plumber first or the coroner.
A few years later, after arguing till I was blue in the face over whether content or marketing was king, I conceded they were the king and his whorish queen, and if you ever wanted anyone to read your stuff, you’d have to get with the program and promote the heck out of it. Since I like readers, I reluctantly started hawking my wares, so to speak. It seemed tawdry and distasteful, until I made a game of it. Could silliness beat out earnest stupidity? Could trial-and-error marketing beat out a carefully orchestrated campaign? Sometimes! Look at the popularity of Super Bowl ads – people like “playful.” But do they sell product? Are they memorable? Not always.
On the other hand, if you’re 50 and grew up in Ohio, I’ll bet you could finish this sentence: “See the USA, in a C. Miller…”
After playing “spam-a-friend” to win several blogging contests, I mostly went back to quietly hoping folks would still care to read my blog, or might stumble into it by accident as if it were an open manhole cover. After several close friends asked, “Are you still writing?” I thought maybe I’d gone too far in suppressing the shameless self-promotion. And frankly, with all the other “pretty, shiny stuff” out there competing, hourly, for attention – I appreciate it when friends prod me (often more than once!) to say, “Hey, I posted something new – have you read it? I’d really like your opinion on it, when you get a chance.” And I do mean that. I’m grateful to them for reminders. Sometimes people are too quick to assume that we’re not interested, and they silently go off to lick their wounds, never to be heard from again. The sad fact is, the squeaky gate does get the grease – and there are so many squeaky gates that we may miss the most important ones, the ones that lead to the nicest places.
But if someone habitually plays “spam-a-friend,” they shouldn’t be surprised when even their closest friends seek a break and some variety.
Now, the question of whether to “Like” our own stuff on Facebook is complicated by the fact that Facebook may bury our posts if we don’t. By “bury,” I mean hide them from our own family’s and friends’ news feeds. If we click “Like,” that sends a different kind of notice. And if we comment – which seems silly if we comment on our own posts before others have a chance to – that’s another kind of notice, still. Which means that without poking our friends and saying, “Lookit! Lookit! See what I posted?” we can kind of subtly give our content another chance at life.
It’s not narcissistic – it’s sort of like poking a fallen bird, gently, with a stick, after it’s hit the big plate glass window. With any luck, it’ll hop onto the end of the stick, chirp, and fly. Or even get chased by cats, but it won’t just end up shriveling in the sun, too dry even for the maggots.
Okay, we creative writers really can kill a metaphor without even trying, sometimes.
But, now, back to Mitch’s points.
Should we share things we haven’t read? For the most part, no. Mainly because headlines can be deceiving, and we may inadvertently agree with something based on a satirical headline that’s really more troll-bait than news. That said, I often share things I haven’t read – if the person whose wall or blog I shared from is someone I trust. I share, because I value their opinion, and because I want to make a point to read later. I tell people that on my Facebook wall or Twitter, sharing is not endorsement of a product, service, or idea. It is simply…sharing. Because it looked interesting. You read. Come back and tell me what you thought of it. I’ll do the same when I get back to it.
Should we acknowledge people who share our stuff? Of course. Of course. If we notice. I don’t think we should have our feet held to the fire if we fail to notice that someone’s clicked a button, though. Seriously – do not share my stuff, using those little “Like” and “Share” buttons to get my attention and thanks. I thank you in advance, if you find anything I write particularly share-worthy. I really do sincerely appreciate it. But I’m not going to spend my life vanity-surfing to find out who has validated my ego with a click. Thank you, but really – if you want love and validation, talk to me. Comment and engage me in a real conversation.
Poke me in the ribs and say, “Come, read my blog, now.”
Mitch asks, “If you thank one person and ignore everyone else how to you think they’d feel? And put yourself into both of these situations; how would you feel if it’s you?” I learned to stop keeping score on this stuff, years and years ago. I share things because I find them interesting or because someone asked me to – it’s that simple. I feel especially good if the blogger notices and says thank you now and then, but it surprises me. I don’t expect it and I won’t stop or get my nose out of joint if they don’t. Some bloggers are pushy or demanding in their requests to share their content, but my stock answer to that is a silent, “No.”
I feel badly if I wish someone a happy birthday and miss the fact that it’s someone else’s birthday, too. And I’m still not quite over the time my best friend in grade school pointedly wished her dog a happy birthday, knowing it was my birthday, too, and just said, “Oh, hi Holly.” But I’ve forgiven her, because I am horrible at remembering and acknowledging people’s birthdays. I’d forget my own, most years, if my husband and kids didn’t remind me. I won’t hold it against you if you do.