“Well, it intensifies your personality…”

First, some context:

The internet is a lot like cocaine. It’s highly addictive, in some cases even after the first use. Said addiction typically leads to multi-dose binges resulting in sleepless nights followed by eventual crashes. And those crashes are almost always followed by intense cravings and inevitable resumption.

Most importantly, the internet intensifies your personality.

We all know the social butterfly who’s always on the move, who’s always talking to someboby, and who has the equivalent of the White Pages in his/her cell phone’s contact list. He or she probably also has friends in the quadruple-digits on Facebook and Goodreads and the like. And all of this in addition to the hundreds – if not thousands – of followers on his/her blog.

We also all know the chronically dysfunctional (son of a) bitch whose default setting is Pissed Off and who seems to thrive on making everybody else in the world miserable. I’m pretty sure (s)he’s the only reason we have the word “trolling”.

As I said in my previous post, I’m not the most gregarious of individuals. That’s not to say that I’m socially incompetent. I’m just a little bit reserved and awkward, and I know that I can be off-putting and a bit abrasive on first impression. I don’t work rooms, I don’t bullshit, and I don’t make small-talk. I’m willing to let it all hang out when I know I’m among friends, but I don’t make a point of being the life of the party. I listen a lot more than I speak, especially if I’m surrounded by people I’m not particularly close with. And I keep a lot of things to myself, much to my wife’s chagrin.

If you invite me to a party and tell me I don’t need to bring anything, I’m going to show up empty-handed. I won’t take it as you only need to bring a bottle of wine. If I offer to help you with something and you tell me I’ve got it, I’m going to leave you to it. I won’t read that as yes, please. And if I ask you if you’re all right and you tell me you’re fine or ok or that you don’t want to talk about it, then I’m going to be done talking to you about it. I won’t take any of those responses as an invitation to pry. Unless you’re my wife.

Which brings me to my real point. As a self-published author, I – like so many of you – am expected to not just be the writer, editor, and publisher. I’m also the marketing department. And let’s be real. If I had any acumen for marketing – or any desire to do it – I would have chosen it as a career in the first place.

I’m awful at schmoozing, I’m terrible at pressing the flesh, and I’m inept at networking. I have a brother-in-law and an uncle who are both gifted in this capacity and who have an absolute genius for making quick connections with other people. Both of them made highly successful – not to mention lucrative – careers out of it.

And God bless ’em for it, cuz that just ain’t me.

I have neither the skill set nor the personality for it. And that’s not going to change just because I’m online. Quite the opposite in fact.

As I’ve already documented on this site, I mostly ignored the rise of the social networking age. Hell, I used to stay home specifically to avoid socializing and networking. It would have defeated the purpose if I’d started doing both from my computer.

But now I’m being told that my dreams and my livelehood are at least partially dependent on the mastery of social media. I’m told that I have to have a Facebook page (which I do) and that I need to reach out to people and make friends and join groups and all that (which I don’t). I’m told I have to have a Goodreads page (which I do) and that I need to share reviews and follow people and join discussions (which I don’t). So, too, with Shelfari and AuthorsDB, etc. Even as much as I’m learning to enjoy life on WordPress, I’m sure I’ve committed more than a few egregious breaches of etiquette when it comes to Likes and Follows and Comments and the reciprocation thereof (my apologies if that’s the case).

Essentially, I feel like I’m being forced to change who I am and to do it in a medium that specifically intensifies my personality.

But I suppose it could always be worse.

I could be an asshole.

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