But before I go there, let's lay out the perks. You get contacts, contacts, contacts by playing the social networking game. You connect with fellow authors who are navigating the murky literary waters while seeking representation and publication. You learn plenty. A little stalking let's you find out what irks your dream agent, and a little quiet reading tells you who you might want to stay far away from.
You get a first hand view of how the economy effects the big publishing houses, or you stumble upon new ventures that you realize you'd love to hitch a ride on. Contests abound *points to little pile of won books and gift cards*. Your favorite writer replies to you on a blog or Twitter and you do a happy dance.
Social networking can be a really, really great thing.
But we all know that Facebook and Twitter has a glorious reputation of shining a glaring light on all our missteps and poorly thought out sharing of too much personal information. And we can thank sites like Lamebook and Failbook for diligently weeding out the worst of the worst so we can all laugh and praise the gods above that we aren't that bad.
I use Twitter and Facebook, but for the life of me, I can't seem to find a real reason for it all. I'm a bit of a lurker. I read. I think. I click links. I connect with other authors and find meetings and conferences that make me sit up and take notice. And they are great for published authors to connect with their readership. But I'm talking about the personal aspects. The everyday schlubs who have a Twitter and a Facebook and dutifully update every 5.9 seconds.
That's when the reason starts to escape me.
Unless you are one of the truly sane, who can maintain social networking solely for close friends and family, I think you will recognize the types of users I refer to from here on out. Because I'm not sane enough to have a quiet network. I have a loud, weird, and if nothing else, entertaining web of Facebookers and Tweeters.
Public enemy number one for me, and I'm sure lots of you is Emo Updater. I've complained about this one often. The drama never ends for Emo. Even getting out of the bed in the morning is cause for an angsty, heart-wrenching burst of 140 characters or less. It's always vague. It's always pointed at someone or something, but we can never tell exactly what Emo is referring to because Emo wants us to beg them to let us help ease their pain and anguish. The typical Emo update on Facebook goes something like this:
Emo: *sigh* It's too much to bear.
Sucker #1: What's up, Emo?
Sucker #2: Aw, babe wut's happening? Call me!!!!!
Emo: Life. Life hurts. I don't know if I can do it anymore.
Sucker #1: (Insert song lyric or motivational quote here.) Trust me, it will get better soon, you're (rarely spelled correctly) the strongest person I know!!!
Sucker #3: We love you!!! Talk to us!!!
Emo: Okay. Well, it goes like this. I got out of bed and stubbed my toe. And then I realized nobody on Earth has a worse life than I do. People may be starving in third world countries, but all that matters is my toe hurts! Feel my drama!!
Ten minutes later:
Emo: Hittin' the bars tonight!!! Who's with me?? Holla!!
And after you either block Emo or make her posts invisible, you move on to read what Political Guy is spouting on and on about. He hates Glenn Beck, George Bush, Sarah Palin, the Constitution and America. And he will preach about it on an hourly basis. Political Guy is so far left, he's wading on a sandbar off the shores of California. He's cousins with Conservative Girl. You know her. She gets upset that they don't sell bibles at the pharmacy counter and likes to baptize baby ducks in her birdbath just in case God lets the animals into heaven.
The two of them alternate with their extremist rhetoric day and night. Political Guy wants to melt down every gun in the nation and turn the Army into hemp farmers. Conservative Girl's answer to everything is that they've taken God out of schools. They push their agendas and get angry when nobody engages them. But then they get angry and wounded when somebody does engage in any manner other than saying that they're exactly right.
It's better for your sanity to skip past both of them. You'll either wind up with the urge to hug a tree or join a militia that has a secret compound in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.
Then you stumble upon Mundane Girl's latest post. She is eating a cracker. It is good. It would be better with peanut butter, though. We love Mundane Girl though because it's a lovely break from all the crazy.
Somebody Stalk Me Please just checked in at the grocery store down the street from you after checking in at the library, the bakery, the convenience store, and the only Walgreen's in town, just like he does every other day at the same time every time. You toy with the notion of hunting down his car and spray painting "I am the mayor of your Chevy!" all over the hood.
Farmer Bob just harvested his wheat. And his beans. And his corn. Oh no, Farmer Bob, a green cow has just wandered into your pumpkin patch! Whatever will you do, Farmer Bob? Will you have to relinquish the red ribbon you just won for successfully spending eighteen consecutive hours in a row tending to an imaginary patch of land filled with imaginary crops? Farmer Bob, time to go out and play under the real sun, not the pretend one you need to acquire from one of your Farmville friends.
Cheerful Bastard is next. He only tweets motivational statements of success, joy, love, happiness, and that he won the lottery all because he rejects true emotion. You plot to climb a belltower and go all sniper over his ass if he doesn't get a clue and just admit he has bad days. Cheerful Bastard lives in a bubble and rejects the reality of anybody who does not have the luxury of a bubble.
Passive Aggressive Girl is just like Cheerful Bastard except her tweets and updates are deceptively positive. Her positivity is only there to disguise a hidden "I hate you but I don't have the balls to admit it, therefore I will hope that someday I can literally kill you with kindness. And my Uzi."
Zen Man just posted a beautiful poem about the dead ant he saw on the sidewalk on his lunch break. The poignancy of the moment was too much for him to not honor with iambic pentameter.
Rage Man used to be Passive Aggressive Man, but his ire is too great to keep up the front. He only posts random obscenities, death threats, and links to violent Youtube videos now.
Literary Girl is next. She just wrote the funniest sentence in the world. An hour prior, she wrote the most gut-wrenching scene since Old Yeller bit the big one. She is a superstar in her own mind. And she spelled "scene" wrong.
Book Boy is on page seven of Crime and Punishment. Now he's on page eight. Now he's on page nine. Now he's on page ten.... Quick, unfollow him. Crime and Punishment is a long-ass book. Save yourself!
And thus endeth my mocking. I feel I should probably wrap this up with something profound, but I've got nothing. And I'm so used to typing in 140 characters or less that I can't put a complex thought together anymore. So I shall leave you with this fundamental truth, instead: