The Social Network Kool-Aid Acid Test

Last night, I was perusing posts and comments on a website featuring authors’ essays.
I encountered a reply that I found disturbing, on several levels.
“I don’t see Facebook, Twitter or a friend follow anywhere here. Another reason to close this (website)…”

Not that I have objections to sites that feature such links. Far from it. Such links widen their reach. I had initially chosen not to install Like buttons for Faceplant/Tweezer on my site, knowing full well that I might have missed reaching a few eyeballs for whom Faceplant/Tweezer are “the Internet”. 😈

Back to the reply cited above. The truly disturbing thing about the reply is that it implies that the website (or any other website, really) is “worthless”, worthy of closure, and not worthy of your active participation, simply because “Like” and “Follow” social networking links are not present.

Writers, like me, are inquisitive people. Or at least we should be. We should be perusing the deepest, darkest corners of the Internet for the seeds of original story ideas, much as the writers before us sought out dust-covered tomes hidden in the neglected corners of libraries. Conducting “The Great Search” for gems of “forgotten” insight and wisdom to awaken our creative skills.

Having all of your information spoon-fed to you by the “social network du jour” is the antithesis of “The Great Search”.

Almost all of the web pages I perused in the research of my book did not have “Like” or “Follow” social network links. I researched over three novels+ worth of material using these “invisible”, “worthless”, “should be closed” web pages.

The reply’s casual dismissal of such sites is troubling for two reasons. Either the poster has not bothered to read our authors’ many posts about the craft of writing, or worse the poster has read them and decided that any information they can’t “Like” or “Follow” is irrelevant.

People drinking too much of the social network Kool-Aid love to repeat their mantra, “Facebook has 800 million users.” Guess what? Facebook has already hit its peak. Their new user growth in the U.S. is virtually nil. Everyone who wants to be on Facebook already is. And millions do not.

Update September 2012: Check Faceplant’s stock price progression. Need I say more? 😈

Social networking pages don’t reach the millions of readers who don’t participate in any social networks. Fans of these networks tend to take a myopic view. If it’s not on their chosen network, it “doesn’t matter”. To which I can only reply:

“If you cannot see it, you think it’s not there. It doesn’t work that way.”
Devo, “Peek-A-Boo”, lyrics ©1982 Casale/Mothersbaugh

Remember MySpace and Friendster? Did anyone become a best-selling author simply because they were on either of those networks in 2005? Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, because someone out there is working on the next big “basket” even as we speak.
(and if they go public, cash out fast!) 😈

If the social networks were truly “all that”, private-party websites would not even need to exist. But they do. For that, I am grateful. I can go there and peruse quality websites, dedicated to the craft of writing, without the distractions imposed by social networks.

Cracked: Six things everyone wants to share, nobody wants to read

Reuters: Tweeting celebrities risk boring fans

Cracked – Six Scientific Reasons Why Social Networks Are Bad For Society

Buzz, Balls & Hype – The Writer as Willy Loman

Murder She Writes: Money Can’t Buy Love

Buy Facebook Fans
Can anyone out there lend me $2400, so I can buy 100,000 Facebook fans? 😛 And they’re even guaranteed to be “Real fans, not Farmville/Mafia Wars players” 😆

Blu-Ray review: “Let Me In” (2010 film)

How to scare the cashier at Target: When she glances at the Blu-Ray of “Let Me In” you’re purchasing and comments “that looks scary”, reply “It’s a tender, touching story of two young outcasts finding true love.”

The funny thing is, when compared to the film’s original Swedish version “Let the Right One In” (“LTROI”), “Let Me In” (“LMI”)  is “warmer” (ie: more “tender and touching”) and the main characters are more sympathetic.

It’s a pleasure to see a foreign film “Americanized” without being completely screwed up in the process. “Let Me In” is a different interpretation of the story, not a bastardization of it.

The most important difference between the two versions is how the two main characters are portrayed. In the chilling atmosphere of “LTROI”, Oskar (as portrayed by Kåre Hedebrant in a standout performance) is truly malevolent. Oskar would have been a prime candidate to massacre his entire high school several years in the future had he not run away with Eli (portrayed in a deliciously cold and creepy Gothic style by Lina Leandersson).

Compared to Oskar and Eli, Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee) and Abby (Chloë Moretz) are as endearing as your next-door neighbor’s kids knocking at your door asking you if you can spare any chocolate chips for the cookies they’re baking with Mom. In contrast, many people would lock their door and hide if the creepy Oskar and Eli showed up at their doorstep, even if they didn’t know Eli was a vampire.

When Oskar hits the bully with the stick, you really feel Oskar’s barely restrained urge to kill. Owen comes off as simply defending himself in the same scene. The first time I saw “LTROI” in the theater,  I was becoming seriously concerned about how safe Eli would be in the long term with Oskar as her caretaker (ha ha ha… ?).

Some would say that the more sympathetic rendition of the two main characters detracts from the story. They enjoy the chilling (in all senses of the word!) atmosphere, the cold, distant Eli and the brutal Oskar. I know I did! “LTROI” is a beautiful piece of film-making art.

That said, I also hold that the scariest vampires are the kind that don’t appear to average humans as threatening, emotionally distant monsters. The truly scary vampires are the friendly, empathetic kind where you can’t detect the beast within them until your existence is transformed (one way or another) and it’s “too late”.