I wrote (and said) some snarky things these past few weeks, a few of which were definitely (wretchedly, on several parties’ parts) received, some of which may never (although let’s assume they did, for the sake of the mission here) have hit their marks. I have no excuse for doing so. By explanation I would offer that occasionally I am overwhelmed by own (quite elaborately imagined) importance. Why would I risk hurting someone’s feelings if there weren’t a presumption of some kind of personal gain? The truth is, on occasion I go for the gain (a pathetically small gain, in truth, like a nod to wit or intellect) at another human being’s expense. I’m ashamed of myself, and if this bombastic public confession isn’t testament to that, well…such is social media, I suppose.
Sometimes, I rationalize to myself, it’s just because I write. Quite a bit. So odds are, on occasion what I write won’t be very nice. Sometimes it’s because I’m trying to be funny (usually a bad idea). Sometimes it’s because I sent a message (inadvertently) to the wrong person. Yep. That’s one thing I did this week. Ouch, all around.
But there’s more, and it also has to do with technical error. Well, technical error after snark (which does not excuse the snark). I had a conversation on Twitter I thought was just between me and another person. Because I didn’t begin the messages correctly (apparently it’s time to re-read Nina Badzin’s Twitter Tips), some of the statements were more public than I intended. I subsequently deleted most of them, but I don’t know who saw them.
It was a conversation about a person’s book. A PERSON’S book. (A REAL PERSON’s book. I didn’t used to know writers like I do now, and knowing writers, even in a mostly or entirely social-media way is a wonderful thing. But it’s also a privilege, and one I’m sorry I squandered.)
In several Tweets I referred to a real person’s newest book and some of their other writing. I liked the new book, although I found it difficult. I like the writer. I believe I was expressing myself reasonably. But then I saw my Tweets later, Tweets I meant to be seen by only one other person, and I thought to myself, “Who the %^&*# do you think you are?” The person with whom I was corresponding was a more conscientious literary citizen and kept her comments private to our discussion.
I hope some day to be a person whose books and stories and articles are talked about and written about. I would not have liked the way my comments sounded, if I were this writer. Or I don’t think I would have. Maybe published writers get used to it; maybe it’s part of those 15 minutes of fame. Or a function of getting paid to write. Maybe I’m frustrated (no, no maybe involved) that I’ve yet to be invited to that party.
That’s called jealousy, and that is definitely NOT attractive.
In any case, I decided to write this here, today, for two reasons. One, as a reminder to everyone to be careful what you say in a social media moment. Make sure you’re sending stuff to the right person. Better yet, don’t send anything even flippantly unkind to any person (now that eliminates a lot of words). Criticism in a formal book review is a different animal. I’m talking about snark, here. You know it when you see it.
Two, I was hoping I’d overestimated my own importance, and that no one has a clue what I’m talking about. Good luck to me with that. Better luck to me in learning from my mistakes.