Surviving Social Media Part 3: Oversharing and Spiritual Blackmail

IMG_5301 2Welcome to Part 3 of my Surviving Social Media Series. You can read Part 1 here, and Part 2 here.

Today, for breakfast, I ate apples and peanut butter. For lunch, I had a salad. For dinner, I had chicken and mashed potatoes. Scintillating information, isn’t it? As a matter of fact, I would bet that you don’t care even one tiny little bit. And yet so many people share things like this on social media.

I tend to live by the rules of ‘my page, my posts’. This is also known as ‘I don’t care what you think’, but things have changed a bit. I’ve got a publishing deal now, and with that comes the need for a little discretion on my posts so as not to alienate half of my potential fan base (that’s a little explanation for those of you who may have noticed I never talk politics anymore). I hate every minute of it, if I’m honest. I like speaking my mind, but I am careful about what I say.

Now, it’s true that it doesn’t matter what you post on your page, because it’s your page. But that doesn’t mean that people have to hang around and read it. So, much like freedom of speech, you have it, but nobody has to listen to you talking.

Personally, I don’t care what you say as long as it’s something I want to know. Things I don’t want to know?

  • Every single thing you eat: There are exceptions to this rule. If you go to an amazing restaurant? Sure. If it’s the best meal you’ve ever eaten? If you’re a terrible cook, but finally managed to accomplish something? SURE (I put that one in just for me). But that sandwich you made? Really? A sandwich? I’m good.
  • Your bodily functions. I don’t want to know about them. I don’t want to read a celebration post about the fact that your child is no longer constipated. That’s great news that I’d rather not know. Congrats though…
  • Your sex life. Unlike other people, I have no problem seeing pictures of happy couples being lovey dovey with each other. It’s sweet! I’m a hopeless romantic and I love it. However, I don’t want to know anything at all about how you get down. NOTHING AT ALL. Please don’t share. I don’t have nearly enough brain bleach to correct that.
  • Things that you don’t want to tell people. I used to be occasionally guilty of this. If you’re going to talk about a thing, talk about it. If you have no intention of talking about it, don’t post about it. But definitely don’t vaguebook. It’s annoying. If you don’t intend to tell the story, don’t bother posting. It’s just annoying to try to guess.

So, that’s one problem–oversharing YOUR life. But there’s another kind of post that grinds my gears when it appears on social media. And that is a little thing I like to call Spiritual Blackmail Posts. It goes a little something like this:

The poster finds something they feel passionate about. That’s cool. You should be passionate about things and when you are passionate about things, you should post about them. But the problem lies in the moment the poster comes across a post like this (Disclaimer: I am not making fun of animal abuse. I am making a point. Please don’t think I support anything like that, because in truth, if I saw you kick your dog or something, I’d probably punch you in the face without thinking): “Like/Share if you hate animal abuse! Scroll if you don’t care!” with a picture of a sad dog face looking up at you.

You know what? F**k that! I don’t jump through hoops. I don’t participate in spiritual blackmail. You don’t post things to make me feel guilty if I don’t share them. Never mind the fact that posts like those are probably like-farms designed to gain information about you. This is just like the posts that say “like and copy this into your status if you love me”. While I’m sure some of the people on social media are, in fact, twelve, we aren’t all twelve. Why does me liking and copying your status prove that I love you? Wouldn’t you already know that without this? If not, your relationships are a little sad.

It all plays in with posting abuse pictures on your wall. It’s all the same thing. Every step from part 1, 2, and 3 are part of the same clusterf**k that we can’t avoid when it comes to social media.

LOOK AT ME. And in some cases, it’s wonderful. It’s self-esteem building and business building. And in some ways, it’s just a sad attempt at gaining attention. Talking to people, sharing things you find interesting, telling stories about your life, even the much maligned selfie, are all acceptable ways to say “look at me” in a public sphere. It’s like saying hello in a room full of friends and telling them a story. The other stuff? It’s like jumping up and down in a room full of strangers, screaming “HELLO! MY NAME IS JUSTINE MANZANO AND TODAY I ATE HAM.”

Nobody wants to pay attention to that person.


Tech Girl Sans Tech

This one deserves hashtags of the #firstworldproblems variety written all over it. Be prepared for some whining and know this, please: I am not this materialistic about anything but gadgets. But I need my damn gadgets. Everybody has something. 

It all started with a blinking folder with an exclamation point and a trip to the Apple Store. Oh Crap. My laptop was dead…

Apparently, Macbook Airs purchased between June 2012 and June 2013 (mine was a Christmas/Birthday gift to myself in 2012) had the potential for a flash drive failure. In my case, that failure was triggered by an OS update. The problem was happening to so many computers, that the replacement flash drive was on backorder, meaning I would be without my computer for up to one month.

Me: Is there any way we can get it running? At least for now? I’m a writer. This is a part of my livelihood.

Mac Genius (who was very nice and deserved much better than me): No, I’m sorry. Your flash drive is fried. I couldn’t even get it to run the diagnostic. *winces* When was the last time you backed up?

Me: About 20 days ago. Plus, most of my stuff is available in the cloud somewhere. But still, I need my laptop to do work on.

Mac Genius: I’m sorry. We will try to get your computer running as quickly as possible.

(Coincidentally, that ended up being the exact amount of time she quoted up front.)

Me: Do you guys rent out laptops or iPads or something? I mean, how is a person supposed to operate without a computer for a month?

(This is not fictional, though it does read like satire. I actually said this. And you should picture me with tears in my eyes. I’m very ashamed of myself.)

Mac Genius: (chuckling sympathetically) Not a bad idea. I should tell my bosses that one.

(Yes, my friend. You should.)

I’m aware of how much this makes me look like a spoiled brat, but I was genuinely freaked. You see, I have this issue with patterns. I’ve never bothered to have this diagnosed, but I have orders by which I do things and they are according to lists and when something goes wrong and I have to deviate from the order I get very, very anxious. (Anxiety disorder? OCD? Armchair therapists, get to work!)

The important thing is not what disorder I suffer from. It’s that my lists were on that computer. My computer, which was gone for a month.

I was having a full-blown freak out.


…I survived!  And here’s how!

1) Lunch breaks on the cloud: Thank God for my job. I was able to get a quick view of where I was on each of my projects so I could keep working the old fashioned way.

2) A pad and a pen: Holy crap! For an entire month, my hands felt like they were going to fall off. But I kept writing! Revising old work was a bit more of a problem.

3) The cloud and the internet: Thanks to my obsessive need to post my son’s every move on Facebook, I lost no pictures. Thanks to doing all of my writing on the cloud and backing up to my computer and external hard drive often, I lost no writing at all.

4) Not throwing away ALL old things: I don’t like to keep stuff because I have a real life fear of becoming a hoarder (it runs in the family) and I already tend to keep a lot of things I don’t really need. But a half dead laptop ended up being a treasure at this time. Ismael took an old computer of his (not a Mac. WELP!) and wiped its memory clean, reinstalled its operating system, and had it doing its best work possible. Of course, its best possible work involved buggy internet connections, restarting itself three times a day for seemingly no reason at all, and a sticky ‘N’ key, but it was something.

5) Deep breaths: Yes, the lists were gone until my computer came back home. But I remembered most of it and what I couldn’t didn’t deserve my anxiety because they weren’t important enough to remember, right? But mental issues are not logical and this one took a lot of work and psyching myself out all over the place, but I pulled it off. And promptly, upon the return of my computer, I backed up all of my lists on the cloud and breathed a huge sigh of relief.

So, what did I learn from my time as Carrie from Sex and the City post-’Sad Mac’? I learned that, should the premise of Revolution ever come to pass and we all lose our technology, I will be the crazy person in the corner drooling in a cup. I should be upset about that, but that didn’t stop me from smooching my laptop when it was returned and ignoring all of the weird looks from the people at the Apple Store.

By now, you’re probably trying not to laugh at me, but you should stop.  Go ahead, laugh.  I deserve it.

Anyone been there before?  Please share below. 

Note: This weekend, I will be attending the Writer’s Digest Conference here in NYC. Anyone else attending? Let me know! We can meet up! Tomorrow also happens to be my beloved son’s fifth birthday. Since this blog is all about my attempts to balance my writing and the rest of my life, expect a blog post on the 15th about how I managed to balance a writer’s conference, a pitch slam, a family get together, and a kid’s birthday party, all in one weekend. I’m tired just thinking about it. I’m also going to try to live tweet from the conference, so keep your eyes peeled! And keep your fingers crossed for me – I’ll be pitching my novel to agents.

Until next time! 🙂