On the list of things I suck at, you will find:
- Geography and navigation
- Not eating chocolate
- Self-promotion and marketing
That last one is unfortunate, given that I am an indie published author and 100% of the marketing job falls on my shoulders. One area where I really drop the marketing ball is here on this blog, which I could be using as a promotional tool and instead fritter away with expressions of grief, rants about internet memes, complaints about the lack of decent hot chocolate at coffee shops, and any of the other million gumballs that roll out of my cranium.
Other authors do not have this problem. The minute a news story bursts into the public consciousness, they have something to say about it. They have an Opinion! People read and share the author’s Opinion. People debate the author’s Opinion. The author’s name is spread around the internet like icing on a particularly delicious cupcake. The author is not afraid to roll up their sleeves and get into the ring, to get political.
I have opinions, you may have noticed that. I also have the worst timing in the world. By the time I get around to framing and articulating my opinion on some hot topic, the 24 hour news cycle has long moved on and the hot topic is lukewarm at best. Who’s interested in reading my thoughts on the Syrian refugee crisis? Anyone?
I’m not afraid of getting political I’m just, well, slow.
Actually, I’m afraid of being too fast.
On an internet forum, several years ago, I uncharacteristically jumped on a bandwagon. Remember Kony 2012? Wish you didn’t?
Oh, I shouted my Opinion from the rooftops. And when some folks pointed out the whole White Saviour Syndrome thing, I fought back. This wasn’t about being a saviour, this was about the global community coming together to do the right thing! And when other folks pointed out that maybe the organization behind Kony 2012 was not without an agenda and were not exactly supported by the local population, I accused them of wanting to piss on the parade. We were going to do the Right Thing, haters or not! And when the truth came out about the whole ridiculous campaign and the leader of Kony 2012 had a very public and very naked meltdown?
Embarrassment was only one of the many emotions I struggled with. How could I have let myself get so caught up in this idea? I’m usually careful about which organizations and projects I support. I usually do my research. I usually listen to dissenting opinions rather than just shutting down any discourse that contradicts what I believe.
The Kony 2012 debacle was a good reminder and, as a result, I tend to avoid knee-jerk reactions to just about everything, especially if I intend to speak publicly on the subject.
Along with that wrist slap is the growing realization, which comes with age and experience, that everything–everything–is more complicated than the soundbites we are fed from the news and social media. While there have been a mass of people hating on the police for racism and violence recently, and another mass of people defending the police for risking their lives to keep us all safe, I happen to have some friends in law enforcement. These friends will not (cannot) comment publicly but the story they tell within their circle of trusted friends is complex, layered and far from black and white (yes, pun intended).
Hear enough of these behind-the-scenes stories from people on the front lines of any issue and it doesn’t take long to realize that all you’re ever getting from the news is the uppermost tip of the iceberg. Not an ideal foundation for an Opinion…in my opinion.
What makes this worse is that often the people we most need to hear from on the subject, to gain vital perspective, must remain silent. Frustrating for them and dangerous for us, as we are bombarded with an incomplete version of important events.
And then there’s the noise. Oh gods, the noise. Hate on me all you want but the minute I hear about a tragedy or a celebrity death my first thought is ‘Great, here we go again.’ By which, I mean that my social media feeds will be clogged with EVERYONE TALKING ABOUT THE THING!
If it’s your Thing–if your friend or family member has died, if you are the victim of a crime or have witnessed a crime, if you were involved in a tragedy, if your dog rescued a kitten from a burning building–I am eager to read your story, bring it on. But if you are simply one of one million people posting “thoughts and prayers”, I am scrolling on by. Or I am stepping away from social media until The Thing has settled down.
By the way, I am 100% guilty of being a thoughts and prayers person at times. Okay, maybe not “prayers” but you get the idea. And I get it. I understand the compulsion to share, to counteract some of the helplessness terrible events evoke. But thanks to a bit performed by comedian Anthony Jeselnik, I’ve even started dialing back on that reaction and questioning my motives.
Last and certainly not least is the growing understanding that I’m probably not going to change anyone’s mind on some issues, I’m only going to drive people further into their belief and alienate friends who may not agree with me. If I’m going to risk losing friends, then it darn well better be over something that matters a whole damn lot to me.
Do I have opinions about Orlando and guns and Isis and terrorism? Damn skippy. Is it worth regurgitating them here and now? Nope. I’m Canadian. I like the gun laws my country has in place, they work for us. I am sad for the needless deaths but it is not my fight. America can do whatever it wants; I can let it go.
Oh, and I’m also kind of selfish and The Coconut Chronicles are my place, where I talk about what matters to me, when it matters to me. Fight the power, etc.
Put all these pieces together and what you get is me rarely ever blogging about big, political issues in a timely fashion. I watch other authors reaping the benefits of speedy, passionate responses to the news of the moment and in the space of a wing beat of a butterfly I might think, ‘I should really do that’. The moment passes and I go back to being who I am and doing what feels right to me.
Like eating chocolate and refusing to bake anything, ever.
I’m a lousy marketer and self-promoter. But maybe I’m an okay human being. I’d rather be good at that.