A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about my positive experience with Facebook and encouraged people — my father, grandmother and in-laws in particular — to join. Later I received a lengthy email from a Facebook friend that called the article “crappy and mindless” and me “ignorant and flaky” for writing it.
Typically I’m not bothered when people give me negative feedback. It’s just part and parcel of the gig whenever you put yourself out there. It doesn’t matter if you’re a highly paid superstar or a starving artist, if you’re releasing your work for public consumption, you have to be prepared for harsh, impolite criticism. But for some reason, on this occasion, it stung for a few minutes.
I tried to figure out why this particular critique would affect me when most others were easily brushed aside. Perhaps, I thought, it was because it was coming from a fellow artist who I’d perceived as supportive of other artists and their freedom of expression.
But after scolding me for promoting Facebook during “the recent spy revelations,” I could see he wasn’t willing to accept that I had a different perception of it than he did. He blamed the social media tyrant, and people like me who post our work on it for free, as the reason people’s attitudes toward media and art had been negatively influenced.
Was it because I didn’t completely disagree with him that his message affected me? I started to doubt myself, wondering if maybe he was right and I was just a floozy writing drivel and hurting artists with my careless recommendation.
I would have re-read my article about Facebook if I didn’t have such an aversion to revisiting my work. Instead I sent him an email explaining that I agreed the Internet has been a devastating blow for artists and writers in many ways, but since it wasn’t going anywhere, we, like everyone else, would have to learn to work within our changing world.
And since I’ve had an overwhelmingly positive experience with Facebook, I strongly stood by my promotion of it, pointing out that it could be a terrific tool for several reasons. Connecting with fellow artists like him for example.
Unfortunately, he had already defriended me.
In a moment of weakness, and without naming him, I posted my feelings on Facebook and received an immediate and tremendous amount of support from friends I know personally, as well as friends I only know online.
For me this confirmed a few things. Number one: my skin isn’t as thick as I thought it was. Number two: I’m only human, so it’s okay to get affected sometimes. And number three: my Facebook friends are wonderful.
I don’t always agree with the opinions they post, and I love that, but what a privilege to have such a cool community of friends to laugh with and learn from.
So much wisdom, advice and encouragement was posted by so many of them when I needed it last Saturday morning.
My author friend James C. Tanner said: “A writer writes because it is a natural voice for them, the same way a bird sings. There are those who will enjoy the sound of a bird while others will look for a stone to try and strike it down.”
And my cartoonist friend Bob D’Amico wrote: “The way people freely fling around their opinions is equal to being a dog walking down the block, peeing on everything it passes.”
See, Dad? It’s not just pictures of the grandkids you’re missing out on by not being on Facebook. If you join, just remember to keep your social insurance number to yourself and prepare for a few messy mutts.