On being a loner who does social media
Here's some psychology talk for you. Not a psychologist though. I'm just talking about my personal experiences.
The problem with being a man and getting therapy is that that knowing why you engage in certain self-defeating behaviors doesn't actually help you stop doing them.
For example, I rarely reach out to people. Not in social settings, or even at work. I don't open up to people, either. I have my reasons, but they're not relevant to this thread and I won't explain them.
As a consequence, I'm one of those middle-aged American men who have no friends. This doesn't bother me much. I didn't have friends as a boy or as a young man.
If I'm lonely, I don't feel it. My solitude is one of those chronic conditions, a “this is water” situation that goes unnoticed unless I take a step back and acknowledge that the only consistent human presence in my life is my spouse.
To me, loneliness is something imposed upon you. When people ostracize you, when you're in solitary confinement, when you've been exiled, when you've been given no choice but to leave everything behind—that's when loneliness strikes.
What I have isn't loneliness to me. It's solitude. It's something I chose because it was easier and more worthwhile than engaging with people.
When other people decide that you only matter to them when they want something from you, it's hard not to repay them in their own coin.
If you can satisfy your needs and most of your wants without getting too close to others, why even bother?
Of course, some people occasionally still try to reach out to me for reasons that don't concern me. I generally push them away. I've learned to be subtle about it; telling people to fuck off and die is good way to end up unemployable.
However, it's not that hard to push people away. Just keep engaging just enough to not be rude, without actually giving the other person any warmth. They eventually figure out that they're not going to get what they want from you and move on.
How is this behavior self-defeating?
- It makes finding work harder.
- It makes dating harder.
- It makes being a genre author in the 21st century harder.
There doesn't seem to be much room for reclusive authors if they want to publish and sell nowadays. Instead, being on social media is practically a requirement.
Furthermore, one must be constantly engaging on social media, devoting vast amounts of effort to what seem like nothing more than parasocial relationships.
When somebody follows me on social media, all they're really doing is trying to ensure that my bullshit ends up in their feed. This would have been easy enough when the feed is purely chronological, but algorithmic feeds change the game for the worse.
Even if you follow me, there's no guarantee you'll hear from me, and vice versa. The only way to get attention is to make lots of noise and when you've worked hard to earn solitude by being quiet and hiding in plain sight, the struggle gets real fast.
I'm thus suspicious of people who follow me on social, and try to avoid following other people. I don't want people to expect more of me than I'm able or inclined to give.
I'm not here to make friends.
I'm not here to “connect”.
I'm not here to “engage”.
I'm here because most of the authors I've read in the past decade put up with social media, and therefore it seems that I must as well in order to have a shot at publication and relevance.
I'm here to play the game, but I will play it my way.
If you read scifi or fantasy, please reach out, I'll try to be friendly. It isn't easy, so please bear with me.
Just don't follow me hoping I'll follow back. My follower count doesn't matter as much to me as my word count.