Earlier this week, I wrote a few posts about wrangling with social media options, and shared them on social media, and got smacked down on CounterSocial for, to paraphrase, “dropping into the neighborhood and trying to sell something.” The first of those comments ended with an angry “This ain’t Twitter, pal.”
That kind of thing weighs on me. It’s not that I’m averse to confrontation when it seems needed. It’s the thought of offending someone unintentionally. A knee-jerk, heart pounding, stomach-churning jolt of adrenaline that only now occurs to me as the flight of “fight or flight.”
Not one of those three aforementioned posts sell anything. There’s not a product pitch in any of them. Just musings about wrangling with social media as both a person and publisher.
Yes, my website banner is covers of things I’ve designed. Yes, the sidebar advertises things I’ve self published. Yes, there’s a Shop tab in the site menu.
On the other hand, the website lands you on my blog, where at least three quarters of the posts are opinions and reviews that have nothing to do with sales. (Paradoxically, I’ve been criticized for that by people who like my games but not my politics.) The first thing atop the sidebar is a random quotation, almost always something philosophical, political, or snarky. And the “Shop” tab is fourth of five, evident but not front-and-center.
This whole topic brings me back to wrangling with social media, and with a Web presence overall.
On the one hand, I’m a person, with opinions, many on issues of social justice. I’m a writer, which means saying things, many in the vein of Salman Rushdie’s words, “To name the unnamable, to point at frauds, to take sides, start arguments, shape the world and stop it from going to sleep.” And sometimes I post personal confessions like this one, partly just to think things out, partly maybe so other people with similar problems don’t feel alone.
On the other hand, I’m a bucket-list self-publisher, a retiree trying to maintain a presence in the hobby where I’ve spent most of my career. As a one-person operation, I have to market myself. It always makes me feel uncomfortable, but somehow it has to be done.
Which brings me back to the conundrum of navigating social media. On Facebook it’s been easiest, though even there I’m cringy about making product announcements. But some folks I know hate Facebook and have asked me to post elsewhere as well. Which got me back on Twitter just in time for Musk and an explosion of alternatives.
I get it. Online posting can’t be all “push,” it’s a back-and-forth conversation, which again I find easiest on Facebook. There’s no way to include on this blog the exchange of memes and short posts that show up there, the comment threads, the group pages of shared interests. Mastodon does it well, but the Fediverse is more of an archipelago than a continent, and specifically in the case of product posts I feel the need for a broader reach.
Fortunately, as I’ve wrestled with depression from the CounterSocial lashback over the past week, our second daughter reminded me of the easy engagement I used to have with TikTok, and to some extent with YouTube. The following of other people and favorite-ing their videos, my own one-minute “play-throughs” of solo games I’ve purchased, and GMless role-play with my own.
Unfortunately there’s more time and work involved in making a video than in crafting a paragraph, but then again, videos live longer. And play-throughs are more fun. I’ll just have to shave more often and maybe wear something other than pajamas.