Back to Facebook :(
Careful readers of this blog (both of you) will no doubt be alarmed to learn that I have returned to Facebook.
I suspect that some will regard this as a betrayal of principles, and it may well be. I have no substantive defense, other than to say that I do enjoy eating and paying my bills. Which is a highfalutin way of saying that I’m only doing it for business purposes.
My coach Libby makes it clear to me that I must push a few boundaries if I’m ever going to get clients beyond my main cash cow, which is the Microsoft Corporation. Redmond has been very good to me, but it would be folly to expect that it is a bottomless pool of purchase orders or that it’s the only place I can find some interest and joy. It’s time to join the ranks of the unsponsored, unwashed masses of hopeful consultants.
It’s time to start earning some new eyeballs.
And thus, in that spirit, last weekend I clicked the “Publish and Send” button on the first newsletter of my little storytelling consultancy. It comprised three articles, a few snappy headlines, and some lovely photos that I paid a lot of money for. The initial subscription run was 92, and that includes family members, faithful friends, one or two people I don’t actually know, and some names that evidently belong to household animals. I’ll take what I can get. And I certainly need more.
The playbook that I’m following (charted approximately by Alan Weiss, of “Million Dollar Consulting” fame), directs that I publish on a regular cadence across media. The newsletter is the centerpiece, providing a three-course serving of useful articles, which I can spoon out across social media, bite by bite. It’s a great formula for me, not just because I know how to deliver a readable newsletter better than probably 90 percent of the population. What’s not so obvious is that it’s the perfect forcing function for a procrastinator like me.
Now that I’m committed, I have to deliver the goods. And so I will. Here’s the real kicker: it solves the biggest struggle I’ve faced since striking out on my own, namely: writing a book. Hopefully, in six or eight months, I can sit down with my editor Kelly and start to slap together a book that I can feel good about, based on all the bits I’ve churned out. Turns out I absolutely lack the capacity to sit down in front of a blank page for four hours, 365 days in a row, and produce a bestseller. Am I surprised? No, I am not surprised. Kind of depressed, but not surprised. So this approach of building the thing piece by piece, and showcasing the pieces as I go, feels right.
It is the service of pimping out every piece I produce that my attention turns to Facebook. The naked fact is that promoting yourself as a business in modern America all but demands that you join the F-bomb F-book at some level. Not including it in your tagline of logos makes you look clueless at least, and oh-so-precious at worst.
And so, just before I published my first newsletter, I quietly created a new Facebook account, and added a page devoted solely to my business. And today, that flowing cesspool of tribalism, self-absorption, and proudly ignorant political fury once again skims across my browser screen, like an ongoing oozing of human folly.
This time around, it’s gonna be different.
Henceforth, the only posts I shall produce will be in the service of the business. That’s it. Nothing personal, nothing that distinguishes me as anything but a man with a message involving business storytelling.
I also refuse to reach out to anyone to connect with me. This is counterproductive, as Libby and Kelly would like me to have approximately a billion followers so that I become a name. But I just can’t make myself do it. And so, I am building my base by simply just accepting “friend” requests. Unsurprisingly, Facebook’s evil earth-destroying algorithms seem to have figured out who I am, even though I created an entirely new account. There are, near as I can tell, well over 300 people on Facebook with the exact same name as mine. I even put down a fictional birthdate. But surely as though I had a microchip embedded into my skull, the forces of Zuckerberg instantly recognized this particular rendition of me as me, and started inviting people I know to connect within minutes. Resistance is futile.
I plan to be undiscriminating in accepting friend requests, much as I am with LinkedIn. I do have a limit: someone named “Ums Real” will not be joining my list. And I regret to report that such luminaries as Pili Donald of Tanzania, and Realdonaldtrump Jokowi (no hometown listed) are no longer with us. Already, I have 34 friends, yet I can only count 19 that I actually would recognize on the street. This could get ugly.
A happier time
For six blissful months, I was utterly free of Facebook. I cannot describe the difference it made in my life. It was like breathing clean air after living beside a pig farm. It was like moving away from a next-door neighbor whose cat shits in your garden every day. It was like turning off Fox News, and realizing that the world really isn’t that bad of a place.
And so I am back. I proceed with conviction that I can move forward through life without Facebook cluttering my existence. I have managed to get through many days quite nicely while only occasionally vomiting at the realization that Donald Trump is in the White House rather than his rightful place in Guantanamo Bay, so there’s precedent that I may yet endure.
But if you happen to be reading this post later than the year of, say, 2035, with the hope of understanding how it was that such a promising figure as I could have gone so horribly, incorrigibly, historically wrong, you may be correct in surmising that this was the very point at which my soul made the quiet, decisive, inexorable turn toward hell.
God, forgive me.