Sunday, July 03, 2016

Causerie on reaching 3,000 Facebook Friends

Yesterday my count of Facebook Friends passed 3,000. That makes me think of a few things. At the start of 2015, I had just over 2,000 Facebook Friends. But I haven't gained over 1,000 since then - I gained a lot more. Let me explain.

First off, Facebook is a necessary evil. There are a myriad of social platforms today, the proliferation of which is leading America towards a collective nervous breakdown. People are too distracted and have the attention span - maybe - of a cocker spaniel. And as I have said before, we knew in the past men did not possess telepathy because if we knew what we were thinking about each other, we'd be at each other's throats. Well, the internet has accomplished that anyway, and we are indeed at each other's throats - figuratively. Only time will tell if we implode into a full scale shooting civil war, in which case the figurative will have become the literal.

I'm of the age and generation where this all sees unreal to me - it's like a video game. These people can't be real, can they - the things they say?

For the purposes of self-promotion - a painful necessity when you write fiction - I got on Facebook in 2010, and Twitter a couple of years afterwards. I seem to be able to handle Facebook somewhat; Twitter is still a mystery, although I do use it, also. I simply can't figure out the use of such broken thoughts such as appear on Twitter - except to perhaps induce schizophrenia. (In one of his last essays before he died in 2007, Norman Mailer opined Americans minds had been destroyed by the sporadic way advertisements interrupt the narrative on television.)

Other social platforms like Pinterest and Instagram are a complete mystery. I have heard of a thing called Reddit - it sounds like the Devil's snooker room.

Well, by 2015 I had accumulated along the way maybe 2,100, 2,200 Facebook Friends - and then Sad Puppies struck.

Now, I tried to have a wide selection of Facebook Friends, and in previous years I had seldom unfriended anyone unless they were particularly obnoxious. One example was with John Scalzi, who I zapped a number of years ago after a post where he claimed to be God. I don't know if he was kidding or not, but honestly, I don't care. At the very least, it's offensive to anyone with religious sensibilities. But if there is one thing Scalzi is known for, it's for packing a lotta ego into a small body.

Another Facebook Friend I preemptively zapped years ago was Adam Troy-Castro, after he went online with an obscenity-laced rant about my governor, who was running for president at the time.

When the Sad Puppies witch hunt kicked off, my Friend count dropped like a descending elevator. Before April 4, 2015 - that's the day the Hugo finalists were announced - I had people like Patrick and Teresa Neilsen Hayden as Facebook Friends - heck, Teresa Neilsen Hayden had been panelists together at a few cons over the years - and others such as David Gerrold and Steve Davidson. They quickly disappeared, although I believe first out of the gate was Farah Mendelsohn.

My Friend count dropped below 2,000, but - let's face it - I didn't cover myself in glory by my testy reaction to the whole debacle. People who know me in person would probably say I'm pretty easy-going, but somehow somewhere in my mind, the names on the internet didn't register as "real" to me, and my normal social safeguards were compromised. I said things I would never say to anyone in person. It was like a video game. Deep down my brain didn't think it was all real. It was a combination of being a generational thing as well as my personality.

After August 22, 2015 - the day the s-f establishment took its revenge and No Awarded most of the literary Hugo categories - I decided that, since the internecine warfare had culled my Friends list, I would build it back up by reaching out to people who I thought would be more supportive.

There are some people who disagree with my on almost everything, but are broad-minded enough to still be willing to listen, and I respect them more than anyone. But I've made a lot of new Friends, and what's more important, these are people who judge me on the basis of my work, and what I say, and not what they read between the lines and what I must be thinking.

Facebook to me is just a tool, but fine craftsmanship can be enjoyable. I think my 3,000 Facebook Friends are now a much better selection of people, as far as being interested in my work, than they were a year ago.

So here's to you all, and here's lessons learned. Like veteran who survived a war, I wouldn't do it again, but having been through it, I'm better for it.


  1. Hi Lou! I think there is such a thing as internet rage, close to road rage. Internet is really a public space, but if you surf from home, your brain interprets it as being *your* place. And you react to people being rude as not people being rude in a public space, but in your own home.

    When I myself started to think about this a bit more consciously, it became easier to keep my calm. Not that I succeed all the time.

  2. Thanks, that's a good observation.


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"It’s possible that you haven’t run into the stories of Lou Antonelli. Since 2003, he’s been publishing delightful short tales of alternate history all over the nooks and crannies of the SF world. Thanks to Fantastic Books, we now have 28 of these little gems in one place. "Many of Antonelli’s stories have an unexpected twist ending. And many of them are what he calls “secret history” stories, which aren’t exactly alternate history—they’re set in our familiar history, but there’s always some element that contemporary observers missed. " -

- Don Sakers, The Reference Library, Analog July-Aug. 2014

A better path develops for a distraught man in “Double Exposure” by Lou Antonelli (debut 6/11 and reviewed by Frank D). Jake is about to end it all. He has been trying to keep his high maintenance wife happy for decades and has needed to embezzle to satisfy her spending habits. Now, on the verge of indictment and abandoned by his spouse, he buys a gun. Before he pulls the trigger, he spies a Kodak one-day photo hut. Curious, he pulls up to the window. They are holding pictures of him and his last girlfriend from 30 years before. The package is a lot thicker than it should be. Double Exposure” is listed as an Alternative History story but I would classify it as a Magical Realism tale. It is set as a second chance tale, a look into a life that should have been. The author is inspired by his memories of the old photo huts (I remember them) and of their disappearance. A cool idea (photos of another life), one that I could imagine would make for a great anthology.

- Frank Dutkiewicz, Diabolical Plots

“Great White Ship”: A traveler stuck waiting for a flight strikes up a conversation with an old airline employee. The Old Timer tells him a story of a Great White Airship that arrives from a most unusual destination. The story of a craft from an alternate reality and how it got there is only the precursor to the final act. This is one of my favorite stories from this site. I have a great passion for lighter-than-air craft and their potential as a future means of transport, which opens the story. The author uses this speculation to launch into an engaging tale. As fascinating as the main story line is, the alternate history premise that accompanies it is just as worthwhile. This story was well written and very well thought out. It is well worth the read. Recommended.

- James Hanzelka, Diabolical Plots

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