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.