‘Dead where we stand; yet you concern yourself with such things as your status and what’s in fashion.’
– Keith Buckley
Ever noticed how we tend to focus on the unimportant? We spend more time fretting over how we’re dressed when we should care about telling our family we love them. We worry about working tirelessly at a job we hate rather than searching for something that makes us happy. And we focus so often on the future or the mistakes of the past that we forget to live in the present. We care so much about our online presence and how many followers we have yet we couldn’t give a shit about the man or woman standing beside us who is desperate to feel loved.
We are so concerned with being in fashion that we forget to be human. Then, when we become that man or woman who needs to feel an authentic human connection, we fail to comprehend how we can have thousands of followers, yet struggle to find a true friend. It’s as though all of these wonderful applications we’ve created to bring us closer together have in fact pushed us further apart then ever before. Your friends look so close when they are displayed on an illuminated screen in the palm of your hands. But when you dare to look up you realize that they’re all so far away.
We care so much about our online presence that we are never really present. Relationships falter; dreams die, and lives are lived unfulfilled because we’ve grown so accustomed to presenting an illusion of happiness and success that we’ve forgotten how to truly be so. We’ve become brands. All of us. Whether you like it or not you are a product that is marketed every single day through the hashtags you use, tweets you post, or pictures you upload. We pin things to a board, or use a repost application to show that we give a shit about a cause. We’re walking human highlight reels, yet so many of us are lost, tired and alone.
As a writer in this modern era of technology and online profiles it’s more important than ever to market yourself. Every day I’m asked what my Twitter handle is, how many followers I have on Pinterest, or Facebook, or Instagram, or a half dozen apps I’ve never even heard of. I’m told that I should be constantly marketing myself, or networking with different groups. I should be uploading a never-ending stream of posts so that my friends and followers never lose interest in what I am producing. In fact, many writers and social media gurus believe that I should be climbing through your screen and force-feeding you post after post until you’re choking on the words of a world eater.
But I disagree. To answer the questions above: I don’t have twitter. I have zero Pinterest followers, a Facebook page that is largely abandoned, and an Instagram account with a limited number of followers. Why? Because rather than force-feed people an endless stream of moderately legible (and largely unintelligent) bullshit, I’d rather craft posts with meaning and become successful in my own right. Society has become so lost in its own desperate attempt to be in fashion that it can’t even see that good artists, musicians, writers and humans are dying in its arms while it worries how it will be judged in the eyes of others. Neglect kills creativity. But it can be reborn again through the admiration of a single man, woman, or child.
A few followers have recently told me that I am rebellious and the idea has really stuck. My siblings and I have always had a saying when we admire a musician, writer or artist. We smirk at one another and call them punk rock. We admire that the art they create is raw. Great artists aren’t concerned with being in style or fashionable. They’re too busy creating trends all of their own. No best selling author has ever accomplished such a feat by imitation. Innovation creates success, wins hearts and achieves dreams. So if refusing to be just another writer, questioning everything and trying over and over to free my mind and revolutionize myself and my work is rebellious, then so be it. If that makes my work a little bit raw and a little bit punk rock than I couldn’t be happier.
If you gave me a choice right now between standing before a thousand people who knew my name and were loosely interested in my work, or ten people who believed in me enough to cause an uprising I would take the latter in a heartbeat. In a world where everyone seems concerned with numbers of followers and carving out an illusion of success and happiness, the truly successful learn to differentiate. As a writer and as a man it’s more important than ever to focus not on amassing multitudes of people who pass by your book or website on a daily basis, but in creating amazing content to capture the hearts and minds of those who take the time to read, listen, or watch what you have produced.