Songs for the Struggling Artist


Social Media and Discussion
June 29, 2017, 5:25 pm
Filed under: Social Media | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

One of the weird things about sharing my writing on Facebook (which is where I collect the bulk of my views on the blog) is that, when it’s shared by others, I can sometimes see how people respond to my work without responding to me directly. On my own page, my friends are generally respectful and look at my work in the context of the person that wrote it, since they (most of them) know me. On other people’s posts of my work, I have seen some rather startling assumptions pop up. The most vivid example of this was a response to my Single Gender on a Train post. While most of my post was about being a woman in public, there was a bit about the distinction between that experience in NYC and in smaller places. The comment about the blog on my friend’s page seemed to be mostly in response to a single line in the piece, the one my friend pulled as a headline – a line about HRC and the urban/rural divide. A thing, by the way, that there have been endless think pieces about.

What was interesting about this response was how much of it depended on an assumption about my identity. The commenter seemed to think I was exhibiting signs of “urban paternalism.” She painted me as a sort of elitist liberal city snob with no idea what it was like out in the country. Her comment seemed to suggest I was one of those city slickers always being judgmental about those country folk.

If you know me and my history, you might already be finding this as hilarious as I did. Because, while I do currently live in NYC, I grew up in the hills of Virginia. My childhood home featured no telephone and no running water. I grew up with an outhouse. One of my chores was to fetch water from the creek. I had to walk half a mile on a dirt road to get to my nearest neighbor’s house to play. I think my rural credentials are pretty rock solid.

But that’s the thing, this rural/urban thing is such a knee jerk response. Folks read one sentence about the existence of a difference between these two places and suddenly we’re in a flame war. And I suspect that if this particular commenter had actually read the piece rather than the pull quote, she might have found we had more in common than she thought.

The divides we perceive are not as extreme as they seem on social media. Social media comments are not discussion; we get into trouble when we start to think they are. People post articles they haven’t read, videos they haven’t watched and other people comment based on those headlines and comments. And outrage ensues, with no one fully aware of the thing they are outraged about. This isn’t conversation. This isn’t discussion. I heard a comedian describe “discussion” on the internet as being a lot like shouting into traffic. It’s loud, it’s noisy and everyone’s busy trying to get somewhere else.

This makes me think about academic seminars wherein we read controversial material. For example, we read Freud in my Freshman Studies psychology class in college. One student was very upset that we were being asked to read the father of psychoanalysis, due to some of the sexist thinking he brought to the table. She couldn’t believe we’d been assigned to read this “monster.”

But, as my teacher pointed out, we have to read him to respond to him. We can’t ignore his ideas or get furious about the things he was wrong about without actually reading what he said. This was an important lesson for all of us – that we have to actually grapple with the content of something before we can argue with it and before we could argue with each other. We couldn’t just dismiss something out of hand. The most significant factor of those seminars was that we were all present for them. If someone said something controversial, we were in a position to investigate it, to explore it or to walk our own statements back, if we needed to. Behind every statement, behind every question was a person, a full human being.

I think it would behoove us to remember that this is also true about every article we read on line, and every video, and every comment. It is easy to forget the complexity of our humanity when we are looking at statements, or content or words that trigger us. I am as guilty of this as anyone. I have had intense emotional responses to seeing headlines or articles I haven’t read. I have felt their impact hours after seeing only their titles go by in my Facebook feed. It is natural to have reactions to information, especially when it is disconnected from the people who created it or shared it…but even so, it does feel like my responsibility now to fully read anything I feel inclined to respond to, either in the public forum of social media or in my own private space. I have had to discipline myself to only comment after reading, to only share after viewing, to remember that each and every person that posts, that writes, that comments is a human being and try to imagine what it would be like to be in a college seminar with them, human to human, idea to idea.

 

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Writing on the internet is a little bit like busking on the street. This is the part where I pass the hat. If you liked the blog and would like to give a dollar (or more!) put it in the PayPal digital hat. https://www.paypal.me/strugglingartist

 

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My First Troll

You guys. I’ve been on the internet making and doing things, writing and posting and sharing for years. I’d assumed the trolls would be coming for me at any moment because I have heard all these stories about what it’s like to be a woman on the internet. But the trolls mostly left me alone. (My guess is that this is due to my only real viral posts being theatre related – and there aren’t a lot of theatre trolls, luckily.) Then when I retweeted John Patrick Shanley talking about artists and added my own…a troll emerged. A troll, a troll! My very own real troll!

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First, I was stunned it wasn’t a rape threat and then shocked that it’s basically a knock on artists. I mean, I know trolling feminists is a thing but they’re trolling artists now?

Anyway – the good news is that it didn’t break me. During all these years of posting blogs and what not, I was afraid that too much of a public profile would lead to this type of experience – one which this conflict-averse artist would generally like to avoid. But it’s not as bad as I thought it would be. And it feels worth the risk at the moment.

I mean, it’s a risk to be a woman in public in any way. It is a risk to walk down the street in most places. And the internet is just another version of the street. I go out into the world, despite the possibilities of harassment, rape or general sexism. I don’t let it keep me in the house.

Nor will I let a troll keep me off the internet, I find. I thought I would cave. I thought I would get a tweet like this and run. But I will not run. I’m celebrating that I have raised my public profile enough that an asshole wants to troll me. If I’m making enough noise to activate a troll, I’m on the right track, I figure.

I recognize that this could all change. If I started to receive the treatment of Lindy West or Anita Sarkeesian or Leslie Jones,  I have no idea how I’d get through that. But here, with my very first troll, I can at least recognize that it will take a lot more to silence me than I previously thought. I’m stronger than I thought. More willing to fight. Tougher. Fiercer. More unafraid.

So I celebrate this rite of passage and honor you, my mean little troll. In the same way that most women will always remember their first street harasser, I will always remember you. But I’ll also never hear from you again, either, cause you’re muted, troll.

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Would you like to help fight the trolls?

Become my patron on Patreon.

Click HERE to Check out my Patreon Page

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This blog is also a Podcast. You can find it on iTunes. If you’d like to listen to me read a previous blog on Soundcloud, click here.screen-shot-2017-01-10-at-1-33-28-am

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Writing on the internet is a little bit like busking on the street. This is the part where I pass the hat. If you liked the blog and would like to give a dollar (or more!) put it in the PayPal digital hat. https://www.paypal.me/strugglingartist



Sundance was (almost) my Middle Name
May 3, 2016, 9:13 pm
Filed under: Social Media | Tags: , , , , ,

It was a different era and if I’d been born a boy, I’d have been Joshua Sundance. I’m telling you this random fact because my blog recently enjoyed a small burst of popularity on Twitter, for days, on a post that was really nothing special. I wondered if Twitter has some algorithms now that promote tweets with certain words. I wondered if simply having the word Sundance in the title of my blog post encouraged Twitter to promote it. Maybe Twitter has some deal with Sundance Festival and gives boosts to posts about it.

So this post is actually an experiment. Will Twitter promote this post the way it did my post about my rejection letter(s)?

The previous one was one of many that are part of a project to document the many rejection letters I receive – it was a post I expected NO ONE to read. Except maybe my Dad. Or my Mom. But it’s gotten dozens of views via Twitter. Posts I’m very proud of got nowhere near that kind of push. So I’m playing with the tools of social media by manipulating my own language and posts.
I’m extremely curious about how all this stuff works. I imagine you might be, too. Everyone who tries to get people’s attention on the web is curious about what makes someone click a link. Twitter is mostly a mystery to me – but now, for the first time EVER, it’s gotten me more than a view or two.

It’s a baffler.

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Also – this blog is now a podcast that (at the moment) only my patrons will be able to hear. If you’d like to hear a podcast version, become a patron!

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Click HERE  to Check out my Patreon Page

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Writing on the internet is a little bit like busking on the street. This is the part where I pass the hat. If you liked the blog and would like to give a dollar (or more!) put it in the PayPal digital hat. https://www.paypal.me/strugglingartist



The Best Time to Post
January 7, 2016, 9:38 pm
Filed under: Social Media | Tags: , , , , , ,

My blog generally gets about 4 or 5 views right out of the gate when I post on Word Press – which simultaneously posts to Twitter. Night or day it’s about the same. Those view go up when I post that blog to Facebook. That’s where I usually get between 25 to 50 views – which is where I generally max out on a post. These numbers are actually bigger than they appear. WordPress doesn’t count views that happen in peoples’ emails or RSS feeds, for example.
I looked up when the best time to post was – and believe you me, in this age when everyone is promoting SOMETHING via social media – there are dozens of articles on this topic. The consensus was that the best time to post was generally Thursday and Friday after lunch. The reason was that views spiked then because people were more inclined to mess around on the Internet as the week winds down. The idea here being that you’re reaching people in their offices at an attention vulnerable moment. I tried posting at those times and it made absolutely no difference.

I’ve also tried posting blogs I wasn’t so sure I wanted to promote at non optimal times – and saw my views rise slightly. The analysis of optimal times is clearly bananas.

But perhaps only bananas when it comes to my posting. These analyses are clearly predicated on an assumption of some things. 1) It assumes your readers are in an office at work 9 to 5 2) It assumes your readers are in the same country, and not even just the same country but the same time zone as well. And probably for some businesses, this may be accurate – but for people who live freelance lives and talk about things of international interest to people around the world – well, it’s always after lunch somewhere, sometime. And those of us who live a freelance life – we are just as likely to be working (or avoiding work) at 11pm as we are at 2pm. I’m coming to the conclusion that there is no real optimum time to post and only a handful of non-optimum times (Saturday morning. Saturday afternoon. Maybe even Saturday night. Skip Saturdays in general. Unless it’s raining ALL OVER THE WORLD.)

I’m not a great promoter of myself. Posting a blog over on Facebook is about the extent of what I’m willing to do self-promotion wise so I want to do it when it will hit – but I’ve realized that it’s a little like throwing a stick in a river, you can’t really control where it will go. It might get hung up on a rock and never go anywhere or it could get caught in a current and speed far away from you. Unless it’s a sunny Saturday and then it’s pretty good odds it’s going nowhere.

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You can help make a difference for me by becoming my patron on Patreon.
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Click HERE  to Check out my Patreon Page

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This blog is also a Podcast. To hear it read to you (along with some other stuff) click here.

Writing on the internet is a little bit like busking on the street. This is the part where I pass the hat. If you liked the blog and would like to give a dollar (or more!) put it in the PayPal digital hat.  https://www.paypal.me/strugglingartist

 




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