Selfies are selfish & don’t embellish shellfish

When you self-publish a book, you are encouraged to get active in your social media. Blog! Tweet! Snapfart or whatever. Many self-published authors rely on their social media followings to promote subsequent books. To develop a fan base.

For me, there is only a slight problem fulfilling this expectation. I kind of begrudge social media. I’m not overly fond of being on it, I’m suspicious of the information I get from it and I’m generally saddened by what it has done to our culture, our society and our country.

Don’t get me wrong. Lots of truly magical and special things happen through social media. Love ones are reunited after disaster. The sick are comforted. The lonely made less so. Friendships are birthed and true love is found. Its positive impact on people cannot be overstated.

But, personally, for me, social media — Twitter and Facebook anyway — have been both a blessing and a curse. Facebook has allowed me to reconnect with friends and relatives. It allows me to share this blog and to keep informed of things happening in the lives of those I love.

So I am appreciative that what I am about to say will come off as hypocritical, given that I rely and regularly use social media. But social media is often not soulful media. Let me explain.

I grew up with a Smith Corona manual typewriter. As a young boy, I would carry this massive hulk of metal to the kitchen table and type up short stories and journal entries and then, when family or friends visited, I would invite them into my bedroom for a reading. Then, later in high school, we would write long notes to one another in cursive, and fold them into tight paper footballs that we would “kick” with our index fingers across study hall at one another. In college we’d slip love letters and apologies to friends under dorm room doors. On all of these pages, whether scrawled in blotchy Bic pen or hammered out with the clattering of inky type bars, there was an intimacy, a socialization, if you will, that was profoundly personal and, often times, as frail and unique as the medium upon which it was delivered.

These little notes required you to really know your audience. Any message you’re going to throw at somebody’s head has to speak to that person. The handwritten missives of my past were often the found treasures of soul searching. Sure, they were sometimes inconsequential. But, more often than not, given the time it took to create them and the machinations of delivery, they often gifted the recipient with the pearls of deep contemplation. Soulful media.

There were no throw-away photos of the “best shrimp cocktail I have ever had,” or Polaroid pictures of our own faces taken at an arm’s length. There were confessions of love, or the scribbles of heartbreak. There were plans for the future and dreams engineered in smeary blue ballpoint. But best of all, there was a quiet closeness in such communication that has been all but lost in the ease and ubiquity of social media, in the effort to say to all what we once whispered to only a few.

Personally, I’d take a crumpled study hall note passed from hand to sweaty hand over a picture of the prawns someone ate for lunch any day of the week. And I’ll post that sentiment to Instagram as soon as I figure out how.

Don’t be fooled, you may be able to buy La Crema Sonoma (not Monteray!) at grocery stores now, but it is still the boutique beauty it has always been. Sleek and velvety, it delivers a well-rounded dose of oak and, perhaps most importantly, it does so consistently. At $18 a bottle it is light-years away from any 10-buck-chuck you can buy. Perfect for writing drunken missives.

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