Social Media “Rules” (For Me)

Friday would have been our hound’s 15th birthday. I realized at one point I was “grieving” over him, I suppose. It being October also – not a happy month for me since 2015: my uncle died the 12th, my mother the 26th – I knew I had to watch my temper.

My mood was such I felt I would have bitten the head off of anyone who looked at me even slightly sideways. Unfortunately, one person did, on Instagram.

I post possibly once a day to be “social” if I think I have something worth posting. I don’t like filling followers’ timelines with memes and junk. I put up a silly photo and within moments a comment appeared from an author whom I generally like: she lightheartedly insinuated this photo could be improper:

[From Instagram, October 4, 2019.]

Why? Her words:

[From Instagram.]

I kept my cool, but I was livid at that. An actual “friend” would have dropped me a private message. Instead, she wrote that in my comments: laughing emojis and question marks and whatnot. Trollish came to my mind.

That photo is from Duxford. I can read signs, I thought. Moreover I take the issue of copyright and NO PHOTOGRAPHY rules in museums EXTREMELY seriously.

So here I want to (re)state my broader view on that subject – among my replies to her:

[From Instagram.]

Notice no laughing emojis there from me. Straightforward. No messing around.

I had also “digged” a bit there at her – without directly stating so. Regularly she posts images created by others, and appears to think captioning them “Image taken from Google” somehow makes doing that acceptable in terms of copyright. I had never once commented on her feed about that poor posting behavior of hers.

After a pointless response – with emoji – from her which settled, in my mind, nothing, I felt it was necessary to add this:

[From Instagram.]

Eventually in another comment she denied she had made the initial claim(s)… which annoyed me even more: it was plainly visible in her first comment. I pointed that latter out too. With that from me, finally she stopped. I was aggravated by that waste of time exchange – which went on for several hours (with breaks). I had not started it, but I could not seem to end it by getting in the last word… until I finally did.

It started to remind me of a 2018 blog disagreement into which I was drawn by a “sealioning” writer who refused to allow me to get in the last word here on my own blog. That one got VERY ugly. She declared she was unfollowing me because she was sorry she had “upset” me or some such passive-aggressive nonsense – which is a classic “sealioning” tactic – to try to distract from her stupid point she kept trying to restate again and again: I had asserted the word “d*rkies” was ALWAYS fundamentally racist and she claimed it might be now but it was not necessarily racist back “then.”

Fortunately Friday on Instagram never went that far or was that nasty. I have now archived my post so it is no longer visible on Instagram. It was not an important post and I don’t dislike her and I did not want our little “debate” remaining visible.

“Engagement” like that is also one of the pitfalls of social media for an author. I was not in a “happy place” overall and I was also in the midst also of trying to edit the last phases of my novel in which I keep finding errors (which wasn’t making me happy either, to say the least). On top of that I kept getting those pestering comments from her pop up and I could not “close her down.”

[Excerpt from Passports: Atlantic Lives, 1994-1995, Copyright me, 2013, Paperback. Click to expand.]

How simple it all once was, writing a book in secret at “5 AM,” with no one in the world knowing… and not having a web site, or feeling compelled to engage on Instagram.

While I am making “statements of principles” here, I thought I might note this too. That same writer had posted this a few days ago. And – again – it is the sort of thing that makes me cringe and which as an author I despise being in any way associated with:

[From Instagram.]

I have blacked out the original author source because I’m not interested in quarreling with anyone. I see variations on that all the time. I use it here as an example in order to set out my own view clearly. Apparently I’m in the minority among authors on this issue, but I don’t care. Here’s my own list:

I just needed to get that all off my chest. Thanks for reading. Have a good Saturday, wherever you are in the world. 🙂