I am not what you would call a famous author. With just one book that’s enjoyed modest success, I’m not exactly getting mobbed as I walk down the street (and I’m grateful for that). One place where I’m noticing things getting odd, though, is on Facebook.
I signed up for Facebook in 2008, way before I had a book deal or even an agent. It turned out to be the year of my 20th high school reunion, so all at once I reconnected with many of my high school friends and acquaintances. (I went to a tiny little all-girls Catholic high school, so I can probably boast a 95% friend rate with everyone from my graduating class). Then I connected with moms from the town where I live (and some dads) and friends from work (but usually only after one of us had moved on to other jobs).
With this pretty tight circle of friends, I shared a few random musings. I shared my writing sometimes, like the one year I decided to write an essay a day for 30 days (back when this felt like a huge accomplishment). I almost never posted pictures of my kids before they themselves were on social media as teens, because I wanted them to be old enough to decide what they wanted their digital footprint to be. And since it was right around the time of my divorce, I am lucky that none of my gooier, lovey-dovey pictures with my ex are around to haunt me, except for those locked up in my basement in case my kids ever want to see.
The weirdest thing that had ever happened to me on Facebook before I published a book was the one time where I went on a date with a guy from eHarmony, many moons ago, maybe a year after my divorce. I gave him only my first name and somehow dropped the name of the town where I live in conversation. We had an okay date and kissed goodbye (chaste, first-date type kissing). By the time I’d driven down the windy road down the hill on top of which we’d had our first date, my phone pinged to life with a Facebook notification. With just my first name and the name of my town, he’d found me on there and sent me a friend request. Unnerving. (There was no second date).
And then I wrote a book. I started this site to create a public place where readers could connect with me. Seeing that wasn’t enough, I also created a public Facebook page for “author” me, not “regular” me. And still the friend requests kept coming to my personal page.
It’s not like I reveal all that much personal stuff on my personal Facebook page. This week’s only post so far was a picture of the frost on the windshield of my car. Sometimes I get political on there, but then I mostly only associate with people who see politics the way I do (and it’s not like my politics are a mystery if you read my book). But there is still a difference in who I am in my neighborhood and who I am on the page and I want to hold some things back.
So I created a sort of virtual wall to stop people from friending me personally. I made all my posts private and created just this one “are you sure you want to friend me?” post to be made public. Despite this, I get friend requests all the time from people I don’t know but who are somehow connected to the writing world, people who would be much more entertained by following my author page than the personal place where I post pictures of my first iris blooms and my kids’ graduations. I suppose it’s possible that they are not going to my page, but are friending me from a list of recommendations. And I don’t want to be rude… I want to connect with them. It feels a bit obnoxious to say, “Hey, I’m not going to accept your friend request, but would you like to follow my author page?” But then, I am public on Twitter and Instagram and Tumblr as well as on my public Facebook page. I guess I want one little nook where I get to just chat with people I am liable to run into at the grocery store or at a family function.
So here I am, in this weirdly ambiguous place between what is private but postable on social media (with people I know in my day-to-day life) and what is public in a way that it makes sense to share with people I’ll probably never meet in person. I am walking the fine line between friendliness and privacy and I am not totally sure where it is. I don’t want to be rude but I don’t want to share it all either.
Oh, social media, how you vex me.