Sharing is enabling

There is a very nice JavaScript library available that makes it easy to add a Share to Mastodon link to your website or blog. It is also on GitHub if that is how you roll. The library gives you a significant amount of flexibility to make the button display in a way that works with your site design. It also lets you host the code on your site, which is always a good option to have.

I was contemplating putting it on this blog but, after a long inner dialogue, I decided not to. My initial concern was that I didn’t want to add a lot of extraneous JS code to the site. The Share file is not that large but, when I started this blog, I decided that I wanted to keep everything as lo-fi as I could. Fast and to-the-point was the goal and that is a hill I will, if not die on, at least stand on and shake my fist from.

After thinking about it for a while longer, I also began to wonder if I really wanted to be promoting what I am doing here.

Attention is precious

Part of the reason for this blog is just for me to have an outlet that enables me and pushes me to write. I haven’t done as much of it as I have wanted to. Life presents a series of ready-made excuses that you can latch on to and use to not do something. This blog is my way to try to avoid those excuses and just produce words. Maybe they will make sense. Maybe they will be interesting. Those are secondary issues though, and the prime motivator in this endeavour is to put words onto a virtual page and push them out into the world. Message in a VPS.

Everyone likes praise. Some more than others. I think that our society is in the position it is today in no small part to the entire idea of an “attention economy” and “influence”. Social media and concepts like “Be your own brand” have made people believe that they need external validation. Someone needs to like your post or photo. Your quirky picture of your dogs in knit hats needs to be on instagram to help push you into the world of doggie-influencers.

It is all horseshit. We have spent the last decade going onto platforms and posting videos and memes in hope that we will get famous. And all the while our privacy was being invaded and politicians and Russian disinfo ops were turning our countries upsides down.

I can see the commemorative memorabilia now: “I posted on Facebook and all I got was this genocide in Burma”, “My tweets went viral but not as viral a Brexit!”.

Kill your audience

I can’t recall who posted it1, but I recently read a post that said that having a small audience was a gift and that you should use it to say whatever it was that you wanted. Lose the fear of offending and losing the audience and just create.

I would go one step further and say that you shouldn’t be concerned with offending your audience, no matter the size. You probably shouldn’t be worried about an audience at all. Write. Paint. Draw. Create. Put it out into the world and let it go. Maybe it will change the world. Maybe it might change the mind of a single person. Perhaps after all your effort it won’t be noticed at all.

All of that isn’t as important as creating.

The internet should be about exploring and novelty. When I was younger, I remember the thrill at finding a new author at the library or a book store. For a short time, the internet was like that as well. I am on Mastodon not because I want to “build my brand” or “expand my audience” but because there are so many people in the world that are smart, funny, and creative, and I want to see what they have done. Some of them are working writers and artists, and they are trying to promote themselves. Promotion is how you put food on the table and a roof over your head. Building an audience is what you do when you’ve drunk too much Instagram kool-aid.

Some Shakespeare quote about authenticity

“Authenticity” is a word that has become warped in the last ten or twenty years as it has been hijacked and co-opted by PR people and brand ambassadors. It doesn’t mean being real anymore, it means to appear to be real. Appearing to be a person that others would want to be. Broadcasting an image to an audience and then using that audience to fill your coffers. It is the mould by which any number of YouTube and Instagram influencers are cast from and poured steaming into a livestream to begin soliciting attention.

Perhaps I am riding the pendulum to the other extreme, but I would rather write my screeds, post them on my blog and then walk away. Or, more honestly, I want to be able to act this way. This, to me, seems to be the way to be truly authentic. We have seen what happens when we pool the collective narcissism of our culture into social media sites. I would rather not be that way.

So do your thing. Be yourself. Let your freak flag fly.


  1. I really need to start keeping track of these types of things. ↩︎