Andrew Cotto is a success at being social, which makes his apparent failure at social media all the more puzzling.
I’m a social person. I do this well. I learned at the hip of my mother, who looked like a model and acted like benevolent royalty. She was engaging and inclusive. The woman could start a party in a line at the bank. She showed me the power of personal interaction, and I flourished throughout my life as a social animal, making endless connections with people from endless backgrounds. I’d been blessed by this in immense amounts of meaningful friendships and gratifying acquaintances. Beyond the real life benefits, my stature as a social success story has been formally recognized by a variety of actual superlatives, from most popular student to most popular professor; hell, I was so well-known in my college days, my ass was awarded a prize by my graduating class (true story). Though, sadly, in the world of social media, I’m best characterized as simply being an ass.
This, I don’t do so well. There’s a dynamic of technical expertise and social-digital elan I just haven’t mastered. It began with e-mail back in my days as a salesman. My attempts at engagement were often clumsy, annoying, stilted and embarrassing: I was the guy who made the joke that most of the mailing list didn’t get; the dope who copied the entire mailing list on the joke intended for a single recipient. Oops. My quips or comments were often misconstrued as snarky or tone deaf or curt. I couldn’t (and still can’t) get myself to use an emoticon or even the (: thingy that people do to imply humor. I just couldn’t electronically mimic the wit or wink or touch I employed to facilitate successful relationships in the flesh. This has become a problem for me in the age of social media.
I’m a writer. In today’s age, a writer can’t be reclusive, which is cool because my least favorite thing about writing is the social isolation. But to be a publically recognized writer we must be endless self-promoters through the medium of social media. At this, I’m a dork. I either send out too many notices or not enough. Whichever the case, I often do so without the intended link attached. I stumble on Stumblr and fumble on Tumblr. I’m deadit to Reddit. OpenSalon is essentially closed to me. I’ve inadvertently, on two occasions, invited my entire contact list to link to me on linkedin (sorry about that Grandma). My facebook presence is slightly more fruitful, though it seems every time I post what I deem to be an important link to an article or publishing news, someone just before or after (or often both) has just uploaded a photo of their order at Starbucks or mentioned the song they just heard on the radio which garners the multitude of “likes” and “shares” I would like to be shared with my news.
That said, my mother did not raise a quitter. I recognize the importance of social media as a means of communication, and I, as a writer of novels and articles, am in the business of communication. Despite the challenges it puts on my intellect and inclinations, I must persevere. I want an audience. I want to be heard by as many people as possible, not to win awards (though my ass is missing the attention), but to do what I did as a popular person and what I intended to do when I embarked on this career as a writer: connect with people. The social media medium is the most inclusive method to date for each individual voice to connect. So, I must do this. It’s how I was raised.
illustration by zballer / flickr