I like Facebook. I really do.
Social networking is fun. I like seeing other peoples' status thingys and commenting on them and getting to know folks from all over the nation (and the world) who have found the things I write interesting or funny or really really bad, but they still friend me anyway.
But one thing I do hate: Facebook mail. I can't fucking stand it. It's actually surpassed the telephone in ways I hate communicating with people. It's not that the Facebook mail system is particularly terrible in and of itself. It's just that the medium itself invites only a very small subset of communication types. It's not as private as email, but more private than posting on my wall - so it's the perfect way for people to passively harass me into doing things for them.
I have now gotten enough messages on Facebook to bear out the math. Out of 100% of Facebook mail messages I get each week (around 50 or so):
10% of them are people who email me who are impatient and can't wait for a response, and see me on facebook, and try to get my attention there.
5% are glowing reviews of my writing
5% are scathing reviews of my writing
And 80% are exactly this:
FROM: [person I rarely if ever communicate with outside of Facebook's "Like" feature]
MESSAGE: Hi Joe, I was blah blah blah CAN YOU HELP ME / MY FRIEND WITH A PUBLISHING DEAL THANKS, also i loved your blah blah blah let's catch up sometime.
Now, please note that I am not aggravated when people ask me for ADVICE. Advice is that thing that empowers you to do your own work and make your own way. And I love giving advice. It's most of what this blog is all about. PLEASE ask me for advice. Ask me how to break into an industry, or how to self-publish your work, or how to lose 100lbs, or how to train for a marathon... Just don't ask me to do it for you.
To all of you in the 80% range, this is my response to the entire lot of you, all at once.
SUBJECT: RE: Hey!
MESSAGE: Dear so and so,
First, thanks for writing. It's been [a day for fly-by friend-count seekers, or 15 years for ex-highschool folks] since we last spoke, so it's nice to know you're still alive.
Listen: you're asking me to do for you in one email what it took me 8 years to accomplish on my own. The problem is, those 8 years were entirely necessary for me to do what I did with any success whatsoever. I took the hard, long road toward producing something, and it's paying off for me.
But you want the benefit of those 8 years of labor for yourself, without putting in the time. You're essentialy telling me that whatever it is you're up to is special without that amount of labor. In other words, I wasted my time, and should have just asked someone else who made it to help me out. In other words, I worked harder, not smarter.
In other words, I'm stupid and you're smart.
Thanks for the pick me up.
Your best friend in the world,