My Everyday War with Social Media

Let’s just go ahead and get this out there.

hate social media.

There. I said it.

I hate it with a deep and abiding passion.

And yet…

It‘s a lot more complicated.

I mean, a LOT.

As of right this moment, I would consider myself extremely active on social media. Twitter, Facebook, Facebook Business, Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest…the list goes on. I’m active on each and every one, and I’m on them almost every single day. Yes, I know what you’re thinking — I literally just said I hate social media.

So why then, all the sites? Why do it if it’s so antithetical to happiness?


It turns out I’m an author. And an artist. Virtually all my wares appear online in one form or another. And to be honest, I’m not famous enough for these things to sell themselves. Without daily, active, highly-engaged social media marketing, I’d most likely have to give up the dream and go back to working a 9–5 office job. Which, to be fair, is just as terrifying as toiling away on social media. I figure at least when I’m clicking, posting, and responding online, I’m doing so in a tank top and shorts, in my bed, far from the horrors of corporate office life.

So what’s the trouble with social media, aside from the vast time-suck?

For starters, let’s list a few:

  • You don’t know most of the people to whom you’re talking. They could be anyone, and they could be anywhere. What’s in a profile pic these days? Not much. Unless you’ve actually met the flesh and blood human on the other end of your latest tweet, you don’t know them. At all. More importantly, you don’t know what they want. And in many cases, you don’t even know whether or not they’re real. The person who just followed you might not be a person at all. Think about it…
  • The endless cycle of reciprocation. While not as much of a problem on Facebook, when one uses Twitter and Instagram to pitch art and books, one must be prepared to give far more than one receives. These days, I spend as much time retweeting and liking fellow artists’ posts as I do creating my own, whether or not I like approve of what these people are saying. If I didn’t do this, the reciprocation cycle would end and my audience would shrink. This is how it works. It’s a shark tank out there, and if you don’t feed the sharks, they’ll turn right around and eat you
  • Creepers, stalkers, and people who think every social media site is for dating. Yes, I’m a guy. And yes, I’m fully aware I don’t suffer nearly the amount of harassment as the ladies. Even so…every day, every week, every month, I deal with followers who aren’t at all interested in my paintings or my books. These ladies are after validation, compliments, idle flirting, and romance. An innocuous like on one of my posts becomes a “Hey, nice painting” in my inbox. And then the “Hey, nice painting” becomes something entirely unsettling. And then it becomes a dance between me not wanting to be rude to a fellow human and me having to say “Please go away and look for love from someone else.
  • The personal toll. This one is the hardest. In building a social media empire, one must be very, very careful to keep internet life and real life separate. So far, I’ve done well, but likely not well enough. Even though in my heart I know my goals on social media are highly specific and definitely have an endgame, it’s not always an easy sell to the people I care about in real life. “Why are you online so often?” “Who was that woman you were friendly with on Twitter?” “Are you suuuure you’re only there to market?” — these are some pretty typical questions I’ve been asked. And no matter my answers, I have many times seen the doubt in the eyes of those close to me. It’s at times like these I wonder, “Is this really worth it? Am I selling out? Am I really shrugging off compliments, flirty women, and questionable content…and staying humble?”

Well? Am I?

At the end of each day, is being on social media purely as an artist, author, and purveyor of the occasional off-color meme worthwhile? Yes. Mostly. For every weirdo, creeper, latch-on lady, or inappropriate person, there are hundreds of legitimately cool people out there. Fantastic artists lie around every corner of Instagram. On Twitter exists a thriving culture of authors, philosophers, poets, and curators of excellent content. And on Facebook, well…there’s always cat videos.

But the dark side is real.

It’s expensive, not in terms of money, but in terms of personal welfare and the welfare of those closest to me.

And every day I wage a small war in my heart against it.

In a six-year career on social media, I’ve experienced some truly great things. Great personalities. Hilarious jokes. Wonderful ideas to expand and open the mind.

And of course, epic-level books sales (the whole point of it all.)

But I’ve also dealt with…

  • Writers who claim to be best-selling authors, but who become furious when it’s pointed out they’ve published one brief book with no sales (and which contains giant grammatical chasms.) In other words, liars
  • Social justice warriors invading my benevolent feed to loudly state the half-boob in one of my paintings makes me nothing more than a ‘sexist, chauvinist pig.) Does it? Asking for a friend…
  • Woman posing as art collectors who buy no art, but who gradually increase the flirt level until I’m forced to block or ignore them
  • Prostitutes
  • Bots
  • Exes posing as other people
  • People who think everything is a platform for their politics
  • And the one author who tried to get me to support his book (which spoke of the ‘many virtues of pedophilia.’) Gross, dude. Get help

And so the battle inside me rages on. It’s sometimes small, sometimes massive, and yet I take some heart knowing I’m not the only one. I’m betting there are silent legions of fellow humans out there who feel the same, who struggle with wanting to look their friends in the eyes (as opposed to through a monitor) and who feel the pressure and desire to escape social media and never, ever come back.

I know you’re out there.

We’re not meant to be these distant creatures who create mere avatars for our real lives, and who so often toil alone behind our screens.

The image we present online — it’s false. We must never forget this. Even if we’re utterly honest while posting, we are not collections of memes, profile pictures, and likes. We’re still human behind it all.

At least, I hope we are.

More importantly, I hope you’re human, too…and not another latch-on creeper.

As I close out this collection of thoughts, one last bit of irony hits me. As soon as this is published, I’ll share it across every single one of my social media accounts.

Funny, right?

…or maybe not.

J Edward Neill

Come see me here.

Nine Weird Things About the Internet Today

One-hundred years from now, I’m convinced most of the modern world will have almost no reason to walk outside their front door. Ever.

Just think about it.

The internet (if it isn’t already) will be all-powerful. Every consumer good will be deliverable instantly. Anyone will be able to contact anyone FTL (faster than light.) All services will be available always. If we think communication is fast today, imagine where it’ll be a century from now.

Pretty crazy, right?

But for now we’re still kind of in the internet’s adolescence. The net survived its www.infancy and it’s gotten just big and smart enough to be dangerous.

Consider, if you will, these nine observations about the strange state of the modern internet.

* * *

Observation 1Each social media hub has its own personality


I’m not sure anything can illustrate the differences better than this graphic. But what I’m really not sure of is just when it was each site evolved into its own little solar system.

Examples: Twitter and Facebook, though wildly different in interface, are for funny stuff, news bytes, porn, and marketing (some of which I’ve been guilty of.) Instagram seems to appeal to younger crowds, artists, and photographers. The Pinterest fan base is mostly female, while pretty much no one uses Google+. Obviously I’m generalizing a bit, but it’s undeniable how the quirks of each social media site have attracted user bases that are so very different from each other.

I think it’s pretty cool. Except for LinkedIn, which pretty much sucks. 🙂

Observation 2 – People still argue about politics online


If you added up every occurrence of a political debate in the history of the world, you’d probably have a hard time finding ten instances in which someone’s mind was actually changed for the better. In polite society, political debates in conversation are verboten, but no so much on the internet. A quick scan and breakdown of my own personal Facebook feed reveals that 60% (not kidding) of the posts are political in tone. And no, it’s not open-ended, objective stuff taking place. It’s hostile, “I’m right! You’re wrong!” incendiary warfare. Personally, I find it obnoxious. But perhaps more relevant is that everyone on the net is happy to say lots of stuff, but rarely does anyone actually do anything about it.

Why is that?


Observation 3 – The ascension of spam and clickbait


I despise clickbait with such passion I wrote a big piece on it. But let’s be serious for a moment. Spam and clickbait are existential threats to our beloved net. They crowd out marketing for actual, quality goods. They take up space that might otherwise be inhabited by cool, interesting content. Despite these facts, most people struggle to spot spam or clickbait at first sight. And the real trouble is that since the internet has no singular governing body, there’s no one-stop elimination strategy to get rid of this junk. It just keeps spreading.

What does it mean? Well…we’d better prepare ourselves for sneakier, smarter, and more diabolical clickbait. Because while we’re busy going nuts on Amazon Prime, the spammers are out there designing better ways to siphon money and time from the rest of us.

And I think it sucks.

Observation 4 – Free porn for everyone


More than anything, I just really, really want to know how pay-for-porn websites stay in business. I mean, with literally thousands of free porn sites out there, it feels like the entire triple-x pay-per-view industry should collapse. Right? Imagine if a bunch of companies started giving away free, high-quality cars, TV’s, and houses. Wouldn’t all the legitimate industries dry up within weeks? But no…not with porn. Making it free seems only to inspire more and more videos to be created.

I guess even when sex doesn’t sell, it sells.

Observation 5 – All the @#$%*&! memes


In my web series Anti-Meme Fridays, I surmised that one day in the future everyone on Earth will communicate solely via memes, thus eliminating the need for actual spoken language.

Ok, maybe that’s a little heavy handed. But in all truth, memes are everywhere. They’re not stopping anytime soon, even though 90% of them are misspelled, unfunny, cheesy, or annoyingly motivational in tone. What I can’t figure out, and what I need your help in solving, is how it is we arrived at this point. I can’t imagine anyone on this planet who actually likes a bunch of boring pictures and quotes crowding out everything else on their social media feed.

And yet….here we are.

Observation 6 – The prevalence of perverts


Based on the tales pretty much all my female friends and family have told, nearly 100% of the adult male population has sent unsolicited photos of their anatomy to a woman at least once in their life. But seriously, there are way more creepers among us than we ever could’ve guessed. They’re everywhere, and the internet makes it easy for them. I’m willing to bet we all know several dudes who are like this, but we have no idea what they’re up to. And it’s not just the rapey dudes spamming junk pics to every woman they can, but also other creeper types, not limited to but including: guys who threaten violence, guys who get irrationally angry when rejected, and guys who get extremely insulting in everyday social media forums.

Gentlemen, we’re better than this, right?

Guess not.

Observation 7 – Everything is based on opinion


The headline tags for several major news websites are as follows:

CNN – ‘Breaking News, Latest News and Videos’

Fox – ‘Breaking News Updates, Latest News Headlines’

Huffington Post – (Their description is too long to type, but it’s pretty much similar to CNN and Fox, while admitting a sprinkle of ‘entertainment.’)

And so and so forth…

As a kid, I remember learning about this little thing called Journalism. I was taught such terms as “unbiased” “objective” and “factual.” I remember the days when news reporters were calm, serious, and almost indifferent in most scenarios.

Those days are dead. Scour the blogs, articles, and links of every major news outlet on the internet these days, and what do you mostly see?  Editorials.  Not that the articles in question typically identify themselves as opinion-based, but that’s what they are nonetheless. Objectivity appears to go as far as reporting names and body-counts, but that’s where it stops. Everyone has an angle, especially the reporters. Media isn’t where one goes to find truth. Nowadays, it’s all about entertainment.

Observation 8 – No one knows how to use hashtags

Seriously. Just stop.

Observation 9 – Artists around the world have a home

Jeremy Neill. Honest.

…even this douche.


By and large, it’s a good time to be a writer, painter, graphic designer, or any other kind of artist. The modern net allows things that just weren’t possible as recently as ten years ago. Authors can self-publish via dozens of outlets. Artists like this awesome lady here have a home to display their work without needing to hunt down big, pretentious galleries. I mean…these are good times.

But there is one little drawback: piracy. No, not Blackbeard holding a cutlass to our necks. If you’ve ever posted a cool piece of art, uploaded an awesome song you’ve created, or written something digitally awesome, it’s likely (even probable) that many other individuals have downloaded it illegally, plagiarized it, or otherwise distributed your work against your wishes. Some won’t care about a few pirate raids. But for others (me among them) piracy is seriously bad for bizniz. It sucks.

Seems no matter what infrastructure a society settles into, there will always be those who nip at the edges, seeking an advantage. Digital society is no different.

* * *

Be assured, there are darker (much darker) corners of the internet than the things I’ve touched on above.

But that’s a list for another day…

If you like dating on the aforementioned web, this is for you.

But if you prefer seeing your friends face-to-face, try this.

J Edward Neill