by Carrie Classon
I originally joined Facebook when a long-lost cousin sent me an invitation.
It was relatively new then, and I hadn’t considered joining. But I figured if I could reconnect with family I wouldn’t hear from otherwise, why not?
Since then, I’ve become a writer, which means I sit by myself staring out the window for hours at a time. It gets a little lonely and Facebook has turned into my virtual watercooler. So, when I finally got a signed contract for my book, I was naturally very excited and did what a lot of us do: I posted it on Facebook.
It was wonderful getting congratulations from all parts of my life – friends from all over and distant relatives. Everyone wished me well and joined in my celebration over this milestone accomplishment.
Except one woman.
“Kind of a lot of self-promotion,” she wrote.
Was it? I was crestfallen. Suddenly, the party faded. I was just a big fat show-off making people feel bad. I was bragging, and didn’t my mother tell me not to do that? It was amazing how dozens of kind and happy words paled in light of that one comment. I felt awful.
But then I tried to look at it from her perspective. Her comment wasn’t entirely about me. That feedback was coming from someone who was likely hurt. Maybe she was trying to sell a book or trying to do something else that hadn’t worked out. This person was disappointed about something that had nothing to do with me – or my book.
And, just as I didn’t know much about her, she didn’t know much about me. She didn’t know I’d been working on this book for 10 years. She didn’t know about the months of revisions and waiting. She didn’t know about the rejections – one after another – forwarded by my agent.
That’s when I made a deal with myself. It’s not original and I should have made it long before, but the deal is this: Say only nice things on Facebook.
There have been times when I felt it was more important to make a point than to be kind. Now I read my words more than once to make sure I won’t pop someone else’s bubble. I remember how that one random comment felt, and I try not to be that person to someone else.
And you know what? She was right. It was kind of a lot of self-promotion. But maybe, under the circumstances, that wasn’t such a terrible thing.
Carrie Classon, a writer and performer, lives in New Mexico. Her memoir, Blue Yarn: A Memoir About Loss, Letting Go, and What Happens Next, was released in April.