Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Dr. Strangebook or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Tweet

I have a confession to make: I’m afraid of technology. I don’t like it and I suspect it doesn’t like me either. I’ve been called “poison to computers”. If a computer is going to crash and cough up every picture that has the smallest amount of sentimental value or say, that little novel that's been about ten years in the works, chances are it’s the computer I happen to be sitting in front of at the moment of virtual Armageddon.

It started in high school when I spent three hours working on a Social Studies essay on my Smith Corona word processor (remember those? no? I'm old). When I got up to get a drink, I knocked the plug out of the wall and lost everything. I didn’t even freak out, I just accepted this as my lot in life, plugged it back in and started from scratch.

Maybe the machines have noticed my resistance and are rising up against me. After all, with the exception of email, I have fought every major technological advancement in the past fifteen years. I used subway tokens for as long as I could.

I’ve lost hours of my life driving (or more appropriately parking) in the "cash only" toll line. But at the time I preferred that "they" not be able to keep tabs with E-Z Pass. What if I wanted to break the law? I’m not even sure I understand that logic and I blame it on too much Law & Order.

So, like any good technophobe, I resisted Facebook with all my being. I had concerns about privacy. I take the word friend seriously and I was disturbed by the idea that I would use the term to describe people with whom my only contact would be the occasional “poke.” I worried that opening the door to Facebook would be a Pandora’s Box of people I hadn't had a discussion with since my Smith Corona days. But more than anything else, I didn’t want the time suck.

I should note that I cheated a little by lurking on a dear high school (actual) friend’s account when she told me I absolutely had to see someone we graduated with. 3 hours later my fears about the time suck were confirmed.

So no matter how many invitations I got to be on Facebook or to be anyone’s “friend,” I refused.

But then I decided to do something that nobody could believe this technophobe/book lover would do - I digitally published my novel, Momfriends.

What I realized immediately was that in the five years since my last novel had come out traditionally, there was no way to have any kind of publicity without social networking. My original publisher offered webinars on social networking. I signed up and fell in love with not only the word webinar, but the concept of being able to release all my observations out in to the world on twitter. If I wanted to rave about Jeff Bridges (still love him) or fret about how the book was doing (still fretting) or rant about the irresponsibility of the Lost creators (still angry), I could tweet it. It was an amazing release. What can I say? It's fun to pretend everyone cares.

And then . . .I set up a Facebook fan page. I even did Facebook ads. We bought a bottle of champagne and put it in the fridge for when I reached 100 fans. Soon enough we were popping it. I felt connected to readers I didn’t know before, readers in far away places. Yes people from my past found me, but each time it was exciting and fun to reconnect. What was I ever afraid of?

Of course I’m taking baby steps. I’m only doing the fan page because I would like to use it for book promotion and not for personal stuff. I joke that I want people to “like” me without having to be their “friend”. I am still slightly disturbed when Facebook asks to go through my email contacts and automatically send them invitations. A little presumptuous, no?

But little by little I am joining the rest of society. All of it is an effective tool that has helped me connect to new readers and old (gulp!) friends.

I even got an E-Z Pass this summer. If I ever do commit that crime, I think I’ll take the train. They can't trace metro cards can they? Curses...they can can't they? Man I miss tokens.

Ariella Papa's new novel, Momfriends is available NOW.

Visit her: Ariellapapa.com

Follow her:@ariellapapa

Like her: Facebook.com/ariellapapabook


  1. No worries, Ariella! I'm right there with you regarding computers! I quite positive my web-guy cries & cringes upon seeing me on his caller ID! I'm fascinated that you love Twitter. I don't think I'll ever get the hang of it! Congrats on Momfriends! It is on my list!!

  2. Really funny post, Ariella!!

    I LOVE the cover for Momfriends!!

  3. I am so with you. I'd be just fine if we should go back to a Luddite society.

    I'm on facebook but haven't done twitter yet. And my facebook is still my page - I haven't migrated to a fan page (it just seems presumputous given my first book just came out.

    Apart from being a great post,I appreciate your thoughts on these. What do the rest of you think about like vs. friend and Twitte?

  4. "It's fun to pretend everyone cares." - I love this!

  5. Ariella, I was right there with you. I had to be dragged, kicking and screaming, onto Facebook and then once I was there I figured I should sign up for Twitter, too. And...I like them both--amazing! I think I'm what they call a "reluctant adaptor." :)

  6. Ariella, like Sara, my arm had to be twisted to join Facebook! But, once I did, I'm enjoying it. Not only does it allow me to connect with readers, but with old friends and new friends, and all sorts of interesting people! I still refuse to Tweet! I don't have a debit card or ATM card, and I love writing checks. My cell phone is as old as dirt, and I rarely turn it on. But I can't imagine writing a book on a typewriter again (yes, I wrote a few on my handy-dandy Selectric before I had a PC). Which is all to say, I've only got one foot in the 21st century, too! Good luck with Momfriends!