In July, we have a chance to draw inspiration from two movies: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and/or He’s Not That into You. The choice is easy for me. OFOCN is one of my favorite movies because the script captures the kinds of system craziness that could send normal folks to the loony bin. Remember the awe and fear Broom Bromden (the giant-sized Native American) holds for ‘The Combine’? Broom thinks that the system/organizations/government molds people so they are identical, much like effect of the farming machine, called a combine, makes duplicate hay bales. He maintains that people have no power over this massive machine and if we try to fight it, we'll be sent to the crazy house, just like the Combine sent him there. Nurse Ratched is part of the Combine, using intimidation, shame and medication to cut men down to submissive, small sizes.
We writers struggle against our own Combine in the forms of Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, Google + and other emerging social networking organizations. These entities are important to our success as book-sellers, but their administrators won’t explain how they work. What’s more, they change their rules or formats at will and determine career-changing algorithms without sharing them with us. Examples: Amazon has an arbitrary way of deciding who can review whose book, and recently, Amazon is taking a dim view of sexy book covers, dumping some without notifying authors. Another example: ‘Liking’ on Facebook can bring a wave of unwelcome ‘guests’ to your personal page.
We wish these networks were regulated or somehow forced to be transparent so we have a fighting chance to understand how to use them, but I doubt that would ever happen. We get the sense that there’s an insidious tradeoff for using their service: the more we tap into their networks to sell our books, the more they will know about us and will use/misuse that information. That’s the power of a ‘Combine.’
So I ask you. What parts of the social networking system make you crazy? How do you keep it from molding you to its liking?
Note: I'm in Sitka, Alaska, where the only internet access for me is in the grocery store. Please comment and know I will get back to you around noon and in the evening. I'm spending July 4th here, my decorated boat bobbing among the fishing vessels of hard-scrabble fishermen and women. Sitka is an amazing place. Happy 4th to you and yours! Rolynn
Check out our boat journeys on http://steveandrolynn.blogspot.com/