The past two days I have been writing on the same subject, with almost precisely the same feelings, only coming at it from a different perspective (irrelevant). But unlike your writer friend, I am not certain the “social response” is always or even often required.
Like you I feel the inauthentic in the response too often. Especially in a place like Medium, and particularly upon my return after a lengthy absence, I find almost a corrupting presence here, even more than before perhaps, of a kind of clannish behavior. I am probably exaggerating as I am often guilty of this.
But why, if one feels the need to go public and seek a response, focus on the inauthentic? It is always there and always has been and this has nothing to do with “social media.” And the inauthentic is usually the overwhelming response when there is one.
One always takes the risk of this when seeking a response while peering through that morass looking for those “one and a half people” who might connect with what you have done and be able to return to you, communicating that connection with equal sense. You don’t always locate those people. Why should you? Why should we expect each of our attempts to be successful? We are not gods, and even the gods are not perfect. (Well, some of them are not, depending upon which ones you choose to believe in...and if you do.)
The glory of our work is in the daily doing of it and the occasional sharing of it with others. In the common metaphor I know, everything else is “gravy.”
We used to meet in coffee shops, threes and fours. It was intimate. Maybe someone knew someone and someone else would get to see what you had done if someone thought you had worth. Classic elitist judgment. Maybe maybe maybe. If if if.
Now... Because of social media anyone can do anything any time they wish. This has its pluses. So much that used to be hidden now comes to the surface quickly. Good things. But it has this minus, that so many people glance and judge and so much is watered down in value, even the artist’s self.
Always life has its balance. “Oh, you’re so WONDERFUL...” because you’re a woman. “Oh, you’re so WONDERFUL...” because you’re from India. “Oh, you’re so WONDERFUL...” because you speak of things exotic. Who needs such evaluations? And yet... These also are avenues that give you what you need at times, perhaps. And, perhaps, after a time, even such voices will be able to see beyond these superficialities into what you are actually saying.
But then, we do not know the thought behind such words, either. We do not know the people behind these judgments. And we, too, judge, thinking that we do. It is a distraction from the work we do. If nothing else. And something of a waste of time, trying to decipher who means what and if it is real or true or what it means in the end.
I am not what people call a “positive thinker.” If anything, unfortunately, I am slowly becoming more cynical lately, but I am desperately trying not to become a negative thinker. However, when it comes to such matters I say to myself—and anyone else who might listen—ignore any response that doesn’t inform you in a way you wish to be informed. Who cares what people say if it doesn’t help?
And don’t proceed with your work—in private or public—in any way predetermined by the response it may receive. Remember what Foucault warned us about in regard to preconceptions. They are ubiquitous but they have to be managed or they will control us.
Or, in the language I learned growing up on the streets of New York City (most happily, I must say) “Fuck ‘em if they can’t take a joke.” It applies across the board. Even if you are not joking. Ask anyone. If they don’t laugh, then you know exactly who you are dealing with.