For a number of years I have followed the Eurovision Song Contest. As a musician it fascinates me, as an observer of our society I find it hilarious and this year it has led me to a certain understanding. And yes; this has got to do with reading, writing and communication in general.
Since I e-published my novel ‘Planet Woman’ I’ve embarked on membership of ‘Facebook’ and ‘Twitter’. I read that the social media can provide very helpful, in fact enjoyable adjuncts to self-publishing.
The first thing that happened to me on Twitter was that I immediately collected a leech – a person whom I didn’t know but who indicated an interest in my Twitter identity. I don’t think he/she is in the least interested in books and writing and I’ve been trying to get free of this presence. I think I may have succeeded and then a few days later up it pops again; now I ignore it.
The point is that this person has made a contact with me and has been a nuisance. At the same time I’ve enjoyed exchanges with other authors; brief and pleasant interludes. I have been in contact with other people like myself through a social medium.
Very gratifying, I suppose; but my question is – and this returns me to the understanding I spoke of in the first paragraph – have I really connected with these other people in any effective sense? The answer is no, I haven’t. They’ve been little waves in each other’s direction, little smiles of acknowledgement. Pleasant, transitory events, but nothing like what I experience when I watch the Eurovision Song Contest.
Sitting before my television receiver I know that all those rowdy, energetic, partisan, appreciative people in the audience are exactly the same as I am in their enjoyment of the genuinely artistic, ridiculous, beautiful, over-the-top expressions of human endeavour – yes, and of human cynicism too.
A deeply shared experience on a big scale of human emotion and striving is what we get from the Eurovision Song Contest and football matches, even if we’re not part of the actual audience.
On the small scale we might expect the same sense of real sharing to come out of Facebook and Twitter exchanges. But it doesn’t. Facebook and Twitter are generally arid, although pleasant, exchanges.
However, and this is a book fanatic speaking, a shared experience of human emotion and striving is what books bring to us – print published or e-published. And they don’t have to offer the same explosively wonderful experience as the Eurovision Song Contest, but their impact on the mind and spirit can be exactly the same.