Thursday, July 26, 2012

Cassy’s Corner- Friends and Acquaintances

I have been struck lately by connections and communication via the Internet. There is nothing new about email, listserves and the variety of loops many of us share. But, nevertheless, I’ve been taken by how far reaching it can be. We’ve all been told that to promote our work we must have a website, a Face Book page, a Twitter account, LinkedIn, and the list goes on. Some publishers have admitted that they won’t consider a submission without seeing if you have enough “followers” to warrant their attention. On Amazon the rating of a book can dramatically change by how many “likes” are posted—that translates to sales once the book is higher on the list.
But, this isn’t really what I’m writing about today. I’m caught in a quandary.
Recently an old boyfriend from high school emailed me to just say hello. I graduated from high school in 1971. That tells you how many years ago it’s been. I use my married name, one he would never have known. I have an email address that has no connection to anything he would know. Yet, a friendly “how are you?” email came to me filled with details of his family. How the dickens did he find me?
Yesterday I received an email from a colleague I haven’t had contact with in about 15 years. We did work closely together, but times do change. She also knew me by my maiden name. Yet, a short “I miss you and how are you?” email arrived late in the evening.
Three days ago I received a call from my banker who wanted to pick my brain on ways to protect one’s identity. He has an elderly client who is at risk of being compromised. I’m no authority, but we did have an interesting conversation about what constitutes risk.
Here is the quandary. We are told we must be out there using social media to promote our work and create a branding for ourselves. At the same time we are “found.” I was delighted to hear from two old friends and a bit taken back that they took the time to find me. How wonderful. It also means that I have no idea who also might find me, whether I want it or not. So, how much do we share? How much do we sell ourselves at the chance of going too far? Where are the lines?


Kari Lee Townsend said...

It is so hard to know what to put out there and what not to. Talking to people and connecting with them can be great, but sometimes the scary ones slip through. It's especially scary when we have children and loved ones to think about. Good luck :)

Cassy Pickard said...

Kari: You are so right. It's so easy to reveal too much. Yet to have a presence means also sharing. Tough balancing act.

Anita Clenney said...

Cassy, it is a tough balancing act. There are a couple of authors on my loops who say they've been threatened or even stalked. I've heard some horror stories. It's very frightening. It's fun connecting with readers, but there are times you have to wonder if being the stereotypical eccentric writer with no contact with the world might not be the way to go. But then it's highly unlikely that you would be a success.

Katt said...

Great topic!
I've been working on a short story about a woman wondering about an old boyfriend and finding him on facebook :) 35 years later.

However, personally I am in an industry that doesn't
want us identifiable through social media.

Because I'm also a writer I've chosen two pen-names (well researched first) and I use them for everything related to my writing career.

I hope that makes me a little less accessible.

Cassy Pickard said...

Anita: you are so right. It's both important and frightening. The call between being out there and being silent is hard. My husband has an international practice and refuses to have a FB page or do any of the social media bit. His take is, "if the want me, they'll find me." Doesn't work for the rest of us.

Cassy Pickard said...

Katt: Thanks for being here. You're great to show up so regularly. Want to tell us more about your story?

Katt said...

Love to but it's headed for a contest next week so I can't say too much.

She thought it would be harmless to take a look at his facebook page. But at just one glance the memories stir, followed closely by guilt. He has a wife and a child. Contacting him would be wrong and self-serving. What will she do?

Cassy Pickard said...

Great, Katt! I have a wip now that has a man married to two women at the same time. The first wife discovers it via an email from the second wife- who doesn't realize they are married to the same man. And, they both write mystery stories! Just about done with it. More to continue.....

Good luck with the contest. Keep us posted as you know more!