Yay! Steve Safran is back, encouraging all of us to embrace the inevitable: social media (and perhaps the backlash of those we drag into it). Although Stevie and I attended the same college, our friendship really blossomed on Facebook. Our shared love of shared-writing has led to this fun, bloggy partnership I cherish. And honestly, who doesn’t love a Facebook birthday?
The Truth Is… By Steve Safran
Webster defines “decorum” as “that thing other people think you’re violating when you write it, but not when they write it.” Webster does not, of course, write any such thing. He would… if he were alive in this era of Facebook and blogging, and also… if he were me. Alas, none of this is so, even though my fourth-grade nickname was “Webster” because I knew so, so many words. (Another lie. But I’m a writer–for TV–so the power of the lie is mine to spread, and abuse my power, I shall!)
Britt recently wrote about how people can react to seeing their names in print. Not everyone likes it. I’d like to offer why living this way is important to those who do. I’ve been writing online since 2002 and blogging since 2004. I started updating on Facebook before anyone knew anything about a man named Obama. This makes me an old man in social media. I live my life online. Writing. In Hebrew, Safran literally means “writer of the scrolls.” Really. How could I not write? It’s a Jew-y birthright.
Last week, I turned 45. I was working at a new job in a new city. By myself. And there, in a two-star Manhattan hotel room, the bedbugs and I read more than 150 “Happy Birthdays” and “Congrats on the New Job” messages. I was alone, but I was not lonely. Without social media, I’d have heard from a handful of people. I know it’s not strictly the numbers, but when you want to feel the love, let me tell you– there’s nothing better than 150 messages of “attaboy.”
Webster defines “catharsis” as “that thing you need so you’ll stop feeling so shitty all the time.” (This time it’s true. Webster was a total bring-down.) Writing is great catharsis. And writers must write! You don’t need to be a professional to write. You just need to write. This is fantastic. Britt is a doctor, which required years of training. To be a writer, all I needed at the start was a pencil. It had to be a Number Two Ticonderoga, but I’m a connoisseur. Want a good catharsis exercise? Write a really open, honest, mean letter to someone you’re pissed at. Then erase it. Do not– and I can’t emphasize this enough—do NOT hit “Send All.”
I fully understand Britt’s need to write about her illness. You write what you know. It’s great catharsis. I have depression and I am getting a divorce. I am not going to write about the joys of handcrafting fine cabinets. (Although I’m sure it would be an amusing read from someone who cannot handcraft a small block of wood out of a larger block of wood.) When you write honestly, it shows. You need to include the details, or it doesn’t feel real. Would Britt’s writing work without A Ma or A Gong? I suppose– but we’d be the poorer for it.
In Neil Simon’s “Biloxi Blues,” the character of Epstein says, “Once you start compromising your thoughts, you’re a candidate for mediocrity.”
I’m not running for that office.
Britt’s a writer. Writers need an audience. The audience demands the truth. Britt writes the truth. QED.
Webster defines “conclusion” as “that bit you’re very happy to reach, especially if the writer has belabored a point to death and, possibly, has been drinking too many Harpoon Ales.”