To be — or not to be — exposed

In Saturday’s New York Times, I came across this article about how many news personalities are addicted to revealing their every moves on Twitter and Facebook. These people are already famous, yet they feel the need to let the world know what they’re doing, moment to moment, as if the world cares. Well actually, the world probably does care, because these people are celebrities. But still — who wants to give strangers such an intimate peek into your life? Yet that seems to be the trend nowadays, for people in the public eye. For reporters and actors and … novelists.

I confess, I now have both a Facebook and a Myspace page. I have them because I was encouraged to do so by other authors who consider them absolutely essential to anyone who wants to increase readership. But I get a bit of a queasy reaction to this mass movement toward Twitter and Facebook pages. And it’s because I (like a lot of other writers, I suspect) am a private person. I spend most of my days cooped up in my office, having imaginary conversations with imaginary people. I’m happy doing that. Get me out in the real world, in a social setting, and I feel like a fish scooped out of my nice comfortable aquarium and tossed, gasping and flopping around, onto the beach. I can survive big public gatherings for short spurts, and can manage to be charming for an hour or two. But then I want to dive right back into my aquarium and swim into a cave.

Twitter and Facebook have allowed me to be both private and public at the same time. To advertise my every private move while not stepping outside my house. Authors are made to feel that we must expose ourselves to the world in order to sell books, but I admit, it feels weird to advertise my every private move. Does anyone care that I spent this weekend sneezing and aching from the flu? Or that I’m planning my trip to Cappadocia in the fall? Or that I cooked mussels for dinner? I hope not.

I hope they’ve got other, and better, things to think about.