True Writer, Egotist, Asshole...Which Are You On Social Media
Are You A True Writer, Egotist, or Just Plain Asshole By Robert Bacal
Through the semi-miracle of social media, anyone can put words down, and distribute them -- in essence doing what only published writers could do previously.
It's a relatively good thing, but it begs the question of whether you are a "writer" in any sense beyond stringing words together, or you are something else entirely.
The true writer exhibits a number of characteristics. There ARE exceptions to all of these characteristics among professional writers, or writers of great wit.
The "true writer":
- Feels the NEED to write. It's part of him or her, and is constantly thinking in terms of what an experience means, and how it can be transformed into words for others to experience, or benefit from.
- Writes with the perspective of the reader always in mind. If something doesn't enlighten, teach, entertain, or otherwise add value for the reader, it doesn't get into an article.
- Usually writes in the third person, although this is changing. The reasoning is that writing in the first person focuses the reader on the writer, rather than the content, the idea, the story, or what can be learned. It's interesting that writing in the first person is the primary way that young children write.
The main difference between the true writer and the egotist has to do with who the article or story is "for". For example:
- Usually writes in the first person, since for the egotist s/he is the most interesting person, more interesting than the story, or the reader.
- Writes to project an image of him/herself often heavily edited and modified from what others might think of them. Again, it's about appearing to be [whatever]. It's not uncommon for the egotist "writer" to be completely unaware of this kind of image projection in his or her writing.
- Has a tendency to include elements that are not properly explained so the only person who fully understands the referents is the writer. Readers won't. Same deal with private jokes only the writer understands.
- Attempts at humor that fail are often part of the schemata. The egotist, not able to put him/herself in the place where the reader sits, assumes that what is funny to the writer, will be funny to the reader. It's kind of a loser's game. Humor is so personal.
- Writes to impress. One of the more serious symptoms. There's nothing wrong with using uncommon words, or even things like name dropping or inserting elements that really don't fit the main theme, PROVIDED they add value to the reader. People who write to impress abuse their readers through lack of focus.
I don't think there are a lot of true assholes who write. More comment than do longer pieces because writing anything more than a paragraph or two is hard work.
- Assholes are usually egotists so they have those characteristics plus the ones below:
- Assholes are often very angry people, who lack the subtlety to become excellent satirists or social commentaries. There's a focus on the negative, and rarely are solutions offered to readers.
- Assholes have agendas that permeate their "work". They tend to write on the same topics over and over, OR, they manage to reference their agenda in articles and posts on different topics, even if the issue has little relationship to the main point of their article.
- Assholes really over-promote their work. You'll see them reposting the same articles over and over again, since they lack an understanding of their readers' reading habits. Besides it's easier to repost than have more original thoughts. Or they will tag people to get their attention, not thinking that their followers will already be notified of new articles anyway (except on LinkedIn).
- Assholes feel the need to respond copiously to comments made on their articles, rather than let their written work stand on its' own. Commenting helps the asshole feel connected, but not with people, per se, but with the popularity he or she feels entitled to based on the wonderfulness of the article. Ultimately, the asshole doesn't trust the reader, or the community to interact without him or her to guide them.
- Assholes are concerned with useless numbers: How many views? How many comments? That's because it's really all about the asshole, not the reader. It doesn't matter to the writer whether comments contain useful content s/he can learn from. It's the number.
- Assholes are obsessed with being witty. They try to turn a cute phrase, or use humor (usually lame and terrible), or use words in unusual ways, because it's all about showing people how smart, how clever the writer can be.
- Assholes will do almost anything to get attention, so they become manipulative. You may not see this in any individual post, but you can see the pattern. Attempts to be clever with the titles of articles, the inclusion of cute graphics that look amateurish or have nothing to do with the topic. It's just about eyeballs and numbers. You'll often find assholes have tried many different ways to garner attention on the Internet, most of which failed.
Does It Matter Which One You Are?
Not really. Probably not. Well, it depends. If you are a true writer in your soul, and you have developed some unfortunate habits that make you appear to others as an egotist or an asshole, then it DOES matter.
You may be off putting to readers without really being aware of how you are perceived, and that's unfortunate even if you have messages to share that you are passionate about.
If you are an egotist or a self-centered asshole, that's probably who you are, so you won't care. And perhaps there's no need to care. You're probably an asshole in real life with a string of failed relationships, and a few divorces. Self-centered, selfish people who can't see things from the viewpoint of others don't always have happy relationships.
Robert is the author of a number of books published by McGraw-Hill and in the Idiots Guide Series, and his books have been translated into French, Spanish, Japanese and other languages. you can view his available books on amazon by clicking on the above graphic to the left.