Now on the Facebook, many have a large number of following and friends inspire them to write. I have seen very few people on the Facebook who are not either poets or writers or journalists. They write on this or that blog and get likes and shares every now and then. Tagging is the most painful intrusion on your privacy. But if the friends tag, you have to endure the pain silently. All write poems on your wall and want that you speak positive things about their creativity, whether or not they have it.
The only reason for being a writer on the Facebook is that you just can’t help it. “Reading usually precedes writing and the impulse to write is almost fired by reading,” wrote Susan Sontag. “Reading, the love of reading, is what makes you dream of becoming a writer.” But unfortunately, on Facebook, many writers do not like to read at all, they like more to write and wait for appreciation. Even a third rate book is also appreciated by the friends on Facebook. This unnecessarily boosts up the vanity of some as writers. They write crazily and sometimes horrendous grammatical mistakes stare at your faces. The biggest concern in the life of many youngsters is to see their flattering pictures on the social networking platform. This may be called ‘virtual vanity’.
Book writing is now like wearing new clothes and posting a new profile picture. We may advise the youngsters to write something to suit themselves so that many people may like it. If they write something to suit everybody, then no one will care. This is what exactly is happening now on Facebook. We write for our friends. We don’t write to suit our own thoughts.
Friendship is a priority and even in writing one cannot please everybody if one wants to please all. Emile Zola once wrote, “If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I, an artist will answer you: I am here to live out loud”. Writing could be boring to people who are boring themselves, but it is true other way round as well. Writing is attractive if the people for whom you write are interesting.
Coleridge was an opium addict, Poe was an alcoholic, Marlowe was killed by a man whom he was treacherously trying to stab. Pope took money to keep a woman’s name out of a satire and then wrote a piece so that she could still be recognized anyhow. Chatterton killed himself. Byron was accused of incest. But what about the Facebook writers, especially those who are not afraid of writing all the trash in the name of writing a book. Novel, poems, ballads, haiku, anything that comes your way are simply done for gaining easy popularity and social status.
Five out of ten Facebook users are now creative. But we should remember that writing is the hardest work in the world. It is harder than being a bricklayer, or lorry driving or even making love. Writing in Harlan Ellison’s opinion “makes a man lonelier, nobler and more enriching.” Very few books written by the Facebook friends can reach that height. What looms large is the ‘virtual vanity’.