I really enjoy your Dear Crabby advice column. Very practical insight that helps me better navigate my way through experiences that irritate me. I also like your food and drink reviews, especially your reviews of cheap beer.
I look forward to reading Dear Crabby after consuming two or three of your most recently reviewed cheap beers. So this morning after my third Mickey’s. I worked up the courage to write you about something that has been bothering me for quite some time: Since I am a great fan of yours, I thought I would “friend” you on Facebook. But you didn’t accept my request.
Now I am hurt ... but wondering if your lack of accepting me as your friend is nothing personal, but rather that you are overwhelmed with requests such as mine. Please tell me it is the latter and nothing personal.
Still a Fan
First of all, thanks for the kind words. As a semi-public figure, it’s always gratifying to have a stranger say, “Hey, I like what you do.”
Given that, and recognizing that what I’m gonna say next might come off a little jerk-ish or ungrateful: Having fans is kind of awkward for me. Don’t get me wrong; that kind of validation is like food. I need it to survive. I’m an insecure writer hoping to be liked, just like every other writer. It’s just that I don’t really know how to tactfully react to it.
Like when I’m at a bar or a show or whatever and someone comes up and says, “Hey, man, I just wanted to say I love your stuff in the paper,” that’s a sincerely wonderful feeling. Connecting with readers is the whole point, so I love hearing that. But if the person hangs around too long, it gets a little weird. I’ll say something like, “Thanks, and nice to meet you. I’m happy you enjoy it. I have a lot of fun writing that stuff.”
Then we both stand there wondering what to say next. I mostly just want to be myself or among my friends, not wondering whether I’m saying or doing the right thing to impress someone I just realized knows who I am. After the first three minutes of small-talk with them, I start wondering what kind of impression I’m making. And they start wondering why I haven’t said anything pithy or funny.
Then I point off in the distance and say “What’s that?” And when they turn their head to look, I run away.
That sort of awkwardness is why I generally don’t accept Facebook friend requests from people who aren’t real-life friends. I don’t want to have to be “on.” I know this is woefully naive, but I think of my personal social media accounts as a safe(ish) space — somewhere where I’m among actual friends. (That these sites are actually just corporate data-mining schemes is a whole other matter.)
So, no, it’s nothing personal. How could it be? I don’t know you.
That said, I do have a public Facebook presence as the administrator for the SCENE section Facebook page. And I interact with readers there all the time. You can follow that page (www.facebook.com/SCENEYakima) for much, much more of me than you could ever actually want.
Hope that helps.