Behind the Scenes of the Contest 2: Social Media

Pocket Guide Cartby Cory Pete

The Internet is full of shit. That is a given. Try looking at all the sites that lack credibility, the sites that offer penis enlargement, or the sites that will clean your Mac for free. Yeah, clean all your files right into someone else’s hard drive. The over indulgence of advertising to permeate my brain makes the shady Mac cleaner appealing compared to all of the other endless drones of links and pages.

But that’s what makes social media good for them, and not for you. Social media is another tempest, another guise to dull you into submission, then swiftly call you into action; buy now. Annie Lowrey wrote about a phenomenon known as second screen advertising, or advertising for shows that do not provide commercials. What shocked me were the advertisers’ candid admissions to their intentions with second screening people. One said, “Brands are asking themselves, how do I make myself relevant to first screen content?” Uh, by not being there?

Social media is not a tool for reaching out to the friend of a friend that you don’t give shit about. Platforms like Twitter offer a moment for advertisers to get their strong hand right on the nape of your neck.

All that aside, we have a twitter account for our protagonist, Mitch Higby. It is totally different than the rest of those panopticon wannabes though. This is our moment to spread our message, and maybe even spark someone’s interest in Neil Connelly’s new novel The Pocket Guide to Divorce, due Fall 2014. It is a micro message to the world at large; listen to this, read this, and be amazed. The significance of Mitch Higby’s presence on social media is his absence of visceral emotions in his human relations throughout the novel. Social media is hyperbole for Mitch because he encapsulates the apogee of absence, for he is plagued by the inability to connect with people on a human level. He is the desperate decay of interaction. His desperation in The Pocket Guide to Divorce oozes Johnny Marco (Stephen Dorff) from Sofia Coppola’s Somewhere. Instead of the Chateau Marmont that Marco hides in his bleak existence, it is friend’s couch and divorcee support groups that act as loneliness cocoons for Mitch.

As I look at social media I wonder, does a fictional character having a Facebook page or Twitter account break moral boundaries? I say no because who is to say what we all advertise on our own accounts is the real us. Maybe Mitch is more real as an avatar, or in fiction than any of us is in person. The social media accounts for Mitch are our own advertising platform, but not for a product that will deteriorate over time. No, but instead for a novel that explores the need for human relations and the want for connection. Isn’t that why we join social media in the first place? To connect?

(Students in The Publishing House course wrote seven narratives about the class and the contest. This is the second.)

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