Author Jami Attenberg attended the Jonathan Franzen event last night at Tulane, and wrote a blog post based on her notes that’s getting trafficked around the interwebs, particularly because of Franzen’s negative comments about Twitter.
From Attenberg’s post:
[Franzen] on social media:
“It’s a free country. People can do whatever they want within the law, and even some things not within the law…I personally was on Facebook for two weeks as part of a piece of journalism I was writing — it seemed sort of dumb to me. Twitter is unspeakably irritating. Twitter stands for everything I oppose…it’s hard to cite facts or create an argument in 140 characters…it’s like if Kafka had decided to make a video semaphoring The Metamorphosis. Or it’s like writing a novel without the letter ‘P’…It’s the ultimate irresponsible medium.
People I care about are readers…particularly serious readers and writers, these are my people. And we do not like to yak about ourselves.”
This sort of infuriated me. Not that he’s incorrect about how much social networking can suck your time, because it can, but because he doesn’t understand that a lot of writers have to use the medium as a promotional device as well as a way to build networks. He doesn’t have to do anything! He has a publicist who probably has dreams about him every night, whether he has a book coming out or not. He is free to write and just be himself, while the rest of us are struggling to be heard and recognized. He will never understand how hard it is to get ahead as a writer, never again in his life. I’m not suggesting he’s old-fashioned. I’m suggesting he has lost perspective.
Over at HTMLGIANT, Roxane Gay spouts off, wondering why we should give a shit about what Franzen thinks.
Of course, it shouldn’t really be news that Franzen doesn’t like social media, as it’s prominently included in this fairly comprehensive list of things for which Franzen has stated his dislike, published in January by the Daily Beast.
Read Attenberg’s full post here.