I am an asshole sometimes. But let me define what I mean by “asshole.” In its most basic usage, it simply means irritating person, but I think of it differently. To me, an asshole is someone who thinks only of themselves. They are irritating and contemptible because they act without regard to others. So we are sometimes, most of us, assholes.
Ever cut someone off on purpose? I have. Asshole. Ever push past someone who was walking too slow, in an irritated manner. I have. Asshole. Ever tell someone to stop talking because you’re doing something more important than listening? I have. Asshole.
Look, sometimes I have to set boundaries for my kids. I have to say, “Momma is working right now. I want to hear your story, but first I need to do this.” Because I work from home and I’d get nothing done if I didn’t. On the other hand, I often neglect my family and friends when I’m doing something inane, like checking Facebook, and that’s an asshole move. They are more important than Facebook. Their experiences and words are the most wonderful part of my being.
The other day I commented on an online friend’s post in an asshole manner. I’ve done this before and irritated people, but this time someone pointed it out to me. She wrote something funny about disclaimers and posted her own. I replied with a pretty selfish reply about a declaimer I wrote, not even noting the content of her post. I hate when people do that to me. That post was not about me. It was about her attempted funny, and it was funny. She is funny. She’s a good writer. I like her. A friend of hers posted a meme meant to shame me. A meme with Samuel L. Jackson saying, “This post was not actually about you, but if it fits…” And so on. It was kind of an asshole way to point out that someone was being an asshole, so I could have been an asshole back, but I already started as an asshole. So I did something most assholes don’t often do because it’s uncomfortable and not self-centered. I apologized for my asshole post and moved to the topic my friend posted about. Because I was being an asshole first. I don’t actually think, by the by, that one asshole action calls for another asshole action, so I amended it. I don’t commend the way another person spoke down to me, but I understand why the person did so, and only wished that person would have behaved more respectfully, with more tact. But Facebook does not call for tact, and promotes a bit of assholery.
Some of the biggest assholes are artists, and I know I’m gonna get shit for saying that. But we are. We have all these fun ideas and we implement them and we want people to appreciate them, and people don’t always do so and that’s frustrating, so we sometimes have to promote ourselves. And we think people who don’t like what we do are stupid and lack depth. Or at least are very tasteless. That’s not usually true. People just have a hard time engaging with other people in a meaningful way. We are not trained to. We are trained to be selfish about what we want and about our experiences. Feeling or experiencing things outside our comfort zone is tough. Thinking outside of societal molds is hard. I fail at it all the time. But maybe, you also might be being an asshole about your work. I started out that way.
Marketing is tricky. It’s something we have to engage in, though, to be noticed. The rule of thumb for marketing, however, is not blind asshole posting. It’s about engaging your audience, which takes a lot more time and effort. For instance, if I write a post about my favorite heroines and why society should not disparage women for loving heroines and the people who write them. My post was not about your book. It’s not about what you wrote. It’s about equality and breaking apart societal biases against clever, strong, talented women. I don’t need to know that you don’t write about women, but that you’re still a good writer and that people like you. But some writers thought I did. That’s an asshole move. I wasn’t talking about that. Save your promotion and self-praise for another time.
Know when’s a good time to market? At an author event, on your author page or twitter or facebook account. It’s an asshole move to become my Twitter friend and say, “Buy my Romance (insert genre here) book, PLEASE!” You don’t know what I read. We just engaged with one another. How do you know I’ll like your book? And could get to know a lady before trying to jump in bed with her?
I am guilty of doing many of these things. I am not trying to shame other people. I’m telling you these things are mistakes I make, and try to correct daily. These are things, as a rookie author, I did. Because I write books that people like when they read them. And I want to share my art with others. But I also don’t want to be an asshole. So, if you see me or others doing it, what do you do?
Well, don’t be an asshole. I have a mood disorder and I’m already having a hard time with rage today. Softness, sympathy goes a long way. Maybe just message me and point out that you thought what I said was a little off topic. Public shaming is not usually the answer. Sometimes the best thing you can do is ignore an asshole if they are consistently assholey (good word, eh?). But, like me, most people are not trying to be assholes. We just forget ourselves. So a little patience and kind words will often rectify it. Remember, we are all assholes sometimes. We would all be less assholey if it weren’t something that social networks promote (narcissism, quick and snotty jabs, mean memes, etc.). Love and Peace to you all.
H.M. Jones is the asshole author of Monochrome, “Tiptoe Through Time,” co-author of Masters of Time: a Sci-fi and Fantasy Time Travel Anthology, a co-poet in My Cruel Invention, author of the freebie read series Adela Darken, and author of the self-published Attempting to Define poetry quartet. She writes in many genres, likes to weave, pull in the canoe, play with her kids and go bookstore hopping with her husband. She is often a narcissistic asshole, but she’s working on it.