Phil Friedman

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The Syndrome of the Long Goodbye

The Syndrome of the Long Goodbye


YOU CAN COVER A LOT OF MILES IN A ROUNDABOUT,
WITHOUT EVER GETTING ANYWHERE...


Preface:  This series of somewhat self-indulgent philosophical reflections began with "Social Media Is a Highway, Not a Destination", and I am brought back in this piece to question why one writes and self-publishes on social media.

With apologies to Raymond Chandler...


Of late, writers and self-publishers on social media have been increasingly resorting to what I call "The Long Goodbye." So prevalent has the gambit become, that it qualifies, to my mind, as a syndrome, which goes like this:

A writer, frustrated by what he or she feels is insufficient reader notice and response, posts a swan song adieu to a given social media platform or sometimes to social media in general. That goodbye post causes readers, some of whom are themselves writers and self-publishers, to voice an outpouring of sympathetic support for the nominally departing author, exhorting him or her not to give up, as his or her work is valuable and would be sorely missed. On the basis of receiving a level of response much greater than usual, the writer in question decides to soldier on.

Of course, the response is generally pure social media. It is, for the most part, a flood of Inspidipity, often from people who have not spent much, if any time reading the writer's work. And although it may be salve for the author's ego, it is, I submit, corrosive of his or her character and writer's soul. For it encourages mistaking shallow support for genuine engagement. With the result that the supposedly departing writer misses the exit from the roundabout and either continues back from whence that writer came, or continues around the roundabout again... and again... and again, ad infinitum.

Genuine engagement embodies Yin and Yang...

Do not misunderstand. I am neither saying nor implying that the dance of The Long Goodbye is premeditated. I have no doubt that the emotions expressed are legitimate most of the time, anyway. What I am saying is that genuine intellectual engagement necessarily embodies the Yin and Yang of give and take, appreciation and criticism.

To be sure, a writer can find gratification in many things. For example in sales, if one is a professional writer. Several pros with whom I am acquainted couldn't care less about reviewer accolades or reader endorsements, as long as sales are good, and revenues keep flowing in.

Certainly, ghost writers have to come to terms with the lack of public acclaim, since the very nature of ghost writing is to provide work, the authorship of which is, by contractual arrangement, claimed by someone else. But again, ghost writers write for pay that is, and should be sufficient compensation.

Writers and self-publishers on social media, however, are more often driven by other than a quest for hard cash. Some are building a "personal brand" (whatever that means) in the service of marketing services they additionally offer. Some write and publish as part of an online marketing effort on behalf of a business, either their own or someone else's.

There is no doubt that some — indeed, more than you might think — are driven by a need to be existentially validated in the notice of others. Personally, I perceive a lot of that in the spate of writing that we see about authors' personal problems and failings, and first-person pieces about how those authors overcame the problems and failings in question. All followed by a pregnant pause awaiting applause and a gush of me-too-s.  Kind of like online group therapy.

As any therapist will tell you, therapy is about the person who is the subject of the therapy. It is not about the therapist or about others. Group therapy is not, to my mind, much different. Each participant brings his or her own self-centered point of view to the table, and the expressions of mutual support are, for the most part, simply verbal jogging in place, whilst waiting politely for the chance to speak about oneself.

In case you haven't noticed, I am not big on group therapy, offline or online — notwithstanding that it may be of emotional help to some. Nevertheless, keep in mind that I am concerned here not with the soothing of one's emotional psyche, but with the growth and strengthening of intellect. And moreover, with what drives and feeds the "authentic writer."

Authenticity is forged by heavy blows, not by feather-light pats on the back...


I personally believe that writers worth their salt do not seek or find gratification in the run-of-the-mill likes and comments found on social media. To the contrary, I submit that dyed-in-the-wool writers find their satisfaction in the stimulation they provide to the exchange and growth in the thoughts and opinions of their readers. Even when at the same time entertaining those readers with fiction, comedy, or poetry.

Which brings me to a key point about authors. No author writes strictly for him- or herself. I don't care a whit that some writers may say they don't care about being read. For if that were really true, such writers would journal only, and never publish.

Genuine writers write to be read...

However, writing to be read is not the same as catering to the whims and tastes of the "insipid majority". Writing to be read — and to stimulate, educate, and engage — is not the same as using click-bait titles to pump up "views". Or using "sexy" feature photos to lure the drooling knuckle-draggers.

There are those who proclaim loudly they write for themselves, audience be damned. At the other end of the spectrum,  there are those who counsel "creating content" strictly in accord with what is "trending" on social media. But it is in between these two extremes where the genuine writers live. — Phil Friedman


Authors Notes:  This piece is the fifth in a series of philosophical reflections which I've dubbed "The Road Chronicles" because they are organized around the metaphor of travel along a road. If you would like to read one or more of the previous installments of the series, they can be found at:


"LinkedIn Is a Highway, Not a Destination"

"Cynicism Can Be the Final Refuge of Idealism"

"Reaching Beyond Me"

"Do Not Mistake What Is For What Should Be"

"Finding Your Way Past Self-Reflection to Action"

"Living in Third Person"


If you'd  like to receive notifications of my writings on a regular basis, click the [FOLLOW] button on my beBee profile. As a writer-friend of mine says, you can always change your mind later.

Feel free to "like" and "share" this post and my other LinkedIn articles — whether on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, or Google+, provided only that you credit me properly as the author, and include a live link to my original post.


About me, Phil Friedman:  With 30 some years background in the marine industry, I've worn numerous hats — as a yacht designer, boat builder, marine operations and business manager, marine industry consultant, marine marketing and communications specialist, yachting magazine writer and editor, yacht surveyor, and marine industry educator. I am also trained and experienced in interest-based negotiation and mediation. In a previous life, I taught logic and philosophy at university.

Text Copyright 2016 by Phil Friedman — All Rights Reserved
Images Credits:  Phil Friedman, FreeDigitalPhotos.net, and Google Images




#writingimprovement #logicalthough #betterwriting #betterthinking #socialmedia #ROADCHRONICLES


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Milos Djukic

Milos Djukic

3 years ago #44

#53
Thank you Phil Friedman, my friend. We have plenty of time. https://www.bebee.com/producer/@milos-djukic/the-moments-of-the-beauty-and-expressivity

Phil Friedman

Phil Friedman

3 years ago #43

#52
Milos, as a faithful adherent to The Wisdom of Chung King (circa 650 AD), I subscribe to its admonition not to mistake obscurity for depth of thought, nor shallowness for clarity. I will take some time to ponder your comments. Thanks and cheers!

Milos Djukic

Milos Djukic

3 years ago #42

We need to honor those moments of the beauty and expressivity. They are rare. They are becoming pretty rare as we get older. About Artur Schnabel (1882 - 1951) an Austrian classical pianist. A great person deserves no less: "As I pointed out, his most important recordings are his Beethoven. He recorded most of the Piano Concerti twice. The first time was from 1932 to 1935, recording all 5 concerti with Sir Malcolm Sargent conducting the London Symphony Orchestra. He recorded Nos. 4 and 5 with Frederick Stock/Chicago Sym in 1942, and Nos.2 to 5 with Issay Dobrowen/Philharmonia Orchestra in 1946 to 1947. I have heard all of these but analyzed only the Dobrowen recordings and the No.1 with Sargent. It is obvious that his technique was much more intact in the 1932 No.1 than it would become more than a decade later. His technique apparently declined a great deal in his late years. According to Horowitz’s theory, Schnabel played only Beethoven in his late years, and that caused him to lose all of his technique. (From Harold Schonberg's Horowitz: His Life and Music). The 1946/7 performances are just average. Although there are occasional moments of beautiful expressive passages, many other pianists can do that just as well." - from "The top 10 pianists of the 20th century" by Piano Wizard on pianowizard.www2.50megs.com http://pianowizard.www2.50megs.com/pianists.html

Milos Djukic

Milos Djukic

3 years ago #41

Goodbye Phil Friedman. See you in the next life. :) The syndrome of the longest and final goodbye known as the fear of becoming irrelevant. It's so human, even for the great minds and artists, and it should be tolerated (particularly in the case of older people). "If I have so many things to think, to do, and to meditate upon, and my body refuses to follow me, then nature must give me another one. Must give me another. Not maybe." - Heribert Ritter von Karajan (1908 – 1989) to a biographer some time (in 1986) before the great conductor's death (in 1989). A great person deserves no less. I like very much imperfect people, even you. "Addressing the Fear of Becoming Irrelevant" by Marty Nemko Ph.D. on psychologytoday.com https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/how-do-life/201507/addressing-the-fear-becoming-irrelevant

Phil Friedman

Phil Friedman

3 years ago #40

#48
I agree, in the main, Lada 🏡 Prkic, with all of your points -- except in most cases I put the "blame" not necessarily on the author or commenter, but on the ethos which is actively propagated by some on social media. That is why I took strong exception to a recent post that attempted to tag all dissenting or disagreeing comments as "negative". In that case, the author maintained he was using the terms "positive" for his posts and the term "negative" for critical comments in a value-neutral way. He also used an up-arrow to symbolize his posts and a down-arrow to represent disagreeing comments. My objection was that this supposedly purely philosophical system of analysis actually embodied a built-in bias because the terms "positive" and "negative" carry value-laden connotations. And the same regarding the up-arrow and the down-arrow. It seemed a simple and mild point to me. And I felt that if the system of classification was being proposed in good faith, the author would agree to change to value-neutral terms such a Post A and Comment B, or some such. But he didn't concede because -- I believe -- he does see all disagreeing comments as negative and personal attacks. ... continue Part II

Phil Friedman

Phil Friedman

3 years ago #39

Lada \ud83c\udfe1 Prkic - Part II -- I saw the exchange in a purely intellectual light, with us trying to get clear on the nature of dissenting and disagreeing comments. However, it appeared clearly to bother the author that I also would not concede and continued to rebut all his supporting statements. Eventually, he not only attacked me personally but invited his acolytes to enter the discussion in his defense, and finally suggested that all readers vote. And the discussion ended with one of his "followers" (aka acolyte) posting the most vicious personal attack on me that I have experienced in more than a decade of writing and publishing on social media. (And I am far from being a novice at dealing with controversy.) It was a perfect example of what I wrote about in -- https://www.bebee.com/producer/@friedman-phil/the-rising-tide-of-aggressive-passivity BTW, I would welcome your comments on my posts more frequently, for I always find them interesting, balanced, insightful, and intellectually honest. Cheers!

Lada 🏡 Prkic

Lada 🏡 Prkic

3 years ago #38

#44
Phil, I like reading your posts from the "The Road Chronicles" series, but unfortunately not much involved in commenting. I'm an author of posts (I can't say for myself that I'm a writer) who started blogging on social media a year ago and didn't know what to expect from the whole process. Now, after only 9 posts written in a more than a year, I can say I'm glad that people read what I wrote but even more if they engage with my posts. One-click engagement is not enough to me as well as the empty accolades. You said that genuine intellectual engagement necessarily embodies the Yin and Yang or in other words, appreciation and criticism. Sadly, I saw only a few threads where criticism was accepted as commenter's different viewpoint and not as a personal attack on the author of the post. The blame was mostly on both the author and commenter(s).

Lada 🏡 Prkic

Lada 🏡 Prkic

3 years ago #37

Phil, I like reading your post from the "The Road Chronicles" series, but unfortunately not much involved in commenting. I'm an author of posts (I can't say for myself that I'm a writer) who started blogging on social media a year ago and didn't know what to expect from the whole process. Now, after only 9 posts written in a more than a year, I can say I'm glad that people read what I wrote but even more if they engage with my posts. One-click engagement is not enough to me as well as the empty accolades. You said that genuine intellectual engagement necessarily embodies the Yin and Yang or in other words, appreciation and criticism. Sadly, I saw only a few threads where criticism was accepted as commenter's different viewpoint and not as a personal attack on the author of the post. The blame was mostly on both the author and commenter(s).

Phil Friedman

Phil Friedman

3 years ago #36

#45
Devesh, for me all thoughts are incomplete, discussions are always ongoing.m, and the search for truth never ending. Which is why I never refer to intellectual exchange as "debate". Cheers!

Devesh 🐝 Bhatt

Devesh 🐝 Bhatt

3 years ago #35

Poetry. I write for others to read. Articles. Well, i had very few articles and i wanted many posts on the blog. I ended up sharing things i had originally written to myself. Things which have the duality of appearing complete and yet incomplete. And the interactions are distracting from the chain of thought which started it. Another perspective being so interesting and yet disconnected. And then, it was best to be patient and write something readable.. like aa dyed in wool writer.

Phil Friedman

Phil Friedman

3 years ago #34

Thank you, Lada \ud83c\udfe1 Prkic, for sharing this piece about a form of social media posturing and posing that appears to be on the rise again. Cheers!

Phil Friedman

Phil Friedman

3 years ago #33

The pompously and dramatic "exit" is again raising its trite head. Which, I believe, makes this post relevant.

Phil Friedman

Phil Friedman

3 years ago #32

#40
Kevin Pashuk, I agree that the reward or remuneration for writing comes in many forms and is not limited to cash payment. It can come in the form of advertising for one's business or personal brand or in connection and intellectual exchange or in myriad other forms of gratification. Cheers!

Kevin Pashuk

Kevin Pashuk

3 years ago #31

#26
Another thought provoker Phil... If I'm honest with myself, the payoff for my writing is the interaction I get with others, not the empty accolades, but genuine discuss where people are willing to look at more than one viewpoint.. Lord knows that the financial remuneration for my musing couldn't even buy me a cup of coffee at Tim Horton's. While I started blogging to help me remember all the brilliant things I have said in presentations, I realized that my writing has opened doors for a forum where a raging introvert can be engaged with interesting people from all over the globe.

Phil Friedman

Phil Friedman

3 years ago #30

#38
Okay, but when you need perspective, how about the rest of us shit-can the pats and phones expressions of sympathy and, instead just say, hey, Nicole, STFU with your princess whining... you've got it better than 95% of the people out there in the world ... so suck it up and let's talk about business or politics or sports or whatever, just not about how poor baby you hasn't seen enough sun in Toronto this summer. Or something like that. :-)

Phil Friedman

Phil Friedman

3 years ago #29

#35
@ Nicole Chardenet, I am not saying that readers do not like tear-jerker, how-I-conquered-adversity material. I have no doubt many do. I have no doubt that you do. As I have no doubt that the heavy-hitters at Reader's Digest have known for decades. I am speaking, in part, of the writers who produce such material and what drives them to display their frailties publicly over and over again. I think it interesting that you say, "Sometimes it's just a good reminder that no matter how lousy you think your life is at the moment, someone else is dealing with a chronic illness, a dying pet, kudzu in the backyard, drought in the front yard, or just living anywhere in the Ignited States..." On the one hand, you might be saying that such is a reminder not to whine about one's problems because others are facing even worse travails. Of course, on the other, you might be illustrating the maxim that misery loves company. Only the Shadow knows... which it is. Thank you for reading and commenting. Cheers!

Phil Friedman

Phil Friedman

3 years ago #28

#34
Yes, Don \ud83d\udc1d Kerr, your raw edges are showing today ... and no wonder. However, I know you're not looking for platitudes and there-there's, but simply kick out at a world that is worse than indifferent, indeed, often perversely cruel. Just know that my thoughts are with you and Kate and your brave friend and her grieving family. There are times that words fail us, even when that's all there is. And BTW, when you're right, you're right.

don kerr

don kerr

3 years ago #27

#32
Phil Friedman Complete and utter shite indeed. If you wanna write just for your own self-gratification then go ahead and masturbate the day away. I don't know a single real writer or serious hobbyist who would legitimately put a stake in the sand that says - please don't read this. It's just for me. Oh, yes, why did I publish it? Just to tease you into thinking that I desired readership. Oy vey gevalt. Now, granted, my patience is a little frayed at the moment so let me reflect for a moment to see if what I am suggesting is actually my real belief. OK. Long enough. It is. Shite. Pure shite.

Renée 🐝 Cormier

Renée 🐝 Cormier

3 years ago #26

#32
Yes, they are undoubtedly full of shite!

Phil Friedman

Phil Friedman

3 years ago #25

#30
Ren\u00e9e \ud83d\udc1d Cormier, I can understand someone who say, "I don't care how many people read what I write, for if I can reach but one reader and make him or her glad her read what I wrote, that is enough for me." But I simply don't understand when someone says "I write purely for self-expression and don't care in the least if what I write is ever read by anyone at all." And I have to conclude that they are just lying -- either to me or to him- or herself. Cheers!

Phil Friedman

Phil Friedman

3 years ago #24

Well, Robert Cormack, if so, then it appears that, with the advent of digital self-publishing, a lot of would-be writers lost their common sense and became fools. Still, I am moved to point out that it may be just as foolish to toil long and hard over writing novels in the hope of a big payday that never comes. The writer who takes satisfaction in the act itself may, therefore, be the lesser fool. I honestly don't know... because when I've had the choice to be paid money or not, I've always taken the money. Cheers!

Renée 🐝 Cormier

Renée 🐝 Cormier

3 years ago #23

I agree. I was once stopped at an intersection in Toronto when our car was approached by squeegee kids. I don't know if you ever experienced this, but it used to be that every intersection was full of street people cleaning windshields and looking for money. That was later banned, but at the time this happened it was still legal. Anyway, I was with a friend and these guys come to clean the windshield and they were scrubbing ferociously and insisting they don't want money. I guess they were on crack or something. I think writing to not be read is a bit like trying to burn off your drug energy. It makes no sense.

Robert Cormack

Robert Cormack

3 years ago #22

H.L. Menken said: "Only a fool writes for any other reason but money." The money's slow but it doesn't hurt to practice in the meantime.#28

Phil Friedman

Phil Friedman

3 years ago #21

#27
I understand that being read and appreciated is both heady and a form of "pay" for writing. What I cannot accept -- and never will be able to accept -- is the concept of writing, but not caring about being read. For if someone really feels that way, he or she would simply journal and put their journals on a bookshelf, never to be read at all. Or even more authentically burn them after having written them, so that they could never be read by anyone. Can you spell reductio ad absurdum?

Renée 🐝 Cormier

Renée 🐝 Cormier

3 years ago #20

#26
Phew! I'm glad I made your exclusion list! I appreciate the plug. I have said this many times before. Writing is a need that burns inside me. It is how I best express myself and just as a drunk needs a drink, I need to write. It is my drug. I genuinely appreciate being read, followed and given the gift of shares and comments. That's like getting paid for what I do, because most writers discover once they get published, that there is no money in it and you are not likely to get rich. That means, you really should just love doing it., and I really do!

Phil Friedman

Phil Friedman

3 years ago #19

Just as writer and blogger, Jim Murray, cannot keep his resolve not to comment on politics, I cannot keep my resolve not to speak about writing as an activity. Especially when you consider what "they" say about nailing one foot to the floor... For the record, I know a number of excellent writers who practice their craft here on beBee, but do not exhibit the syndrome of the long goodbye: Don \ud83d\udc1d Kerr, and others.

Phil Friedman

Phil Friedman

3 years ago #18

Just as writer and blogger, Jim Murray, cannot keep his resolve not to comment on politics, I cannot keep my resolve not to speak about writing as an activity. Especially when you consider what "they" say about nailing one foot to the floor...

Phil Friedman

Phil Friedman

5 years ago #17

#23
Yes, Andrew Books, it is a love-hate relationship for me as well. I love to write, and my wife hates it. https://www.bebee.com/producer/@phil-friedman/conversations-with-my-wife-about-my-writing

Phil Friedman

Phil Friedman

5 years ago #16

Given the migration to beBee of a significant number of writers and authors from LinkedIn, this post has, I believe, refreshed topicality...

Phil Friedman

Phil Friedman

5 years ago #15

#20
Cory, for the record, I believe that "engagement" (whatever that is) is more important as a metric than raw views. Views are a means to an end, which is such engagement. Breaking down engagement into components of relative importance (to my mind), in DESCENDING order of importance: 1) conversion to follower, 2) shares of post, 3) comments, and 4) votes of relevance (likes). I have always watched picking up followers closely because it means that a reader has thought enough of a piece or group of pieces that he or she wants the opportunity to read future publications by the writer in question. Cheers!

Phil Friedman

Phil Friedman

5 years ago #14

#17
And even more than that, Cory, it makes less sense to, on the one hand, claim one writes SOLELY for oneself and for self-expression, but not to be read, then on the other hand, complain about the fact that one's views are too low, and then say one is discontinuing publishing on a particular platform because of that.

Phil Friedman

Phil Friedman

5 years ago #13

#17
Cory, I understand and agree that one can have a multiplicity of non-exclusive reasons for writing and publishing. And granted that one's main motivator can be an unquenchable desire for self-expression. And one may not care if one becomes a best seller or national viral champion... or even read by more than ten or twenty people. However, it makes no sense in my mind to claim that one does not care at all if one is read or not, whilst at the same time publishing. For if one truly doesn't care, why publish (make public) one's writing? A

Phil Friedman

Phil Friedman

5 years ago #12

Melissa Hefferman -!thank you for reading and commenting. My previous reply was accidentally removed. Unfortunately, there is no way to recover it, so I hope you saw it. If not, I will try to reconstruct and repost it.?Cheers!

Phil Friedman

Phil Friedman

5 years ago #11

@Melissa Hefferman - I think we each define "authentic" for ourself. And it is not easy to do. What is easier to identify is that which in inauthentic, for example, talking about writing purely for oneself, then getting upset about being ignored. Thank you for reading and commenting.

Phil Friedman

Phil Friedman

5 years ago #10

Julie Hickman, thank you for reading and commenting. I do not presume to speak for others, but I write for readers, and consider those who follow my writing to be MY readers, to whom I owe my best efforts and reciprocal loyalty. Cheers!

Phil Friedman

Phil Friedman

5 years ago #9

Franci Hoffman, thank you for reading and understanding -- and for the kind words. Cheers!

Phil Friedman

Phil Friedman

5 years ago #8

, I understand and have no argument with your reasons for writing, whatever they may be. Please do not be offended, but your reasons for writing do not matter to me, only what you say. Thank you for reading and commenting.

Phil Friedman

Phil Friedman

5 years ago #7

, I understand and have no argument with your reasons for writing, whatever they may be. Please do not be offended, but your reasons for writing do not matter to me, only what you say. Thank you for reading and commenting.

Phil Friedman

Phil Friedman

5 years ago #6

@ Milos Djukic - you and I have disagreed on this before, and are likely, my friend, to continue to do so. Writing does not make one a "writer". And being driven by an internal need does not preclude wanting to be read by an audience. If one truly cares not about being read, then one would simply journal and not publish. For what other purpose is there to publishing, other than to make public?

Phil Friedman

Phil Friedman

5 years ago #5

#7
Ken Boddie, I agree. Whoever wants to write has the right to do so. And your reasons for writing are your own. But if you tell me you write purely for your own pleasure, don't then complain or act peaked if nobody (or not many) pay attention to that which you publish. Do do the Dance of the Long Goodbye. Not saying that you did it would. Just sayin.!Cheers!

Ken Boddie

Ken Boddie

5 years ago #4

Thanks again for the stimulation, Phil. Perhaps we all should give more thought to why we write? One thing is sure, however, and that is everyone has the right to write, no matter how competent or incompetent we are perceived to be by our readers. I agree firmly with , that the key to both writing and reading is enjoyment.

Milos Djukic

Milos Djukic

5 years ago #3

Genuine writers are usually not active in social media.

Milos Djukic

Milos Djukic

5 years ago #2

"Genuine writers write to be read..." Not necessarily Phil Friedman, writing is an act of an internal needs of the individual.

Franci 🐝Eugenia Hoffman, beBee Brand Ambassador

"Authenticity is forged by heavy blows, not by a thousand feather-light pats on the back..." - Truer words were never spoken, Phil Friedman.

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