Facebook: Une Génération Perdue?

The time has come as with all things to move on. In this particular case I want to use the next few posts to examine the utility of Facebook for writers. To be honest I spend little time on Facebook. Instead, I am more occupied with Twitter and blogs. I feel certain that social media experts would tell me I am under utilizing a valuable tool. This is why I thought it appropriate to ask a knowledgeable social media person to start a discussion about Facebook. I naturally turned to someone I trust to write a guest post. I am extremely appreciative to Nancy Burke Barr, aka Mentor Mama. She agreed to share her some wisdom Nancy is both a professional and a sincere person. I know this because I relied on her mentoring during my first few, frustrating months of learning social media.  After reviewing her submission for this post I realized that I need to have missed Mentor Mama’s friendship and should make the time to get her help to step things up to the next level. I think you’ll feel the same way after you read Nancy’s post, Facebook: Une Génération Perdue?

“You are all a lost generation.”

–Epigraph, The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway

In the years following World War I, the term, “the lost generation”, believed to have been coined in France, came to represent a generation of young writers and artists travelling abroad, connecting with other creative pioneers. Counted among these “lost” youth, were the likes of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ezra Pound, Ernest Hemmingway and Gertrude Stein.

Like Jean Paul Sartre and the era of existentialists before them, these budding geniuses centered their activities around the excitement of Paris.  Writers, in particular, flocked to Paris for the intellectual interaction, the inexpensive cost of living and the ease of publication.  While Paris served as a muse for some, the decadent lifestyle of cafés and cabarets functioned as the undoing of others.

Throughout history, talented sorts have always loved to gather together to share ideas, to debate, to challenge each other, to collaborate, and to change the world.  Think of the distances that scholars traveled to work together at the ancient Library in Alexandria.  This is a vital part of the creative process.

With the amazing technology available today, it is no longer necessary to travel great distances to commune with other intellectuals. A modern day “Alexandria” or “Parisian café” is as close as your computer, where you can exchange ideas with like-minded people from around the world.

An important part of that paradigm is the social media platform, Facebook.  Facebook is, according to its own site, “a social utility that helps people communicate more efficiently with their friends, family and coworkers. . . . Facebook is a part of millions of people’s lives all around the world providing unparalleled distribution potential . . . and the opportunity to build a business that is highly relevant to people’s lives.”  (http://www.facebook.com/press/info.php?factsheet)  It is the hub of the online social scene, the “Paris”, if you will, for today’s creative elite, with intellectual interaction, inexpensive access, and ease of exposure.

Not unlike the artists of the “lost generation”, your strategic use of this hub affords you the ability to interact with people who have a specific interest in the products or services that you offer.  Whether you are creating an online presence, offering consulting, or self-publishing a book, use of Facebook is a critical piece of your online strategy.

Used correctly, this platform establishes an opportunity for you to open a window into your life.  This glimpse behind the scenes affords a level of authenticity that was missing from commercial interactions in the decade preceding online social media.  During that time, TV and radio commercials essentially told the consumer what to do if they wanted to be smart, beautiful, healthy, or enlightened.

Despite its seeming anonymity, today’s strategy strives to return to the model where a buyer knew the vendor well, and could base his buying decisions on trust.  Using Facebook as a place to develop real relationships with people in your industry is a long, tedious process, much as it must have been in ancient Alexandria or early 20th century Paris.  The difference is that your social circle consists of 400 million active Facebook users. The potential is staggering.

Obviously, you cannot personally interact with 400 million users.  You can, however, develop serious friendships with hundreds of those people. Thousands of others can follow your Facebook group or community page and gage whether you are a person with whom they want to interact or do business.  You have the opportunity to reach out to people around the globe, offering them the kind of information, interaction, and support that builds lasting bonds.  Those bonds will encourage a person not only to buy your ”product”, but to follow your career, tell others about you, and to ultimately help you change the world.

Used indiscriminately, Facebook can be your undoing, as addictive as alcohol was for F. Scott Fitzgerald.  It can become an obsession, causing you to disengage with the real world and live in a Facebook fantasy.  If you are a writer or other artist, you must limit your Facebook time, ensuring that you spend adequate time pursuing your craft.  Facebook is, after all, only one online tool, not the product itself.

Many people worry about this online generation.  Will too much time online hinder their social abilities? Reduce their creativity?  Will they become another “génération perdue”?  If you use Facebook, will you become “perdu”?

This writer asserts that “the lost generation” was never really lost at all and neither is our generation of Facebook fanatics.  The early era produced great genius, as will our present era.  How and where these geniuses connect and share their brilliance simply changes with the times.  Until the birth of the Internet, it was impossible for many to afford the luxury of travelling to the great cultural centers.  Facebook now offers artists everywhere the opportunity to reach out and interface with the world.  If you are disciplined and diligent, this can only result in a generation that is universally connected and perhaps the very first “génération trouvée”.



Nancy Burke Barr

“Mentor Mama”


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Filed under Amazon, blog, book, digital, Facebook, good read, media, networking, social media, Twitter, Uncategorized, writers

24 responses to “Facebook: Une Génération Perdue?

  1. Excellent post by Nancy, aka Mentor Mama, on the importance of Facebook in a writer’s life. I’m also focused on sharing the power of social networks for boosting writers’ and authors’ online presence, connecting with other creative and business professionals, and interacting with readers. Nancy’s article explained this phenomenon so well – it’s the modern Paris for artists. Go and absorb the positive connections but don’t get lost (it’s not content itself). Facebook can be a powerful tool, if you know how to use it.

    I’ve experienced amazing things with my career as a freelance writer directly related to social networking. I’ve watched authors and artists bloom into a whole new level of their career … with social networking.

    Fabulous post! Thanks for sharing Nancy’s article with us.

    • Pam

      I’d be interested to hear how you’ve used social networks to boost writers’ and authors’ online presence. I’ve been working hard at it for six months, and while I’ve made some interesting and sometimes valuable connections I have also found that presence and sales are not directly related. I’m not sure that Facebook is any more useful than Twitter. It’s another tool, certainly, and a link to people you might not find on Twitter but overall I question whether the stream of chatter on Twitter and Facebook achieves much for writers and authors. Distribution of articles/books are what writers are looking for, and while the potential is far greater with the Internet the competition for readership is also enormous. I’d like to know how a writer can achieve 100s or 1000s of hits. It seems we’re all little trout in a vast ocean trying to make it upstream.

  2. Lynn Otterlei Rekvig

    Your comparison of 20th century writers in Paris to our 21st century milieau called Facebook is quite compelling! Imagine –four hundred million on FB–truly astonishing. And yet, not long ago, 50 million was a ‘wow’zer. Paradoxically, Starbuck’s our modern day version of Parisian cafes, have many people on computers–some ‘traveling’ around the world on Facebook. Today, Paris is just a few taps away on the tips of your fingers, versus a week on an ocean liner crossing the Atlantic.
    C’est magnifique!

    • Pam

      Yes, I agree Nancy has made a nice comparison between cafes and Starbucks, as well as the interaction between people of like minds; however, the exchange of information in the cafes wasn’t done in short bursts as it is done on social media platforms. The discussions in those 18th and 19th century cafes resulted in long term associations between writers and artists. I have meet a lot of people on the Internet. These meetings have been ephemeral. Short exchanges and then the people, for the most part, are gone. It’s a good way to grab ideas but it is a poor way to nurture them into fully formed big ideas. I have heard lots of glowing testimonials from people especially social media professionals about the value of social media, but I have yet to read specifics. Can someone provide an example how social media incubated and birthed a particular product? For example, are their writers who met on the Internet, formulated an idea and then made it a success? I’ve met videographers who are using the ‘Net to raise money, and there are plenty of authors trying to sell books, count me in that group, but I’ve yet to read a real success story. The only persons I’ve heard about who’ve used the Internet successfully to market their books were already famous. Ditto movie stars and musicians.

  3. Wow, great post on Facebook with both the plus and the minus of utilizing it as a tool in your Social Media toolkit. I agree with your assessment of the best way to interact and build friendships.

    Thanks so much for sharing your insights,
    Val 🙂

    • Pam

      I think Nancy did a beautiful job of explaining the potential of Facebook. She is a wise mentor in reminding us that social media consists of many tools, but they should always be seen as tools. There is a vast array of these tools, growing daily. Each of us must decide which are the best suited to our purposes. It is good to have someone like Nancy to help coach us through the different social media platforms, and to remind us that some of our time should be spent in the real world where there is sunshine, bird song, and real people with whom to interact.

  4. Thanks Nancy! Great post and I love how you weaved history into this post which lead up to one of the world’s biggest platforms…FACEBOOK! A very good read!

    • Pam

      Ah Michael, I am glad you read Nancy’s post, and I am sure she will be pleased by your praise. She certainly did do a wonderful job. I would love it if you’d revisit my blog and present us with an example of someone who hase used Twitter or Facebook or social media in general to build a successful product. The example I am looking for should be outside of the realm of social media entrepreneurs, and not someone who was famous prior to coming to the Internet platform. If you could give an example of a writer or a literary product of some type I’d be greatly appreciate.

  5. Great job by Nancy as always. Her comparison to the “Paris” scene was a very compelling way to present the material. I am totally in agreement that the social media time must be managed or it will manage you. I wish I had knowledge of whether it could launch a product or not. I don’t have firsthand knowledge of this, however, I have made meaningful connections that have lasted. A lot like offline relationships, some last, some don’t. Thanks for this insightful post.

    • Pam

      What I have learned from Nancy and from my continuing experience on the Internet is that it’s very difficult to sell anything (eg. product, service, yourself) until you create a presence. This means building a Twitter following, growing FB friends or fans, and to do that you have to build friendships online. It takes time and work, just as it does offline. The difference between building a business online nets (pun intended) customers from all over the world not just down the street or in the local community.

  6. Great post Nancy! I love the comparison of the lost generation and Paris with the current day. I have always thought the best literature and ideas comes from a group of people hanging out and interacting with one another. Does Facebook actually give this sort of atmosphere? I don’t think it is quite the same but it certainly can foster some good discussion and provoke some deep thinking. In that sense…it can be quite similar to the days of congregating with Fitzgerald and Hemingway et al.

    I really think of C.S. Lewis and Tolkien and their cohorts hanging out in the pubs of England. These great minds came up with some amazing things together. If Facebook can foster some of those types of “gatherings” then I think it can be quite powerful.

    • Pam

      Nancy’s comparison is certainly poetic, but any literary product that was ever generated from Facebook could never rival that produced in the Parisian cafes. Facebook is ideal for bursts of conversation, for rapid fire brainstorming, not intense thought. It is the hors d’oeuvres before the main course. The latter allows people time to sit down and have a thoughtful, relaxed conversation. Great ideas require time and nurturing.

  7. What a rich post filled with references to some of literature’s greats. This essay fed my hungry intellectual mind and made me realize (yet again) how important powerful, creative, and unique writing is to my brain.

    Thank you Nancy, aka Mentor Mama, for your refreshing exploration of the role of Facebook in today’s world. I loved your comparison of it to Paris, and your generous references to writers from that “Lost Generation” reinforces the timelessness of the human condition.

    Fantastic! Bravo!

    Mary Lou

  8. Nancy,
    Great post… not only did you give us very cool reasons to connect on Facebook, but we learned a lot about the “Lost Generation”.
    Facebook does allow a space for great conversation, connection with others and have some plain ol’ fun.
    ~ Pat and Lorna

  9. Ah, and history just keeps repeating itself. The truth being that we are social critters, we humans, and we love to share our ideas and exchange information. As for some of the comments in regards to twitter and facebook actually creating relationships, in my opinion it is in the follow up. When you find a person that resonates with you, shares common interests or business ideas then connect with them further on skype, phone or email where you can have a more personal conversation. It’s all about communication and not dancing around your fears. When you genuinely appreciate someone they are more than interested in sharing more with you, at least in my experience.

    • Pam

      I agree with you that the real payoff is in the follow up. There have been several stories in the news, and a revelation by a SM friend of mine that is beginning to convince me that Nancy’s view of Twitter and Facebook is be more realistic than I had thought. It is clear that some people have figured out how to make the most of a what appears to me to be an unwieldy behemoth. Patience, resourcefulness, perseverance, and a bit of luck are necessary for most users. Nancy is obviously a BIG proponent of social media. She is also a wise, VERY patient, and nurturing woman. If I didn’t believe in her, and if I didn’t have a modicum of faith in the power of the Internet I’d have quit the scene long ago. Social media is easier for some people to accept, especially those who have always been in the business of networking. For writers, such as myself who are by nature emotional sorts, the time spent working the various SM platforms can feel oppressive when they become distractions from our writing. In these instances writers may be expected to have demonstrative fits of depression and anxiety. However, in our manic moments we will sing out. I look forward to my giddy moments extolling the virtues of Facebook. I know Mentor Mama will be wearing a big smile and saying she knew me when I was an immature disbeliever. Cheers Mama Nancy. BTW I just started a fan book page Living in the Heartland: Three Extraordinary Women’s Stories. It’s a place to honor the extraordinary women in our lives. So who inspires you? Come by and tell us.

  10. Great post Nancy. This very much echoes my own thoughts on social media and creativity. I wonder how future generations will view this era and which creative giants it will have spawned?!

  11. Nancy,
    Great post. Wonderful analogy, using Facebook as the hub for the gathering of creativity. And, great observation of the shadow side of it. Being popular on Facebook is NOT the product. The PRODUCT is the PRODUCT. The CONTRIBUTION is the PRODUCT!
    Thanks so much,

  12. Hey Nancy,

    Awesome post. I love the contrast to the real world and the online world of social media / networking. It really is no different and you should not act any different. Too bad so many do. As you say… Facebook is only a tool. Tools change, come and go, but building relationships with people will always stay the same.

    Make it a great day!
    God Bless,

    • Pam

      Edward, I think there are important differences between the real world and the online world. Because you don’t interact with people face-to-face online more care must be taken to make sure you are relaying the intended message. Online relationships are easier to initiate, but harder to cultivate because we are bombarded with information, messages and new contacts on the ‘Net. It requires more organization to stay in contact with people and develop a meaningful relationship in order to generate real outcomes. This is the nature of new tools…new rules, new learning curves, and time horizons.

  13. The discussion is so true. Facebook is a tool. A shovel is also a tool and when placed in the right hands can help build societies and civilizations. In the wrong hands a shovel can destroy works of art, tear down great structures or even take people’s lives. Human beings must take great care in using tools or concepts like Facebook correctly and in moderation.

  14. As always Nancy, excellent post. I love what Rod said about a tool being in the wrong hands. I get so much on my FB wall asking me to look at this or look at that, or even all the little gifts that are sent to everyone in someone’s address book. Facebook to me is a relationship builder. I’m often asked how I can have thousands of friends. Well, how many friends is too many. I have met some of the most amazing people through facebook, developed some great relationships through facebook, and hooked back up with a lot of long lost friends.

    I couldn’t imagine being without it. I even know what my kids are up to through facebook. 🙂

    Thanks Nancy for all your wisdom! Love reading your stuff!!

    • Pam

      I, too, have discovered that FB is a great way to see what my sons are doing. Funny, I have to go to my younger son’s girlfriend’s site in order to see photographs of what he’s up to. LOL

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