I don’t like self-promotion. Even when it’s relevant, I don’t like self-promotion.
When I answer questions on Quora, I tend to answer questions that I’m interested in–obviously. This means that I’ve probably done a podcast or video on the subject, or at the very least have written an article about it, but I always find it so hard to link the content in question. Because I don’t like the idea of self-promotion.
Yet as I stand here trying to promote a GoFundMe campaign, I’m terribly aware that the only way… is self-promotion.
That’s what I meant to discuss in the last article, before I digressed, so now I’m writing about it.
As I said there, it’s no surprise that my friends don’t throw up donations. I don’t expect them to. Most of them are doing as badly as I am, and some of them worse–I at least have my own place and am not living on my parents’ land, after all. But there’s another place that I can’t turn: family. Not only do I have to be careful to ensure that my family doesn’t see me on Facebook and Twitter (I’m the only person in my family who even uses Twitter), but even if they did, there is no chance whatsoever that they would share the post, or that any of them would donate.
That’s what frustrates me about the #1 suggest on GoFundMe, Indiegogo, and everywhere else: “Share with your friends and family!”
Yeah, because I enjoy being ignored.
Of the many posts I’ve made about my campaign on my artist page and my personal Facebook page, no friend has shared anything. And they never will. These are the same people who wouldn’t spend ninety-nine cents buying my short story on Amazon. Hell, they couldn’t even be bothered to share those posts, either. I’ve often said that I’d have more luck getting them do share a kidney than I would getting them to share a post, but I’m not sure that’s true, either. I think they’d probably just sit back and do nothing.
That’s particularly frustrating because I’ve always made it a point to share things and help in whatever way that I could. When a friend of mine was raising money to start a business making vapor liquids, I donated $10 to him. I’m the only person who donated to him and shared his campaign, so it’s not just I who have the problem. It’s seriously not me; it’s them. And while I love these people to death for the (albeit limited) emotional support they’ve provided by being my friend, and for putting up with my rather… argumentative… comments without telling me to fuck off, that doesn’t change that it hurts to be trying for six months to do something, and to be able to count on one hand the number of times that friends have shown any interest whatsoever in it.
I’ve now paid $7.00 to Facebook for promoting one of my posts about the campaign, and that has yielded no result. Today I added Twitter to the list and am paying $10 to have one of my tweets about it posted. I have to do for myself the things that friends and family ordinarily do, because my family is non-existent (for all intents and purposes) and my friends are… a tad self-absorbed. They see the posts. And they just keep scrolling.
They say that you pick your friends, but not your family, and I’m not sure how true that really is. I didn’t have much choice when I picked my friends; we generally came together out of circumstance in high school, because we were the rejects, the ones who fell through society’s cracks. But realistically, I didn’t have a particularly large group of friends to choose from, and there was never really any “choosing.” The environment and circumstances handed me friends in much the same way that it handed me family.
Out of all my friends, I would have to say that the only one I think truly qualifies as an actual friend, and not merely “an agreeable person met through circumstances” would be Michelle Kelly, who I’ve never even met. And that’s not because she’s done this, that, and the other thing to help me; it’s simply because she shows the characteristic that a friend actually should: support.
When I came out as transgender, I made it clear to a lot of my friends that I was going to be leaning pretty heavily on them. They understood, because being transgender meant that I was about to be dead to my family. One girl in particular was supposed to be there–and then wasn’t. C’est la vie.
I’m not bitter or angry about it, not really, but it does frustrate me and sadden me. It’s a large part of the reason that I was so willing to drop everything and move to Vegas–thinking I had found that, as I said, “kindred spirit.” That person who would ensure that I wasn’t totally alone. That’s really what matters to me, as I have spent the better part of my life alone–something that a lot of people simply won’t get. Most people do have at least a parent they can go to, after all.
C’est la vie.
When a friend of mine called me a week ago and needed help with his computers, I told him to come on out, and I looked for power supplies to sell him that he needed. I couldn’t give them away, because they were business inventory, but I sold them for $15 each–one third the actual price. Not only was there no markup, I actually took a loss by selling them, and converted one computer from a “Just needs a hard drive” to “pretty much junk now” by removing its PSU. Then he arrived and I spent about 45 minutes troubleshooting things with him. I only put a stop to things when he basically wanted me to open up a brand new case, brand new motherboard, brand new CPU, brand new RAM, and put one of the computers together for him. That… crossed a line of friendship to me, especially since this was something he’d already done twice himself. I’m all for helping someone with something, but I’m not just going to do it for them. My colleague was coming down anyway, so I didn’t have another hour to dedicate to building a computer. And while I wouldn’t have let him pay me for my time, he also didn’t offer.
Two weeks later, and my GoFundMe campaign sits on my wall ignored, not even a Like. And if it did get a share, it would be an empty one, an obvious gesture, with no text or anything added, no, “Hey, this is a really good friend of mine who has worked really hard to overcome obstacles, but who needs a little help right now…” or anything like that.
No sign of friendship. Just a sign of obligation.
An obligation that would only be acknowledged if I brought attention to it.
When he first asked if I had a PSU, I said “No,” because I didn’t have one just sitting around. When he made it clear that he really needed them, I took time out of my day and pulled three. Then helped troubleshoot the problem.
Another friend contacts me somewhat regularly to have me do things remotely for his computer. I’ve installed and setup MotionInJoy for him, so that we could trick his computer into reading his 360 controller as a PS3 controller and remap the axes on it. I’ve helped him remove malware. All things that I charge people for on a daily basis, but the thought of charging him never crossed my mind–because he was a friend and needed help, and I was able to give it.
It’s a nuanced issue, obviously. I never helped them because I expected reciprocation. I never envisioned a scenario where this friend 3,000 miles away would be able to help me with something; I simply did it because he was a friend and I cared, not because I was obligated to or because I wanted him to be obligated to return the favor. But I think someone’s willingness or unwillingness to take three seconds out of their day to click two buttons and type a short message is probably a pretty good indicator of how much they value you as a friend.
My campaign can’t go viral if the people to whom I’m sharing it don’t forward it on. That’s how this sharing thing works–it’s a spider web. I share it with the thirty friends I have, and they share it with the 30-300 friends they have. In one act, I went from sharing with 30 people to sharing with 900 people.
In theory, anyway.
How it actually works is that I share it, and that’s as far as it goes.
When you’re literally trying to do something that will improve your life by leaps and bounds forever and that will allow you to actually move from a place of economic despair to stability and progress, it goes a bit beyond “disappointing” and flirts with “insulting” to hear only the crickets and see only the tumbleweeds after I effectively ask, “Hey, could you share this?”
But I will keep going. I will endeavor on. And when I have moved to Vegas and make new friends, they will find themselves systematically removed from my life. They weren’t there when I needed them, so why on Earth would they be there after the dust had settled?
And I won’t look back.