I’m rapidly coming to grips with a lot of mental/emotional sensitivities lately, and one of them seems to be hype. I certainly remember experiencing it before now (Harry Potter was the big example), but lately I’ve found that nothing ever really sounds good when it comes to reading or movies. And I realized that’s because I follow too many authors and readers on social media. Which is silly, on some level, because I love talking about this stuff, but social media has been so deeply co-opted by marketing sensibilities, that I find myself kind of numbed by it all.
Now, this isn’t a condemnation of social media in general, or one of those hand-wringing “what has it all come to” type posts. It’s just… me. Penicillin is great for 99% of the population and saves a lot of lives, but if I take it, I’ll blow up like a balloon and die. And I’m thinking it’s a lot like that for me. I’m happy people’s books get hyped and spread around on social media. I hope like hell if and when I publish, it’ll work like that for me. It’s just a thing that seems to work in reverse for me.
Thinking about it, I realized that part of the problem is that I’ve come to miss just discovering things. My “golden age” for reading (and watching movies for that matter) was when I would just wander the aisles and pick up what looked interesting, primarily back in high school. I discovered some lemons that way, but I also discovered a lot of what became my favorites, and hidden little gems. Just the other night at dress rehearsal I was mentioning the David Mamet movie A Life in the Theater, starring Jack Lemmon and Matthew Broderick. None of the other actors I mentioned it to had seen it, but it’s a great little film (adapted from a play, of course–with a recent production starring Patrick Stewart, no less) about working actors in New York, and I keep thinking about it now that I’m acting again.
It’s much the same with books. I discovered my favorite author, Lois McMaster Bujold, that way just browsing the sci-fi shelves in the library. Now, I know part of this is just a change in general awareness. I can’t put a lot of genies back in bottles, and I’m probably always going to have some low-level awareness of authors and works if I plan to continue pursuing a career as a writer; it’s almost unavoidable, unless I go full recluse. (And you never go full recluse.) So I understand I can never quite recapture the magical feeling of discovery that is often what I feel is missing when I read a book or rent a movie these days.
But I think that, lately, it’s hype that’s kept me from even trying.