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My battle with social media.

Social media is an albatross.

Sorry. I’m feeling more curmudgeon-like than usual. Allow me to explain.

Writing is just about all I enjoy in the “professional world.” It’s one of the few things in the professional world that doesn’t feel like work even when it is, in fact, work.

What often does feel like work is social media. Unfortunately it’s not something you can skip. Increasingly, a writer’s success on social media dictates whether or not they get to tell the stories they’re passionate about in the first place. (As if the writing world needed yet another gatekeeper.)

It’s not as if I never engaged with social media and don’t know what to do with it. There was even a time in which I prayed regularly to the God of “like, comment, and subscribe.” Years ago, I regularly uploaded silly videos to YouTube back when I fancied myself a comedy writer in the making.

More recently, I’d read articles on how to decide which hashtags to upload to your Instagram post to get the most engagement. Out of nowhere I’d start posting daily, crafting my posts just so, and making sure to include as many hashtags as I could.

Eventually, I puttered out. The focus on social media took time away from what I actually cared about––writing, filming, and taking photos––and wasn’t adding an ounce of meaning to my work. Besides, the last thing I want to do at the end of the day is stare at my phone posting and engaging on social media.

So I started to care less or not at all about carefully crafting and curating what I posted. I wanted to be able to post whatever struck me as interesting or amusing in the moment without worrying about how it clashed with everything else. Worse, I wanted to be able to not post without worrying about how it might negatively impact my career.

I have goals in my life and I know it’s rare that someone meet their goals without having to do a lot of shit they didn’t want to do. So, that’s how I often rationalize investing time into social media.

“If this is what gets me the book deal or makes XYZ happen, fine,” I tell myself in between anger headaches.

I’ve had various agents and publishers over the years take interest in different book proposals of mine, only to be scared away by my lack of social media following (or the fact that I was writing about, say, Germany and not Paris). Usually I’d engage in a period of kvetching about it w̶i̶t̶h̶ ̶m̶y̶ ̶w̶i̶f̶e̶ to my wife and move on.

Recently, it happened again. The book idea was great, I’m told, but the social media following is… not great.

So I’ve come to a crossroads where I either accept that I need to care about my social media following or I continue to thumb my nose at the whole endeavor as my manuscripts, book ideas, and dreams rot away. Presented with those two options, I’m sucking it up and going with the latter. I’m going to consciously try to grow my social media following. (This is why we need a shoot-me-in-the-head emoji.)

What does this mean in practice? For one, it means I have a fucking TikTok now, which is not a thing I ever thought I’d say. (To be fair, there’s a passionate community of Yiddishists there and that’s pretty great.)

In general it means I’ll be spending a lot more time on social media in the coming months. I’m filming recipes for TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook. I’m posting photos of what I’m cooking. And soon, since I’m fortunate enough to be able to travel again, you’ll see more from the road (more accurately, the rails and trails).

Part of what I’ve always loathed about spending time on social media is the implication that it might give off the vibe that I’m trying to be an influencer of sorts. I don’t know what the time limit is, but it seems anyone who spends a significant portion of their time posting and dealing with hashtags, it means they’re trying to be an influencer. I don’t know, maybe I’m wrong. I often am about such things.

Anywhozzles, it’s important to me that you know that’s not what I’m trying to do. What I’m trying to do is tell interesting stories. I’ll try to let that seep into my social media output as much as the format allows. But please know I have noble intentions with my increased posting. I’m not trying to live my life for the ‘gram.

Basically, this was a long-winded way of saying: Please like, comment, and subscribe.


Words

Late last month, my feature on how social media is impacting challah braiding published with TASTE. I know I’ve said this before, but this was an especially fun piece to work. Plus, challah is the best. So go read it.

Videos

I’ve got a couple new recipe videos up on my YouTube. first, we’ve got a panzanella with challah and feta. This is basically one of the few salads I actually look forward to. And then today I uploaded a recipe for potato kugel with paprika, carrots, and zucchini. If you have recipe requests, I’ll happily take them. Otherwise, you’re going to keep getting my interpretations of shtetl food with the occasional Greek twist because that’s just what I know.