My husband Thom is a modern-day globetrotter, a hardcore business traveler who lives in hotels, airports, and conference rooms. In the past 6 weeks, he’s been to 12 cities on 4 continents. He can pack a suitcase more efficiently and do jet lag better than anyone I know.
It’s a grueling way of life, but with it comes all sorts of frequent traveler’s perks, which has allowed him to meet some high profile individuals. On flights all over the world, he’s chatted with politicians, professional athletes, even his childhood idol, astronaut Buzz Aldrin.
Most recently on a flight from Los Angeles to Beijing, he was seated next to a B-list Hollywood actor, who broke the ice as Thom perused the movie options. This actor was eager to point out his role in one of the flight’s featured films. Since the movie was one of our daughter’s favorites, Thom’s interest was piqued. Introductions were made, and then a tedious, one-sided conversation ensued.
Thom’s a pro at striking up small talk, but he was no match for this guy, whose favorite words were I, me, and my. His preferred hobby, aside from talking about himself, appeared to be name-dropping. And he had a distinct talent for circling every topic back around to himself.
Few people enjoy being on the receiving end of this type of interaction. Yet in this do-or-die age of self-promotion, it seems increasingly more common, particularly in social media.
Take the newly published author’s blog I discovered some months ago. I really enjoyed her writing style, so I subscribed to the blog and followed her on Twitter. Big mistake.
I was inundated with spam: newsletters, giveaways, drawings, and an onslaught of “buy my book!!” tweets clogging up my feed. The only thing these shallow tactics earned her was one less follower and a guarantee I’d never buy her work.
I follow all sorts of blogs, but I’m most drawn to those of authors, and writers who hope to become authors. I enjoy following the journey of another writer, and celebrating when goals become reality.
But those who take the time to be human, to make a connection with their readers, are my favorites. I like when my attempts to interact are reciprocated. I like knowing there’s a real person behind the words, and that I’m valued as a reader, not just a potential buyer. Besides, I’m more apt to whip out the credit card when there’s a two-sided relationship.
In this era of anonymity and cyberspace, that’s more important than ever, don’t you think?