Well, on stage. On stage I swear too much. In person I'm generally pretty quiet and rather listen to you talk than say anything because I talk for a living, and the last thing I want to hear during my free time is the sound of my own voice. But that's a whole other thing.
Pre-heart surgery, I was all about being a stand-up comedian, moving to Los Angeles, maybe being on TV as "Guy Who Hates On Things Not Named Lewis Black".
Post-heart surgery? None of that stuff is appealing to me. I get to do a form of stand-up comedy now (public speaking) that pays way better, and I don't have to worry about a lot of the crappiness that a lot of good, hardworking comedians need to put up with in order to get their break.
For example, I don't have to go to an open mic and "be seen" for like a month before I even think about getting on stage. (Sound crazy? It's not. That's the standard protocol for new comedians looking to get stage time in a place like LA and, in some spots, New York City.)
I guess I'm lucky in that respect. And LA holds no special appeal to me now. I think when I was married it represented a sort of escape from upstate New York for Amanda and I. It was bright, sunny, there was no snow and ice, and the economy was booming. The total opposite of what we spent the entirety of our marriage dealing with. Now LA is just a place I want to visit to see a Dodgers game.
As far as the TV thing goes, well maybe we'll still do that. Stay tuned. But I don't have to be in LA to do it.
So what's the point here? Well, there's a major point here. The point is, up until the heart surgery (which includes the time that I wrote Social Media Is Bullshit), I had these very specific goals. I was going to go to LA, be funny, and get on TV. And when the book initially came out and I figured I'd only do a few events, therefore I could say and do whatever I want, that's exactly what I did. Because I knew what the path forward looked like. That involved A LOT of swearing.
But then a weird thing happened. You know, aside from literally dying and coming back to life this past July. I kept doing these events, and the feedback from Social Media Is Bullshit was pretty good. Which is amazing given that the book has become a bit of a cult favorite. I'm comfortable saying that. Believe me, I'm not the guy to brag or pat myself on the back for anything, but I think this book definitely has cult status all over the world now.
That's all amazing because the book had a tough, tough, ride. I don't think it was given a fair shot (I was told so by both the WSJ and NYT), I think the publisher dropped the ball by telling me to sit and do nothing, and let's be honest, I just got divorced. Legally, I was divorced the same week the book came out, so I can fault the publisher all I want. Let's say they told me I could go ahead and do the publicity on my own, I don't think I would have been mentally able to deal with it. I spent the entire time on set at CNN wishing Amanda was there. My attention was elsewhere.
Which brings me to the "swearing problem". Because my mentality, pre-heart surgery, had always been, "This isn't my life, so I'm going to say and do whatever I want". And now it is my life, and the swearing is a problem.
Enough of one where it keeps coming up. So, the easiest thing to do is to piss and moan and say in my best Barney Gumble voice, "Stop censoring me!" Or I could do the hard thing and cut the swearing out entirely.
There's a lot of stuff I want to do. I want the FTC to crack down on social media marketers who own shares in the same social media companies they're hyping and pushing on their clients. (You know exactly who I'm talking about.) I want people, when they think of marketers and people who work in advertising to not think of Don Draper, or Guy Kawasaki, or Seth Godin. Guys who are either soulless sociopaths or have become masters of embellishing their past (Kawasaki) or are totally coasting on one or two smart things they said in the '90s and now essentially act as self-help gurus for people with money (Godin). I want there to be an expectation that when you think of a marketing or advertising professional, you're going to think of someone who isn't going to cheat you, is going to be totally transparent and honest, and work their butt off for you to see actual results that you can track and tell the other people you work with about.
For me, now, it's about cleaning up an industry I wanted no part of, but one that by all accounts wants me to be a part of it and to help clean up the BS.
Put another way, it's one thing to ride in, say all this stuff is BS, and then run off and take no responsibility. It's another to help spot the BS and to help do something about it. But if I want to contribute, I have to act in a way that ensures the message I carry is heard by as many people as possible. So, I'm going to cut out the swearing completely from this day forward. You won't hear it from me on stage, online, or anywhere. It's not worth the trouble, and it doesn't advance the cause.
And too many people are counting on that cause for it to fail over what amounts to a very minor point.
(Photo Courtesy: BrainBoxNick on Flickr)