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  • Nelda Bedford Gaydou

POSTER PURGATORY: Taking the Plunge

Updated: Nov 22, 2023

As a baby boomer, I eased into the digital world gradually, transitioning from manual to electric to digital typewriters, and from there to computers, cell phones and tablets. For the past thirty-five years the computer has been the most useful tool in my career as a translator and it is by far my preferred digital device. My comfort zone only has room for word processing, email, translation memory software and online research. On the tablet, I read, play word games, do jigsaw puzzles, carry out bank transactions and shop online, while the cell phone is strictly for calls, text messages, photos and checking email.

Social media, on the other hand, don’t hold much appeal for me, beyond keeping loose tabs on friends and acquaintances. I’ve had a Facebook account for years, sprinkling a few likes here and there several times a week but seldom posting. Typically, months go by without my looking at Twitter (I mean “X”!), where I’ve only tweeted a handful of times over the past decade. I also have accounts on LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest, which I practically never open. I even have a website and a blog, but guess what? I hardly ever use them.

I greatly prefer to spend my time reading and writing. In fact, I’ve published five books so far. Although they have received multiple awards and five-star reviews, sales are pitiful. As I am neither famous nor well connected, according to conventional wisdom I should have a constant, consistent, and appealing presence on social media.

While hell might be an exaggerated description of this daunting prospect, even Dante himself would agree that it qualifies as purgatory, a place or state of temporary suffering or misery. Dante had his Beatrice to help him on his journey and I have Calico (my teenage granddaughter's artistic alias).

A few days ago, when Calico commented that my bilingual graphic novel Omnis 1: Beginnings ought to sell well, I confided my social media limitations, and she immediately offered her services. A couple of her friends had picked up several thousand followers in a few days by heeding her advice. Awed, I readily accepted.

At our next lunch date, we cleared the table and armed ourselves with paper and pencil, tablet and cell phones at the ready. Calico said I needed various platforms and suggested starting with Instagram. My personal account wouldn’t do; I should have one dedicated to my books.

After a few failed attempts at setting up a new account, we realized that it had to be created from my existing account using the “add a new account” option. We batted around possible names, and finally came up with Nelda’s Book Nook, which Instagram promptly rejected. Once we realized that apostrophes and spaces were not allowed, we changed them to a period and underscores, which gave us the acceptable Nelda.s_Book_Nook.

Now that the name was taken care of and “public” chosen on settings, there was the matter of a profile picture. I was definitely not ready to have a photo snapped and inserted right then and there, and positively wilted at the thought of going through old photos to find one that might be suitable, never mind the possibility of changing profile pictures every twenty-four hours.

By then I was running my fingers through my hair while I racked my brain. Finally, I asked, “How about an image of a book nook? It could be a sort of logo for all my author accounts.”

Calico enthusiastically fired up her Pinterest account and scrolled through dozens of photos, none of which were what I had in mind.

“I could draw you one if you like,” she offered, and began sketching possibilities from my rather vague indications. One of them caught my fancy: it included the key elements and stood out well. She took a photo with her phone, explaining that “It’s easier to work from.” I took her word for it.

We left the rest of the settings for later and passed to the main menu. I stared at the numerous boxes that appeared on the screen. Bewildered, I asked, “How do you post?” It turns out that you must first attach an image or video; then you can type a message. Calico demonstrated on her own account.

“Got it!” I moaned and laid my head on the table.

Calico took a long look at me and said, “I think that’s enough for today.”

And it was!

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