I Am the Village Idiot

I Am the Village Idiot
By Michael Stahl

It all began when I innocently posed for a picture with the 22-year-old social media manager of Narratively—an admirable startup journalism website—at an event the site organized last spring. Though I’d only contributed a couple of written articles at that point, and was just happy some of the site’s brass remembered my name, Emon, the multimedia editor, told me to stand next to Ken in front of a huge Narratively banner, documenting my attendance of the party for all of Instagram to see. Ken, about 6-feet tall, imposed himself next to me. I’ve still never seen the actual photo, but all of my 5’7” frame and my 34 years of life tell me it’s probably pretty awkward.

“Make sure you tweet that to us, Emon,” Ken instructed.

“Sure,” Emon replied. “What’s your handle, Mike?”

I had forgotten. Not because I didn’t tweet often, but because some months prior I came up with this brilliant strategy of branding myself around the word “defaced.”

I liked the tone of the word. It indicated I was different. Edgy, too. I purchased the domain name “thedefacedwrittenword” and founded a Tumblr of the same moniker. No photos of me appeared on either. Instead, I went with a black and white picture of a boy and a girl who were drinking and smoking as an avatar. So badass. With brevity in mind for my Twitter handle, I went with either “@thedefacedword” or “@defacedword,” I still don’t recall.“Dude, you so don’t know how to use social media,” Ken derided me. “You don’t know your own handle. And how is anyone going to know who you are when they look at your profile?”

Of course, he was right.

The next day I embarked on a Twitter makeover. I changed my background photo to one a photographer friend of mine took of me while I was writing. I altered the color scheme and my identity became, finally, “@MichaelRStahl.” I did compromise with myself on my profile picture though—it’s of half my face because I’m sipping a huge cup of coffee. There’s still this air of mystery as to who I am, but based on my drink of choice, and the excess of it, the possibilities are narrowed to those of “journalist” or “night club manager.”

I emailed Ken with an update. The subject line was “Are you proud of me?”

“It looks good!” he replied. Then, he inexplicably wrote that he was packing his bags—curious because he had just forcibly, hilariously moved from Brooklyn to Staten Island a couple weeks before. From a New Yorker’s perspective, he might as well have gone to Mars.

“Where are you moving to now?” I wrote.

“Alaska,” he replied, adding a “lol.”

Smelling a foul ruse, I went along with it, writing something that seemed equally ridiculous: “Maybe I’ll take your social media job! lol!”

“Go for it! lol!” he wrote back.

Not a week later, Narratively held an editorial meeting. Early in the proceedings, Noah, the site’s founder, had mentioned with a straight face that Ken was in fact skipping the mainland to do political reporting for a Juneau paper. Laughter erupted out of me, and others too who were also victimized by their suppositions that Ken was playing jester.

“I was so convinced that he was kidding, Noah,” I said, “that I even jokingly told him that I’d take his job!”

When the meeting adjourned, Noah approached me: “Hey, when you said you’d take Ken’s doing social media, were you serious?”

I wasn’t. But I wanted to be.

“Uh, sure,” I said, stumbling. “I have to tell you that I have absolutely no experience with it though.”

“Bah,” replied Noah, with a wave of his hand. “It’s tweeting and Facebook. I’m sure you can figure it out.”

Currently, I manage social media for four clients. Though I wouldn’t say I’ve “figured it out,” I’ve come a long way in a short time. This blog will cover what I’ve learned thus far.

Michael Stahl is a journalist, social media manager and strategist. Hailing from Astoria, his articles have appeared on the websites Narratively, Medium, Musee Magazine, The Books They Gave Me, and Sugar ‘N’ Thunder. You can find all of his work and contact information on his website www.thedefacedwrittenword.com. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelRStahl.

Photo Credit: webtreats via Photo Pin | Creative Commons