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How Not To Make Friends

Posted by in Short Fiction


Let me tell you the story.

Clicky McSpamerson is a marketer who has something missing in his life. He’s great at buying email lists, and has been setting up automated phone dialers for the Do-Not-Call list since the late 80s. His problem is that recently, all of his clients have been clamoring about this new Internet thing that they’ve been hearing about on the news.

Always the innovator, Clicky decides to go to the “There’s Gold In Them Hills – How To Make Friends On The Internet” conference being held at his local Ramada Inn. There Clicky meets many others just like him, marketers who want — no need — to learn how they to can spread their message of love, hope and cheap pharmaceuticals to the masses, over the Internet.

The keynote speaker at this conference is Tony Blacklist — the Typhoon of Akismet, the man who has tamed a thousand socnets. He tells them that the future isn’t contextual links in blog comments or even distributed botnets — no, the future is in Social Media.

“What is Social Media?” Clicky asks, eyes wide with anticipation.

“It’s an incredible, unfetable, inedible traffic building machine! Just sign up for these ten services: Twitter, Friendfeed, Plurk, Facebook . . . I could go on all day! Just sign up and sell, sell, sell my friend. People are just sittin’ there waitin’ for you. Before you know it, your clients will be buzzin’ like bees with all that fresh new Social Media traffic you’re sendin’ em.”

Clicky hangs on every word, stunned that he could have found a marketing genius like Tony right in his backyard. He leaves the conference with a notebook full of fresh ideas, a Social Media Marketing Guru ™ certificate, and the dream of conquering this brand new world.

Soon after returning to his office, he makes his accounts and starts making friends. Not being one to wallow in the inefficiency of real participation, he buys the More Friends Now, Auto-friending Script ™ off of Tony’s website and makes certain that all of his accounts have marketable names like jane1878 and sarasex37 because as Tony always says, “Girls sell in Social Media hell! You can take that to the bank!”

Clicky is on top of the world.

By the end of the afternoon he has 150 accounts all over Social Media. He has a half dozen MySpace pages, twenty Facebook profiles and 80 twitter accounts (Tony loves Twitter). He’s generating hundreds of friend requests an hour, and filling his status updates with link after link after link, hidden behind carefully crafted messages created by Tony’s Auto Conversation Generator ™.

Content with his progress, Clicky decides it’s time to sit back and wait for the traffic to start rolling in.

A few weeks pass and Clicky notices something strange. There are a few people coming to his client’s sites but certainly not the Flood Of Targeted, Contextual Traffic!!! ™ he had been promised. When he checks his accounts, he is stunned by the amount of anger that he sees there. Messages and updates start popping up everywhere, warning people against visiting his clients. Blogs are being written calling his clients spammers and much worse than that, these blogs don’t have a single link.

Days pass like this and Clicky’s clients are beating down his doors. Some of them threaten to take him to court for “poisoning their brand.” The ones that aren’t sending death threats are being buffeted by emails calling them “idiot spammers” (among other less nice names), and are begging to know how this could have happened. Clicky has no answers.

Broken, he turns to the only person who might be able to help. Clicky goes back to the Ramada Inn to find Tony but his sage is nowhere to be found. Right as he is about to leave, he notices a sign-up sheet on the desk that reads, “Learn The Internet In 24 Hours — A Social Media Masters Course by Tony Blacklist”

Clicky signs up on the spot.