Friday, November 29, 2013


In the Nov. 20th edition of The Telegraph (Macon, Georgia) columnist Paige Henson wrote an interesting piece about how (or even if) Flannery O'Connor would have made use of social media were it available in her day.  Henson, who for years ran an ad agency in Macon, is an expert in the implementation of social media for businesses seeking to maximize their outreach.  She is also a big O'Connor fan.  In this article (which unfortunately you can't link to from the paper's website) Henson goes through the different media out there - everything from Facebook and Twitter to LinkedIn and Instagram) and speculates on how Flannery would have utilized it.  With the exception of LinkedIn, Henson believes O'Connor would have taken to social media like a duck to water.  I'm not so sure.  For one thing, it is important to remember that Flannery O'Connor was an intensely private person.  I cannot, therefore, see her Tweeting or posting to Facebook.  Nor can I see her posting selfies on Instagram.  On the other hand she did have a good many friends who I think she would have stayed connected to via emails and text messages.  The other thing to remember about Flannery is that when it came to publishing anything that had her name on it she was a perfectionist.  Modern social media by its very nature precludes the kind of thoughtful precision that Flannery felt was so necessary to her writing.  Blogging, on the other hand, allows for a greater degree of editorial control and so I think she might have been a good blogger.  Its' fun to speculate, but I think it's possible that O'Connor may have shunned the whole business.  She was, after all, something of a Luddite who even found it impossible to make the change from a manual to an electronic typewriter (she didn't care for the sound it made or the pesky way it would repeat letters if a key was struck too hard).  She may have been suspicious of social media and may have thought it was just too confoundedly newfangled to bother with.  Personally, I'm glad it wasn't around during O'Connor's lifetime.  Otherwise, we wouldn't have all those wonderful letters (even though I'm fairly certain Flannery would not have wanted them published).  Thank you to Paige Henson for providing a lively topic for discussion. 
- Mark


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Anonymous said...

As for social media and Flannery O'Connor, I agree with you: IMHO, she was intensely private person who would not have embraced the open world of social medial.

This raises a question: would she permit the publication of her private prayer journal (a recent publication that I find troubling)?

Here is another question: Who is now responsible for the O'Connor estate? I am shocked that the prayer journal has been made public.

Perhaps I am wrong about my view of the prayer journal. Your feedback is invited.

Andalusia, Home of Flannery O'Connor said...

R.T. - You may be right about Flannery O'Connor not wanting her prayer journal to be published, but then she probably wouldn't have wanted her letters to be published either.

Anonymous said...

There are still some letters that have not yet been published. I know of a small number in the archives of a university library; they were donated by someone who corresponded with O'Connor, but those letters either were not discovered by or were not of interest to editor/publisher in the first omnibus collection.