Rules of Fan Engagement

THE TL;DR VERSION [But you really should R.]

I'm available publicly, not privately, so no private messaging on any platform. Private fan chats are not a service I provide. Please chat publicly on Facebook or Twitter. No voice chats except for brief, pre-arranged, published interviews for the price of a cup of coffee.


And for the love of all that is everything don't ask him to do eggman impressions."

Full details below:

Social media is a wonderful thing. Social media is also a terrible thing. It can connect people around the world who would otherwise never be connected. It can also tear families apart.

Facebook has co-opted the word "friend" to mean a relationship that used to be called an "acquaintance." My actual friends are people whom I've met in a work or social situation. Those are the people who I'd expect to communicate with via private instant messages on social media. But a large majority of acquaintances on social media apparently think nothing of sending me private instant messages at all hours of the day or night. These are "Friendquaintances." And if you have thousands of them, private messaging is not a workable scenario.

Think of it like the distinct areas of a live theater or concert performance.

Contrary to popular belief, I'm not a 24-hour customer service department. I'm one guy balancing life, work, family and sleep. Private instant messages — be they on Facebook, Twitter, Skype,  text message or email thread — by their very nature require real-time or near-real-time interaction. If someone messages you privately — or worse, drags you into a private group with no warning (an "ambush," as I like to call it) — you're expected to reply near-instantaneously. That's been demonstrated by the people who keep sending me messages until they receive a reply. When I get such private messages during meals, during a booking with a client, or while attempting to spend some quality time with my wife and children, the word "interruption" doesn't begin to cover it. A virtual stranger who has no idea what I might be possibly be doing at any given time (most likely what I'm doing is not staring at a screen waiting to receive a random message) suddenly wants my undivided attention, which I am unable to give. It's the equivalent of giving me an unsolicited robocall on the phone, which is equally inappropriate.

Let's put it another way: It's like your favorite barista at Starbucks —being friendly is part of his job. You're welcome to chat and joke with him at work, but don't confuse that with actual friendship and don't show up at his house.

Or we can put it in real-life terms: I do meet-and greets at conventions or other controlled public events. I often sit at a table where you're welcome to come by and chat. But at those same events, there are also private spaces like a green room or my hotel room where fan interactions are not welcome. That's the same distinction as the timeline versus the direct message or email. I'm a stranger on the internet. Please don't expect me to be a Pen Pal.

Apart from the interruption aspect, there's also the impropriety aspect. A large number of my fans are kids. I'm also the parent of two kids. Do you think I'd want to find out that my kids are exchanging private messages with a strange middle-aged man? I don't think so. It's like planning a blind date. Common sense suggests if you're going to meet a stranger, you should always do so in a public place. It's safer than behind closed doors.

So, to review, the perfect place to chat with me that doesn't bring my life to a screeching halt, and doesn't lead to any raised eyebrows from parents or family members:  post a message on my public spaces on Facebook and Twitter. I'll get back to you ASAP, or another like-minded fan might be able to answer your question before I get a chance. (It might already be addressed on my Fan FAQ page, so take a look there, too.) And if you think your question is too embarrassing to post publicly, it's probably going to be a violation of my Rules of Engagement (see below) so it's a question better left unasked. 

If you do have a valid question or comment that needs to be handled privately, like a business transaction or to schedule an interview, hit me up publicly and we can arrange to take things private. No need to swap private contact information in a public forum, obviously.

So now that I've explained why they're needed, may I present the latest version of MIKE'S RULES OF ENGAGEMENT, for your edification and reading pleasure: 



Surprise private voice chats are as invasive and inappropriate as a phone call and are not at all welcome. That creates a special problem for Skype contacts, since Skype has no public chat component — only private and semi-private (group) messaging — so being a Skype contact of mine might be an unfair temptation. If you (and some friends) want to record an interview for your YouTube channel or podcast, you can do that on Skype or similar voice chat services (such as Discord, which one of my son's friends wanted to get a special mention) , but those conversations come with further guidelines in addition to the ones above, along with a nominal fee. If we're going to voice chat, I'd like to be able to give you my complete attention in a quiet space devoid of any blaring TVs and screaming children. And to keep the amount of call requests manageable, I ask that you buy me a coffee, please, to compensate me for my time, using the handy Buy Me a Coffee button below. There's also that aforementioned creepiness factor of a grown man chatting with a kid, so the fee ensures that someone (presumably an adult) in control of a credit card is aware of what's going on, so there's no misunderstanding. Please note, this offer may be amended or withdrawn at any time without prior notice, and I reserve the right to refuse any requests, and/or request a larger amount of coffee for larger amounts of time.