B.J. Mendelson Speaks His Mind
Blowing the lid off social media was just the start, he addresses issues with insightful opinions and comic book wit.
B.J. Mendelson is rash, crass, and is quite comfortable speaking his mind. Voicing strong opinions, sparking controversy, and offering new perspectives come naturally to him. He shares his thought-provoking insights unabashedly as a public speaker, comedian, author, and comic book creator. He wrote the book Social Media Is Bullshit based on his own experiences in 2012. At a time when social media seemed to be sent from the marketing gods, Mendelson held a different opinion. It proved profitable as his book launched him from starving millennial to thriving businessman.
Major news outlets were drawn to his success and he was featured in Newsweek, Los Angeles Times, CNN, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times, just to name a few. He also published other books like Privacy: And How to Get it Back and two comic books called Vengeance, Nevada and A National Story of Minor Significance. Currently, he tours colleges and universities in North America, dispelling the myths and misconceptions on the social media marketing industry and making people laugh and learn through his comic books.
Social Media Hype?
Mendelson started out in digital media back in the days of Myspace. In 2001, he considered himself a viral marketer and saw much success through the Internet. At that time, he was an 18-year-old standup comedian struggling to make a name for himself. Many clubs wouldn’t let him perform due to the 21-year-old age limit. So, he began renting out the clubs to get around the age restriction and promoting the shows through the Internet. “I sold out most of my shows using the Internet and knew it was a valuable resource in terms of marketing,” he said.
In 2009, Mendelson planned another tour — but this one was more serious in nature. Mendelson used the advice of social media experts to plan a breast cancer research tour. It failed. The next year, he did the tour again, but this time without the advice of social media experts. It was a success, leading him to the conclusion that “social media is bullshit.”
Growing up B.J.
Mendelson was born in Oyster Bay, Long Island, New York in 1983 and was raised in Monroe. Later he lived in Potsdam, Albany, Glens Falls, and South Glens Fall in New York, as well as Chicago. He comes from a family of five siblings.
Mendelson went to Monroe High School and graduated in 2001. After that, he attended college at Alfred State College and the State University of New York (SUNY) in Potsdam. In 2006, Mendelson graduated and managed to get a scholarship named after his grandfather, Oscar Cohen, at his alma mater.
After college, Mendelson worked for The Edge with Jake Sasseville as a host. Jake Sasseville is a TV producer who used to run a syndicated late-night TV show which aired in over 40 million homes. Mendelson realized he had a knack for promotion and Internet marketing. So, he embarked on another project and founded a national support outreach for wounded military family members. That non-profit, Wounded Warriors Family Support, continues to operate today raising multimillion-dollar funds without any dependency on social media.
Social media and its use will always be important topics to Mendelson. He is so known for this that he debated in front of the United Nations with Pakistan’s ambassador about how social media affects modern society and political revolutions. “For a business, Facebook like is so pointless,” he says. “All these algorithms and numbers don’t mean much by way of saving your business or true success.” Mendelson also argues that “social media is anti-social,” as he believes that social media is a factor in making people with anti-social tendencies more reclusive.
When it comes to the experts, Mendelson is skeptical. He thinks that most people who are pedaling social media packages are scam artists or simply lack the knowledge. “It’s like if you fail, the experts are just like this is how social media works,” he says. “There’s a lack of accountability for social media experts and what they’re selling to people.”
Still, Mendelson believes that the Internet is critical to business success. “Listening to marketing experts, consultants, the gurus of the Internet, or even the media, can have a tremendous impact on your business,” he said. “So, it’s important to choose wisely. The virtual likes don’t mean much without a real-world backing.”
For the Love of Laughs
After his first successful book, Mendelson had a heart attack and realized that he wanted to write a different kind of story. That’s how A National Story of Minor Significance was born. The comic book is a self-help guide and addresses those who suffer from depression like himself. Each story follows a notable event from Mendelson’s own life, like his family’s interactions with a young Donald Trump over “Rathaven,” or how he set up the Oscar Cohen Memorial Scholarship, the first scholarship in the history of SUNY Potsdam created by a student.
Mendelson hopes the comic book will help others let go of the past and release their anxiety. Mendelson is all about challenging the status quo and promoting personal development. You can read more about his life and opinions at bjmendelson.com.