Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Talking To Myself

When Twitter first came onto my radar, I politely dismissed it. Did I really need to know when people were eating their lunch? Walking the dog? Feeling happy, sad, mad? (And, yes, for the record, I have discussed all these topics in 140 characters or less on Twitter in the last year).

However, when I finally took a look at it, I realized it was a lot more than that. It is an excellent way to get book recommendations. It also offers a way to connect with other writers while you're at home, working on your WIP and feeling isolated and alone. Wondering if anyone is really out there. They are. They're on Twitter, and they're posting hilarious Youtube video links.

Anyhow, recently I started getting a bit paranoid about this Twitter thing. Why are some folks not following me? Why are some folks following me and then unfollowing me? Does this dress go with these boots? (I'm channelling my inner 12 year old, since that's what Twitter sometimes feels like.)

Twitter often feels like a one-sided conversation. Because, in essence, that's what it really is if you are following someone, and that individual is not following you. It's freakin' weird. She/He is talking and you are listening. And she/he hears nothing of what you say. Very strange.

The ultimate in dastardly twitter etiquette is engaging someone in a conversation, sometimes on numerous occasions, and then realizing at some point (often when you go to send a direct message) that this particular person is not following you. Makes you feel like you're 12 years old at Friendly's, chatting with a group of girls, and then suddenly one of them whips her entire Fribble all over you. You thought you were buds, but no.....not really.

Here are my critieria for following folks on Twitter....

1.) Common interests (weenie dogs, beards, plants, etc).
2.) Colleagues (book bloggers, writers).
3.) Famous people who don't irritate the sh*t out of me (Spongebob, etc).

Here are my criteria for not following folks on Twitter....

1.) Spammers obsessed with chandeliers.
2.) Call girls named Candi.
3.) Folks who post links w/ pics of naked guys. (Kids in my house, and I share an office with them).
4.) People who use Twitter only for promotional purposes. This includes authors who only post announcements about their books and never engage others in conversation.

When I thought about it, I realized that I actually have no problem with folks unfollowing me. I curse a lot. I am opinionated. I am obsessed with beards, weenie dogs and botany, topics that may potentially be off-putting to certain individuals. So, now when I realize I am following someone who is not following me (who is not a famous cartoon character), I unfollow that person. Having a one-sided conversation is pretty stupid.

I do it everyday with my own kids, and that's enough for me.

Signing out,


KT Grant said...

Last week I tweeted one specific person who doesn't follow me and I know for a fact they don't care for me, but because they were part of the recent conversation with a group of tweeters, I thought why not engage this person in conversation. Stupid me because not once did they tweet me back. The reason? They don't care to talk to me.

I've noticed some have become very cliquish on Twitter, but then again I have my own group of people I prefer to talk with and won't revert to high school tactics.

Instead of fixating on it, I'll have great 140 character conversations with those who enjoy what I have to say.

Julie said...

I was like you. I avoided Twitter like the plague when I first heard about it. But then I decided to give it a shot and found myself really enjoying it.

I don't auto-follow because I'll get confused (and I refuse to follow spammers) but I will follow people who will chat with me. I have heard some people say that they found some bloggers or authors to be 'clicky', but I haven't felt that way.

I like how, as you said, when you feel like you need a reminder that you are not alone out there, Twitter is there - or at least the people who live on it are. lol

Great post!

Cara McKenna said...

Some days it does feel a bit cliquish, but I'm one of those people who's guilty of being slow-to-follow-back. I tried following everyone who follows me, but felt totally overwhelmed by how chaotic my Twitterstream became (and I have a very low tolerance for chaos). It felt like I was in a room with a thousand people shouting, making it harder to spot when my closer Twitter friends shared something. So my policy is to block the spammers, check out new followers and if we share a publisher or some good Twitter buds, I usually follow back. Or if they follow me but I don't know them well enough to immediately follow back, I always reply to their @ replies, and if they're funny and interesting, it doesn't take too much to get me to follow back in time. I will engage when approached.

Most days Twitter feels like a big house party to me, where I wander from room to room with a drink in my hand, stopping to chat to folks I know, occasionally walk in on conversations I might not have wanted to, and occasionally sequestering myself in a room with my best buds if the conversation turns hilarious. Otherwise I do my best to mingle and wave at folks I know, and to turn and smile when I get tapped on the shoulder by someone I don't recognize. And to duck the jerks as quickly as possible.

Oh and occasionally, during a "break-down" week, I'll suddenly unfollow all the industry bloggers and reviewers, because I just can't handle seeing book reviews or publishing news pop up. But after my brain levels out I go back and follow them again. Usually. Oh and I unfollow chronic whiners, too. My follower list is blissfully mope-free.

Penny Watson said...

Kate....excuse my French, but that is bull shite! Being rude on-line is still being rude. You have the right attitude....chat with friendly folks who are polite and responsive. Ignore the ones who are rude. They aren't worth your time or energy.

Penny Watson said...

Hi Julie! I agree about following folks who engage you in conversation. To ignore them is rude. If someone reaches out to you, that's the polite thing to do.

I also agree about Twitter being awesome for people at home alone...either working, or hanging out with the kids. It can be really isolating and Twitter can be a god-send.

Penny Watson said...

Hi Cara....great comment! I don't auto-follow either. If someone takes the time to say hello, then I'll follow. Otherwise, I don't have time to research every single person who is following me.

My "house party" is a motley crew of beard aficionados, health gurus, turfgrass researchers, and of course romance writers/bloggers. It's the weirdest party ever! I love it!

BookaholicCat said...

I love your post. I agree with it 100%.
I was like you about Twitter, I didn't understand it. One day I gave it a try and now I love it.
I have the same criteria you have for following or not following a person.
I could say that it really "hurt my feelings" when I realize people with whom I usually have "conversations" don't follow me :( Sometimes I don't know if I should ask them why they don't follow me or just let it go. I always try to think the best of people, and I'm not sure if that person is not aware he/she is not following me... or maybe I'm to naive.

KMont said...

I don't follow everyone that follows me. I could not keep up with over 900 hundred people in a timeline of tweets. A lot of whom I'm sure are folks who only followed me because I mentioned the words "real estate" or "bagels" at some point.

This is why I like the @Mentions tab so much - if someone is following me and flags me down there for a convo, I can see it. I can answer them. And I do. So you really don't have to follow folks to have a convo on Twitter.

I *have* unfollowed people who I've tried to engage in convo who aren't following me. I know they too can switch over to their @Mentions tab and see who's trying to say hi and such. If they don't say hi back after I've tried a few times, sure, then I unfollow. These do tend to be folks who I notice only respond to certain other tweeters. That's cool, I don't need to be in that circle then.

Sometimes, too, I just forget. It's like, hey, doofus, follow this person. You've been talking to them for months even though you're not following them! Sometimes I just forget to follow because that @Mentions tab is so easy. I'm lazy like that.

I guess I try not to take any of it personally if someone's not following me, and certainly if they don't bother to reply at all. Not like there aren't plenty of nice folks to talk to. ;)

Penny Watson said...

Hi Bookaholic Cat! (By the way, I just hopped over to your blog and saw your incredibly nice collection of Daniel Craig photos....sweet!)

The truth is, some folks might not follow for a reason, and some might be totally clueless. Regardless, you have to decide if it's worth listening to a one-sided conversation. Is that OK with you, or not? If not, bag 'em.

Penny Watson said...

Hi KMont....haa haaa....God! I mentioned Whole Foods yesterday, and that caused a nice spammy Twitter event. Sheesh! You are right that we shouldn't take it personally, but sometimes that is tough. Being 12 and dealing with that crap was hard enough the first time. I'm way too old for this sh*t now. (Which is also why I don't read YA books....going through teenage angst was bad enough once, I can't do it again and again! hee hee).

Sophia (FV) said...

I often worry about about my tweets. Does this tweet make my butt look too big?

Anyway, many times I don't realize I'm not following a favorite tweeter because they show up in my timeline so often and I chat with them daily. I'm occasionally surprised to find out I'm not following. *checks to make sure I'm following @PennyRomance* I like to follow people who like to chat...that's what twitter is for right?

As far as people unfollowing me, I expect it. I have fun on twitter and occasionally that means I get a little out of hand. But that's just me and I don't take it personally if I'm unfollowed.

Penny Watson said...

FV--Your butt looks great! (so do your tweets!).....When I check out someone's tweeting profile, I look to see if they are chatting with others or just posting stuff. I am not looking to "friend" a billboard, but a real person who wants to communicate.

Julia Rachel Barrett said...

Twitter reminds me of a high school clique. I hated high school.
I do use it, occasionally I engage in conversation but I'd rather google chat. I simply don't have the time to follow an entire thread, especially when I'm on the outside looking in and I have no idea what the original topic was.
I follow you! And some friends and authors and a couple interesting people in the food world, but honestly - Twitter eats up time I can use to write and hike and play basketball and make a great chicken curry.
I did have a hilarious late night Twitter conversation with a publisher, we were both up for some weird reason and we had a blast!

Penny Watson said...

Julia, good point about google chat. It's the difference between talking with 3 or 4 people at once (which can become confusing, no doubt about it!) or just one person.

That sounds great about your talk with the publisher. That's the cool thing about Twitter!

Amber said...

I don't mind if someone I follow doesn't follow me. I'm not all that interesting most days. :)

I *do* mind when someone ignores all of my @mentions, though. It's easy to miss them (or lose the context hours later if you aren't catching it in real time) but after several failed attempts, I unfollow and move on to people who like conversations.

And then there are the authors/book people who only import from Facebook and never reply. Those I don't bother to follow in the first place.

Penny Watson said...

Hi Amber! I stopped following authors who aren't following me back or involved in conversations with others. A lot of folks just use twitter as a promotional tool, which is fine, but I'm not interested. I just heard an author say that a publicist at RT recommended authors hire "ghost writers" to do their tweets! hee hee...that is wack!