Friday, February 6, 2009

On Social Networking

JAN: When I was writing Teaser, I decided that to research social networking, I had to start using it, so I opened accounts at MySpace and Facebook. I bribed my two kids into friending me on Facebook and for a while they were my only friends.

Don't feel sorry for me. Eventually, all the other writers in the world joined Facebook and I started to worry it was taking too much time. So what did I do? I joined Twitter. And this is where my story starts.

The website asked me to invite my friends on to Twitter, but I couldn't figure out how to search my contacts on Outlook so I typed in one of the only people whose email address I knew by heart. My brother.

His reply. You think I have time for this?
Me: Just hit the button and follow me.
His reply: Why?
Me: I have no idea.

My Twitter account remained inactive for about a month. Then I got an email via Twitter that an old college room-mate, a woman I haven't seen in thirty-five years was following me. In Twitter speak, following is like friending except it connotes that you actually read the other person's daily and/or moment-to-moment updates on a semi-religious basis. I decided to give Twitter another try. I updated myself. I reread the messages in Dani's Blogbook tour Newsgroup, to get a few pointers.

What was I doing?? Twitter asked.
Trying to figure out Twitter etiquette, I replied.

All of a sudden, five people I didn't know were following me. And I have to tell you, it was a thrill. I knew enough to know they were only following me, so I'd follow them. But I didn't care. I posted again. Under 140 words Or is it characters? I always have to edit down. Be briefer. But I'm a writer, right? It feels like I'm working when I'm twittering. I post again.

I check my numbers. Forty-two followers! Every few hours, I get more. I follow them, too, because it's only polite. I even go to a few people's websites. I join some new social network group on social networking. I'm not sure why. I'm tweeting away. Is it the brevity that's so addictive? Or the following?

I disable my cable connection, so I can't access the Internet during the afternoon. But at night, I go to YouTUBE to check out the videos. There's one on Twitter In Plain English, Twitter Tease, and Twitter Snobbery. This last was from one of my new followers. I figure he knows the score.

I watched three different videos on Twitter dos and don'ts. Who knew there was this much education? I come across this video. It's called Tweeter whore. I thought it was hysterical, but I sent it to my 22-year old daughter, who spends a good deal of time online.

She wrote back. "I don't get it it."
And then: "What's going on with you, anyway?"

Apparently, I'm so immersed in Twitterland, that I've lost perspective. So if you know nothing about Twitter, don't bother with this. But if you've ever tweeted, or thought about it, take a look. I think its laugh-out-loud funny, but scary, too. It could happen to anyone.

Oh by the way, if you want to follow me: My user name is JanBrogan (no space). I'll follow you back. Tweet, tweet.


  1. make me so happy I'm not twittering.

    Facebook is quicksand enough, and I'm so behind there, I can never catch up.

    ANd if I caught up, what good would that do? As the Twitter girl says, OMG. I'm thinking it might be worthless... But then, I'm old.

  2. No. Years ago, some kids "harassed" me into joining Live Journal. (warning, icons are addictive!) When I made my first sale, the obligatory MySpace space appeared. Thank god for my daughter. I still don't know how to change my profile picture. *note to self, get her to do that this weekend - replacing book cover with face* Other friends harangued until I joined them on Facebook (and Mafia Wars - don't go there. Not safe for addictive personalities and procrastinating writers!)

    Twitter is the last bastion. I'm just not going there. Seriously. I'm not.

  3. Argghhh! It's all a huge plot to keep writers from real writing, so that others can trample over us. We must be strong! Resist Twitter!

  4. I agree with all of you!! Sheila, you are so RIGHT. It's all a BIG PLOT against productivity. But I did get really good technical information from one guy, and the some inspiration from a woman, I think her name was Elisha. I haven't figured out how to sift yet, though, and I'm definitely NOT going to set up my cell phone for on-the-go updates. Mostly because I'm never on the go and also because I'm already disabling my cable connection to cut down!

  5. I am holding out. No Facebook. Not twittering. (not no way no how so far...)

    But I am thinking about writing a book--

  6. Jan, I Twitter and now find all kinds of creepy people are following me.
    I haven't had time to make it to Face Book. I may just have to pay someone to put me on. I hardly have time to write as it is and the dreaded five pages a day seems harder and harder to do.

    And I haven't yet really discovered the value of Twitter. Lots of useless Tweets going back and forth.

    Someone please clue me in.

  7. I think there's probably some value if you have a marketing plan. Some personna you are going t o develop or message - in 140 characters - to deliver over and over.

    One guy from London who just started following me is hysterical, so I'll test drive a bit longer.

    But you are all right. It's a major distraction

  8. Rhys, yes. I'm with you. I know people who have hired people who are now "being them" on FaceBook. That seems--so meta and crazy.

    But then--another wonderful author pal tell me she has scads of people at her signings--friends from Facebook!

  9. Okay, so I just got followed on Twitter by the Dalai Llama. And I actually think its not a hoax but the office twittering in his name because the profile refers you to the offiial website and all the tweets are about buddhism and politics.

    What a kick! Of course I followed him back!

  10. I have no idea how to Twitter and not sure that Twittering is for me. As for Facebook, well, I find myself losing a lot of Scrabble games (I am a word person, aren't I?) but have gotten to the point where I don't have time to tend to my garden anymore.

  11. Hi Karen,
    Yes, sometimes if feel like the Internet is a big vacuum cleaner, sucking me away from real life.

    Both Twitter and Facebook seem to be dominated by people in the "Social Media."

    A whole new line of existence.

  12. I don't Twitter, but am finding Facebook invaluable with regard to the coming book: a direct connection to potential readers, now "friends" with a common enthusiasm -- (and hey, in general, connecting with old offline friends and some of my favorite writers now frequently -- people I only touched base with every year or so before the ease of Facebook).

    I'm finding if I schedule a Facebook ritual, it sets me free the rest of the day not to think about it. I don't spend a ton of time in any one Facebook sitting. Usually 15 minutes a day, max. Cup of tea: On, read, post, off, done.

    I am "friends" with Trixie Koontz on Facebook. Bless her, Trixie-the-Golden-Retriever died in 2007, if I remember right, a lovely and powerful presence for Dean Koontz, who has always written her with humor and joy. I know she's gone, and I don't know who manages her Facebook page, but befriending her in the Facebook "here" or befriending the idea of Trixie OTOS ("On the Other Side" as DK writes it) is charming.

    And it's smart. Koontz's A Big Little Life: A Memoir of a Joyful Dog comes out in July, and her entry now and again on my Facebook "wall" reminds me how much I look forward to that book.

    All that said, I haven't stuck a toe into Twitter, yet. I've been told I should, but yi-yi-yi, I don't really want the additional online responsibility. Jan, I admire your ability to juggle all this.