The Social Media Rules That Govern My Slapdash Online Existence


Over the weekend I saw someone on Facebook opining about how someone unfriended them and they wouldn’t dare unfriend people that quickly and what’s wrong with that other person and, I dunno, at some point there I faded out, took a nap, and woke up seven hours later in a snowy field covered in a space blanket and somebody else’s blood?

That last part isn’t really relevant, so we’ll just pretend I didn’t say it.

*wipes two Jedi proctologist fingers across the air, hoping you’ll forget*

What’s relevant is that I’ll unfollow/unfriend people like that.

*snaps Jedi fingers, accidentally breaks someone’s neck with The Force, oops*

I thought it might be interesting to codify my social media “rules” — which are as ironclad as a jar of marshmallow fluff, which are as eternal as a fruit fly’s sexual maturity, which I fail at as often as I succeed — here on the BLOGGEREL CAROUSEL known as ye olde terryblemynds.

1. The Unfollow Button Is On A Hair Trigger With Me

I don’t think twice about unfriending or unfollowing people on This Here Internet. I have an almost sociopathic bridge-burner mindset when it comes to social media, and sometimes it makes me feel cruel — like an emperor who whimsically thrusts his thumb up or down in order to decide whether or not you’ll plunge into the pit of syphilitic tigers I have raised from cubs (and apparently, given syphilis to?). But truth is, me following you is not that exciting, so I’m pretty fast on the trigger when it comes to ejecting people from my feed.

Let me unpack this a little, because I think it suggests I’m a total asshole (which may be accurate!). But the logic for it goes a little bit like this:

I view my social media landscape as equal parts “my backyard” and “the radio stations I listen to in the car.” It is curated. It is me attempting to filter signal out of noise. It’s me attempting to make sure I have the right ratio of voices on my radio and guests at my backyard BBQ bondage orgy bacchanalia. In other words…

It’s all about me.

I recognize that social media runs the risk of granting us all our own little echo chambers. We cultivate little gardens of foods we’ve already tried and won’t take a bite of a funny looking vegetable despite the wisdom of expanding our palates. But social media for me doesn’t work well as an ideological melting pot. I think you have a right to your opinion, and I have a right to not really want to hear it. That’s not to say I dislike you, or don’t believe you possess the right — but there comes a point where if your feed feels like I’m rubbing my hand the wrong way on a shark, where it feels like hot sandpaper-on-sandpaper action, I’m gonna to cut you loose. (This is doubly true if your only function online seems to be: “Show up wherever I’m at, and disagree noisily.”)

(I should also note that my social media feed goes well beyond family — it contains a wealth of people who I have literally never met. If I’ve actually met you or know you in some capacity, I’m a lot slower on the EJECT button. But if you’re Just Some Person, then I’m quick with the tiger pit.)

I will at times aggressively prune my follow/friend list like a meth addict tending to his bonsai tree. I go online to delve into social media to have fun and be funny and, yes, at times try to engage in deeper conversation. Largely, though? I use it for enjoyment. Mirth. It’s like, I don’t hate-watch television shows just to watch them. I read books that try to expand my mind and my experience, but I still have to dig the book. My social media feed is very much like that.

And if I feel like for some reason it’s just not a good fit, I will silently bid you a fond farewell.

NOW PLEASE TO MEET MY TIGERS: MISTER STRIPEY AND LASERFANG THE MIGHTY.

2. I Follow For A Lot Of Reasons But Mostly It’s Because You’re Funny

If you’re funny, I’ll probably follow you.

This is not a cue for you to try to tweet funny things at me.

It’s not that you’re not funny. It’s that I have a particular sense of humor. I don’t even know how to describe it. Some shit makes me laugh. Some shit doesn’t. Yes, yes, I’ll follow you too if I think you’re a good writer or a nice person or blah blah blah. But if a RT comes into my feed and it makes me BFLOL (bona fide laugh out loud), I’m in. I’m your Huckleberry.

3. Be A Fountain, Not A Drain

I try to be positive about things online because being online is frequently a big drain. It’s very easy to get swept into the sewer online and suddenly everything is GLOBAL WARMING and LOOK DEAD CHILDREN and HAVE YOU SEEN WHAT GAMERGATE DID THIS WEEK, THEY GLOBAL WARMED A BUNCH OF DEAD KIDS and too much of that makes my sphincter clench up hard enough to bend a drainpipe. Let’s be honest: the Internet can be kinda fucking depressing.

So, I try to introduce into it a positive voice. Not universally, but even when I’m waggling my toes in septic waters I try to at least be a little funny about it.

This is true too in how I talk about pop culture. I try to remember that even if I don’t like something, someone else probably did like it — hell, someone else probably loved it. I might think your shoes are ugly, but I’m not going to pop a squat over them — you like them, so what’s the problem? I will make my own shoe statement by wearing the shoes I like to wear, and when I discuss shoes, I will discuss them as if these are my feelings and not my expert opinion because really, what the fuck do I know about shoes?

4. I Keep Self-Promo Original And Minimal

Self-promotion is part of being Author Human Who Authors Things.

(Read: Brian McClellan on the tricky relationship an author has with self-promotion.)

As such, I have to do it. I have to do the Booky-Book Dance.

And I assume if you’re following me, an Author Person, you will gladly submit to and even sometimes expect a little self-promotion. Ah, but here’s what I also assume:

I assume you don’t want to be bludgeoned about the head and neck with it.

Further, I remember that I am ultimately a storyteller and an entertainer and it is my job to WORD THINGS GOOD, so if I cannot bring a little style and panache to my self-promotional efforts, then what good am I? So, if I’m going to pollute your feeds with my own Narcissistic emissions, the hope is that I will do it in a way that is both painless and perhaps even amusing or informative.

5. The Imperfect Ratio

Very, very roughly, here is the ratio I try to live by online:

10% self promotion

30% signal boosting

20% me talking about writing stuff

40% who the fuck knows just gimme the mic

It’s that 40% that I particularly enjoy, where I’m going to talk about… mmmyeah whatever I want to. I’ll talk about B-Dub or my dog or that TV show or the coffee I’m drinking or I’ll just shout incoherent things at the screen in PURE ADRENALIN-LACED HOT CAPSLOCK ACTION or instead i won’t use capitol letters at all or even punctuation.

Or maybe I’ll just tweet a strange photo at you.

Or engage in hashtag memes or:

*places funny action inside asterisks*

I don’t know. It’s the Wild West out there. AND I’M “TWO PISTOLS” WENDIG FLINGING BULLETS OF PURE WEIRDNESS IN YOUR GENERAL DIRECTION oh god those weren’t weird bullets those were real bullets weren’t they.

*quietly flings both pistols into a shrub*

*kicks dirt on corpse*

*casually backs out of the scene*

6. It’s Okay That I Offend You (Long As I Don’t Hurt You)

My social media feed, which includes this blog, is NSFW.

It may even be NSFL.

I offend people.

I get messages about how I offend people, often because I like to use naughty language.

And honestly, I don’t care.

Offense is easy. It’s shallow as a spit puddle, offense. Offense is cheap-as-free: you can be offended at how somebody’s dog is looking at you, you can take offense at somebody’s shitbutt sweater. I have been offended at the way a tree just sits there. Judging me. Stupid tree. With its stupid leaves and its condescending bark. PUTTING ON AIRS. I see you, tree. I am offended by you.

That tree doesn’t give a root that I am offended.

Nor should it.

Where I worry is when I veer into hurtful territory. We like to make hay about how words are just words, but when writers say this, I want to poke them in the eye and remind them that words have power and that’s pretty much the entire core of what it means to be a writer in the first place. If you don’t think words matter, you should stop committing so many of them to paper.

The line between offensive and hurtful is broad, but blurry, and it’s easy to traipse over it and go too far — I’ve done it, others have done it, and when called on it, I like to think I’m responsive and responsible, where appropriate.

7. Social Media Easily Weaponizes Shame

Social media affords us a fascinating ability — the power of the mob. The power of the mob is not a thing I say lightly, and it’s not a thing I say dismissively. The mob is a force of nature, and must be respected. It is neither good nor evil. It can be used for good, and can be used for ill. The mob throughout history has moved the needle toward acquiring freedoms for people, and it’s also gone the other direction and taken freedoms away.

Online, ideas move fast. You can say some dumb shit online, get on a plane, and hours later your career is over and your life is set spinning like a top (and there’s even a hashtag devoted to your now-eternal oopsie). I’m the first to admit that sometimes, bad ideas and toxic people need to get burned, but I also realize that I’m not very comfortable being the one constantly flinging gasoline and lit matches. Because everything moves fast here, the mob mentality moves fast with it. Let he who is without sin HA HA WHAT I CANNOT HEAR YOU OVER ALL THESE STONES I’M THROWING MAN THESE STONES ARE JUST EVERYWHERE AND SO EASY TO PICK UP AND FLING

Ahem. That’s not to say every opinion is worth listening to. Or even respecting. It’s not. That’s bullshit. There genuinely exists a lot of straight-up poison out there, and you are under no obligation to share it, respond to it, or drink it up and let it sicken you.

But I just try to remember at times that shame is very easy to weaponize on These Here Internets. It’s very easy to want people to feel bad about what they’ve done — and calling them out is probably also not a very good way to make them feel bad about it. I have to be doubly cautious of this because, as someone with a larger social media footprint than some, it’s easy for me to mobilize the troops even without meaning to. (“Hey, look at this bad review.” “WE HAVE BROUGHT YOU THE REVIEW’S CORPSE. COOKIE NOW?”)

8. The Three Pillars

So, with that said, I try to remember three traits I try possess while socially mediaing:

Empathy.

Logic.

Nuance.

Empathy is important as it helps you imagine where people might be coming from. It’s that idea of, hey, someone ahead of you on the road is driving slow — before you bite through your steering wheel and road rage them into oblivion, try to imagine what they’re going through. Maybe they have a dog in the car. Maybe they have a stack of teacups in the backseat and if any of those teacups break, some supervillain will kill their family. You just don’t know.

Logic is important to try to suss out what things are real and not real. (This is particularly important as bad information travels just as fast as good information here. These days I see a news article going around about a girl whose cat got stuck in a tree, I’m practically paranoid about it. “WHO WROTE THIS. IS THERE A STUDY? ARE THERE INDEPENDENT WITNESSES? IS THIS PROPAGANDA FROM THE ANTI-TREE COMMISSION, OR THE CAT COALITION. WHO BENEFITS? FOLLOW THE MONEY, WENDIG. FOLLOW. THE. MONEY.”

Nuance because, hey, we really, really like things to be black and white, which is usually a pretty good reason to remember that things are not that black and white. It’s easy for us when things are simple, two-sided problems. And they rarely are. So, just try to see if there are shades of gray. I don’t mean to suggest that you should look for nuance in people who are straight up hateful trolls, but just try to get the measure of a person. Sometimes we judge folks for one slip-up and fail to look at the overall picture, at the larger pattern — it’s not all white hats and black hats out there. People usually aren’t heroes or villains. They’re just people. Except when they’re trolls.

9. I Try To Remember That It’s Okay If You Unfollow Me

Just as I am fast to unfollow folks, I have to remember to be okay with you unfollowing me.

I’ll admit that when I see someone I admire has unfollowed me, it causes a twinge in my gut — but at the same time, I have to remember: this is the point of social media. If for some reason I was too noisy or too weird or too mouthy, then more power to them for cutting my ugly square ass out of their quilt. Damn, yeah. Don’t keep giving me the microphone if you don’t want to hear what I have to say. The last thing I want is to be sand in your social media undies.

10. Yes, I Vanity Search My Own Name

Sometimes people are surprised that I do this.

Some view this as particularly sad or pathetic.

And that’s fine. I understand the inclination.

But as noted, I am Author Person. My life and my profession is very connected to social media. So, I like to know what people are saying. Not just shit-talk (though I do see some of that weekly) — but vanity searching my name has shown me news stories, blog posts, reviews, sales.

This also means that if you’re talking about me, at least on Twitter, I’m probably seeing it. At least if you use my last name, correctly-spelled. (Pro-Tip: basically nobody else in the universe has the last name of “Wendig,” and if they do, they’re related to me.)

11. I Reply When I Can But Man, That’s Getting Hard

I once had the ethos that I would thank people for retweets.

Then I had the ethos that I would reply to all tweets sent to me.

Ha ha ha ha *sob* no.

I can’t do that anymore. I can’t do it for a few reasons:

a) Because my Twitter feed is a swiftly-moving river. It is no longer a lazy stream. Drop a paper boat into it, and that fucker is crushed between Scylla and Charybdis fast as you can say “first edition Iliad.” (Yes, yes, I know, Scylla and Charybdis are from The Odyssey but then the joke wouldn’t have worked and YOU KNOW WHAT JUST SHUT UP.) This means I don’t see every tweet and even when I do see it, I don’t have time to reply to everyone. If I did, I wouldn’t be able to write books. And writing books is how I pay for my mortgage. And my sex furniture.

b) Not every tweet requires a response. I try to respond to genuine questions, but a lot of times it’s just statements and… I don’t wanna just tweet “OKAY” at you. “I ACKNOWLEDGE YOU.”

c) Twitter is a jerk in that it won’t show me everything anymore. Different apps show me different sets of mentions, but ultimately — I’m just not getting them all.

12. All Roads Lead To Here

One tenet of my social media tentpole rules that remains true:

All roads take you here, to this blog.

And, ideally, to my books.

I don’t use social media and this blog just to sell books — I do this and that because I like this and that. But I also need to sell books (if only to pay for the no-kidding very-high fees associated with hosting and operating this blog). As I have said in the past:

I CAN’T EAT TWEETS.

And I have tried. The Apple logo on my iMac has a literal bite taken out of it.

Right now, this blog remains a viable location. And it’s nice because I control it, I own it, I operate it, and I can opine at needless length. So, I try to drive traffic to this place.

A central hub.

A supervillain HQ.

THE MOTHERSHIP UFO.

Anyway.

That’s it.

Them’s the rules.

Now, after that very long and probably unnecessary post, I ask:

What are your social media habits, rules, guidelines?

What ideas and behaviors govern your online existence?


68 responses to “The Social Media Rules That Govern My Slapdash Online Existence”

  1. I try to live by Gilman’s Formulation of Wheaton’s Law: Don’t be an Asshole.

    I try to share widely and often, of myself and of others. I try to be kind and generous.

    It’s an iterative process. I could always do better.

    And when in doubt…share of my photography.

    • I could always do better.

      Sadly, I think the DON’T BE AN ASSHOLE boat left without me, so I’m left here on ASSHOLE ISLAND. It is, unsurprisingly, part of an archipelago shaped like an asterisk.

      — c.

    • The only thing I’ll say on this is some of my favourite people are assholes (I include myself [my number-one favourite person] amongst them).

      For me, it’s less about Don’t Be An Asshole and more about Try My Hardest Not To Hurt Others.

      I don’t always pull it off – because I’m an asshole – but I do try.

  2. I just wrote about this yesterday (coincidently shortly after tagging you in a tweet wondering why the heck you weren’t following me. Now I know. I’m slowly becoming okay with it. That said, Margaret Atwood is following me… #JustSayin). In a nutshell my rules are simple:

    – Keep self-promotion to a dull roar
    – Engage whenever possible
    – Don’t be an asshole

    If anyone cares, the post is here: http://potatochipmath.blogspot.ca/2015/02/rockin-robin-tweet-tweet.html (that’s not too much self promotion, is it? *Sigh* nuance.)

    • And by “Don’t be an asshole” I mean don’t knowingly treat someone poorly on the internet. I think people should be offended with tonnes of things but to go out of your way to tweet something assaholic to someone else is bad form.

  3. It will be interesting to see what my habits turn out to be, as I’m just getting ready to dive into the self-promotion pool, what with my book coming out in December (see, I’m doing it already). I have a blog, but I’m notoriously bad about updating it. That needs to change. I play on Twitter in spurts, and I’ve just gotten into Instagram. The two biggest issues are a) social media takes time and b) I’m inherently lazy. I’ll come up with an idea I want to write about on a blog post, and then something comes on TV and I do that instead of writing the idea. Again, something I hope to change. Stay tuned.

  4. Great post, Chuck!

    I aim to behave the way I would in person. I stay true to myself, letting the cards fall as they may.

    Denise (Dee) Willson
    Author of A Keeper’s Truth and GOT

  5. I agree with pretty much everything, but I do have one thing online that bug me.
    People who use the block button too easily. If someone is trolling you, or you don’t know them, or their ‘promoted tweets’ are incessantly in your feed an deeply annoying, that’s what the button is for.
    But some people just decide to block people willy nilly, and I find that frustrating, because it’s essentially telling that person that they can’t reach out to you, they can’t apologize, change, or grow, you just never want to hear from them again. It seems too final, too excessive, especially when unfollowing or muting someone because they’re briefly annoying, usually does the trick.
    But I’ll put away my soap box. It’s just my opinion, I hate to write people off, and I hate seeing people written off over a misunderstanding.
    I also agree with Paul, Don’t be a Dick.
    For me that especially means don’t crap on other people’s fandom. If it’s a pop song someone really likes, or a TV Show you particularly hate, there’s no reason to rage hate things online unless they have personally reached out to maim you deliberately. And I don’t think a show has ever done that. 🙂

  6. I go through phases of retweeting interesting articles that (I hope) offer an alternative perspective.

    I sometimes engage with awful people on twitter which makes me sad. They win.

    I am having difficulties dealing with friends who spout strange beliefs online that I never knew they had. I’m trying to work that one out.

    I still Facebook drunk. I did it last night. I deleted the app but my drunk brain re-installed it. Clever brain.

  7. Facebook has always scared the crap out of me. Gazillions of people who want to ‘be my friend’ that I’ve never even met? What’s WRONG with those people? I might be a serial killer for all they know! Didn’t their mummies ever have the ‘Stranger Danger’ Talk with them?

    Twitter I can deal with; I like the idea of expressing a thought in 140 characters (without having to include the entire history of my life and a metric tonne of dodgy phonecam pictures as well, a la FaceBook.) It’ll be one heck of a long time before I have the same problem as you though, Chuck, where I’ve got too many followers to keep up with (I think I had about four at my last count.) I remember once getting quite excited that someone had ‘favourited’ one of my tweets… until I found out it was a golf equipment company, and they’d only done it because my tweet was about thinking Andy Murray played golf as well as tennis. I’m cheaper than an advert then, how sweet of them… ;P

    I understand your approach to social media entirely, and i don’t think anything you’ve said is unreasonable (although shooting that person with your weird real bullets might have been going a tad too far… ) I have only one guideline for pretty much all my social media interaction: if I wouldn’t have the guts or conviction of my opinions to say what I’m about to say to the person’s face, when they’re standing right in front of me, I don’t say it online. Simples. ‘Course that doesn’t mean I never say anything dumb that makes me want to facepalm later – as anyone who knows me would tell you… 😉

  8. I came up with two rules by which I try very hard to live, not only on social media, but everywhere else as well:

    1) Be useful.
    2) Don’t be a jerk.

    Can’t say that I always live up to them, but goodness knows I try.

  9. I try hard to remember that online you cannot see or hear the other person (Chats and hangouts aside), so you miss a lot of meaning that comes in tone, body language, etc. So look for what is the best possible way something can be meant instead of just jumping to the worst possible interpretation.

    Try not to be the creepy person I’m trying to avoid.

    Self promotion is good, but should be limited.

    Step up to help others, both when it helps you and even more when it doesn’t.

    If in doubt talk about the toddler or the cat, because small irrationally creatures who rub cheese into their own hair and laugh like loons about it are always funny, and a good reminder that my real life is far more important than whoever I think is wrong on the interwebs. 🙂

  10. Social media is a nice time-killer for me. It’s all about signal to noise, and I try to keep the signal as clear as possible. My facebook is my personal space — full of friends and family with very few public posts. it. I hang out in some groups with relative strangers, but we have a common interest in the group topic, so yay, friendly strangers!

    Twitter is fun. Most of the people I mutually follow are people I hang out with on a regular basis, either in meat space or web space. Some people follow me because of my connection to a (mostly) indie-fueled SF/F/H genre book review site where I stomp around behind the scenes and get to punch the “publish this!” button. If I see a new follower who is an author writing in my favorite genres, and it looks like an actual person is behind their Twitter feed, I’m all for clicking that button to see what they have to say. Maybe they’ll submit a book for review on the site. Woo! I want a real person somewhere in there.

    I get random followers sometimes that just baffle me. I look at their profiles and realize the’re just grabbing names at random of someone else’s list. I ignore them. They usually vanish within a few days when they realize I’m not going to follow them back. This fishing for followers thing annoys the ever lovin’ piss out of me. I’m not interested in seeing constant marketing spam from the latest velociraptor vs. werewolf erotic space opera. I’m not sorry to see them go. They’re looking for an audience, not a conversation.

    Yes, I follow more people than follow me back ’cause Stephen King is never going to follow me. I follow some authors like a dog tracking a meatball sandwich, waiting for them to drop something tasty. But I do prune people off my feed from time to time, for whatever reason strikes me at the moment. Sometimes I just block their re-tweets if those get too annoying.

    • It’s usually when one attempts to respond to a post. If you and I are having a conversation/argument on Facebook, and you unfriend me in the middle of it, and I try to further respond and can’t.

      Or, if a person has their privacy settings set to “Friends Only” and they unfriend you, their comments will disappear from a thread.

      • Ah, so you only know if you try to engage with that person, or go looking for something written by them. Gotcha. 🙂

        But I have to wonder how these people with, like, hundreds of friends even notice unless it happens in the middle of a conversation like you said. I only have 17 friends. So I’ll know if you unfriend me. YEP.

        (Maybe I shouldn’t admit that. It’s kind of pathetic. lol)

    • There’s at least one Firefox plugin (FB Purity, which I use for some of the actually-useful things it also does) that will tell you about any changes in your friends list. However, it can’t tell the difference between someone unfriending you or someone deleting/disabling their account.

  11. Not necessarily unnecessary. I’ve had my wife occasionally elbow me and remind me not to be a DB — because it can be very, very easy, online.

    As for this list…
    I got to #8 and read it as ‘Empathy’ ‘Logic’ and ‘Nuisance’. Which I figured was cool, because hey, everyone needs to be a nuisance sometimes!

    I try try try try try to make sure I don’t email/tweet/FB/insta/flickr/tumblr/whatevr anything that I wouldn’t want bronzed and following me around. I don’t always get it right. And sometimes, I hop on a bandwagon without checking out where it’s headed, because it was shiny. Aaand sometimes I get too whiny and depressing.

    So, I guess I break lots of social media rules. Crap. Time to go do nothing but write and be a hermit and hire someone else to tweet for me.

    Also, I want to see you try to eat tweets. Please.

  12. I have two rules. First is I don’t post anything that I wouldn’t want my mother to see (God rest her soul.) Fortunately for me, mom had a saucy world view, so I can get away with things. This may be why my children don’t read my Facebook posts.

    The second is, I don’t talk trash ’bout nobody. I don’t talk trash about my life. I don’t put up posts like this ***it’s too bad when you can’t count on someone you counted on. Karma will bite their ass :”( *** I don’t even say I’m having a bad day. I don’t like seeing other’s dramas, so I assume they don’t want to see mine.

  13. I’ve always admired how giving and supportive you are to other writers, both online and in person. I wish more people would take that cue from you. Yes, you’re funny as hell and have interesting things to say, but beyond that, you always take the time to signal boost someone else. And those someone else’s love you for it.

    I suspect that’s why you’re the lucky owner of pee sharks and the like.

  14. I try to be friendly and kind, and if that’s not possible, I do my very best to be diplomatic.

    I’ll engage in discussion with others who have different opinions than I do, but I’ve learned to cut my losses very quickly if it turns into quicksand. One thing I have learned about the Internet: it’s not always necessary to have the last word. I ask myself *why* I’d want the last word if the argument has devolved to the point where others aren’t listening anyway. It’s okay to walk away.

    I also try to tweet what might be useful information for others who also write. I’d like my author twitter account to be more than my own thoughts and some promotion. I’ve found a lot of good writing resources from the Twitter accounts of other writers, so I’d like to pay it back as thanks.

  15. Thanks for this post. I find social media so… There just isn’t one word. It’s nice to know that there are other people who have to institute rules (that change with the direction of the wind) to deal with it all. I wish everyone was as thoughtful.

    What really resonates for me are points one–yes, it is my backyard. Why aren’t I de-cluttering it–and seven. The fountain, not the drain. There is nothing more off putting than following a author (or a someone) you quite liked, only to have to deal with the fact they’re not, well…not as… Yeah, there’s not one word for this, either. We’re all human, but shouldn’t we try to show the best of ourselves in online engagement?

  16. Based on your criteria, I’m pretty sure you have already unfollowed me…but I post under my own name and say whatever the fuck goes through my mind. I have brain damage, so that is not always appropriate or relevant. When I post as the writers’ org I work with, I try not to trash people or say anything that will make the secret government agencies who monitor the internet for the IRS report anything that will take away our non-profit status.

  17. I like to think of twitter as bar where I hang out and there’s all sorts of conversations going on not all involving me, but I get to pick who gets to come in,hang out and have those conversations. The key for me is that there’s a mix of being on transmit and receive. not just one way traffic.Apart from a mixture of funny, daft, cultured and if you must, be informative and meaningful, but tidy up afterwards.

  18. My online rules?

    *Treat every interaction as if you are speaking to someone in person.
    *Think before you post.
    *Humor before vitriol.
    *Be nice to the bots which follow you, as they may remember you fondly after hard launch Singularity.

    Also, wherever possible, if someone talks about a Mothership, bring up George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic. Because no one can have enough funk in their lives.

  19. Chuck,
    You slay me. Thanks for that. I swear just reading your posts are a serious calorie burn and ah…thanks for that too.

    Rules for Social Media? I’m clueless. It’s hit and miss for me. Although I will unfollow hawkers and stalkers, both unsettle me. Keep FB to mostly friends and family – have a FB page for all others. And yeah for sure the laughing thing. If you make me laugh, then I’m pretty much yours forever.

    Annie

  20. Confessions of an online Asshole

    The only time I talked trash to somebody on Twitter was when I said that John Cusack had veins filled with ice water and a heart 3 sizes too small. (I had been trying without success to get him to help raise awareness for Huntington’s disease, which I happen to have, which sometimes makes people say angry crazy shit they don’t really mean.)

    However, it was with malice and aforethought that I deliberately put the @ in front of his name and all of the sudden John Cusack himself was all “Hey! What did I ever do to you?” “Me no Grinch!”

    And as if JC actually reading my insult wasn’t enough of a nightmare, his fans created the swarm of shame that you described and homed in on my like a swarm of hornets. As you might imagine, he has a very powerful swarm and they came to his defense with everything from creativity (providing a visual depiction of the Grinch and Cusack, side-by-side, respectively labelled “Grinch” and “Not Grinch,” to personal attacks (someone said the ib in my twitter handle must stand for irritable bowel. I thought that was pretty funny and probably true) to the worst: (every time I thought the thing had died down) RTing the whole thing so it started all over again.

    What did I learn? Saying one bad thing gets more attention than 1,000 nice things, but you’ll be sore as hell in the morning.

    Sarah Foster
    writer of blog and thrower of pies

    https://meandhd.wordpress.com

  21. I had all sorts of examples of my ‘Code’, but when I analised ’em all, they boiled down to one thing: Don’t cheat. Don’t cheat myself (most important), or my readers, (of blog, book, and/or comments on other blogs, social media, physical reality world) … ‘s kinda it really. 😀

  22. Loosely:
    1. Try to be helpful without being boring.
    2. If it gets overwhelming, retreat
    3. You don’t have to be heard on EVERY matter.
    4. Forgive yourself for inevitable mistakes.
    5. When all else fails, STFU.

  23. My social media rules and habits are nearly identical to yours. Being a self-published author I probably have a higher percentage of self-promotion in my feeds, and I don’t update my blog regularly enough to be spending time driving traffic to it all that often. As far as rules on following, unfollowing, and how and what to post? Yeah, you and I are very much on the same page.

    The only thing I’d add is that I have a strong tendency toward proactive pruning. If someone I follow is bitching about an interaction, or I see a conversation on Facebook containing trollish behavior, I’ll follow the trail and preemptively block those people with whom I’d rather not ever deal. It’s saved me a lot of effort and frustration over the years.

  24. I try to be real which is harder online than in person, but arguably more fun because it’s like Halloween 24/7 here, like trying on masks. To be that person you always dreamt you could be, start a gang. I’m more into gangs than mobs; it seems they have more theme. And mine is a gang of limping 40 somethings.

  25. I think social media — especially things like Twitter and Facebook — are destroying us from the inside out. In the future, many millennia from now, some archaeologist — or whatever passes for one in the future — will try to understand what destroyed us, kind of like the Mayans. But they won’t find anything. Because all of the putrid fact-free poison that is spewed across the interwebs in the name of “being connected” won’t exist. Those ones and zeros? Gone quicker than a butterfly fart in a hurricane. It’s sad.

    But when it comes right down to it, I find social media reminding me of “Lord of the Flies” more than anything else.

  26. Great post Chuck. There’s so much bad stuff out there that I try to use social media as a way to spread the good vibes. Also, there’s not a lot out there that actually makes me laugh so if something comes my way and makes my spew my drink all over the keyboard, I’m all for making sure everyone else gets to spew their drink too. Cheers!

    By the way, are you a middle child? You remind me so much of my sister and all my friends who are middle children. They are gifts to the world because they know how to put a smile on everyone’s face.

  27. I am genuinely flummoxed by people who think that a social media add/follow/friending means anything other than “I am enjoying interacting with you” and that a delete/unfollow/defriending means anything other than “Our interactions are no longer happening/enjoyable/meaningful”. That said, I’m grateful for the ‘hide’ function on Facebook; it’s a nice adjunct to my personal rule not to “add as friend” anyone there who I don’t already know.

  28. Your posts are often filled with comments that could have been pulled straight from my mind by your Jedi Proctologist fingers. Since one of my social media rules is to be mostly polite I just think them loudly and enjoy hearing you voice them. That said post the wrong thing when I’m stuck in an airport scrolling through my Twitter feed and I will cut you, or whoever.

    It’s better to be knee jerk at cutting, unfollowing, and unfriending than it is to argue with strangers in a public forum, isn’t it? I’m online searching for like-minded and interesting people. My social media habits tend to follow my real world habits. I’d have writing-related, life-related conversations with total strangers, but I wouldn’t hop into a heated argument with them–I’d walk away. Same goes for avoiding certain neighborhoods/conversations. And like in the real world if I see something I can do to help someone as I pass by, I try to do that too.

  29. Oh hi. 🙂

    I’ve unfriended people on fb who are just annoying to me. Some of them don’t get the hint and just friend me back, assuming it was a mistake. I then feel guilty and friend them back but hide their posts. :/ I’ve only blocked…3 people? All of whom were actually abusive or poisonous relationships irl. They still found a way to check my social media pages using their friends’ facebooks, and text me to whine about what I’d posted. I was all “well I blocked you so if you go looking for stuff to get mad about, that’s on you.” Too bad I never found out which “friend” had let them use their account to that purpose, so I could block them too.

    Anyway, I worry about being that obnoxious commenter who seems like she’s disagreeing with everyone just to be an ass. I try not to be that person, but I’m afraid I sometimes am. Thinking before posting is important. Edit many times before posting. Attach a link to your blog so there’s some kind of accountability there. I still find myself asking whether I’m just another asshole on the internet, though.

    “(“Hey, look at this bad review.” “WE HAVE BROUGHT YOU THE REVIEW’S CORPSE. COOKIE NOW?”)”

    This made me laugh. A lot. But it’s also sobering because there are authors out there, some with large fanbases, who actually do this on purpose — “here’s a bad review of my/my friend’s book, which I disagree with, so here’s a link to the review, and I will not remove the user’s name/info from it as I encourage my minions to go after them in the name of ‘reviewer’s integrity’ because I’m butthurt.” I do some reviews when I have time, and it makes me a tad nervous, you know?

  30. Yeah, I’m definitely with you on the funny thing (as in, ‘I agree with what you said about following funny people’, not ‘You and I are currently sitting on a strange thing’.

    For me Twitter is very much about fast information and, if I’m being completely honest, killing time or taking a break from actual productive stuff I have to do. So I’ll read funny/vaguely-informative-but-short tweets for a while, then go do something else. Although recently I have been falling into the habit of obsessively playing hashtag games, so I’m maybe not as in-and-out-in-30-seconds as I like to think.

    Maybe I’m doing it wrong, but then the only people who seem to do Twitter ‘right’ are Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga.

    And if being them is somehow ‘right’…

  31. I definitely read this line (“So, with that said, I try to remember three traits I try possess while socially mediaing:”) as “socially mediating” at first — and I was so excited because I think that that eloquently sums up everything that needs to be said about social media. And then I realized I’d mis-read…

    Either way, it’s a great article. I’m really not a fan of social media, but it’s pretty necessary/useful these days and I think you’ve laid out a sensible strategy for “socially mediating”.

  32. As I am currently on a social media hiatus, with few exceptions, due to Lenten abstentions…also the customary chocolate and this year’s newest addition “Cuss words!” I knew you’d be proud.

    I regret your attempt to follow me once, and I declined. I was young and dumb. Ask me again, please.

    I have but one rule that also applies to my blog. Be nice…or leave.

    You can be a little crazy or a little mean…but you can’t be both crazy and mean. Or we will ask you to leave the Trailer Park.

  33. I don’t usually tweet blog about really personal stuff. Not that much about my husband as he prefers me not to mention him on there. If I’m feeling really down and depressed, I try to step away from the feeds rather than talk about it in a public forum. I don’t really tweet when drunk. I try not to self-promo too much, and to engage and be engaging. I don’t just talk about writing, but my other interests like food, travel, art, what have you. I try not to be too negative. I rarely subtweet. I’ll do different things on different platforms. Twitter and Facebook are the watercoolers. Instagram is where I picspam because, well, that’s the point of it. On Tumblr I’m a bit more political, and I link that to my Twitter. I usually forget about Pinterest.

    I also search for my name from time to time because my existing books aren’t that well-known. If a really good review comes up, damn straight I’ll retweet/reblog it, considering the input that released them are kaput, so it’s not like they’re going to.

    So, pretty similar to you except with less swearing/cleverness. I’m aware that even though social media is informal, technically my employers (editors, agent, etc) follow me.

  34. My Rules On Twitter (in the order that I just made them up):

    1. Don’t be a dick (Try to play nice with the other children)

    2. Be yourself (I’m a part-time sarcastic git and full-time grumpy arse, but I mean well)

    3. Don’t feed the trolls (and resist the urge to set an angry mob onto them)

    4. Follow / Unfollow who you want (I prefer friendly creative types; sarcasm is an added bonus)

    5. Don’t act butt-hurt if someone Follows / Unfollows you (all we are is words on a screen)

    6. Talk with people, rather than market at them (take part in the conversation)

    7. Be funny (and if you can’t be funny, be careful)

    8. Be a goat, not a sheep (freedom of speech means nothing without freedom of thought)

    9. Respond whenever you can (so long you add to the conversation or are sufficiently sarcastic)

    10. Share interesting stuff (no-one gives a shit what you ate for breakfast)

    It’s ok to break any of these rules, such as when you’re drunk or in a bad mood, so long as you’re fucking hilarious.

  35. One of my rules, or maybe “tendencies” would be a better word, is don’t comment. If I can’t add anything to the discussion I just read it and move on. I don’t want to be the jerk who says the same thing 50 other people said in the thread I obviously didn’t read. I don’t even say “I agree” because by “liking” a post it’s implied. (I’m only commenting here because you specifically asked and I haven’t slept yet and I have less restraint when I’m tired. I also tend to ramble.)

    Rule 2: I try not to be offended. If someone says something I don’t agree with on their own page, I just ignore it. Or if they’ve voiced their opinion in an eloquent and informative way I’ll “Like” it because I respect their right to their opinion and I appreciate the thought they put into the post, but if someone replies to one of my posts or rare comments with vitriol I’ll reply, because fuck them. (I am less concerned with being offensive because I flat-out state “this is my opinion if you don’t like it, don’t read.”. So, if I offend people I expect them to just move along.)

    Rule 3: I don’t jump in with mobs if I can help it, so far I’ve been successful. For example, someone posted something on Facebook recently that offended a friend and then another friend and another, until memes were made and blog posts were posted. I read the offending post and wasn’t offended and though I could understand why my friend was offended, apparently there was more to the post than the post, I only saw the post and it didn’t bother me at all so I didn’t become involved beyond the reading.

    Rule 4: Be honest. I’m not great at social media, I don’t have a cell phone so “tweeting” is more annoying than helpful/interesting and I often forget about my blog and LinkedIn account, but whatever I do put online is going to be honest. While I do care how I come across to others and I take care with how I present myself, I don’t care enough to cultivate an image based on what I think people want. I’m not the best at anything, I’m not trying to be and I’m not trying to make people think I am so I’m allowed to stick my metaphorical foot in my mouth. I’m allowed to say “Fuck” and “Mother-Lover” and call my friends/readers “Bitches”. I’ve given myself permission to express my feelings and thoughts, the good and the bad because self expression is important but it should be myself I’m expressing not some idealized version of me I think people will love/hate.

    I nearly deleted this because, you know, the “no commenting” thing, but I already have it typed out and I think it all makes sense. Hopefully it adds something to the conversation but if it doesn’t, just skim. I won’t be offended.

  36. Late to the party but:

    What are your social media habits, rules, guidelines? What ideas and behaviors govern your online existence?

    Pick your battles, they’re really not all worth it. Pick your forums and police them. Support each other – pass the baton, carry the burden of fighting the good fight for a while. Expect assholes, deal with them quickly and calmly, and try not to let them control the conversation. Know yourself, your hot-button issues, your tolerance levels. If you’re getting emotionally overwrought, disengage. Be kind. Remember to have fun. If you’re not having fun, go find a place where you are. You’re a much nicer person when you’re happy.

  37. I just wanted to make one small note.
    The bit you said about “keep it positive” in relation to things like gameregate.

    I get what you’re saying and I actually agree with you for the most part.

    Try to remember how serious and dire it is. I know some of those people going through that, and it’s just horrid. I would rather not have to see it, but I’d far rather everybody have to pay attention to every single “look at what they did this week”, because the worst part of it is how badly it needs more mainstream recognition. I get you weren’t trying to discourage people from voicing that stuff. I just want people to understand how dangerous and tricky of a thing it is when you talk about not talking about it, or even monitoring the tone that you speak about it.
    People should be angry. It’s the kind of thing the world should be angry about, so don’t think too badly if you see people being fed up, irate and not jokey and pleasant about it.

  38. I have two twitter accounts. One is the aspiring novelist who works for Whedonopolis. I follow fellow writers as well as authors/publishers/agents and anything bookish or professionally relevant regarding W. I tweet about anything writerly there. All aspects of my writerish self can be found here. I almost never unfollow because I follow rather selectively.
    The other is the blog-writing, food photographing, bad-joking, politicking me. I assume no one cares about my writing woes (which is why I started what’s become the “pro” one in the first place), and talk about my personal life. On there I follow anyone who seems nice/funny/entertaining or who shares cool links and is not a bot. I follow all my friends and set alerts so I don’t miss any of their tweets. I unfollow people who are downers or jerks.

    • Oh! Also, if you want to acknowledge someone, but don’t necessarily have a comment, just favorite it. Then the person knows you read it and feels acknowledged, but you don’t have to say anything. 🙂

  39. Hmmm, I think it is a sign of where my brain should be that I cued into the words Weird Wild West. I’m always on the lookout for good humor and writing advice, that’s why I follow you. My theory on social media interaction is simply I will listen until you piss me off.

  40. More and more I’m liking the functions on social media that let me pull a blind down on people who I don’t want to see, but who I also don’t want to risk the swarm of bees that could come of them finding out I’ve unfriended them. Passive aggressive internetting!

    Your rules are all very sensible and grounded in reality, though. Not like mine. Sometimes, if I don’t like the way someone has changed their tagline I’ll unfollow them. I’m very sensitive to change.

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