Sins of the Tweeter

I am not the be-all, end-all when it comes to social media. I should have made you sit down before breaking that bit of news, shouldn’t I? Such a shock isn’t good for the heart.

Anyway, while I’m no expert and have only a few hundred followers, Twitter is my favorite form of getting social. Trying to communicate a pithy thought in 140 characters or less is a constant exercise in effective writing, and I love the interactions I have over there.

I’m not here to give a lecture on Twitter etiquette because I am still learning some of that myself. But here are some big sins I try to avoid.

Only tweeting links to blog posts. It’s a rookie mistake. When I see an account that consists entirely of blog posts directly publicized by the blog host, I assume it’s someone kind of new to Twitter. Potential followers want to know who we are, they want to connect. It’s hard to interact with a list of links. Tweet the link for sure, but in between, talk to other people. Find some other folks with similar interests to talk to.

Tweeting almost exclusively from other social media. It is frustrating to follow someone whose tweets consist only of status updates from Facebook that are a few teaser words followed by a Facebook link. If you’re not engaged, it’s okay to leave. When I realized my only Facebook status updates were my tweets, I dumped Facebook. Engage in social media you enjoy. Writers are supposed to build platforms, but it’s not really building much of a community if we aren’t really plugged in there. Doing one site well is better than half-hearted engagement in several.

Oversharing. Followers want the link to that latest post. It’s part of why they follow us in the first place. But check your Publicize settings and be aware of how it is tweeting. It is frustrating to see six identical links within seconds of each other because sharing to one site automatically triggers all of them to tweet. Unsure if followers are getting multiple tweets? Check your “me” feed.

Using Twitter to artificially build a blog following. In recent years, I encountered one blogger whose following soared into the tens of thousands within a year. They were even interviewed and asked how they did it. Of course the answer was “I write well.” But here’s the secret. If a WordPress blog is set to post to Twitter, those followers are counted on the blog as well. So this individual spent weeks and months following everyone they could find. Many of those people followed them back. Then, the blogger in question quietly unfollowed those same tens of thousands of people. At first glance, they appear to be wildly popular. In reality, they’re just kind of sneaky. Illegal, no. Dishonest, you bet.

Using Twitter apps incorrectly. There are several apps out there that let you know who followed and unfollowed. Such information can be valuable in helping direct your content. If you see a sharp increase in followers after a post on women’s rights, for example, you can plan similar posts in the future. If followers suddenly drop off, you know to take a look at what may have turned readers off.

Used incorrectly, these apps can make tweeters look insecure and needy. Unless an unfollower is a close friend, it is inappropriate to contact them to ask them why they left. Not everyone is going to like us. It’s okay. Let it go.

Including the entire world in every conversation. I once followed someone and could not for the life of me figure out why I was seeing their conversations with people I do not follow. The reason? This tweeter was moving the Twitter handle to the end of their tweet so their conversation was visible to all of their followers. This move is the equivalent of talking loudly on a cell phone in the middle of a restaurant. Few of us have business so interesting that everyone wants to be a part of it. Equally sinful is putting a period in front of their handle so it looks like you’re talking just to them, but it still goes to everybody else.

Shameless plagiarism. I was recently followed out of the blue by an account with 90K followers. I read their profile, and they seemed harmless, so I followed them back. Then I noticed their tweets looked familiar. Yesterday, I read a distinctively worded tweet that I had read (and favorited) a year ago by someone completely different. This account was not simply retweeting. They were claiming the material as their own. Listen, if it’s rampant plagiarism and copyright infringement I’m after, I’ll visit Pinterest. Retweet if you love something. Nobody loves a copycat. In fact, not only do I unfollow those, I block them as well. No free material from me!

So now you know what I do not like in Twitter accounts that I follow. How about what I love? I love thought-provoking and entertaining tweeters who at least sometimes engage in interaction with their followers.

What are the biggest Twitter sins in your opinion? What did I miss?


Twitter is my very favorite way to follow blogs. Feel free to leave your handle in the comments!


Take That, Pinterest!

You may remember that I’m not on Pinterest. I have my reasons, and the rest of civilized society has theirs for not wanting me there. I’m about to give you another one.

Recently, I flew the friendly skies. “Friendly” is a bit of a stretch; more like a-little-TOO-friendly-and-with-very-poor-personal-boundaries skies. Other than a quick pat-down and an agent freak-out over the rice sock I brought to soothe my sore knee, my travels were uneventful. I even managed to fit a souvenir for the kids into my carry-on.

Imagine their delight when they were each presented with their very own airsickness bag. The Padawan was so overcome with emotion that he had to leave the room. Or maybe he went to play the Wii. He was gone for a long time. I’m pretty sure it was emotion, though.

Motion discomfort bags (or as Squish calls them, “barf bags”) are the perfect gift for any child, prompting hours of dramatic play. Squish walked around all afternoon pretending to throw up in his. Think of how well-prepared he will be for a life of travel, and as an added bonus, when he moves to the top bunk, I can just hand him a bag and he’ll already have his aim down pat. Or he could learn to pack his own lunch. Barf bags are waxed on the inside to prevent spillage. So many possibilities in one small bag.

Our favorite use, though, is for craft time. There’s something for everyone. Look what one small motion-discomfort bag can do for you and your family.  Click to embiggenate.

How do you put a price on creativity?

Airline ticket: $400

Barf bag: free

Quality time with family: $400 + $100 food costs + $20 gas to airport + $36 long-term parking

I Will Rule The World!

You may already know how I feel about Pinterest. And I can help you understand Facebook. I don’t have a cell phone, so I guess I can’t use Instagram. Which of course means that I now really WANT to. But I’ve discovered a new thing that I want make a part of my life. Klout.

Ever since I started on Twitter, I’ve seen mysterious tweets “So-and-so earned +K for pants-zipping (I’m pretty sure, but it might have been for blogging or dog-walking)! ” And I think “Yay for pants-zipping! And potassium!” Imagine my surprise when I discovered that +K has nothing to do with eating bananas, though there might be a category in there somewhere for best banana bread maker. It all has to do with influence. On the internet. Count. Me. In.

I discovered today that not only can a numerical score tell everyone around me (who follows likes klouts on me, or whatever it is you do) how very important I am, I can also get free stuff! Who wouldn’t want that? I can get stuff like this:

Person of Interest SCREEN WIPES! Person of interest here! SO interested! Is that a TV show?

And oh, my gosh!

Who wouldn't need these? Yes, it might slow down the consumption of my food, but they are FREE! And free is awesome!

I looked around, and there are some folks with a lot of Klout.

I want to be as important as these people! And with Klout, I can at least look like I am!

But it does make me a little sad that Lil Twist barely has enough Klout for those plate-toppers. Poor guy! Or girl. I have never heard of him/her, but there they are on Klout! And I am happy to live in a world where Cher packs as much klout as Bill Gates!

Influence is important, and it must be used with great care. How should I influence the masses? Pants-zipping is already taken. What is left for me?

Pin Me!

Maybe I’m trying to keep up with the Jones’. Maybe I’m tired of being left in the dark ages. Perhaps I’m looking for new vehicles to share my work. Or possibly a combination of the three. Either way, a site has recently appeared on my radar. I am naturally curious, but also a bit hesitant.But then a friend mentioned that the site is addictive. New internet addiction? That sounds like it’s exactly what I need in my life! Sign me up for Pinterest!

But it’s not that easy. You don’t just sign up. You have to request an invite. I requested one, sure that it was a formality. I entirely expected my invitation to appear in my inbox instantaneously. I hit “request an invitation” with more than a trace of smugness and waited for my email counter to go up. It was, indeed, instantaneous, but I was in for a surprise. It doesn’t contain a password or any sort of information to log in. It said “Thanks for joining the waiting list.” I’m not “in.”

And I wait. The email says that I can follow them on Twitter. Right. I spent my whole youth on the periphery, watching the cool kids but unable to join in. I don’t need that now. I will ignore them until they want me. And I know that they will! Times have changed. I’m no longer that awkward fourteen year old. I’m cool, right? Maybe I’ll just peek. For a minute.

I wonder if they’ll just send me information to log in, or if I will have to prove my worthiness. Will they run my undergarments up a flag pole? With me in them? Or make me push pennies down the hall with my nose? Or give me a swirlie in a filthy toilet?  Doesn’t matter. I’ll do it. I need in.

I must pin. I want to create a virtual bulletin board more than I ever thought I would. It’s more than that. I need in. Everyone else is in there pinning and creating. And laughing at me because I am not there with them.

Why haven’t I heard? What if I am not Pinterest material? I’m expecting to find a note pinned to my board that says “Sorry. You are so last-Tuesday. Go to Friendster. They are more your speed.” You might as well just stuff me in a locker and leave me there.

Wait. My email counter just went up. And there it is, a message that says “You’ve been invited to join Pinterest.” Really, guys? I just requested my invite exactly ten minutes ago, and you’re already letting me in? How desperate can you get? Ten minutes, and you’re already begging me to join?  Never mind. I’m going back to Subjot. That’s where the cool kids are.


Attitude of Gratitude

I am tired this morning. Not the “Looking forward to a nap” tired. More like the “Wait, why am I wearing my socks in the shower?” kind of tired. I worked back-to-back overnight programs and got very little sleep. It was a long weekend, but I know that I am a lucky girl.

My first group this weekend was a school that visits us every year. I’ve worked with them many times, and without a doubt, they are my favorite group. Not only do they look forward to learning what we have to teach, these eight-year-olds delight in teaching us. The first few weeks of school is spent on zoo stuff. Every subject builds them up for their visit. In Science, they research animals. In Language Arts, they write up the report. Math has them adding and subtracting bananas to feed the monkeys. In Reading, they focus on animal-themed stories. One year, they memorized “Wild About Books” and performed it for us at bedtime. And after their visit, they write the most wonderful thank-you notes. Every student. Did I mention that their teachers are creative? The school is at the top of their state in test scores, and it’s easy to see why.

These kids are a joy. Every single year, they are well-behaved, eager to learn, and greet each opportunity with enthusiasm. The school is tiny, and the teachers know and love each child like they are their own. They aren’t afraid to mete out discipline if necessary, but it rarely is. There’s a level of respect that isn’t often seen in schools these days. The kids behave often because they don’t want to disappoint their teacher.

One more thing I should mention about the school. A sponsor in their community makes it possible for the kids to come for their Overnight, as 60% of them or more live below the poverty level. And some of them live way below. Like, the teachers worry that school lunch on Friday will be the last thing they get to eat until they come to school on Monday morning. Many of their thank-you notes voice appreciation for the food we provide. They are poor, but here’s the beauty of it. None of them know it. In their world, they have a loving adult at home, teachers who adore them, a community who supports them, a sponsor who cares enough to give them a once-in-a-lifetime experience. To their minds, they are rich. Makes you think, doesn’t it?

So if a kid who has so little in the way of material possessions can feel so full in spirit, what about me? Today, my post is about being grateful for what I have.

This weekend, I earned some extra Christmas money.

My sweet husband wrangled the toddler yesterday afternoon so that I could relax and read a book. 

I have enough food in my cabinet to feed my family for a couple of weeks.

The temperature dropped significantly this weekend. I flipped a switch, and I have heat. 

I have an amazing church and church family, and great things are happening. 

I have friends. People I can count on if I need them. I am not alone in the world. 

My littlest one just interrupted my work again. To hug me.  

My daughter, whom I typically have to drag into thrift stores, asked me yesterday if I would take her shopping. At thrift stores. And afterwards, she uttered the words “Thrift stores are great!” I may have wept with joy. 

We found enough modest long-sleeved shirts and sweaters for fall and winter for under $25. Way under. And one of them was “Nightmare Before Christmas.” 

Our 16 year-old cat is still with us, and she has gained some weight since her oral surgery.

My husband helped our middle son clean out and rearrange his room. It looks so great!

I have shelves of good books to read, and blankets to curl up under to read them.

My son still lets me dress him like this: 

Made the wand himself and yes, that's a Gryffindor crest on his shirt!

And what about you? What are you grateful for? Share with me. In your blog, on Twitter, on Facebook, in my comments, anywhere. That’s your challenge, should you choose to accept it. And I hope you do.




The Sorted Details

The Official Logo. Courtesy of Pottermore,com

I am cool. I have an early invitation to Pottermore. A friend signed me up a couple of months ago. You wish you had friends like that. Actually, you should. She’s awesome. Here’s the fun part. Early admittance didn’t actually mean we could get into the site early. We still had to wait for our letter to arrive (via email, not owl) in order to fully access all the features. But mine arrived this morning. I got in early. The site isn’t open to everyone until October, which is, um Saturday. . So I guess that means I rock, but only a little more than the average person. Having received notification that I am just to the right of ordinary, I logged in. Or I tried to.

Now, I’m not here to offer any spoilers or anything. I am pretty sure there were Terms of Service that I agreed to. I know I must have promised not to tell anyone anything cool about the site. Since I’m in the cool-kid club and got in early and all. If I violate the terms, a mountain troll will probably poop on my lawn. So call me the secret keeper. I say nothing about what I see. Except this:

They’re beta-testing the site, and I hope someone over there is taking notes. I can’t get in. Once I’m in, I can’t stay in. And if I stay in, I am not sure how to get where I am going. And once I am there, it takes me forever to figure out how to get where I have been. Nothing makes sense. Kind of like Facebook. Pottermore is the new social network for geeks.

I have no idea what I am doing, and I can’t find a tutorial. Not sure how to see the stuff I want to see. I know people have been sorted into houses because I have been subjected to them via my Twitter feed for the last two weeks. But how do I get there? I want to be sorted, too, but every time I think I have moved a bit forward, I get kicked off the site. The servers can’t handle the volume of users without suddenly shutting people out. I have not been able to stay on for longer than a minute and a half yet, and it’s only open to a million people so far.

It’s a total time-suck. The precious hour I wasted messing about on the site getting absolutely nowhere was time I need to spend writing. Or cleaning. Or eating. Or all three. I spent significantly more time trying to log in than I actually did exploring. I found the whole mess to be tedious and frustrating. I may actually have yelled at my computer once. Okay, twice. An entire hour of my life I will never get back.

So my user name is WolfsbaneNight8. I’ll be back on again the moment I can. Look me up, and we can be friends! Yes, I know. I have a problem. You don’t need to point it out, but thanks.

I Got Dumped

photo courtesy of Because I don't take pictures of my trash

I don’t know what happened. Yesterday you were a part of my life, pretty as you please. And today, poof, you are gone. Vanished from my life completely like a thief in the night. And it hurts. Is it me? I’ll never know. Because you dumped me, severed our tenuous connection. That’s right. You quit following me on Twitter.

I’ve been learning all about social media recently as an effort to promote the things that I am doing. I avoided Twitter for a long time, mostly because of the lingo. Hashtags don’t sound like something a Christian should be involved with. I gathered my courage and jumped in this week, and this is the thanks I get. I was so proud of building some followers, and then I got up this morning and discovered you were gone. I am devastated. I wish I knew which one you were.

Were you the girl who added me under my old user name (cheapthrills03) thinking that I might enjoy reading about your drunken, drug-addled romp with your married boss? Actually, such a parting might not be bad for either of us, as we obviously have different interests. But what if it wasn’t you? And what if you actually read this. Should I just go ahead and say goodbye now? Do I send a card?

Were you the guy who tweets about the fabulous software that you have created. That no one has ever heard of? Or the girl who was looking for a good time? I am a fun person. We could play Monopoly, or even watch Harry Potter! Or are you the one who wants to sell me penis enlargement pills? Don’t let my lack of such an appendage come between us. We can work it out!

Or are you the lady that I was following myself. The one who found me in the bushes outside her house? I am so very, very sorry about that. I am really new to Twitter, and I got a little confused. I now know the difference between “following” and “stalking.” My bad. Please accept my apologies and a new azalea to replace the one I squashed. And the private investigator will no longer be parked outside your place of business. Restraining orders are handy little things, no?

Anyway. If you are out there, my long, lost cyber-soul mate, please look me up. I miss you. And I’ve got a telemarketer friend you might really like, too. She’ll be calling in a couple of hours. We can all hang out and go get our nails done or something. Follow me!