Socialize What?

A couple of years ago when I first started the whole writing gig, I got sucked into the social networking game. It was the big thing – start the platform before you have the product so that people would know who I was.

I’ll leave the analysis of whether that’s a good or a bad thing up to other people. Short story is, for all that I’m somewhat of a introvert in real life, I actually do enjoy the social aspects of blogging and tweeting and all the rest of it. (Maybe it’s that whole I was a middle-school geek vibe – behind the electronic curtain, I’m still a bit of a mess, but no one can really see that from where I’m standing. I can be as bold or ridiculous as I like. )

But still. When I first put my toe in the Twitter pool, it was more career driven. I followed other authors, agents, bloggers, publishers – anyone involved with the industry that I could find. Anyone who was published and had “made it” from my particular viewpoint. And really, that’s not a bad thing. The publishing industry is changing every moment, it seems – information travels at the speed of atoms on Twitter – it’s a fabulous place to gather news, particularly because my time is at such a premium these days. I barely have time to blog my own stuff, let alone visit all my old favorite online spots. Twitter gives me a snapshot of what’s going on and I can live with that just fine for now. (And honestly, where else can I find out what’s going on in the industry AND find out what people are watching on TV. And reading. And eating. And hey that can of Coke Zero just exploded and someone’s cat is drinking it and OMG did you watch Virgin Diaries last night?)

Nonsense? Absolutely, but funny how some of those little things make the people I’m following more real to me.

I’ve also been able to connect with real friends…and of course, tweet at the occasional celebrity in a vain attempt at two seconds of notoriety. (And celebrities can be defined in multiple ways – you’ve got the big-wig Hollywood sorts, but there’s plenty of what I would call niche-celebs out there too – authors, artists, gamers, whatever. Maybe not big names on the whole, but within their own little worlds? Sure.)

The thing is, the tweet-streams seem to get more and more cluttered as we go. It used to be I’d follow anyone who’d follow me. Quid pro quo and all that…but I don’t always do that anymore. I mean, I follow about 1600 people now, and I’ve got about 1800 followers. It’s not huge number, but doable for me at the moment. There’s a fair number of spammers in there, I’m sure…as well as people I’ll call “Twitter – hoarders” – the ones with 10,000 followers, and they follow 10,000 people? I do start to wonder if they’re actually interacting with everyone there or if they are just collecting followers.

As a side note, I also sorta crack up at some of the niche-celebs. They jump into the Twitter pool, tweet a few times, get a few hundred or thousand followers…and then only follow like 30 people back- and always the *same* 30 people – Hollywood bigwigs. Like there isn’t anyone else on the planet worth following or interacting with. And I don’t get that either. I mean, okay, if you’ve got 200,000 followers and you’re constantly being tweeted at by people, yeah, it makes sense to maybe be a bit more aloof. (And this is obviously a problem I’ll never have, understand.) But the usual point of social networking is to…be social, right? I dunno. I can’t tell if it’s an ego thing or just a lack of understanding as to how the medium should work. (And seriously? Don’t get on Twitter and tweet about how people are so stupid and how you had to shut down your Facebook page because you kept getting friend invites instead of them going to your Fan page, and oh, the horror. You’ve got your 15 minutes. Revel it in, k?)

These days, I’m actually more interested in making more of a personal connection. Follow me and tweet me in a friendly way and I’ll more than likely follow you back. But on that same note, because so many authors are forced to throw themselves out there to sell their books, it can be hard to tell if someone is actually interested in knowing me the person…or me, the author who can maybe get you something. It does happen- I get pinged about hooking up random people with my agent, or my publisher…or I get the dreaded “thanks-for-following-and-would-you-please-buy-my-book-DM.” (This is a dick move, btw. I will instantly unfollow you if you do it.)

Still, Twitter is a fun place – even if a huge chunk of it is no more than pseudo-verbal masturbation, in a lot of ways it’s a virtual party where everyone’s invited.

I’ll be over here in the corner. Petting the cat and sipping my Coke Zero.

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