Being Social

I have to be honest: I'm getting a little sick of social networking. I could handle Twitter and Facebook just fine (well, I mostly ignore Facebook), but now Google+? As I probably mentioned before, social networking can be a double-edged sword for writers. Sure, you can connect with other writers and readers, but it's a massive time-waste that could be better spent, well, writing. If you don't tweet or make a Facebook or Google+ update every day, do you cease to exist to the others wired into the social network? If you let a week pass with no updates, do people just assume you're dead and move on? Does anyone even care?

Personally, out of all the social networks out there now, I like Twitter the best. I don't have to worry about friend requests or event invites or people asking me to like their self-made fan page. I don't have to sift through an ever growing stream of so-and-so is friends with so many new people or so-and-so just scored so many points in such-and-such a game or so-and-so is now in a relationship or so-and-so is now out of a relationship. Because, quite honestly, I don't give a crap about any of that.

Twitter is so much easier. I can follow who I want to follow. I can update when I want to update. I don't have to worry about getting notifications when someone "likes" my tweet or comments (though, yes, I guess @mentions are comments, no?).

There are different ways to use Twitter and Facebook and other social media websites. A lot of writers use it to promote their work. I'd be lying if I said I didn't use Facebook and Twitter to promote my stuff, but I don't do it constantly. When there's news to report (a new story or novel published), I'll mention it once or twice and that's pretty much it. My novels? They continue to sell pretty well every day, and guess what -- I'm not mentioning them on Twitter constantly, just as I'm not posting about them on message boards. I don't really understand the rationalization of writers mentioning their books and stories again and again on Twitter and Facebook and Google+ if their friends or followers don't really increase by much. If your friends or followers aren't interested in buying or reading your stuff the first time, they probably won't be interested in buying or reading your stuff the second or third or fourth or fifth time. In fact, they'll probably just get annoyed and unfollow (or block or unfriend) you.

If that happens, does it mean they don't like you anymore? Who knows. I've unfollowed people in the past on Twitter, and it was never because I didn't like them. It was just because I found myself not really paying attention anymore to their tweets. Or they retweeted like a madperson. Or they didn't tweet at all.

In fact, a long time ago, I unfollowed someone because I found myself not really paying attention to this person's tweets. I didn't not like this person anymore, but the next day I woke up to find a new blog post from this person making a big deal because I stopped unfollowing them. I mean, I have to assume this person meant me, otherwise it would have been way too coincidental to be anyone else. But anyway, this writer took it extremely personal that I would unfollow them. In their mind, I no longer liked them or considered them a friend. As you can imagine, I was embarrassed -- not for myself, of course, but for this writer making a big deal out of nothing.

At least, in my mind it was nothing, while to this writer it was clearly something.

But is that what social interaction is? Do we become virtual friends with everyone we encounter?

I know some writers play the Follow Me Game. They follow you and expect you to follow them back, and if you don't within a day or two, they stop following you. Why? Because I guess they think the more followers they have, the more successful of a writer it makes them. (Also, there are apparently programs you can log into that will automatically follow people and unfollow them after a day or two if the person does not follow you back. And of course there are people who just follow everybody they can because they want to.) I mean, not too long ago I saw a writer bragging how he had over 10,000 followers on Twitter. And it was true: he did have over 10,000 followers on Twitter. Of course, he was following about the same number too, which, if you think about it, sort of minuses the other one out.

Success is not judged by the number of Twitter followers you have or the number of friends on Facebook (or "likes" to your self-made Facebook fan page). At least, I don't think success is judged like that, but to each his own.

But again, I do like Twitter. Am I using it right? Is there a proper way to use these social media platforms?

A few months back, I tweeted some news on the Hint Fiction Twitter account. Someone responding, saying something to the effect of there you are, haven't seen you much, and I responded with something like, well if people talked more about Hint Fiction, I would post more. I was just trying to be friendly, nothing more than that, I was just trying to be "social," but this innocuous tweet was taken way out of context as an invitation to get a lecture on how I was doing the Hint Fiction Twitter account all wrong. How I needed to follow more people, how I needed to become interactive, how I needed blah blah blah.

My response was a simple thanks, but really the account is for updating any and all news about Hint Fiction, and left it at that.

Every person is different. Every person uses Twitter and Facebook and Google+ differently. Some of it can be too much. Some of it can be too little. Can any of it ever be just the right amount of socialness?