Okay, Listen Here

Okay, Listen Here

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

To Tweet or not to Tweet, That is The Question.

I fell on the floor laughing this weekend from a new commercial that was both imaginative and gave a social commentary that I thought was justified. It starts with a twenty-something girl sitting alone at a table with her computer talking about reading an article on “older Americans” becoming socially withdrawn. She smugly reported that she got her parents to join Facebook and they only have nineteen friends. Then it flashes to her parents, getting bikes out of a car (this is a car commercial) and going riding with other real people, actually interacting them! It ends with this smug girl saying she has 600 – something Facebook friends. She turns back to her computer, absorbed. Now that’s living!

Being a member of the ever-enlarging older generation, I thought about all the advances that have emerged in the last ten or so years and, well, I honestly think we should at least curb our appetites for them. I have a smart-phone and, yes, I do check my emails and text on it. I am guilty of wanting to jump up and grab the phone when those little pings go off. Most of the time the emails are just advertisements from places I have ordered merchandise from but sometimes I get emails from friends. In no case are any of the emails emergencies. The texts aren’t emergencies either (I have this mental image of one of my friends, bleeding, broken and trying to type “help” on those itty bitty keys; blood gets all over the phone, his fingers slip…well you get the picture). I guess if anyone I know has an actual emergency they will use the phone and CALL. So why do I jump up and run to the phone? I have been conditioned. Pavlov would be so proud! I do admit that texting is handy when it is a person you don’t particularly have time to talk to. Sometimes I wish my mother would text, thereby sparing me hours of talking about people I don’t know or people I don’t know who have died. It would be simple “Mary Sue Billingsly died this AM of psoriasis.” There I have been informed and I don’t even, under texting etiquette, have to respond. That saved me the long and gory details of her lingering death and at least thirty minutes on the phone. As for checking my emails, well, the smart phone saves me time - that I will admit. I don’t have to boot up the computer and scroll through them all. I already know which ones I need to answer, thanks to my handy little phone.

Now, to infuriate most of you: I hate Facebook! Google “Facebook” Boolean-connected with “waste of time.” You will get articles, some by psychologists, that state Facebook is the procrastinator’s best friend. Other articles talk about how the person starts up-dating their page on Facebook only to look up and four or five hours have passed. It sucks you in until you are completely submerged in the on-line life of someone else. I used to have a Facebook page until someone, a person who had a strong dislike for me and who I wouldn’t “friend,” tried to break into my account. Gabriel from Facebook shut it down and informed me I had a new password. I used the new password, shut it down and haven’t looked back since. I got tired of seeing everyone’s kids, dogs, cats, birds, reptiles or whatever posted on my Wall. I also got tired of the fish and farm games plastered over everything. Geez people, do you have a LIFE? Come to my farm and deal with the real thing. One other thing I noticed upon my Google search – Facebook is now cited in at least twenty percent of the divorces filed each year. Seems people are reconnecting with old flames and leaving their spouses or they are conducting an emotional affair that eventually leads to divorce. It’s way too easy to talk using Facebook (planning your escape from that humdrum marriage) than it is to sneak around and meet in person. And, if you’re smart, a lot less likely to be caught!

Yes, I can hear those of you out there who say that it’s wonderful to look on an editor or agent’s Facebook account and learn all there is to know about that person. It gives you an advantage. Seriously? Do you honestly think they put their real information out there for some Ted Bundy-like person to glom information to be used? I don’t think so (How many of you writers use pseudonyms?). I could be wrong but in this day and age if you really put information out there that could cause you harm, you must be like the idiotic girl in the commercial. Now that’s living… in fear or just plain stupidity. At any rate, if your work isn’t good, all the information you have on that person is just useless information because knowing Katie Harbowitz (made-up editor name) uses Bounty isn’t going to get you signed for a million-dollar book deal. I guess I don’t get it. Person to person networking still seems more sensible and advantageous. I also understand that a lot of you use this to connect with friends and family. Fine but have you thought about the time you just spent on-line? Time you could have been using to actually spend quality face-to-face time with your family or friends. I know most of you will blast me for this so go ahead, hit me with your best shot. I still think people need to connect as living, social, creatures.

And the bluebird of happiness: Twitter! I got a big surprise when I opened the August issue of RWR and read the column “The Last Word” by Mindy Klasky because the use (or overuse) of electronics was going to be my blog subject for this week. In it she voiced a lot of things about Twitter. Her main problem with the medium seems to be that she didn’t like doing it; she didn’t like it and that dislike shown through. I wouldn’t want to Tweet either, maybe because I don’t need everyone to know what I am doing and where I am doing it. I also think that it is too easy to put your random thoughts out there and, whoops, you really didn’t mean it (shades of Gilbert Gottfried – bet he wishes he’d quacked instead of tweeted!). As for following someone on Twitter, well, I don’t know about that. I don’t have a Twitter account so I have never done it. I am sure it gets you information a lot faster – he/she sold a nine-book deal to X publishing. If it’s your friend, then I suppose it’s wonderful news. I just don’t see the necessity. Someone out there clue me in on this. I can’t see following other people’s lives in 140 character blurbs.

So, in conclusion, I guess I should go harness the horses to the buggy, grab my bonnet and head to town since I am so hopelessly out of sync with the modern world. I just can’t see spending so much time on these things. I already waste enough time trying to build a fire in the cookstove…

Tell me your opinion on Facebook, texting, and Twitter. I know many of you have valid arguments against my position. Please try to remember I am easily swayed and bribes, well, bribes without Jean’s knowledge, will be accepted.


  1. I love texting. It's like email, only faster. And sometimes better than a phone call because when I only need to tell you that I'm running 15 minutes late, it saves me all the Hi, how are you...

    I'll join you on your soapbox about the narcissism of Facebook and Twitter. People think I care about far more than I actually do.

    But I will be signing up for Twitter today. I need to see what all the kids are talking about...

  2. Hate Facebook. Love Twitter. Don't have texting on my phone.

    What's fun about Twitter is connecting with people you sort of know. (Ask the Presents authors--I'm a total Twitter groupie for them). I've also connected with readers (or created readers) on Twitter. I think it's easier on Twitter, via searches, to find people who have similar interests to you.

    Plus, the #1k1hr challenges on Twitter have helped me write 3 60K books and a 21K word novella in just 6 months. For that alone, Twitter is worth it.

    Twitter's something you can sneak in for a few minutes during breaks at work, for instance. To me, Facebook seems harder to follow and more confusing. Plus, if you're not into the games on Facebook, you end up wondering what's the point.

  3. Oh, and another cool thing about Twitter--instant information. Not always correct, but the speed and sheer breadth of Twitter helps you quickly correct the errors and get the full picture. Almost an hour before Pres. Obama announced Osama Bin Laden's death, Twitter had it figured out. Not all of the information was perfect, but the gist was there.

    I get a lot of my initial news on Twitter, especially at work. It's kind of like a alert system.

  4. Kimberly, I agree about texting. It does save me a lot of time. I really didn't think about Facebook being all about narcissism but you are right. Good point! Let me know how the Twitter account goes. I am curious.

    Paula, I didn't know that about Twitter. So you can search for people with similar interests? I am at a loss about #1k1hr challenges - what is that? I need to learn. Great about it helping you write those books! Is Twitter something like texting (I know you don't have texting) because it is short and doesn't require much responding? And Facebook - I agree about the games!

  5. I like Facebook. It's let me reconnect with old friends. I don't spend nearly as much time on it as I did at first. I guess the "new" has worn off. And I was just thinking the other day I needed to cull my Friends list. I'm not sure why I'm friends with some of these folks.

    I have a Twitter account. I don't Tweet though. Well, except the night of The Closer premiere when Kyra Sedgwich was tweeting. I got a couple @ messages from here. Love the show and her character.

    Love texting. It's an easy way to message folks. After the tornadoes, I had texting capability only so that was my sole mode of communication for 6 days.

    And now there's Google +. I'm not even going to look at it.


  6. As someone who is phone-phobic (I'm sure there's a technical term for that), I love texting. I might love you, but I don't love talking to you on the phone. Text me any day!

    I have a friend who mentioned the 1hr1k challenges, but I didn't know they were on Twitter. Anything that helps your writing, imo. But I still think limiting what you do is a good idea. If there's that much info on Twitter and you can search out stuff, etc, I can't see it being any less time-consuming than FB, where I don't do any games or anything, but just skimming the news feed can take forever.

    But for the truly important stuff, hasn't anyone heard of the game "Telephone"? I would not want to get my news that way. Straight from the horse's mouth, preferably, and if I can't get it straight from them, videos on the news of them saying it works for me. It just gives me hives anytime I think about our kids' world evolving into a place where anything important is found out via Twitter or FB. Yikes!

  7. I tend to think of facebook as a mixed blessing. Yes, there is the annoyance of losing time, getting spammed by useless info, and the occasional unfriendly so-and-so from your past suddenly wanting to be your friend after spending their entire high school career doing their darndest to make your life miserable... But for someone like me, who lives on the opposite side of the country from my family and have good friends scattered to the four winds, Facebook has become an essential convenience in trying to show I do care and haven't forgotten people. (It doesn't help that I have two small children who scream in jealousy whenever I try to have a phone conversation!) I've found that turning my privacy settings up, blocking games, and hiding commentary from select people all make the experience much more efficient. But truth be told, I spend half of my time on FB with the Goodreads application!

    Initially, I hated the very idea of Twitter. As if our society weren't narcissistic enough already! But I have to admit, the vile thing has it's uses...particularly in the professional sense. I do like being able to track my favorite agents and editors and hearing what they're looking for and what they're sick of in a manuscript. Earlier this year, Twitter was responsible for alerting me to a Writer's Digest contest that allowed you to pitch your book in a single tweet. I have to say, it was quite the challenge to condense the gist of my MS down to 140 characters! But I managed to at least final in that particular contest, so I like to think it paid off.

    ~Angela Blount

  8. Paula, I get the instant news thing but if the info isn't correct do they immediately do updates?

    PM, I do understand connecting with old friends (except I, like Angela, don't really want to talk to half of them who made my life miserable in high school and now they want to be "friends"). Texting still seems to win hands down - it works when the phone won't (figure that?). And Kyra Sedgewich, I like her too! You have intrigued me - what is Google+? I haven't heard of this one.

    Lea Ann, texting does keep me off the phone ALL Day. It is a blessing for that! Twitter seems like it is ever-expanding - more and more things you can do on it. I didn't really know you could search stuff on it. What is Telephone? Never heard of it. See how sad I am? Yeah, my son gets a lot of his news from there. I have wondered about that...

    Angela, using it with family is a good thing. I know it helps when you are so far from family and friends. And what you said about upping the privacy setting, blocking games and all does sound more efficient. I'm just lazy and didn't do all that so it became a bother to even check Facebook. AND CONGRATULATIONS on finalling in that contest!! Really proud of you!!!!!

  9. I do it all, like it all, and am addicted to none of it. I have all games on FB blocked. I support everyone's right to make a farm and kill vampires, but don't involve me. I check my FB several times a day, but spend no more than 10 minutes total for the day. I am not scared to unfollow some one who does nothing but Tweet.

    I have seen the rudest behavior from people who usually have lovely manners because of a cell phone--especially a smart phone. I do not blame the devices.

    I have a theory that children cannot grow up if they can call or text a parent every 15 seconds to ask how to open a can of soup. Many of these calls occur at the table. There is no excuse.

  10. I don't particularly care for Facebook, but I have it. I love Twitter. Like Paula said, it can be useful for connecting with people. I talk to my Presents sisters just about daily. Often, we just commiserate with each other over an impending deadline. I also find out about the latest Romancelandia kerfluffles before they make it to the mainstream. And news, yes. I follow Breaking News and often hear about things before they hit the mainstream media. I like knowing things quickly.

    That said, discipline is key, and I've decided to pull myself back from all social media a bit more. I have a presence, which is what I wanted, but I don't have to monitor it every minute of the day.

  11. Jean, I agree about the rude manners using a phone. I do not check my phone in front of people nor do I take phone calls when I am talking, eating or socializing. I consider it very rude. I was sitting outside the drugstore waiting on hubby the other day and I noticed that of the fifteen people who walked out that there were thirteen checking their phones or talking. It just proves my point - we are all getting a bit too dependent on these things.

    Lynn, I guess Twitter does serve some purposes. But I will ask you the same question I asked Paula - if they get the news wrong, do they correct it? I am intrigued. Discipline is the key, you are right.

  12. The thing is, Cheryl, there's no "they" on Twitter. The feeds you see are the ones you choose to follow. And all of those people are watching news programs and following those programs and tweeting about it. People like ABC's Jake Tapper are on Twitter and they'll tweet what they're hearing from sources in the White House.

    The night Osama bin Laden died, EVERYONE I follow was talking about it, including book bloggers, editors, agents, writers, politicians, newspeople, celebrities and political bloggers. We were watching a variety of different news channels or following a variety of different reporters on Twitter. People were retweeting people they followed, so I was getting news from people I didn't necessarily follow because someone I do follow follows those people. There were wild guesses and lots of speculation, but we all knew that's what it was, so we took it with a grain of salt. However, collectively, we got the gist of the story figured out before Obama announced it.

    During the aftermath of the tornados here in Alabama, people tweeted needs--what was needed, where it was needed, how to get it there, who to contact. It was invaluable information that was right up to the minute. The news programs couldn't possibly have kept up with all that, but Twitter acted as a clearinghouse for individuals and organizations to make a quick and meaningful difference.

    It took me a while to get the hang of Twitter. I think it's important not to follow a ton of people; just follow people who share your interests. I follow other writers, editors and agents. I follow a handful of friends I don't have other contact with. And I follow newspeople, some celebrities and some political pundits (though I don't tweet about politics myself).

    And it's okay to unfollow someone you've followed. Eventually you'll find the balance that's right for you.

    As for #1k1hr, that's a hashtag search. You search for that hashtag, save the search to your Twitter account, and you can call it up whenever you need a timed writing session. There's almost always someone around who'll do a #1k1hr with you, and I find that it gives me the incentive to sit down and write hard for an hour, because I have to tell my #1k1hr mates how much I wrote in the hour. I'm very competitive, so it's a great incentive for me.

    I usually write around 1K, which for me is about 5-6 pages. That's usually my scheduled daily page count for week days. On weekends, I'll do two or three #1k1hr sessions per day and get my 11 pages per day that I schedule for weekends.

  13. I love facebook, but I don't really spend much time on there. I do connect with a lot of good friends on there, and I don't accept friend requests with any weird men that I don't know. Creepy.

    I don't know how to text on my phone. I am so not a techie. There's a reason I write historicals.

    And I have no desire to Tweet or Twitter or in other ways sing like a bird. I'm a pretty private person, and I don't understand the Twitter thing.

    So I understand you, Cheryl. :-)