I’ve a variety of people on my Twitter follower list, as I have a variety of topics which I may “tweet” about. It can be everything from the latest RPG I’M playing on my personal time, to what I prepared for my client’s dinner for my other career as a private chef. Occasionally, I’ll retweet a current event news flash or a passing thought about intercultural observations, but more often my 140 characters are related to the book reviews I do for my review/interview site “Flying With Red Haircrow”, or encouragement with writing or some literary pursuit.
Honestly, as a writer, I’ve never felt comfortable solely tweeting whatever I happen to be writing or editing, or thinking about what I’m going to write. And especially not when I’ve had something accepted or published. I’m not against it, but it’s just not my personality type, though I fully understand it can be part of the online persona some feel it’s crucial to gain in order to have fans. I do my advertising and marketing but in a more low-key way, for better or worse. For writer’s support groups etc. I can’t help but say I dislike those ones who say, “We only retweet those who retweet our own posts!”
As a writer I retweet anything I think might be helpful to someone else, whether it’s another writer, article, release or blog post or whatever. I find that “we only do if you do for us” a very self-serving attitude which borders egoism. I question then, “Why are you following me? Only to see if I retweet something about your site or group? Why should I when the only things you tweet are basically what I consider a type of spam? And the only retweets you have are from other writers who borderline being spammers or are fully into oversale mode.”
When I first joined Twitter…no that’s not right, when I first added my ID to writer’s groups and specifically publisher’s authors groups, I had a number of writers and others add me, and I added them in return. I’ve been told that is the proper etiquette for Twitter (for the most part). What I quickly learned was most of the tweets were about accomplishments: “finished 60K today, I’m on a roll!” (I’m exaggerating for effect), or something like that. Not that that’s bad, but if those are the sole types of posts, I don’t need to read that as it is irrelevant to me. Granted, people utilize Twitter in different ways, and to each their own. I fully agree with that. But I equally agree that if you find a person’s tweets not to your taste, your choice is to cringe when you read them, or unfollow them. I don’t have a hard time unfollowing anyone. It doesn’t mean I won’t keep in contact with them other places, or that I am upset. Especially not the latter, as the word upset denotes emotions, usually bruised or angry, and I don’t allow that in myself regarding random comments or even directed messages through those I don’t really know from on the web.
A couple of things I am more likely to unfollow over are regular posts on political issues or those which contain cursing. Next would be sexual topics, innuendos or references. One serious misinterpretation I had directed at me was that because I write gay fiction which naturally sometimes contains sexual situations, that I read erotica myself or wish to engage in sex talk or find it amusing. I’m no prude by a long, looooooooong shot LOL but like eating or drinking, having sex or being sexually aroused is something which regularly happens in my course of life. I don’t need to talk about every meal even to my intimates, and certainly not to an acquaintance. I wouldn’t discuss what I’d had for dinner last night or look forward to having on Tuesday unless it is specifically asked of me.
As I’d gotten lumped into the m/m writer category where sex talk seems par for the course, because there are way too many people who confuse m/m fiction with gay fiction, and almost any passing comment is turned into a sexual innuendo. If you don’t participate or deflect the question, it is intimated something is wrong with you. It’s their persona sure, but I don’t follow you just to hear of their lust for gay male sex even if you can’t personally experience it! I don’t take it as flattery either.
And let me say there are a number of female Twitterers on my list who often include sexual comments, retweets or sexually explicit dialogue, but somehow that’s okay if they do so. I made a comment just before the Supermoon in March, that I was being affected by it, and I lost a number of followers, some who gave sharp remarks before twisting off: they didn’t want to read about sex on their timeline! I wasn’t even referring to sex. I happened to be referring to sleeplesness and restlessness. Because I am not female they made the ASSUMPTION I was talking about sex? Totally wrong. And it shows where THEIR mind was, but I’ve observed a gender difference on Twitter about that. If they send a stream of tweets about sex, somehow that’s exciting. If a guy sends one, especially one who is not one of their special friends they like to flirt with, but just someone on their follower list, well then you’re A) sexist, B) devaluing sex, C) sex-crazy, or D) just offensive.
I’ve had people who followed me because they thought I was a gay who follows every GLBTIIQ movement and new group on the scene. I’ve had them unfollow because if I don’t agree with a course of action by a group, I won’t follow or support. I don’t care if someone is also gay, Native American and ambidextrous (all things I am), if they are doing things or using method I don’t agree with, I don’t follow them. If doesn’t mean I would speak out against them, their choices are their choices; nor does it mean I wouldn’t be their friend either, for exactly the same reasons: their choices are their choices.
If I write too many personal messages about things going on with me like the fact my son has decided to eat everything with chopsticks including Pasta Puttanesca, which results in a great deal of mess, or that I think there should be a special lane with metal guard-rails on each side for people who talk on their cell or text while driving, and people have followed me because they want book review links…you get unfollowed. Or people read a quote of me and think I’m some kind of Native American guru, yet I post a 140char about the fact I tripped over the cat and crashed a table and broke a lamp, I get unfollowed. Where do these insane expectations come from?
Some of my earliest followers were people based in Germany who’d read some of my German language messages or I’d responded to their tweets I’d seen. Ironically enough, most of these still have remained followers. We interact sometimes, maybe going several weeks in between, but when we reconnect, it is as friendly and warm as ever.There is no hesitation to reply to them. I know what I’ll receive, and what I won’t. I won’t get a no-reply. I won’t get an unfollow (unless I’ve been really bad maybe?!) What’s the difference? Expectations?
Do you present the real you on Twitter? I do. I trip and fall sometimes. In fact, that’s probably one of the least expected things people know about me. I come off as quiet, contained, intense to many people, but…my mother nicknamed me Kaboom. Because I fall a lot, an unfortunate trait I passed onto my son who she nicked Kaboobie.
Last but not least, those people who follow you and you follow them but apparently their tweets are simply statements, declarations and exclamations: YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO REPLY TO THEM. IF YOU DO SO, THIS SOMEHOW MAKES YOU A STALKER, and depending on your reply, either argumentative/confrontational or crazy for believing something they posted where ANYone can read it might be replied to by one of those millions. Go figure.
Do you adjust what you say, how you tweet or what you say based on followers or unfollowers? Sometimes it’s easy to tell when people didn’t like what you’ve said, because obviously your follower count abruptly lowers. If you use a hashtag popular especially on a topic many people save such as #love or #sex or #news, or you release a book or have a review and your follower count suddenly jumps, you may feel special.
My conclusion about Twitter and Twitterers can be explained by one occurence with a follower. It was someone I had interacted with on a website and its forum. He was around fifty or so, a businessman who read widely, and perhaps also wrote gay fiction as well. He wrote me a message saying he was unfollowing me because I tweeted too much. Before my schedule became busier, and only sporadically now, I’d have a few hours in which I’d tweet and interact with others. Maybe twenty messages or so over during that time period.
I thought it strange, though he might have thought it polite to explain why he was unfollowing instead of just going off. I wrote him back and said, “If you knew someone who always wore blue pants because they liked them, would you tell them, I can’t go to lunch with you anymore or be seen with you because you wear blue pants so often.” It is that person’s choice to wear whatever colored trousers they wish. If you don’t want to be seen with them, then you don’t have to be, but to chide them because they choose to do so? That’s not your place to do. Go or stay, respect their choice to act as they will.
The same applies, for me, to Twitter. Twitter is to be used as the Twitterer sees fit. Their actions bring their own consequences, as does mine, but I decided I won’t stop being myself or saying what I wish to say.