Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Tweeting About Tweeting or How to Lose Social Media Ground

I'm working on a piece for BlogHer about Twitter Moms and other adventures in parental tweeting, and already I'm overwhelmed and pissed off at myself. I keep asking, "How in the hell did I get so behind on social technology? Not only am I a Facebook Neanderthal but a Twitter imbecile as well." I used to be one of those people friends called to figure out the Web and now I know nada.

When did I fall into the abyss of near social media illiteracy? I think it began at the end of my life in New Jersey as I prepared mentally to move back to New Orleans. Preparing for the move and re-examining the kind of web presence I might want, if any, I shut down my New Jersey blogs and abandoned the Google group I'd started on my writing work. Suddenly it bothered me that I had attracted more than 100 subscribers in less than a week. My blogs and website combined traffic increased, and at one point more than 5,000 people per day visited something I'd produced. Not much compared to mega sites like The Huffington Post or even super bloggers, of which there are so many now I dare not name one, but it was a lot for me.

However, I wasn't making any money and wasn't sure how to turn visits from folks of varied interests into a living. I wondered what they wanted from me and didn't know what I could/should give them anymore because market analysis is a pain in the rear. How long could I afford to spend time trying to figure out what people really want to know so I'd never have to work for someone else again?

Next I started worrying about having to find a job after the move back home, and so, I panicked and yanked from the web my more provocative pieces of work, strong opinion pieces, sexy stories, any titillating poetry. Except for one person, I even contacted folks who had written posts or poetry about me that a socially conservative potential employer might misinterpret. Increasingly I'd read that not only can you ruin your personal life by using the Web unwisely, you could also eff up your professional life for all eternity. Pouring virtual bleach liberally, I tried to scrub away my Internet life, a nearly impossible feat.

Shortly after I arrived in Louisiana, my mother broke her leg and I drifted away from the Net, attempting to care for her, to help my son adjust to a new school, to encourage my adult daughter that her life would be o.k. since she moved to New Orleans with us, to ensure the dog and cat were faring well, and to dodge the spray of bullets from extended family drama. In Jersey, I had avoided family drama, other than the fallout from my divorce, because I had no family in New Jersey other than my children. I worked to find my bearings back home, and before I knew it, I'd lost ground in the virtual world and was discontented with brick and mortar.

About nine months after I returned, my parents moved in with me. At the time I had a job, one that I should never have accepted, with long hours, travel, and a boss with serious issues on which I won't elaborate. One day I looked up and realized that I hadn't written any fiction nor had I posted anything online connected to my personal aspirations and dreams in at least six months. Prior to that realization, I'd watched other bloggers talk about web conferences, get more paying gigs, and write about using Twitter, simultaneous pinging, expanding your feeds, etc., and I thought I'll catch up on that later. I've got life to live here.

And I've been living that life. My mother died last month, however, and so, I'm back to a place of re-evaluation. Ever since she passed, the gears have been spinning in the back of mind and I've pondered is this all there will be?

So here I am. It's seven months after I decided to return to at least a partial Internet focus, and everything missed is crushing me. I'm on information overload.

Today I've been reading at SheGeeks, scanning at Charlotte-Anne Lucas's blog, and reading a Twitter wiki. Also, I found time to join Twitter and start my page, but I'm still unsure about how it may help me. Furthermore, I'm hesitant to awaken the social media beast slumbering in my past because I still don't know what to do with him should he grow larger.

Yet, with this post, I'm accomplishing my second day of December NaBloPoMo and gathering my thoughts for my BlogHer post. Still, I keep asking myself, "Is all this linking to other humans digitally necessary for a full, well-seasoned life, specifically my life?" I'm feeling like hooking into social media networks in any way that makes it meaningful and a success is a job even if you love it.

Cultivating a visible social media presence is like working a party. It takes more than showing up in suitable attire with a cool date. You've got to walk around and shake hands, tell intriguing tales, listen and schmooze. So, I'm wondering if you're disinclined to schmoozing in the real world and social mingling does not come naturally to you, then will you have a successful life on the web? Will it be fun or drudgery?

This virtual world becomes more like the real one each day. Bullies, angels, and outcasts, Queen Bees and jocks, mavens and moguls, the popular and the lonely never go away. The path to joy is liking your own company first.


Anonymous said...

thanks for the interesting post. your ponderings at the end about schmoozing in the real world and schmoozing in the virtual world struck me as it is something I have been thinking about lately. There are some schools of thought about online being a place for those who are more introverted to reach out. I've been watching myself and others on twitter lately to try to understand social patters, especially those who broadcast as compared to those who connect by replying to lots of thigs. Perhaps online replicates life - people are shy when they are unsure of the social norms associated with the virtual world, but as their confidence grows, their extroversion is revealed?
It's also a wierd combination for the introvert of being alone and with others at the same time... so much to think about. Good luck in the NaBloPoMo - I'll be watching on.

lilalia said...

The feeling of being on top of social software innovations left me about a year ago. Some of my RSS feeds offered 30 posts in one day. So, I sized down. Drastically. I'm just one small pea in the pod and I prefer to determine who knows me and when they have access to my attention, information about my activities, and my opinions or beliefs. It seems to me that having been in the midst of taking care of your family, you deserve a tad bit of solitude and privacy. I'm happy your here blogging again, but on your terms and not what the general consensus dictates.

Blue State Cowgirl said...

Interesting topic. You might be interested in these musings from a friend of mine on the many uses of Twitter: http://abigvictory.blogspot.com/2008/12/twitter-spam-and-dick-jokes.html

Obviously, she has strong opinions.