To Tweet, but what to Tweet – that is the question

I just opened a Twitter account. It was my intention, in fact, to join all three – Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook – in a single day. Then I could then have written a smug and witty post entitled:

I joined Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook in a single day (and now I need a little lie down)

Unfortunately I’m not going to be able to use that one because it’s taken me most of the morning to join Twitter and my nerves are already shot. I need the little lie down now. What if, in my experimentation, I accidentally tweeted some really foolish thing and everybody in the whole universe was splitting its sides laughing at me?

Pssst: why is the past tense of I text (absolutely counterintuitively) said to be I text rather than I texted, yet the past tense of I tweet remains I tweeted? Or is it in fact I tweet with a silent ‘ed’ and I just don’t know that yet?

And now of course I have no idea what to tweet. I googled What am I supposed to tweet, then? And Mr G replied: Think of it as small talk

I’m pretty bad at small talk. Also, I have no confidence that Kim Kardashian, say, or Olly Murs or The Queen would want to know that I just made myself a cup of coffee, or that the tumble dryer sounds as if it may be about to tell me it’s completed its cycle by piping the musical motif from Close Encounters of the First Kind. You know – the one where the hero builds a huge, fascinating mud-pie spaceship on the kitchen table and then hares off across the USA in search the real thing? Which no doubt is more than 140 characters.

How I hate that tumble-dryer noise, by the way. There must be a way to silence it, in the instruction manual. Which is lost.

There is nothing interesting about my life I realise now, too late.

Nothing at all.

Nothing.

Whereas I can’t seem to stop writing blog posts I can’t seem to think of anything at all to tweet or have tweeted. Or have tweet(ed). And what makes it worse is I have no Twitter followers. Understandable since this is my first day in the Nest, but… I’d be tweeting into thin air. Wouldn’t I?

Why am I putting myself through all this? There was a kind of logic behind it, I think. I had come to the conclusion that I ought to use the only two things I had – a computer and a compulsion to write – to make money. This sort of thinking has never worked in the past but I don’t seem to have access to any other sort.

So I asked Mr G how to make money through writing online and he sent me to one of those Wiki-whatsits with Janet and John-type illustrations. Wiki-whatsit listed a number of ways but warned me in Big Red Letters (no, it didn’t, I made that bit up) to establish a social media presence in advance. It didn’t tell me why, in any great detail, but I think the idea is you’re forming a kind of network – a bit like the network of links constantly forming and reforming inside La Tour Abolie, and between La Tour Abolie and other blogs/websites except that this is… outside my blog – like allying one complexifying

(cut out the red-wigglies, Spellcheck, there is such a word!)

network of links to another? Everything feeds back into, enhances and magnifies everything else? Everything hangs on the instant findability of information? Have I got the idea?

Please not that! I thought. I’ve managed to avoid it for so long.

I shall draw an analogy. Yes, I shall. Or maybe will.

As many of you know, I am a big fan of TV science fiction series but can only watch them in unevenly spaced, non-sequential gobbets on Freeview. At the moment I am watching not one but two ancient seasons of Stargate. One of the characters, Teal’c, has this thing inside his chest, like a worm with feelers, and there’s this big X in his chest where he’s been cut open at some point and, at moments of high drama and stress, he reaches into this X and pulls out the worm thing, which is actually called a symbiont, and he the host.

Well, how I feel about that symbiont is how I have tended to feel about Twitter, and social media generally. Something along the lines of: why would you ever want to?

It’s one of those schizoid things I expect – something to do with transparency and inadequate boundaries – ontological insecurity. It’s that instinct that other people could walk all through you if they wanted to, walk all over you…

On the other hand I sometimes do feel, when watching some TV debate, that I would like to say something pithy and devastating about Donald Trump, say, or… or Donald Trump. I have even sometimes mused If only I was on Twitter…

The other annoying thing is it means plastering my real and deadly dull name around the internet. Some of you already know because you asked, and I confessed, that I am not so much of a Rosie as a Linda. Rosie is the name of my favourite moggy. People came to address me as Rosie because rosiebooks2009 was the username WordPress concocted from an old email address when I joined. I would love to be a Rosie but sadly I’m a Linda. Every woman in the entire world is a Linda; there were at least four in my class at Junior School.

To add insult to injury I am, perforce, a Clark. I married an interesting man with the least interesting surname in the world. After we got divorced I had other things to worry about than fiddle-faddling about reverting to my maiden name. So, call me either. I’m both.

So, my Twitter ‘handle’ (handle?) is @lindaclark944. Quite what good that will be to you at the moment I don’t know.

Perhaps I ought to tweet that I have just posted a post about tweeting?

Yes, that might be a start.

14 thoughts on “To Tweet, but what to Tweet – that is the question

  1. I thought the past tense of text was texted and now worry I have looked a Luddite all these years…. I do not tweet. It is inane. I do use Facebook, although that too is often inane, simply because it alerts me to connections with other poetic types and, crucially, events where I can attend to read and listen. I don’t plan on making money from writing (although it would be nice if I did) and take the view of Bukowski that you will only be any good if you’re doing it because you like to or you must. Remuneration may or may not come. I am aware that Social Media is seen as the new business model of worth (and not just for writing) and I’m sure there are reams of ghastly courses you can take re “Promoting yourself via Facearse” and so on. You can spot the the blogs of such devotees a mile off. Links to buy self-published books. A header picture which is the planned cover of their first novel. Snippets of their novel (mentioned in every post), maybe even e-instalments, Dickens-style. My follower list has many of these blogs, people who have obviously never read, liked or commented on a damn word I have posted. They hit “follow” indiscriminately simply in hope you will reciprocate, as they hope some healthy numbers might help secure visibility and a book deal. Often they use self-aggrandising tricks that they have likely been taught. Sadly, if they can’t write for toffee its all a bit pointless. I avoid them. I read blogs of people that simply write, and can do so well. Like you. Quality will out. Magazines are perhaps a better exposure because the choice to publish from a third party will in my opinion always have more gravitas than any amount of blowing your own trumpet. Or maybe I’m just an incorrigibly awkward bugger.

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    1. Thank you for taking the time to set all this out for me. I have read it twice and will no doubt read it again. Facebook is next on the To Do list. Might not be tomorrow as I’ve got yet another Best Interests meeting at the hospital re Mum. Who knew there could be more than one of the ridiculous things.

      Well, my friend Daisy told me some years back that her grandchildren told her the past tense of I text was I text, and she uses that. I’ve never been able to say it – the old grammar Nazi/Luddite in me just couldn’t force herself to utter it.

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      1. I’m pretty sure there are others more experienced than me on such matters 🙂 My personal experience is I started going to open mic poetry nights for no other reason than I wanted to listen and recite. I have met others through that who I now connect to on Facebook, including a woman who is on the editorial board of a small press in York that publishes poetry collections and a nice little international poetry magazine called Dreamcatcher. I have also taken to sporadically firing off poems to magazines but with no great method or response. I consider your short fiction and poetry to be every inch as good as what gets published in these magazines. When I get a minute I’ll give you a link to a page that has details of umpteen poetry magazines that accept unsolicited submissions, most of which accept short fiction too 🙂

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      2. Thank you, and also in advance for the link. I did the same thing with firing off poems, long time ago before internet. In those days we used Writers and Artist’s Yearbook or the paper equivalents of poetry magazines. Not much luck but things may be better now. I came to the conclusion that what mattered was that the poem had been written, that the world and the poet him/herself were subtly changed by the making of a poem even if no one ever read it and the text of the poem was lost. Same with music, stories and art of course. An esoteric point – bit airy-fairy hippie-drippy, no doubt.

        To me being able to publish in the blog is a bonus, really, since I had already gone past/through the stage of needing a seat at the world’s table, to quote Anita Brookner.

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  2. I’ve found myself gravitating more towards WordPress and Instagram than Twitter these days but I do think it has its merits. I have no interest in making money from social media so can’t help you there, but Twitter is good for following and having discourse with likeminded creatives. It’s also good for instant news as many people tweet things ‘on the ground’ as events happen.

    A word of caution though: unfortunately like much of the Internet it can be used as a soapbox for prejudice and misogyny. If you have only a passing interest in video games, for example, you can’t help but come across the disgusting hate speech a minority of people propagate. But with a good community of people around you you will be fine, and generally people rally against such harassment.

    Also, as a starter, you could simply share links to your posts here on Twitter (The WordPress Publicise/Sharing option when creating a new post can do this for you)

    Facebook I’m less impressed with given that it’s a free for all of dumb videos and copy-paste chain letters, but again it depends who you follow and I’ve only recently discovered I can hide the sources of these silly things without unfriending the people who shared them. For me, Facebook is best used to keep up with my family and for arranging events. It also has groups which can be good with the right mix of people.

    LinkedIn is for your professional image so, while silly tweets on Twitter are fine (seriously, we’ve all been there), only post career/skill/interests related updates on LinkedIn. Again, it’s good for following people in your industry and that way being found by people interested in your work.

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    1. Hi Dan, just to thank you once again for your advice, and in particular the bit about the WordPress option to share links to new posts via Twitter. I’ve managed to set that up now. Quite possibly I will leave it at that with Twitter, at least for the time being, and do some exploring of other social media.

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      1. You’re welcome. The sharing option pretty much does its thing now that you’ve turned it on, but you can also customise the message that goes with the link (it’s in the same Sharing section when creating a new post, either on the left or right of the page depending which part of WordPress you are using to write your posts), otherwise it just tweets using the post title.

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  3. I’m not on twitter, either, although I have heard that it’s an important place to share a blog. But so far, I’m sticking with my Facebook account, where I share a link to my blog posts as soon as I publish them. Facebook can be very annoying, but I have several regular readers who don’t follow my blog but instead simply wait for the Facebook link, so I keep my page active.

    As for tweeting, I think I would share your problem…what do I tweet about??? Also, as you know, brevity is not my strong point.

    Good luck to you in this new venture! I hope you’ll keep us posted on how it goes.

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    1. Hi Ann – I must admit I still haven’t felt exactly inspired, tweet-wise. However, I have been experimenting with something another reader suggested – setting WordPress up so that it automatically tweets a notification of your latest post. It’s like an app they put on your site. So far, have to admit, although I filled in all the little boxes WordPress asked me to, no tweeted announcement has actually popped up in my Twitter “feed” (see, I’m getting the jargon) – but I live in hopes. Life just seems to be getting more and more confusing. I’ll give myself a few days of Twitter-experimenting then try Facebook, which more people seem to like, on the whole. Brevity is not my strong point either – a bit of a ramble is good for the soul.

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  4. If WordPress can handle the actual “tweeting” part of it, then I might be interested in that. And if you do join Facebook, brace yourself for a LOT of photos of cute kittens, idiotic political memes and people who insist on sharing exactly what they ate for each and every meal. Luckily, you can learn to control what you see on your newsfeed, but it’s sort of like trying to rid your house of bugs. No sooner do you stamp one out than another one appears!

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    1. Yes – there’s a little section in the left-hand column beside your draft post. It’s called Publicise/Share, I think – never took much notice of it before. I think you have to join Twitter (or Facebook or whatever – it gives you several options) first. The only thing is, so far I haven’t quite got it to do what it’s supposed to do but I’m waiting to see if a NaPoWriMo post I’ve got scheduled for early tomorrow morning, also shows up in Twitter. Oh – urgh – cute kittens. Even with just Twitter I’m feeling sort of invaded. They make you choose a few individuals to follow and I just picked a few of my favourite BBC news reporters – but they’re bombarding me with stuff and so is everyone else in the entire world. Your bug image is a good one. I could see how social media could be endlessly distracting and out of control.

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    2. Hi Ann – just to confirm that the tweeting thing worked (yay!!). It just shows the title and image associated with your new post, plus a link. I suspect I may never be very interested in tweeting proper, but the stress may have been worth it for the sake of another little connection to the outside world.

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