An Experiment: Twitterless September

A while ago, Debbi Michiko Florence blogged about Online Time Management. Her post got me thinking, and I decided it was time to get rid of my GoodReads account. It also started me wondering about what I really need and enjoy about social media, and I made one more decision.

I’m going Twitterless in September.

I’ve talked a few times about what I do and don’t like about Twitter. As an interface, I am just not crazy about it–I prefer the threaded conversations on Facebook. Also, I don’t like that I can so easily be followed spammers. For whatever reason, it seems like that happens more frequently than on Facebook, and I feel like I have to do more monitoring of it on Twitter. Which, frankly, I can do without. I do think I get more information about the publishing biz–more links to agent and editor and other industry blogs, and this is important to me. And, of course, there are people on Twitter that I love “talking to,” who just aren’t on Facebook.

If any of those people want to find me on Facebook, please do!

So I’m not at all sure that this coming month will be anything but an experiment. I’m not promising myself I’ll stay off, or making any other projections about what will happen. I’m thinking that maybe I’ll end up using it mostly as that industry resource and be more of an observer/listener than an active participant, but… I’m not sure how much time staying off Twitter will save me, I’m not sure if staying away will help me focus more and use my time more efficiently. I know I’ll have withdrawal the first few days. After that, who knows? For me, it’s a matter of looking at the fact that I’m using multiple social-media tools (like so many of us) and just wondering whether I really need to or want to.

Here’s to finding out.

One month. 30 days.

I can do this.

And, of course, you’ll hear from me at the end of the month about how it went. Meanwhile, I’ll see you here or on Facebook or at your blogs. Happy September!

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Social Media: Cleaning House

Last week, Debbi Michiko Florence blogged about online time management, how to find the balance with keeping up/keeping in touch and, yes, well…overdoing it.

This discussion comes up a lot, but I think Debbi hit on one of the important points–how it feels when we find ourselves doing what we “should” versus what we want. Basically, it feels wrong.

I think things like this go in cycles. MySpace made way for Facebook and Twitter, and who knows what will dominate now that Google+ is here. Blogs seem to have staying power, although I’ll bet you, just like me, find yourself sticking with a few bloggers that matter to you, for content or personal reasons, and watching others come and go on your blogroll. I also think that Social Media changes for us as our lives change. We shift where and how we want to spend our time.

With my son getting older and more independent (yikes!), I recently added one more piece of life to my weekly hours–a step that (hopefully) inches me back toward real-income-earning work. The step comes with a lot of mixed feelings, mostly good, but is also making me take another close look at how I spend my time. And how I want to spend my time. And I’m with Debbi–I think less of it has to be on social media.

I love my blog. I love talking about writing and critiquing and life, and I don’t see this piece going anywhere soon. I do think you may see a few less posts, which I keep telling myself has to be fine. I also, like Debbi, enjoy reading other people’s blogs, but I do find myself commenting less and less–another thing I think I may have to just accept.

And then there’s Facebook and Twitter. I love Facebook. It’s the big reason I haven’t jumped ship to Google+…I just like it on Facebook. I like the feeling of being connected, and I like how the connection works there. Twitter not so much, and I’m considering if/how I should ease myself away from that world. Honestly, I “know” and interact with some great people there, so it’s not going to happen overnight, but the idea-seed has been planted.

The one thing I have done was get rid of my Goodreads account. I haven’t updated that account with a book review in I don’t know how long, and it’s easier for me to post reviews here & just put up a link at Facebook (and Twitter). I had whittled my Goodreads “friends” down to a very small list, and–you know–I keep up with all those people at their blogs or–you got it–on Facebook and/or Twitter. Goodreads was feeling like one of those niggling little time-consumers, in that I’d get friend requests in my email that I felt bad saying “no” to, or updates that I’d feel guilty about not reading. Yes, I get my book recommendations…other places!

So, for me, I guess this is what it comes down to. What really can go, without you missing it? If you’re happy where you are, with whatever social media you’re using, keep it up. If something’s nagging at you that it feels excessive or unnecessary, take a closer look. What would it feel like to get rid of it? Can you run a test? I’m thinking of a Twitterless September, as a trial run, to see how it feels (I’m guessing just fine!).

How is Social Media feeling to you today? Are there any changes to your commitments/use patterns you’re thinking of making? Any “drastic” shifts you’ve made in the past? Drop a note into the comments and share!

How I Use Facebook and Twitter…Differently

I’m sure this isn’t news to anybody, but I social-network. (Do you like the way I just turned that into a verb?!) I read blogs, post my own, play on Facebook & Twitter. I justify that I’m doing this because it’s good marketing for my book and a good way to keep up with what’s going on in the publishing industry, but at the root of it all is…I just have fun with it (criteria #1 for picking which, if any, social-networking form you want to step into).

One thing I like watching is how my own use of all these sites evolves and changes. Just as a for-example (look, another noun!), I still read lots of blogs, including the ones in my google reader as well as the ones I come across other places. I’m pretty sure, though, that I’m commenting less–either because I am busier, or because I tend to talk back & forth with a lot of the same people on Facebook and Twitter. Haven’t figured that one out for sure yet.

Anyway, thought I’d do a post not on reading blogs (redirection, much?), but another one about Facebook and Twitter–specifically on the different ways I use the two sites. So here you go…

1. For Facebook, I use the original Facebook site, both on my desktop and on my Blackberry. (Oh, yeah, did I mention the Blackberry–LOVE it!) For Twitter, I do not. Even though I’ve got my book up on my Twitter page, and it’s always fun to see that,  I do not like the interface there. Too…something? Maybe too much everything in one single thread and–even though the other stuff is often no more than a single click away, well, that’s a whole, entire click people. Don’t make me work. On my desktop, I use Tweetdeck, which lets me see regular tweets, tweets about & to me, and Direct Messages all at once, in separate columns. On my Blackberry, I’ve settled into Seesmic, despite the fact that its icon is a raccoon (not my happy animal). I like both of these apps a lot, but I’d dump both Tweetdeck and Seemic in a flash, if someone came along with a good, easy Twitter app that let me see threaded conversations in the same kind of display that Facebook uses.

2. I talk to different people. Well, okay, in essence, I pretty much talk to anybody & everybody who wants to listen. With Tweetdeck, I can send an update to Twitter AND Facebook at the same time.  But…I am one of the few people I know who plays and chats a lot at both sites. (I know you others are out there, jump in at the comments if you’re a tandem-FB/T-social networker & identify yourself!) So while I send my posts out into whichever world, I get responses and have conversations with some people on Facebook & some on Twitter. It’s one reason I have stayed with Twitter, even though I like the format less than Facebook–I have friends there that I want to keep talking to. I also really thing that I hear/learn more on Twitter about publishing and social media. I find my editors and agents there, although there are definitely some on Facebook, and I get links to more industry blogs and news. Oh, yeah, and I hear about it on Twitter first, when anybody famous dies. What’s THAT about?

3. I have different privacy “issues.” On Facebook, yes, I  have to keep going back to my privacy settings and changing things back to the way I really want them, not just some new way Facebook thinks I want them (Have you checked to make sure you are not now sharing your phone number with the entire planet?). Sure, this is a bit irritating and silly, but I hear about changes at the speed of light from other Facebook users, and–honestly–it feels more like a kind of slapstick version of 1984 to me than a really serious threat. I don’t put stuff out on the internet about myself that I don’t want people to know–which makes it my call, not Facebook’s, pretty much.

On Twitter, though, I have my tweets protected. I’m not sure what this means in terms of people who can/can’t see them, and I guess there’s something them showing up as “locked,” but again–I seem to be having plenty of conversations with people I like, so I’m not too worried about it. I do this, because it seems to be the only way not to get those “lovely” porn spammers following me. The only way I see this playing out is that, when you go to see my list of Followers, you do NOT think I’m sharing electronic lives with people who have nasty little “names” and profile pictures sharing WAY more than I want to look at. 

4. I write with people on Facebook; I chat with people on Twitter. On Facebook, writers will post that they’re digging into a project–either just to write, or with a specific goal in mind–and invite others to join in. We do, we “go away,” we write, and then we come back at a certain time to check in and post progress reports. Maybe there are people doing this on Twitter, too, but I haven’t come across it. It’s possible the threaded conversations on Facebook make it easier to see these writing gigs; I know they make it fun to participate. Oh,  yeah, and productive!

On Twitter, I have jumped into a few “formal” chats to get to know other writers and hear about what they’re doing. Different groups within the children’s writing gang (and probably a lot of others?) gets together on various days, at set times, uses a hashtag to let people find them, and chats on a set topic. So I’ll stop in at #pblitchat on Sunday night, or #kidlitchat and #yalitchat on other evenings. I don’t go every week, for sure, but it’s fun to catch up when I can.

5. I RT more than I Share. Tweetdeck makes it incredibly easy for me to retweet someone’s original tweet–it takes maybe 1/4 of a second. Seriously. Sharing on Facebook takes a couple of steps and a little more typing. Not a biggie, and if I really want people to know about something cool or important, I definitely click that Share link. But  I pass on more funny things, more links, more info on Twitter than I do on Facebook–simply because it is SO fast.

6. I “filter” just a little bit. There are times when I feel totally comfortable posting something on Facebook and maybe not so much on Twitter, so I’ll head over to Facebook and just status-update there, instead of via Tweetdeck. I don’t quite understand out why this is, what’s going on that makes me feel that way. Maybe because there are more people I know personally on Facebook? Maybe because there do seem to be fewer industry people on FB (cuz, you know, tbose guys are all reading my tweets with baited breath!), so I am at ease with a little more goofiness, a little less I-know-exactly-what-I’m-doing-out-here? Not sure. If you figure it out, let me know, okay?

I think those are the basics. I’d love to hear how you use either or both of these sites–leave a comment with your two cents. It’s social-networking, right? Jump into the conversation!