Tag Archives: Social Media

Ten Thousand Tweets

I am very close to hitting the ten thousand mark on my Twitter account. See?

Ten Thousand Tweets

Ten thousand tweets. Who knew I was so chatty?

Well, I’m really not. I mean, I joined the Twitterverse in August 2008, so it’s been seven years. Ten thousand tweets spread over seven years is not so much.

I did the math although I can’t swear I did it right. Ten thousand tweets over seven years works out to a .25 tweet per day.

A quarter of a tweet=35 characters per tweet.

This tiny sentence is 35 characters.

Anyway.

Most of my writer and blogger friends are active on Twitter, but to the unpersuaded, Twitter may seem frivolous and pointless. When I was a Twitter newbie I remember people making fun of it. “Why would I post about what I’m eating for breakfast,” scoffed some.

But that is not what Twitter is, although yes, you will find occasional tweets about breakfast (although Instagram would be the better platform for food porn). Twitter is much more than breakfast posts, and here are some reasons why I continue to be a fan.

Crafting a message in 140 characters is a good exercise for writers.

Speaking of writers, I’ve gotten to know so many of them on Twitter.

Twitter is often the most effective way to reach someone if you need a quick response (I’m looking at you, @ComcastCares).

It’s also the quickest way to get breaking news. Honestly.

Twitter makes the world seem so much smaller. You get to know people all across the universe.

Live tweeting an event, like the Oscars or The Bachelor/Bachelorette, is hilarious and usually way more fun than the event itself.

Connecting with someone you admire – a celebrity, e.g. – is definitely an unexpected treat. Getting a “favorite” or a retweet by a celebrity is cool, I’m not gonna lie.

Because I love word games, participating in a hashtag game on Twitter is a fun diversion when I need a break. This week I played along with one called #TenThingsYouNeverSaytoaWriter.

Group Tweet chats with like-minded Twitter users can be educational and are a great forum for networking.

Do you like Twitter? Why or why not?

 

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Is Sharenting Harming Our Kids?

As a parent whose children came of age prior to the social media boom, I often congratulate my husband and myself on our impeccable timing.

We lucked out. Of all the stresses inherent in child rearing, certainly the use and abuse of social media is high on the list.

I mean the parents’ use and abuse.

Here’s the question I ponder sometimes. If I had been able to share information about my young children on social media, would I have?

Of course, is my answer.

Might I have been one of those parents guilty of a little too much “sharenting?”

Entirely possible.

Sharenting?

Sharenting is a recently coined term referring to parents who share information about their kids on social media and is mentioned in this report from the University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. Based on a survey of 569 parents with a child or children ages 0-4, the study found that 54% mothers and 34% of fathers discuss child health and parenting issues on social media.

What do they discuss? Sleep issues, nutrition and eating tips, discipline, daycare and preschool, and behavior problems, among others.

So, what’s the big deal about parents reaching out to others to seek advice and support? What’s so bad about wanting to share a questionable photo on occasion? Maybe, after a long day in the trenches, parents need to vent. Or share a laugh.

Totally get that.

As a young mom, I would have enjoyed chronicling the special moments of my three kids on Facebook. Bath time, for instance, or losing a tooth, or blowing out birthday candles. I would have found comfort in a community of parents with similar issues and concerns. If I was in search of advice, or I needed to share a chuckle, why not blog about it, or post on Facebook?

Harmless enough. But what issues? What about tantrums? Or potty training? Sibling rivalry? Meltdowns after school?

That’s where the sharenting line in the sand is blurred. Where should that line be drawn, especially when your kids are too little to have a say in the matter? And even if you get their permission, what does a four year-old know about the implications of sharing personal information on social media?

Is Sharenting Harming Our Kids?

What seems benign now could be a psychological tsunami someday, with aftershocks for years to come We parents are essentially imprinting our kids’ digital footprint in the sands of time without their consent, with no understanding of the potential ramifications down the road.

Preserving memories, or obsessive behavior?

I have seen photos that make me squirm, like a photo of a child pale and glassy-eyed with the flu. I have seen children with frozen smiles whose parents seem to document every bit of their daily activity. Are we forcing our kids to pose instead of just be in the moment?

Photos can be deleted. Not so easy, however, to remove blog posts and Facebook conversations about bed wetting and bullying and discipline issues at school. Does that set our kids up for ridicule? Even if their names aren’t used, I mean, all you have to do is Google the parent’s name and there it is. It is there. Will this come back to haunt not us, but our kids?

I don’t have the answer.

In its early days, social media was a fun game with few rules and boundaries. Now we know that there is a dark side. With that in mind, is it incumbent on us parents to err on the side of safety and keep our kids’ information off the Internet as much as possible, until they have the maturity to make these decisions themselves?

Or is it too late, and our children’s digital profiles are but a Google search away?

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My Facebook Love is Gone

My Facebook love is gone.

There. I’ve said it out loud.

Like a failed romance — one that has withered over time — my relationship with Facebook has gradually become dispassionate and tinged with angst. I’ve been in denial, but I’m coming clean.

The light bulb went off when I saw this post from the SITS Girls:How to Avoid Facebook Burnout” was the title of the post.

Right then, things crystallized like a blurry photo fixed with a photo editing app. The latent anger, the ennui. It all added up.

There is a name for what I’ve got.

Facebook burnout.

My Facebook Love is Gone

This may surprise many of you who see me on Facebook a lot. Like all the time. Like I know I tend to be an over-sharer.

And maybe you haven’t noticed that I’ve been sharing a little bit less. It might not be obvious. But I haven’t been a happy Facebook camper lately and I’ve kept a little distance.

My reasons have nothing to do with jealousy or threats to my self-esteem, which seem to be the source of burnout for others. No, in this crazy world I love hearing about good things. Even if they are sometimes hard to believe overblown.

I have been a Facebook user (and user/addict is an appropriate term for it) for so long that when I first joined it was just available to emails with an .edu address (college and university emails, and since I worked at a university, I was able to snag one). It was fun learning how to use this social media tool. Then it was fun when increasing numbers of friends and family joined. Then it was fun when my blogging and writing communities blossomed on Facebook.

I started my Books is Wonderful blog page, and that was fun.

And then I followed threads where everyone liked each other’s pages, and that was … you guessed it … fun. My numbers grew and I found new and interesting blogs to follow.

But sometime last year, Facebook decided that roughly 10-15% of my Books is Wonderful followers should get to see my blog posts in their stream. Why? Apparently because I’m not paying to boost those posts. So now most of my Facebook page followers never see my blog posts. The posts they elected to see.

My Facebook Love is Gone

And last week I got thrown in Facebook jail. What was my crime? I “liked” too many pages at one time. Baaaad girl, admonished Facebook. My sentence is a restriction from “liking” any more pages for a week. And all the pages I “liked” in the last 30 days have been erased.

So our love affair has fizzled, Facebook. The bloom is off the rose. I would like there to be no hard feelings. I would like to stay friends. But you’re making it hard.

And you’ve got some competition out there. No, they haven’t caught up with you. Not yet.

But where there is discontent, there is opportunity. If you don’t treat your guests with respect, they may just find another place to call home.

Just saying.

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12 Reasons for Having Online Friends

“Online friends? You mean you’ve never actually met them?”

Maybe it’s a generational thing, but I often find myself on the defensive when I talk about online friends to real life friends (IRL). Ranging from the raised eyebrow to a gasp of incredulity, reactions from friends IRL have been, well, skeptical. “And you know these people how?” is commonly asked. “But how do you know they are who they say they are?” others will query.

Sometimes you’ve got to take a leap.

Case in point. I just returned from a truly amazing trip to London with my dear friend Lois, whom I met in a Facebook blogging group almost two years ago (more on the London trip when I recover from jet lag).

12 Reasons to Have Online Friends

Our paths most likely would never have crossed if not for this online connection, and since becoming friends, we’ve seen each other many times IRL.

12 Reasons to Have Online Friends

Other friendships that started in the online blogging community have blossomed into treasured IRL relationships. I am lucky that friends such as Cathy Chester and Estelle Sobel Erasmus live within a couple of hours from me and we get to see each other throughout the year.

12 Reasons to Have Online Friends

For those who fear that online friends are akin to stalkers or potential axe murderers (and no one yet has turned out to be either) here are a few of the reasons why I value my cyber buddies — and why it’s good to keep an open mind.

Getting together is effortless.

You know how you make a lunch date with a friend IRL and it gets rescheduled once or twice or maybe gets shelved indefinitely? Weather issues, last minute work constraints, other interruptions come up. Whereas online, having a lunch date is a piece of cake.

They share your addiction to social media.

In essence, they speak your language. You can mention the merits of Google+ or how to maximize SEO or the best time to retweet a post and they get it.

You get lots of birthday wishes.

Admit it, this is cool. Even though we all know that without the Facebook reminder it wouldn’t happen.

They don’t have to live in your neighborhood. Or even your time zone.

It’s the middle of the night. I’m tossing and turning, and finally give in to my wide awake self. I go downstairs, make a pot of coffee and get online where I know there will be someone to talk to, maybe clear across the world.

No one forgets where the conversation left off.

It doesn’t take much to lose a train of thought in real life discourse. An interruption as minor as a phone call can veer you off course. Ummm, where were we? Online chats will seamlessly steer you back on track.

There’s always something new to learn.

Some years ago, I had a Facebook conversation with a childhood friend who became well known in tech circles. I was curious about how he had become so savvy. He told me that he picked up everything through his relationships with knowledgeable tech people online. I now understand that, for that is exactly how I have picked up most of what I know on social media.

Live tweeting an event with online friends is really fun.

Only my online friends understand the sheer joy of participating in a live tweet. Whether it’s Election Day or a March Madness basketball game, or goofy reality shows, yukking it up with millions of other viewers is often the best part of the event.

The smartest people are online.

Whether it’s technical know-how, or cutting edge political analysis, or awesome recipes, online friends are my go-to source.

When you need it right now, you can get sympathy, appreciation and good advice.

There’s nothing like a virtual hug when you’re feeling down … or elated. Can’t reach a friend IRL to share the good news? Go online for that instant gratification.

It’s come as you are, 24/7.

Even though I had never been to one, I was always intrigued by the idea of a “Come as You Are” party. The Internet is just one big “Come as You Are” party all day, every day. Jammies, unwashed hair, no makeup … and no one is the wiser.

When you haven’t posted in a couple of hours, they think something must be wrong.

If I fell off the face of the earth, my friends IRL may not know until the body is discovered. Online friends would wonder where I was if I happened to sleep in one day.

If you’re bored with the conversation, you can just walk away.

I find it very hard to extricate myself from the nattering of a long-winded person IRL. The beauty of online relationships? You can sign off. Or even better, just pretend you’ve gone and lurk.

I adore and cherish my friends IRL. But I’ve also got a world of online friends. Who mean the world to me.

12 Reasons to Have Online Friends

How about you? Do you have online friendships?

 

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I See Dead People

What a macabre subject to grace a blog that normally leans toward the lighthearted. But where else than here would I feel unencumbered by convention or political correctness to talk about a delicate subject that’s on my mind?

So here goes. And I truly mean no disrespect.

I see dead people.

It doesn’t happen every day, just now and then. If you’re on social media, surely this has happened to you, too.

Let me explain.

I’ve been an active Facebook user since early 2007. Now, seven years later, who isn’t on Facebook?  For better or worse, this is how most of us stay connected these days.

And reading Facebook updates is part of my morning routine while I drink my first cup of coffee and watch Good Morning America at low volume.

I’m pretty efficient. I can usually catch up with the latest before the 7:30 a.m. commercial break.

I quickly scroll through the “Which Character from The Simpsons Are You?” (never watched it) and the “Like if Your Sister is Awesome” (I have no sisters) and “Copy and Paste to See Who Really Cares About You” (I don’t care) to get to the important stuff. I wander over to my Books is Wonderful  page to check on the activity there.

In the right column is a box with a header entitled “Invite Friends.” At the top of the list is a particular friend.

I haven’t seen much of this friend as of late. That is because this particular friend, actually this late particular friend, has, um, departed.

Not just logged out of Facebook. Logged out, period.

I never did get to invite her to “like” my page. And if I invited her now, I doubt she would accept.

Herein lies one of the curiosities of our new technology. There’s another universe now, thanks to social media, somewhere between Here on Earth and The Sweet Hereafter. We’re not really gone when we die. Our profile picture lives on in the cloud, popping up willy nilly as if nothing has changed.

I See Dead People

Here’s another example.

Facebook told me that John ‘likes” Amazon Prime. This gave me pause, because I doubt that John qualifies for free shipping at his new address.

And one more.

Under an ad for Birdseye Vegetables I see that Bob “likes” it. Whether this was true or just lip service from Bob I’ll never know, but I bet Bob is way happier with manna from heaven than frozen lima beans.

I See Dead People

Some may find it creepy, but I kind of enjoy bumping into these departed friends as they go about liking Ikea and American Express and waiting for me to invite them to ‘like” my page. I can pretend that they’re still around. Sort of.

How do you feel?

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Have You Met Your Internet Friends IRL (In Real Life)?

I’ll have an order of excitement with a side dish of anxiety, please.

That about sums up the way I feel as I prepare to meet a group of women whom I have only known through social media. What should I wear? I will most certainly try on a dozen outfits before settling on the one that is best for dinner at a wonderful restaurant in New York City. What will they think of me? Will it be awkward?

Back in the olden days when social media was not yet called social media and the Cooking Channel was but a twinkle in a TV executive’s eye, I discovered by chance a group of women on the Internet who shared my passion for cooking.

While surfing the net (does anyone still say that?) I stumbled upon this friendly bunch and stopped to say hello, and received a welcome the likes of which I hadn’t seen since the Welcome Wagon showed up on our doorstep 15 years ago.

plate of cookiesIt was glorious to find others who, like me, had a proclivity for hoarding a massive quantity of recipes, who waxed rhapsodic over the latest Martha Stewart cookbook. Our virtual water cooler was an online message board monitored by the early morning television show, Good Morning America, on which one could post questions, comments, and start a conversation about cooking.

My culinary coterie became as treasured to me as their tried and true family recipes were to them.  My morning ritual now included coffee and conversation with women from across the country. We talked about what we were making for dinner and discussed great Thanksgiving Day menus. We chatted about decorating birthday cakes and the best chili recipes. At Christmastime we had a virtual cookie exchange. recipes, index cardsI still have all those recipes.

Before too long, our range of topics expanded as we got to know each other better.  We commented on events of the day, both around the world or in our own homes. We faced off on political issues, talked about parenting challenges, infertility, our many pets, sickness, graduations, mother-in-law issues. All the things you would share with friends.

After a couple of years, we decided we had to meet IRL. About eight of us traveled to Chicago and spent a fantastic weekend together. We talked and talked and talked and then talked some more. We had fabulous meals at different restaurants. We even took a pie crust cooking lesson at a local kitchen store. The best thing was that we never felt like this was the first we had met.

The GMA board was ultimately disbanded, but thanks to Facebook, many of us have stayed in touch, like you do with old friends who live far away but still hold a place in your heart.

So tonight, I will go home and start the fruitless process otherwise known as picking out an outfit to wear Thursday evening.

I do have butterflies, but more than that, I truly am psyched to meet 15 fabulous women whom I’ve come to know and admire through blogging. Fifteen women who consistently amaze me with their talent, writing ability and sense of humor. All of this without ever having spoken to or seen them.

Until it happens Thursday. IRL.

 

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