As some of y’all know, I am less than social media savvy. However, as an emerging writer, the choice is simple − become social media savvy or die! So, back in January 2014, our writers group leader held a class to introduce us to this foreign, technological world. On this cold, winter’s day with lots of help, I set up my Twitter account, and all five of us who were in class that day followed one another.
It was an exciting moment − I thought, finally, I’m on my way! I was especially excited at the end of January when I had as many as 17 people “following” me − and, yes, it does count when they’re all friends and relatives who I’ve threatened! Woo Hoo!
Still, I simply didn’t get what Twitter was about. To me, it looked like it was nothing more than spam purgatory. Furthermore, I was convinced I had nothing to add to the Twitterverse and no one on Twitter seemed to really want to follow me except some guy named Terrence who lived far across the ocean. It seemed as though Terrence from across the ocean was the only one tweeting a million tweets a day, all of which I got, but none of which I cared about. I know it’s wrong of me, but I’ve since grown to hate Terrence.
Also, out of our writers group, everyone else had at least 40 people following them except me. Great! Just one more venue to highlight my lack of popularity. Matter of fact, by mid February, I’d discovered I’d lost 4 followers. I was failing at Twitter. I figured if I left it alone, maybe it would die a quick death.
In mid May this year with another school semester under my belt, I decided to give Twitter another go. Too embarrassed to tell anyone I knew about how I’d screwed up my whole Twitter reputation by going backwards, I got a one-on-one lesson from Amber who teaches a social media class for continuing ed.
The first thing she said as she pulled up my sad sack of a Twitter account (now with only 11 followers) was, “You don’t have a picture! You have to have a picture. Nobody will follow you without a picture. I wouldn’t follow you without a picture. You’ll see − it’ll help you get new followers. And, you have to be patient. It takes time to develop a following.”
Hmmm − I fretted for several days about what picture to use on my Twitter site. Would I be willing to pay for a professional photo? Could I bring myself to pose for a selfie? I finally decided, fuck it, the white, egg-shaped blob would have to suffice.
Amber tweeted me once I began my Twitter adventure in earnest on Tuesday, May 27 with, “Where’s your picture?” she asked.
I replied, “What do you think about a paper bag over my head with eyes cut out?”
“That’s a great idea,” she encouraged, “It will intrigue people.”
I wasn’t so sure. If a paper bag doesn’t scream, “Yes, yes, I am insecure,” I don’t know what does. Besides, I hadn’t a clue how to get a picture up even if I came across one I wasn’t completely opposed to.
By Thursday, May 30, even without an avatar in place, I figured I had the whole Twitter thing down. I was following people as fast as my fingers would let me and people were following me right back. My following momentum was having a snowball effect and I quickly picked up 500 followers. My ratio was something like 3:1. So, for every third person I followed, someone would follow me back. By Day 3 of my Twitter adventure, my husband and kids had decided I’d become obsessed if not downright addicted and were annoyed I was ignoring them while spending all of my time on Twitter.
“When are we going to eat? I’m starved,” yelled my husband.
“Look, I’m working here. Have some cheese and crackers,” I said as I tweeted with Momma J about how to make her 64 ounces of water she must drink everyday taste better. “Try a few squeezes of lemon juice,” I suggested.
Also, there were the cutest animal pictures and the most adorable pictures of little kids that screamed for me to favorite, retweet and/or reply. Oh, and I mustn’t forget the amazing art work I’ve come across. I’m sending a shout out to Sipo, a phenomenal artist who says he’s inspired by both the outer and inner cosmos! Sipo, I’m rooting for you to become a rich and famous artist like Picasso or Van Gogh!
Someone else posted a wonderful black and white photo of a claw-foot tub with black and white striped stockinged feet hanging over the edge. The picture literally begged me to tweet a caption, “What every Wicked Witch from the East/West does at the end of the day − melt into a hot bath!” I can’t help myself. I see pictures on Twitter, the words blurt out of my head and − I think I’ve found my calling.
Apparently, people like it when you retweet them or make an amusing remark about a picture they’ve posted. Just yesterday, someone tweeted a six-word poem: “Please, go. Go right now. Stay.” Isn’t that an awesome poem? It isn’t my fault that my brain came up with its own six-word reply, “Make up. Make up your mind.” None of the above, though, compares to the interactions I’ve had with Off-Hand.
During that first week of intense tweeting, I got a post from someone named Off-Hand, whose avatar was Eric Draven, the comic book character played by Brandon Lee from the 1990’s cult classic movie, The Crow. The Crow is about a rock star who returns from the dead to seek out justice against the evildoers who killed him and his fiancé. A crow guides Eric as he deals with each bad guy until he gets the head bad guy. This was an awesome avatar Off-Hand was using.
He tweeted to me, “You have over 600 followers without an avatar? I’m impressed?”
I assured him my followers were the best! He asked why I didn’t have a picture up. Told him I was camera shy. He suggested I didn’t have to use a picture of myself if I didn’t want to, I could use a picture of anything I wanted. I said, “I see that, Crow!” (referring, of course, to his avatar.)
At this point, Off-Hand realized he’d made a grammatical error – he’d used a question mark instead of a period after “impressed.” He apologized rather formally for his mistake.
I replied, “That’s okay, I got the gist of what you’re saying − or is it jist?”
He answered, “Definitely, ‘gist’ spelled with a ‘g’ as in ‘gestalt.’”
I replied, “Or a ‘g’ as in ‘gefilte fish.’” I don’t think he was amused because I never heard back from him and he definitely didn’t “follow” me, even though I’d decided to “follow” him.
The next week, on June 3, Off-Hand tweeted again to the world at large, and I replied to his tweet, which led to another conversation:
OH: “Any tips for retaining followers? Do I need a bot to tweet for me while at work? Seems Twitter punishes me for having a life outside of it.
Me: “Seems you’re suffering from Twitter Curse. I feel your pain.”
(I tweeted that because I’d discovered Twitter wouldn’t let me follow any more people once I hit 2,000 until some undetermined point in the future. This, of course, was absolutely ridiculous and was seriously cramping my ability to follow new people who wanted to follow me first but also expected a follow back. “You sonofabitch!” I screamed at Twitter. “Why won’t you let me follow any more people?! You sorry sonofabitch!” Thus, Twitter Curse.)
OH: “Not to insult anyone, but it seems like many Twitter users simply have no life outside of Twitter. Frankly, it’s horrifying.”
Me: “Live your life and don’t worry about it − better to be tweeting than doing evil! Right, Crow?”
OH: “I will find you an acceptable avatar pic. Give me some little while.”
ML: “Thanks, Crow! Much obliged!”
OH: “Yes, indeed, Egg.
Awww! He’d called me “Egg.” No one’s ever called me Egg before! I was immediately enchanted with Off-Hand. What a Sweetheart! And he was going to find me an avatar picture, too! No one’s ever done anything like that for me before! I barely knew him and he was already a good friend! At that point he and I went our separate ways, but it wasn’t long before he sent me a direct message with four amazing pictures to consider as an avatar.
I tried to direct message back, but Twitter informed me I couldn’t because Off-Hand was not “following” me. And there you go! Twitter curse struck again!
Right before 10:00 p.m. Off-Hand replied to our last conversation from the Twitterverse:
OH: “I don’t suppose you liked any of the pictures I sent you?”
Me: “Twitter wouldn’t let me reply to you directly. Off-hand, all great, but I love the tree! Very kind of you! Thanks!”
OH: “love tree? I find that to be confusing nonsense (no offense, I am just very literal.) I can attempt to send them there…”
Before long, Off-Hand had posted the four pictures in contention: a gorgeous snow leopard with crystal blue eyes, a colorful swirling design reminiscent of something Sipo might have created, and a picture of a camera stamped across someone’s arm held over their face (very amusing, ha ha) along with the fourth picture. This last picture was a lone, eerie tree silhouetted against a huge moon with another planet, burnt orange, in the background. The entire picture had misty fog rising all around. Very moody. Very cool! The tree picture is the one that really spoke to me, though I wasn’t sure if the literal-minded Off-Hand would understand what I meant by “it spoke to me.”
Me: “I liked every picture, but I liked the one with the tree the best. Thanks again, Crow!
My dilemma, though, was that even though I truly liked this picture, I hadn’t a clue how to create an avatar with it. Since I hadn’t uploaded the picture, Off-Hand responded to my lack of action.
OH: “Ok. You prefer the egg, though, eh? Oh well; I tried.
Me: “Not at all. Don’t know how to upload image. I’m an ‘egghead’ about these things. Can you walk me through?”
OH: “You should simply be able to literally drag the image onto the egg.”
OH: “Click on the ‘gear’ in the top right and then on top button, ‘edit profile.’”
OH: “Then ‘change photo,’ and ‘upload photo.’ So long as you saved the tree pic onto your PC, you can select it! ”
I did exactly as he said and in less than two minutes, I had the most awesome avatar pic ever!
Me: “Crow, you’re amazing! Thanks so much. I couldn’t have done any of this without you!
It is my greatest desire in life to help people in any way that they’ll allow. I am glad to be of service.
Anyway, that’s the last time Off-Hand and I conversed. He is truly a sweetheart of a guy, though, and I hope he gets a ton of followers! So if you’re reading this, please follow Off-Hand on Twitter! BTW, he’s since changed his avatar and there’s a picture of him in place of The Crow! Very handsome young man! He’s also got some cool stuff on his Twitter account. Please tweet and retweet him if you’re so inclined! He deserves it. Or, if you need any help in selecting an avatar or you need his assistance in any of this other Twitter madness, let him know. He’s probably the guy who can help! Off-Hand, I’d say it’s good to have him as a friend, even if he won’t follow me – yet.
P.S. When I told my husband David about how sweet Off-Hand was, David seemed less than impressed and shook his head. The only comment he made was, “You told him wrong. You should have said you were ‘egghead-less’ about how to upload the image − not an ‘egghead.’ An ‘egghead’ implies you were smart about this and you aren’t.”
Sigh. So for those of you who like David caught my mistake, I stand corrected. However, clearly Off-Hand got my gist with a “g” as in “gestalt” and/or “gefilte fish.” Also, since we’re being technical, I referred to Off-Hand as “Crow” and I probably should have referred to him as “Eric,” because even though the movie is The Crow, I’m not sure the Eric character is known as “Crow.” I think the crow in the film guiding him is “The Crow,” but I’m not sure. Damn. Now I need to see the movie again. Even so, it’s all about the gist, People, the gist!