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Anne R. Allen's Blog

...WITH RUTH HARRIS

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Anne writes funny mysteries and how-to-books for writers. She also writes poetry and short stories on occasion. Oh, yes, and she blogs. She's a contributor to Writer's Digest and the Novel and Short Story Writer's Market for 2016. 

Her bestselling Camilla Randall Mystery Series features perennially down-on-her-luck former socialite Camilla Randall—who is a magnet for murder, mayhem and Mr. Wrong, but always solves the mystery in her quirky, but oh-so-polite way.

Anne lives on the Central Coast of California, near San Luis Obispo, the town Oprah called "The Happiest City in America."


Anne blogs at Anne R. Allen's Blog...with Ruth Harris 
and at Anne R. Allen's Books

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Does Social Networking Make You Feel like You’re Back in High School?

A friend who saw the film The Social Network last week said she had one of those back-in-high-school nightmares afterward. You know the kind: you can't remember the way to class, haven’t studied for the Algebra test, and suddenly realize you're still wearing your pj's. You may be a successful fifty-something attorney like my friend, but you wake up feeling like a helpless adolescent, trapped in a maze of strange hallways, irate teachers, and jeering bullies.

My friend isn’t alone in having that reaction to social media. A number of bloggers have written recently about how Twitter feels like a teen party where the popular kids act like you don’t exist. Author Michelle Davidson Argyle wrote in a February post, “It’s like I'm stepping into my high school gym again. The same insecurities come back. The same panic sets in.”  

This isn’t surprising. Social networking sprang from the corridors of colleges and high schools, and entering Cyberia can feel a lot like being the new kid in school.

Everybody seems to know the rules but you.

I especially get this feeling from Facebook: until you learn the ropes, you’re subjected to public humiliation (emails that “Anne likes Earth Girls are Easy” go out to your boss and everybody on your list of potential clients.) Then cyberbullies set nasty traps, posing as your friends: “Mildred (your octogenarian neighbor) just answered five questions about Anne’s sex life. Click here for answers.” If you click, a similar message goes out to five random contacts from your email address book, including the agent you queried last week.

It’s like going to a school run by Lindsay Lohan’s Mean Girls.

Blogging doesn’t feel quite so scary to me. Of the three main areas of social networking—Facebook, Twitter and Blogging—blogging feels the least high-schooly. Maybe because it doesn’t have so many rules. (Or so many bullies—at least not in the part of the blogosphere I visit.)
But having no rules can be uncomfortable too. Most people would at least like a map of the campus. That may be why my “how to blog” posts are popular. (Thanks for all the comments, links and follows!) A lot of people are hungry for information.

I caught a little flak last week from readers who thought I was being high-handed in dictating how people ought to blog. Those people may be dealing with that “new kid in school” feeling and don’t like being told they’re wearing the wrong outfit or should have studied for some test.

So I apologize. I went to three different high schools and I’d never want to inflict that feeling on anybody.

I should clarify a few things. First, I’m “writing about writing. mostly.” If you’re a photographer or a musician or a visual artist, my advice is probably way off. You’ll notice I never post pictures or videos. That’s because 1) I want to focus on verbal content. 2) I’m the world’s worst photographer and don’t even own a camera. 3) I’m a lazy slow blogger. It takes less time for me to write content than surf for public domain visuals.

And as for my advice—I only mean to make suggestions. I’m not the blog police. I’m an authority-questioner myself. I never met a rule I didn’t want to break—or at least poke at a little. In fact, I offered my initial “how to blog” posts as an antidote to sites like “Blog Tyrant” and “Blogging Boot Camp,” where the advice is of the “tough love” variety.

If my tips don’t resonate with you, ignore them. Or better yet, challenge me in the comment thread and start a discussion. Prove me wrong. I love that stuff.

For instance, I’d probably tell you that posting a picture of your dog’s daily dump on your blog wouldn’t be the best idea for an aspiring writer.

But this is the InterWebz, where a blog like that could go as viral as LOL cats. Daily Dog Dump guy could get a book contract and a TV series while I’m still stuck in query hell.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the 21st century writing world, and it does trigger the same fears as a new high school. Maybe you’ve finished a novel or won a contest and you’re feeling pretty good. So you’re ready to leave Middle School, where you’ve been top of the heap, and move into the higher grades of the professional writing world.

And here you are: a nobody newbie in the vast school of writerland. You get no points for finishing that novel or winning that prize. Other people have twelve novels and fifteen prizes. You must ingest a huge amount of information—queries and synopses can feel a lot like algebraic formulas and French verb forms—while simultaneously “building platform,” which means learning the (mostly unwritten) social rules. Without looking needy or nerdy or irritating the cool kids.

And yes, there are cool kids. Neil Gaiman has a million and a half Twitter followers and follows 666 (there’s got to be a story behind that number.) Kevin Spacey has nearly two million and follows 11. You’re never going to get to sit at their lunch table. (But hey, I know a guy who went to high school with Kevin and says he wasn’t all that cool.)

So what do we do?

My advice is to confront the high school fears and let them go. You’re a grown-up now. Think of a new metaphor.

I told my friends who felt bad about being ignored on Twitter not to think of themselves as ostracized high school dorks—but wizards with invisibility cloaks.

The others don’t see you, but you see them. There’s power in that knowledge. You can listen in on conversations without anybody knowing you’re there. (You can learn a lot by following agents’ and editors’ tweets.) Once you’ve picked up enough information to feel secure, take off the cloak and enter the conversation.

Tweets and blogs are simply places to be yourself online—so people can get to know you. You do have to pay attention to things like copyright laws, but if you’re not breaking the law, anything goes. Whatever works for you, works.

Ignore everything else. It’s NOT high school and nobody’s going to give you detention or steal your lunch money. Especially not me.

So what about you, fellow scriveners?

  • Do you hate hearing a bunch of blog rules?

  • Does Twitter make you feel like the friendless dork at the homecoming dance?

  • Am I going to flunk Social Networking because I hate Facebook?

*********
Again, thanks, everybody, for helping me reach 400+ followers! And a special thanks to author Kathleen Valentine whose link to this blog ended up in the Dallas Morning News yesterday!
*********
It turns out this topic was more timely than I realized. Today (March 28) the American Academy of Pediatrics says Facebook causes depression in children. I think that probably goes for our inner children as well.

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50 Comments:

Blogger bookspersonally said...

Spot on in so many ways- but just as much as there are cliques, there are also really nice people, the ones who take the time to reply or chat or comment or follow. I have learned so much from bloggers like yourself and a whole range of people on twitter, also pretty quickly learned not to waste energy on those that don't respond in kind.

March 27, 2011 at 11:01 AM  
Blogger Selene said...

Hah. Good post. I am not a social media fan but have embraced it for marketing reasons. It is high school. But quite frankly life = high school. You are always in a clique. Or not. And you are almost always insecure about something.

It's why I generally don't read the "You should..." advice. It's not that I don't think it's good, it's just that the way I see it books = me. Well, an extension of me at least.

So I'll blog me. I'll tweet me. I'll FB me. Because I want you to like ME.

Otherwise you and my writing -- probably never going to be a match. :-D

March 27, 2011 at 11:09 AM  
Blogger Carol Riggs said...

That's interesting! Hmm, maybe I've outgrown the high school insecurities, but I don't find the networking intimidating. Sure, I make goofs and flubs and inadvertently mess up the "rules" but...oh well. I apologize or grin sheepishly and then move on. LOL

March 27, 2011 at 11:34 AM  
Blogger Austin James said...

I grew up with social networking as a staple of my social life and I still feel strange on it sometimes... But the best thing to do is just have fun with it... not worry if someone doesn't follow back or thinks you tweeted something stupid, because the vast majority of it is silly nonsense... and take a "I'm going dance, and I don't care what anyone thinks" kind of approach.

Sure, there are social networking manners, but most of them are the same as for in real life (at least in my opinion).

March 27, 2011 at 11:50 AM  
OpenID ninabadzin.com said...

I really loved this post, Anne! I can relate since I've had a popular Twitter series, which of course basically asks for people to disagree with your "rules." Like you, I hardly claim to be an expert . . . it's more like "this worked for me and could work for you." I get what you're trying to do with the blog advice and as far as I'm concerned it's worked perfectly. You give practical types. Someone might, for example, disagree about having music on their blog or posting unpublished poetry/fiction . . . YOU'RE doing them a favor by at least making them aware of how most people perceive those things. They can still chose to do them, of course. Everyone gets to choose!

I love your how-to posts. Keep them coming!

Oh- and yes, it can all feel like high school. Twitter especially does not work unless you're willing to speak up and talk to the "cool" kids now and then.

March 27, 2011 at 12:02 PM  
Blogger m gudlewski said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

March 27, 2011 at 12:02 PM  
Blogger jbchicoine said...

When I started blogging nearly two years ago, boy oh boy did it ever feel like high school again. I didn’t know the rules—only rules my mama taught me about good manners and being a good hostess or a good guest, and I think those apply across the board. I like reading about rules, if only to get my bearings in unfamiliar territory, but I like to use them more as guidelines.

One of the ‘rules’ I balk at is how frequently one should post—that it’s important to at least stick to a consistent schedule, as if someone would even notice. I know a few of my followers do notice if I haven’t posted in over a week, and there are a rare few that I miss when they don’t show up in my reader for a while, but when they do post, I still eagerly read—in fact, even more so. I don’t feel it diminishes them as bloggers, especially when I have a hard time keeping up with all that I’d like to.

I have ambivalent feelings about content. My art blog has a very specific purpose, but at the outset, my writing blog was simply a way to connect with other writers. I felt like too much of a newbie (still do) to share helpful hints or advice on writing. Even now, I am, at times, at a loss about what to post, so I write what is meaningful to me and hope it resonates with someone else out there. So, the progressive part of me wants to get with the ‘helpful content program’ and part of me wants to stay laid back…

March 27, 2011 at 12:24 PM  
Blogger Sierra Godfrey said...

I can see where new bloggers or tweeters are reluctant to step right in the fray, and that it can feel like high school to them.

The difference is -- especially with writers -- we're a community of incredible support. I simply cannot believe the writerly support and friends I've made through social networking.

Once you figure out that social networking isn't (or shouldn't be) a popularity contest-- that is, IGNORE the lame people out there who say "here's how to get 5000 twitter followers"-- because having 5000 twitter followers is just stupid-- then you'll see that social networking is about ENGAGING WITH OTHERS.

If you're one of those people who doesn't like to engage with others, don't feel bad. Social networking isn't for you. Simple as that.

March 27, 2011 at 12:35 PM  
Blogger Ben said...

I find that Facebook, with its user friendly photo album option has installed a weird axiety of exhibitionism. You suddenly want to show the world, in the passive-aggressive way that it Facebook, how awesome your life is.

You snatch your bodies by the neck and cram them into photos.

You contort your face into ugly, painful looking faces that imply that you have a silly good time and cram them into photos.

You check yourself up, and take a "natural" photo, where you pose, but look very natural and spontaneous, so people can tell you how handsome/pretty you are.

Facebook is really odd to me. It's better since I turned off the chat option, but still, my use has plummeted since I discovered Twitter, which is not as bad as long as you're business minded. It's also easier to let go.

March 27, 2011 at 12:50 PM  
Blogger J.L. Campbell said...

I only use Twitter and Fb when I remember. Facebook can eat up a lot of the time I don't have enough of.

Blogging tips are always good. I scan them as there is always the possibility of learning something new.

I've given you an award on my blog.

March 27, 2011 at 2:52 PM  
Blogger Florence said...

It's a two lane highway and not all the cars know their final destination. Facebook and Twitter are inundated with two polar opposites: those tweens-to generation X-ers who love talking about everything from potting training their kids to the latest in fashion. Everyone in general gets trapped in the "catch-up" game of social networking. If you don't do it you're either inept,or a social misfit.

In the other lane trying to speed by the cars, bikes, trikes and jogging-nineteen-inch-wasters are the serious, professional-do-this-the-right- way and get the word out every single day, twentry times a day. Learn to use hash marks, follow the relevant bouncing tweets, get a solid following. A statistic for aspiring & newbie writers ... the data collectors consider at least one thousand followers as significant in effecting your book sales.

Both lanes are moving faster than a speeding bullet, are able to leap capital T in a single bound, and don't come with a money back guarantee :)

I love your blogging advice. It is sensible, timely and often things we didn't know or didn't think were important. Thanks :)

March 27, 2011 at 3:42 PM  
Blogger Indigo said...

I remind myself the difference between the internet and high-school is: I don't have to deal with the bullies, I don't have to follow them or interact with them. If they want to follow me, they can be my guest. As an adult I can choose the people I wish to take advise from.

As for Twitter or Facebook, it's a learning experience like anything else. If you want people to interact with you, you have to be willing to reach out as well. I know some people find this goes against the introvert in them, but there is a basic freedom when you don't have to deal with people constantly face to face.(Hugs)Indigo

March 27, 2011 at 4:15 PM  
Blogger Ranae Rose said...

I laughed out loud at the 'daily dog dump' bit! :D As for me, I do enjoy facebook and blogging (although there's the occasional fb snob), but I've never Tweeted. I suppose that makes me...the kid who didn't even go to the dance? lol And yes, I do like blogging advice.

March 27, 2011 at 4:27 PM  
Blogger Anne Gallagher said...

I absolutely hate the idea of Twitter and Facebook. I hate the idea my agent will someday make me do it. I hate the idea of going back to high school. (I quit twice, that's how much I hated it. I'd rather go to college for the next 20 years than ever go back to high school for 20 minutes. I LOVED college.)

I love blogging. I even have two. One for writers, one I'm preparing for readers. I love the slower pace of blogging...you read, you comment, you discuss. You gather interesting ideas and thought processes in any amount of time you wish.

With Twitter and FB it seems like you have 2.5 seconds to respond to a comment and then it's gone. To me there's no interpersonal connection. And besides, who wants a million followers? I don't want the pressure of being amusing, or brilliant every time I type something in 140 characters or less. And I can't type that fast.

I can barely be brilliant on my blog. But I have loyal friends who show up every day I post and it's nice to know they're there. I used to be worried when some of the people I started blogging with, now have over 500 followers, how I wasn't doing it right. How I needed to get more to BE somebody. But you know what? 259 is a pretty nice number to have. I don't mind not being part of the crowd.

I wasn't part of the crowd in high school. Why start now?

Thanks for another great post.

March 27, 2011 at 4:35 PM  
Blogger Clarissa Draper said...

I rarely use facebook or twitter. I don't know what to do with it. I'm like you, I prefer blogging. It's where I can keep up with what's on the site. I love your posts and I don't feel you're advice for new bloggers is too strong. Keep up the good work.

March 27, 2011 at 5:20 PM  
Blogger Darke Conteur said...

I love FB, Twitter and blogging. I love connecting to people and learning about their lives. I like to encourage them when I can.

March 27, 2011 at 5:52 PM  
Blogger Taylor Ramage said...

I generally tend to see the whole idea of platform as something really gradual. I've had my blog and Twitter for almost two years now and I don't have a substantial following, but that's okay. I almost have 100 followers on Twitter and although that's not a lot it still means that theoretically that many more people know about me now than when I first started. Sometimes I feel the pressure and get discouraged when it seems like no one pays attention to what I post, but I never let that seep into what I put on my blog. My rule of thumb is to act as if I have an audience and to keep making posts whenever I can.

March 27, 2011 at 7:23 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

books--You're so right. People in the book world are 99% kind, supportive folks.

Selene--I hope all of life doesn't=high school, But there are always Mean Girls. Good for you for ignoring them.

Carol--sounds like you're over the life=high school, thing, too.

Austin--You're so right. The only real rule of social networking is the Golden one.

Nina--I learned a lot about what I know about Social Media from you.

m--glad you saw my rules are there to take or leave.

jb--you hit on one of the main reasons I started to post about blogging. I hated all that blog advice that said you HAD to blog every day or you'd never amount to anything. I've proved them wrong. That's the main thing I want to share with readers. Blogging should be relaxing and fun.

Sierra--You're so right about the support. You're one of the people I rely on.

Ben--I think you've hit on something with the "exhibtionism" of Facebook. It encourages a weird kind of narcissism.

March 27, 2011 at 8:19 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

J. L. We all have to fight the pressure to spend too much time on social media, and FB is designed to be a time-suck.

Florence--The traffic metaphor is great. Glad you appreciate the advice.

Indigo--I'm totally with you that the playing field is a lot more level when you don't deal with people face to face. Thanks for the hug.

Ranae--I'm so glad somebody thought my dump joke was funny!

Anne--You are a brilliant blogger. It's your medium. You have all those followers for a reason.

Clarissa--You have a great blog too. It shows that you enjoy it. I'm glad you like my advice.

Darke--You're right. Encouraging others is what it's all about.

Taylor--You've made an important point here: building platform is gradual. You can't just jump in and say "here I am! Buy my stuff!" you have to develop relationships. You're doing it right.

March 27, 2011 at 8:29 PM  
Blogger Aisha said...

I have a decent handle on blogging after seven years and though there can be bullies (i.e. as they are called on-line: trolls) its not that bad- I mean I write for me and who wants to read, comes. And who I want to read- I go to. It's a great self-selecting community.

Facebook and twitter though feel very much like highschool which is why I limit my interaction on there because its really hard to figure it out- and I just end up feeling badly about myself when I try too hard [JUST LIKE IN HIGH SCHOOL] :)

As for your tips on blogging- they are OFCOURSE your take, your perspective. As someone whose blogged for years I really appreciate your advice such as no music when I click on your blog, and turn the damned captcha off so we can comment without jumping through hoops, etc. I appreciate the advice- and even though I've been at it for years- I learn something each time you write your posts.

March 27, 2011 at 8:41 PM  
Blogger Jennifer Hillier said...

Yes, I totally feel like I'm back in high school whenever I'm on Twitter. Just like I flew under the radar in high school, so too do I fly under the radar on Twitter. Nobody notices me, really. And I have no idea how to get noticed. And I'm not sure it matters enough to me to learn...

March 28, 2011 at 1:30 AM  
Blogger Churadogs said...

Re Facebook & Twit: Reminds me of something my College Lit Prof said about men landing on the moon (1969) and Prez. Nixon phoned them and they chatted about football scores. So here you had a world-shatttering event - men on the moon, first time in history -- and an awesome technology -- a phone call to the moon -- and they discussed . . . football scores. To which the Prof, noted: Technology: 10. Content: 0.

Which is what Facebook/Twiter seems to me to be. I also find it to be interesting in the way those forms appear to be offering "intimacy" but they're really enormously distancing. I mean, when something "real and genuine" is happening in your life, do you stop and send off a postcard, as in, "My boyfriend just left me. I'm heartbroken. Boo-hoo. Wish you were here, Love, Martha?" or "Hi, was just diagnosed with breast cancer. Please send healing vibes, kisses and hugs, Penelope Bear." Really?

March 28, 2011 at 7:10 AM  
Blogger Veronika Walker said...

I'm really surprised people gave you flak for your guidelines. I really think you're spot on with your advice; all of the successful blogs I've seen are doing what you talked about and not doing the negatives you pointed out.

Personally, I like blog "rules." It helps slightly newbie people like me get started, and, hey, you can always learn more, right? As far as Facebook goes, no, I don't think you're going to lose out. You know what you're doing, and 400 followers is nothing to sneeze at.

Keep going strong, Anne. I'm stickin' around. :)

March 28, 2011 at 8:32 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Aisha--You're right that the writing blogosphere is a self-selecting community. It's good to hear a long-time blogger like you finds my blogtips useful. I think people like you who are agented and understand publishing is a business are more likely to want to have the most professional blog possible.

Jennifer--I'm glad you agree with me on the high school thing. Most kids feel invisible in high school, and that's certainly what Twitter can do.

Churadogs--Great insight! Social Networks offer false intimacy, which makes people feel even less connected than before. A study reported today says that Facebook causes depression in a lot of kids.

Veronika--Thanks for the support. I really am trying to help by making blogging less intimidating and time consuming for writers who have better things to do.

March 28, 2011 at 9:46 AM  
Blogger Sierra Gardner said...

YES!!! I had a similar conversation with my writing group the other night, worrying about whether I sounded 'cool enough' on my blog. Hello dear 17 yr old insecure self. I just have to remind myself that social media is all about connecting with people. If I'm starting to stress about it then I'm not using it productively and need to change something.

March 28, 2011 at 1:14 PM  
Blogger Domey Malasarn said...

I do have a lot of fun blogging, but Facebook is a bit of a nightmare for me and Twitter, for the most part, doesn't exist in my realm of thinking. I don't mind having this social networking around, but it's intimidating to think that we HAVE to keep up with it to get our names out there or whatever. I have given up on that notion in a lot of ways. I think it absolutely works, but it's too tiring.

March 28, 2011 at 3:19 PM  
Blogger m. christine weber said...

I think sometimes people misunderstand the reasoning behind blogging “rules.” Perhaps if they had a clearer picture of “why” some things are recommended (and others are not), they might be more likely to say, “Ah! Got it!” rather than feel intimidated or discouraged. For example, the suggestion to not have music serenading one's blog guests, or rotating/flashing photos, or post less than once a week, are actually about SEO (rather than preference). Those are important to know if a blogger wants to “up” their rank in the search engines because those are all things that most search engines are pretty picky about. And if a blogger wants more followers (don’t we all)…well, the rules of commenting and online courtesy are helpful!

In my own nerdy "I feel like I don't know what I'm doing half-the-time" experience, what might unintentionally come across as the “cool” bloggers giving out rules are usually just kind-hearted people sharing the hard-learned tips and tools gleaned (or flubbed over) along the way. Things we all wished someone had told us in the beginning. Does that mean everyone has to follow them? Oh, please no!!! But at least we can all break them fully informed of how the "machine" (ie internet/networking sites/search engines) works in the midst of our growing online relationships and connections. :-)

March 28, 2011 at 4:29 PM  
Blogger Liz Fichera said...

While FB, blogging, and Twitter are all good tools for connecting, I think people feel compelled to contribute ALL the time. Sometimes it's okay to simply listen. Just like in high school, I tend to ignore all the big mouths on social media sites too. The beauty with social media (unlike high school) you can simply choose to "unfollow" people and never connect with them again. How I would have loved an "unfollow" button in high school! :-)

March 29, 2011 at 8:14 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Sierra--I think it's good people are talking about this. It's not just time consuming; it can take a psychological toll as well.

Domey--You're right that the problems come when we're told we MUST do all this stuff. Yes, if you spend 24/7 promoting yourself online it will probably pay off. But who cares if you don't have time to write a good book?

M. Christine--You've hit on a basic truth: you have to know the rules to break them effectively. And I didn't know that about SEO! I advise against flash and music because it takes too long to load and you lose readers, but if you lose Google spiders, too, that's another good reason not to be annoying.

Liz--I do like the power of that "unfollow" button. And yes, wouldn't it have been nice to be able to unfollow the bullies in high school!

It's great to get these long, thoughtful comments. I think this is a big issue for all of us and it's good to confront it.

March 29, 2011 at 9:32 AM  
Blogger Selene said...

Anne, I think this post is more important than ever in light of a certain incident which occurred yesterday.

That individual certainly got the the full Mean Girls (and boys) 'high school' experience. So I hope you keep re-tweeting your blog post at least until the end of this week.

March 29, 2011 at 10:16 AM  
Blogger Sarah Allen said...

Isn't it crazy and a little sad how long our high-school fears stick around with us? I don't think most of us ever really get over them. You make some true and honest points here. I think you're right, its a matter of getting over the fears, being ourselves, and just doing the best we can. Thanks for sharing!

Sarah Allen
(my creative writing blog)

March 29, 2011 at 1:06 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Selene--Thanks for coming back with more encouragement. Yes. I was appalled at the Mean Girls treatment of the author who had the meltdown. She reverted to an angry child, yes, but the whole Twittersphere didn't need to follow suit. I totally agreed with your comment.

Sarah--It does seem crazy, but we all do have those inner children--and inner adolescents--who are still in there, nursing their wounds. We can't pretend they don't exist, or they'll come out and humiliate us in public like the poor writer Selene mentioned.

There will always be Mean Kids. And snarky reviewers. Writing isn't for sissies.

March 29, 2011 at 2:04 PM  
Blogger Margo Berendsen said...

I'm new to Twitter and have found it wonderfully friendly so far, but I have to agree with you about Facebook! I LOVED your invisibility cloak comment. What a great (imaginative) way of looking at it!

March 30, 2011 at 8:33 PM  
Blogger KarenG said...

I have those same high school dreams every fall. Late to algebra class on the third floor, can't find the room, locker won't open. I've never felt that way about social media tho. I have found it more like college than h.s, that there's knowledge and information to be unlocked if I just study and work hard enough to "get it."

March 30, 2011 at 9:11 PM  
Blogger Meghan Ward said...

I don't hate blog rules. When I read them, I make a mental checklist of the things I do and cock my head curiously at the ones I don't, wondering if I should be doing those, too. I don't have any high school anxiety about social media (although I've had that dream many times of going into a test without having studied), but I do feel that online popularity if more about how much time you spend online than about the quality of your content. If you're commenting on 20 blogs a day, you're going to get 20+ comments on your blog every day. (Of course, it helps if you have great content, but I see a lot of really crappy blogs with a ton of followers and comments.) And I just don't have that kind of time.

March 30, 2011 at 9:34 PM  
Blogger Simon Kewin said...

Great advice. The "rules" you laid out were invaluable guidelines but, yes, that doesn't mean they have to be followed. It's still worth knowing about them.

March 31, 2011 at 4:18 AM  
Blogger Alan said...

I gave up on Facebook and I'm glad I did. In my opinion, nothing good ever comes from it. I proudly proclaim on my blog that I'm not on Facebook or Twitter.

March 31, 2011 at 6:12 AM  
Blogger Angel Zapata said...

Thank you for writing this, Anne. It's insightful and true to my life in so many ways. You inspired my own personal take on this topic. I blogged about it here: http://arageofangel.blogspot.com/2011/03/social-networking-how-do-i-know-my-nets.html

Take care,
Angel

March 31, 2011 at 8:24 AM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Margo--It's amazing how many people feel that way about Facebook. I just visited your blog and I love your argument against the word "platform." I like "online persona" much

KarenG--Isn't that a terrible dream. It's always Algebra with me, too.

Meghan--Actually, I've learned some of the blogging rules from you. You've got a great blog--full of really useful info. And I'm finally warming up to the new format.

Simon, I agree. We need to know the rules in order to break them effectively.

Alan--A Facebook rebel with more courage than I have. Good for you. Maybe I'll do that some day.

Angel--Great post. Thanks for the mention. Yes, some of us are not even social caterpillars. Love that image.

March 31, 2011 at 11:00 AM  
Blogger Debbie Clarke aka pbsage said...

Anne: Please re-think facebook. I found your blog through Kathleen Valentine's networked blog/facebook page!

just linked you and kathleen in my post, because i am frequently asked for blogger advice. now, i will update my tags!

best,
deb.

March 31, 2011 at 4:02 PM  
Blogger February Grace said...

Anne, you're a gem. Just sayin'. And always happy to visit you as part of my own 'bully free' blogzone.

I was bullied in school, big time. A lot of online stuff feels overwhelming to an introvert like me- like a popularity contest I have no chance of winning- but I decided that I'm just gonna double knot my pink Chuck high-tops, stock up on Twinkies (and Ding Dongs, which I actually much prefer but "twinkie" always gets the laugh...) and leave a little porch light on at FB and on my blog (Twitter still scares me, like driving on the Interstate the day you get your driver's license...) and hope a few good people will feel comfy and hang out.

With folks like you who visit now and again, I'd consider myself a pretty lucky wallflower at the dance.

hugs
~bru

March 31, 2011 at 8:20 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Debbie--I am on Facebook, I just don't like it much. Anybody who wants to friend me, I've got a link on my "about me" page. Kathleen is wonderful.

Bru--Thanks a bunch. Funny. I was just over at your blog leaving a comment. Great metaphor about the freeway driving w/a new license.

April 1, 2011 at 10:10 AM  
Blogger Katie Mills said...

I basically feel like, if you enjoy social networking, do it. If you don't, still do it but don't force things that aren't there and try to find other outlets for marketing and honing your craft. I really enjoy most social networks. That said, I never force myself to twit or facebook. I am who I am, I have my own constraints (time, family, actual writing, work, etc) and I don't care if I lose followers are popularity because of it. My online life is just a part of who I am. Not the whole thing, kwim?

April 1, 2011 at 12:03 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

Katie, sounds like you've got a healthy attitude toward all of it.

April 2, 2011 at 10:18 AM  
Anonymous David Jarrett said...

As far as I'm concerned, social networking is juvenile in the extreme. Some of the posts on Twitter, if you follow the right people, are useful. However, many are merely self-serving grabs for a bigger "platform" which, of course, the publishing industry now depends on desperately, as it doesn't want to spend its own money promoting new authors. As far as Facebook is concerned, it is almost completely worthless for anyone seeking serious information or relationships. High school & college kids going blah, blah, blah, using plenty of profanity and not really saying much of any import.

April 2, 2011 at 11:52 AM  
Blogger Leslie Rose said...

Anne, loved this post and the high school analogy. I felt like I'd been hit by a rogue wave at the beach when I first dipped my toe in the blogosphere and Twitter. Now I look at them as resources and information for those times I choose to click and seek. I've learned so much from bloggers and tweets, but I believe you have to stay master of your own input highway or you'll go mad.

April 2, 2011 at 7:20 PM  
Anonymous doreen said...

Great post. I truly do feel like I am back in high school as I have recently been stung a really mean girl.
I am not liking it at all.

April 2, 2011 at 11:07 PM  
Blogger Anne R. Allen said...

David and doreen--it looks as if you've run into the worst aspects of social media. So sorry you had to go through it.

David--you're right that the publishing industry insists authors use it, and I think it can cause psychological damage if we don't confront those high school demons and take control of the situation. Otherwise you'll get caught up in the childishness and schoolyard bully nastiness.

Leslie--It sounds as if you've found a way to stay in control even though you had an initial bad experience. I think the secret is not taking it seriously. Chasing followers and worrying about popularity will only make you crazy.

April 3, 2011 at 10:24 AM  
Blogger Serendipity's Library said...

Great post and I agree its scary in here sometimes. I actually received a not very friendly email from a fellow blogger who said I was misrepresenting myself by posting that I am a book blog when I don't talk about books enough. It made me a bit nervous about continuing with my blog but in the end I realized it was her problem and not mine.

April 8, 2011 at 3:35 PM  
Anonymous Amanda Hoving said...

Hmmm...back in high school, I felt pretty clueless. So, yup. Same. Same.

April 21, 2011 at 9:38 AM  

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