Final Wishes. Death & Social Media Etiquette

Times, they are a’changing. 

Etiquette has a way of changing with the times, sometimes, for the good- usually, not so much. I still pull off the side of the road when I see a funeral pass, and after I say a prayer for the family, my alter-ego uses my extensive knowledge of four letter words for anyone that doesn’t. I send thank you notes and I mentally note thank you notes I don’t ever see.

unimpressed

 

On the other end of things, I remember wearing a lovely, slightly low-cut red silk blouse while pregnant and my sweet, lovely, proper grandmother going off on me like I was a pregnant Demi Moore on the cover of a magazine—nude. Sigh.

demimoore_468x647

Obviously, it is a give and take on what morals you want to bend, and which ones you want to lock in your family tree for centuries to come. Of course, like my grandmother and the red maternity shirt I wore, we don’t get to choose what future generations abolish.

Now here is my pondering thought of the day, and I warn you; I am lost on this one. Social media etiquette –  now this is a topic I will touch on a good bit in the future but today, I ask you…

Death and Social Media: 

eternally-retweeted

I never know on funeral sites if lighting a virtual candle is tasteful or helpful in any way. I try to picture life 50 years from now and wonder if anyone will say, “Not many people came to the service, but Grandpa could have set the world on fire with all those virtual candles, eh?”

Is it proper to post a status online for the family, to let them know you care? Or does it look like attention seekers not directly related? Is it just a ploy for some to let the boss see the tragedy, light a virtual candle, and snag a round of golf before returning to work late in the afternoon?

And the BIG question, which as time goes by, is becoming more obvious and kind of an elephant in the room.  What do you do with those on your social media that have passed away? 

I am getting a rather flourishing collection of these lovely people on my social media. People I truly cared about and have fond memories of that I will never forget. At the same time…. There they are. I get leaving the pages up are good for many mourners, but some of us are just lost. Do you wish them a happy birthday and tell them you miss them? Are you a jerk if you do not? Do you like a post someone places on their page about missing them? Or are you saying you are happy they are sad if you like it? Do you untag photos of them? Do you have to leave them up forever if they pass? And how long do you repent if you maybe accidentally beat their score on a level of candy crush and it posts to your profile? (I have not done this, but i have seen it.) 

So yes, I ask you- say it is you that has passed on.. In all seriousness, mostly, at least. I know humor breaks tension on hard topics- but really, you have passed.. Do we delete you? Do we post to you? Do you want a real funeral or a facebook event so more people can “attend” around the world? Do we randomly tag you in old photos? What can we do to keep closure with modern social media venturing into this new territory?

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When Worlds Collide (Social Networking No-No List)

I must admit, I have been thrilled to see the recent connections from users on twitter creating a facebook and vice versa. For some time, I have almost felt as if I had alter egos for each account since so many tweeters were not on facebook and most facebookers did not seem to have a twitter account. Finally, the social networking world unites!

Happy as I may be to see so many of you wonderful people on both sites, as a long time user of both sites, I would like to offer some opinions. I hope that you see this as helpful. Everyone is entitled to use either site as they wish, but for authors, publishers, business sites, and general networking- some things work on one site that do not work as well on another. I am about to break this down from what I have seen/experienced. I hope this offers some help to you all.

TWITTER:

It seems that most literary minds are much more adjusted to tweeting. Most of them live there, only visiting facebook now and again. Twitter is great because it is personal without being too personal. Tweets. Tweets are simple, sweet, and very matter of fact. You can tweet to hype yourself, your friends, your interests. You can tweet random jokes, links, and even photos. You have a following. How great does it feel to have followers? Pretty darn spiffy! Of course, we are limited to but 140 characters per tweet. That can kind of suck, especially considering we are the wordy-sort of folk.

Another good thing is shout outs. We have #MM (Mention Monday) #WW (Writer Wednesday) #FF (Follow/Friend Friday) and #SS (Shout out Saturday). We spread the love the majority of the week along the land of Twittersville. Twitter is great for that! I can not tell you how many times I have followed someone because they were listed in one of these shout outs by someone that I have found to be enjoyable or of like-mind.  In return, I have gained some fantastic followers as well by being listed in these shout-outs. Win-win.

FACEBOOK

Facebook is grand. The butt-kicker of myspace. (My-what?) The entire world basically at your finger tips. We have photos, status updates, events calenders, birthday reminders, groups, games, blogs, polls, questions, surveys, photo-tagging, family, friends, high school pals, exes, and now- lots of literary minded folk! (Oh, yeah and we can type beyond 140 characters) We also have the debate. Profile, Group, or Like Page. Hmmmm. What to do?

Keep in mind, I can only offer an opinion here.

GROUPS– they pretty much suck. I can create the “Michelle Picarella” group right now and add every single person on my friends list- my family and friends can add all of their friends, and by the end of the day, I could have well near 50k people in the official “Michelle Picarella” group. Sounds great? Sure…If you aren’t the one randomly added to a group that you had no choice in joining. Your notifications are officially flooded. Your email as well if you get notifications emailed to you, and somewhere in Idaho, someone is wondering, “Who the heck is this Picarella person and why am I in their group?”……DELETE.

Groups are good for the more facebook-savvy sort. Groups are also probably the most abused application on facebook. IF people like you, they can choose to follow, like, add you. Forcing yourself on someone- never good. Have some pride. You are going to come across like that nasty vegetable your mom shoved down your throat as a child. Do you really want to be someone’s boiled okra? I didn’t think so.

PERSONAL PAGES-  Bluntly, the name says it all. Personal and page. Yes, I do have many people that I have never met and most likely, never will on my personal page. Many of them-writers or literary sorts- that do not have other means of communication on facebook. Here is why a personal page should be a personal page.

  • Many of you have personal emails, phone numbers, and even addresses listed on your personal page. I am sure some of you do not realize this- but you do. That is unsafe.
  • FYI- You can only have so many friends on a personal page. After you have reached the limit, you do not see friend requests, if you have any that you have sent, those people can not add you. The end. Trying to rebuild those “friends” on to a like page- unlikely.
  • People tend to post personal things on a personal page. It’s awkward. If someone does not really know you, but support your craft or business on a personal page that you have created, they really do not care if your cousin has pink eye, or if your child said something cute. That is what family and friends care about.
  • It is harder for others to help promote you from a personal page. Like pages, blogs, websites, can be shared with more ease than a personal page ever could.
  • You need to allow some personal space between you and fans/supporters. If you allow someone you know nothing about to know when you are eating, where, what you had- when you vacation, how long you will be gone- Please, do not be shocked if you happen to pick up a random stalker or robber.

LIKE PAGES

Yes, you are a writer, editor, publisher, or any business/trying to promote/sell something. THIS is where you should be. If you want people to like you or something you are involved in, a LIKE page is where people go to LIKE something. I think it was called that to make it simple. Leave it that way. You can run as many pages as you wish. Say you are an author AND you have seven books, a blue grass band, and an HOA. You can have a page for each of those things. Book lovers can like your books without hearing about your gigs or what day the neighbor down the street actually took down their holiday decor. That simple. It is the way to go.

That being said, there are things that you should avoid. Things that could hurt you more than help you, even with the best of intentions.

THINK BEFORE YOU….

  • Post personal information on your LIKE page
  • Post things on your like page that have nothing to do with what people are there to like.
  • Post updates on your like page as if it were tweets. If you flood fans with facebook status’ such as, writing, taking a break, writing, who’s writing?, eating, writing, check this link out, writing?” You will find that you will not have many like fans, OR even worse, you have been hidden, which means, you think people like you,but they are not seeing a single thing you say. That is going to be great when you actually do have something to say like, “Book comes out today! Buy it!”
  • Send shout-outs as if you were on twitter- This works GREAT on twitter, and even once in a while on Facebook, but people do not accept the twitter shout-outs on facebook as well. You are basically littering a newsfeed, spamming it. This will also lead to un-likes, or being hidden. Not what you want. *I tested this theory last week. I have been @ on facebook by some wonderful pages. It was an honor. I felt great. I gained 6 likes in ONE DAY! Holy cow! BUT….(There is always a but…) When I returned the favor, and I did a few shout-outs in return, I actually lost five that had been fans of my page for some time. Who knows how many hid my updates. Do the math. Gained 6…Lost 5… So I gained 1 like on my page in the end. A great sign of bad marketing. I strongly suggest NOT doing this on facebook. Keep it on twitter.

A FEW THING TO AVOID ON TWITTER AND FACEBOOK

  • Being Emo- Nobody want to hear that mess. No one wants to hear that you are a writer, but you think your work sucks, your life sucks, things are so bad. You have time to write. You obviously have a computer and internet. Get over the emo. You probably just got a rejection because an agent or publisher checked you out and saw what a Debbie Downer you are. Who wants to work with that?  Stop searching for compliments. We don’t have time to pep you up. We are all busy not sucking.
  • Posting rejection counts. Really? That is not okay. If you say, “Got my first rejection today.” or something along those lines, okay. But if you tweet or FB: “Rej Ct= 186” Don’t tweet. Edit.
  • Posting in anger that you wrote something controversial and you got a rude reply. That is what you wrote it for. To ruffle feathers. Get over it. There is always going to be a jerk out there, sure. But if you post something and get lots of people ticked off, you either did it just to tick people off or you do not have the skill level to politely express your point of view. We don’t want to hear that you are deleting people, or banning them from your site. They were just as entitled to have an over the top opinion as you are. Many of us can post on touchy subjects and disagree fully- yet still walk away as friends. What are YOU doing wrong?
  • Posting that you hate facebook or twitter and are going to delete your account. The only people begging you to stay are the ones that are too nice to say, “Shut up or do it.”  No one forces you to social network. You are there because you want to be. People so commonly stress freedom of speech without noting the value of the freedom to simply not speak if you have nothing worth saying.
  • Using four letter words. If the only way you can emphasis your feelings is with foul language, you are most likely not creative enough to be in the literary world. Sure we all know them, use them from time to time- but if foul language is as much of your literary wardrobe as shoes are in your physical wardrobe, you really aren’t presenting yourself as creative or educated. 

2010 A blog of gratitude

As this year rounds to an end, I have to look back and reflect the literary accomplishments in my first year of really biting the bullet of chasing my dreams. I must admit, normally during this time of year, I am filled with more somber or bittersweet emotions of the year. This year is different.

Crossing over from journalism into writing my first novel has been the most self educating experience I may have ever ventured into. As much as I like to think that I have a decent grasp on the craft of writing, I was baffled to see what a small percentage the actual skill of writing has to play in the pursuit of getting published; or an agent for that matter. Yes, your writing should be top notch, but that is just the start of the journey once your novel is complete. Who would have thought?

I have learned the ropes of the literary world (at least, I think that I have.) I have been lucky enough to get input and wonderful feedback from agents, publishers, and even an encouraging email from one of my literary idols (which will be framed and kept forever.)

I have had the pleasure of meeting some amazing literary companions during this year. I am really unsure as to what my level of sanity may be if not for the friendships that I have found in fellow authors such as Dawn Kirby, The Juggler, James Whitaker

Young Livian by Mandy Chorman

, Georgia McBride, Jess Russell, and so many others following their own literary journey.

Speaking of other writers following their dreams, I have had the pleasure of working with the talented Dawn Kirby in building #fbwriter– a hash tag on twitter for authors to unite and support one another- as Dawn has turned it into a page listed on facebook.  #fbwriter has been a blessing to work on as well as to connect with others. Thank you, Dawn, for all that you have done with it.

My book is currently in another round of beta readers. The feedback, so far, has been a complete blessing. I love sharing my imagination with others and welcoming them into a world that no longer exists in my mind, alone. After the first of the year I will be returning to the process of publishing. The holidays and hopefully moving soon have my attention less than fully dedicated towards the book. When I can contribute full dedication once again, I will. This should not be too much longer.

I would like to give a special thanks to Daniel, my husband as well as Tiffany Dyer for the original edits, beta reading, and attention to detail that they have both provided for my first novel.  You will both start getting portions of book two very soon.

Here is to 2010. A remarkable year.

 

(Please be sure to check out the links in this blog.)

Facebook Writers Unite

Earlier today, my dear writer friend, Dawn Kirby and myself decided that it was time for writers to unite beyond simple impersonal tweets. By this, we have created #fbwriter.

A hash tag on twitter, to post a link of a facebook “like page” with #fbwriter in the tweet allows an index, so to speak, of links for writers from all over the world- of all genres. Dawn, actually made the sister support of the hash tag by creating a page on facebook, allowing writers to post their facebook pages into an index there as well. Facebook also offers more than the quick connections of twitter. The facebook hash tag page gives writers a meeting room for discussions, support, and general questions.

Sometimes, the world of a writer, published or not, can be a rather lonely place. Even with friends, family, and fans to support you, a writer carries self doubt, mostly when it comes into their entire heart bleeding into the pages of a novel; a writer’s precious baby. With the creation of #fbwriter, Dawn and I hope to ease the minds of other writers in this small spot on the web where it is okay to need advice, support, or just another means to get your name out there in this vast literary world.

Writers, join us- post your facebook page and make yourself at home!

Agents, Publishers, and Readers, welcome yourself into our world anytime.

http://www.facebook.com/pages/fbwriter/162590853779320