A Theory of Twitter

I like Twitter.

I’ve used Twitter since 2008, although my current active account is much newer. There’s a lot of noise (and sometimes mean people), but I’ve a lovely groove of finding interesting people sharing things we love.

Most of the people I interact with on Twitter are not part of the rest of my life, and it’s a delightful way to broaden my world. I love the unexpected discovery, share, or communication. Here are a few of the key ways that I use Twitter.

I love, love, love lists. This is how I usually view Twitter. I like my curated control over the Twitter content, and I like sharing my lists. I usually keep about half of my lists private, either because they are for work purposes or that I’m still building them out.

After lists, I will view my main feed, and then oftentimes various hashtags that I enjoy.

How I decide to follow
I like accounts that are real people, with some indication that they are posting their own thoughts and content to Twitter, and there is some hope that we might interact directly with each other.

If it’s an account with a really high volume of Tweets or followers, I might add to a list, but I’m unlikely to follow. Many accounts are also auto-posting from another source (Instagram, YouTube, etc.), and I’m unlikely to follow them.

Follow each other
I am a big believer in reciprocal following. This seems polite and this also can be an indicator of whether I’m following someone who is actively managing their account.

If I am following someone and they never follow me back (I typically give someone 1-4 weeks to follow back), I usually add them to a list if I’m still interested in their content and then I unfollow.

Sometimes I unfollow accounts that are following me. This is usually when their tweets are nothing but marketing (unless marketing something I love), particularly automated marketing, or violate my rules of good internet behavior. Muting is used as a probationary activity for excessive tweeting (ie, flooding my main feed with self-promotional messages or engaged in a lengthy private conversation).

I don’t follow people tweeting really mean stuff or sexbots, although both kinds of accounts can make me laugh.

I try to review my followers and other interactions at least weekly to make sure I haven’t missed anyone interesting. I do this via the Twitter web platform.

I have the Twitter app on my Android phone and I frequently use that to check in on what’s happening with Twitter and interact with others. I recently turned off the email notifications since the phone app was keeping me sufficiently tuned into my interactions.

I also use Hootsuite to keep content from getting too bunched up. If I’ve got a bunch of fun stuff or weird ideas, I’ll space it out to not totally flood people’s feeds. There are a number of other tools to automate responses, direct messages, and following, but I prefer to manage all those interactions through the main Twitter web and phone apps.

A final note
Since Twitter controlled by an external corporation, I also understand the whole infrastructure could change. So I try not to be too attached to functionality or visuals. And just enjoy the content!

My own rules for being online

I’m trying to be more intentional about my online activity — for my own mental and emotional health, as well as protecting my time to do other cool and fun things. And having time for chores, I suppose.

Social media is a double-edged sword for me. I love the connections and swapping of cool info and serendipitous discovery. I’m not so fond of my internal monologue and emotional response to negative content. I also can slide into feeling that everyone else is having a marvelous life with each other while I live alone in a dirt hole. When I start freaking out about negative content or my unworthiness, I need to back away from the computer or phone and go run around outside. I am moderately good at actually doing this.

I’ve also benefited from having some clear rules* about my own social media posts.  When I can’t live up to these rules or I’m regularly interacted with others who are not, it’s again time for me to go run around the block.

The rules:

  1. Be kind.
  2. Be generous.
  3. Share information, ideas, and cool stuff. If it’s not yours, share with attribution.

The guidelines**

  1. Communicate and share without using automated responses, if possible.
  2. Don’t engage with meanness (unless maybe to thank someone for sharing their thoughts).

*I debated calling them guidelines, but I think they really are more than guidelines. But sometimes rules do get broken. So then I try to be kind and generous to myself even though I messed up and was a jerk.
**Okay, these are guidelines.

Some March favorite things

So many wonderful things! Here are some of my most favorite things from the last few weeks in March.

  1. 2016-03-23 19.11.31The 21 Balloons by William Pène du Bois. An entertainingly weird children’s story that I’ve recently enjoyed as a bedtime story for myself.
  2. Chesa: Spanish food in NE Portland, including paella and delicious gin & tonics.
  3. Twilight Imperium: Okay, this board game is a doozy, but I have accidentally managed to really learn to rules. So despite my preference for 90 minute games, I am looking forward to a day of Twilight Imperium every three to six months. And I have an evil plan for the next time. Shhh, don’t tell anyone I play with…
  4. Prism Dice. It’s on Kickstarter. Based in Portland. They are so pretty.
  5. Sex and the City: I was home sick and ended up watching much of the first season. I’d maybe watched an episode or two before, but never enough to follow the intrigue. I’m enjoying it more than I expected! Also, I’m really, really boring compared to them. I like to sleep and I hate uncomfortable shoes. I guess I do like wine and cocktails, so we do have that.
  6. Getting to see The Godfather on the big screen at Hollywood Theatre in NE Portland. That was great fun!

Detail & imagination: playing with the ideas

One of the tensions I find most interesting in writing is between providing real, vivid details and creating space for the reader’s imagination. I have an overactive imagination and as a reader, I love filling in the open areas of books to build connections to my own experiences. This is particularly true for me in romance, fantasy, and science fiction.

Because of this, there are some intentional ambiguities in the Greywater Chronicles universe with Mistakes Were Made and Best Laid Plans. I read a lot of classic science fiction growing up (and enjoyed Star Wars) where I switched the gender of the heroes. While my characters do have a specific gender identity and use gendered pronouns, I chose many names that do not have single gender uses and character traits and professions that do not always line up with traditional western ideas of gender. Besides a nice push back against more rigid roles, this hopefully also allows readers to more easily see their own gender identity in my characters.

I also like to imagine that I live in the cities or farms or tents or spaceships or castles of my favorite books. The Greywater Chronicles are clearly set in Portland, Oregon, but I don’t name the city initially. Furthermore, the

Race and class are perhaps the trickiest for me to give space for the reader to see themselves. I try to use descriptions that show the personality of my characters while not excluding readers’ own physicality. However, my characters are reasonably well employed, and not struggling with being part of a minority or oppressed group. They just want to find love and happiness, which is a luxury we rarely acknowledge.

All this being said, I also love stories that are incredibly specific in the details so that I can attempt to imagine life as someone completely different from myself. I’d be sad if everything was written so that I could project myself onto the characters, but I quite enjoy some character projection from time to time.

Some awesome (and not so awesome) things from last week

All sorts of fun and frustration this last week. In no particular order, some cool stuff!

  1. The Twitter hashtag #SciArt pulls up some amazingly beautiful stuff. I’ve added a nature photo of my own below, but you should go see the real art.
  2. Frustration/sadness with the discovery that scalpers are a very real thing — tried to buy pre-sale tickets for the Flight of the Conchords show and was unable to do so (at least initially), but tons of great seats immediately started showing up on the ticket re-sale sites. Very sad. Fortunately, I found sympathy with other fans online and then tried again some more a day later and managed to get a couple of seat waaaaay in the back. Spent some time speculating over dinner about how to counter scalpers — and didn’t come up with any realistic/non-intrusive ways to pull it off for larger performances.
  3. Wonderful food, wine, and drinks at Coopers Hall in Portland, Oregon. Delightful evening with friends, but check that they are not closed for a private party before going. It’s funny to buy a glass of wine that costs as much as I often spend on a whole bottle, but it’s also a delicious treat.
  4. I quite love Ghostbusters and I’m looking forward to seeing the new Ghostbusters this summer. If you too have a fondness for ectoplasm, snot, vomit, and ghostly (demonic?) possession, enjoy this preview. That being said, this is Ghostbusters people: keep your expectations under control.
  5. Craig Robinson is on tour. Go see him if you can. He’s in Portland at Helium Comedy Club at the end of March. I’m missing him. 🙁 But it’s okay, I can hear him singing highly inappropriate things very quietly in my ear.
  6. I’m working my way through the Rama series for the first time since I was a young teenager, and while they aren’t perfect, they’re a fun imagining about a very cool alien spaceship and how humanity responds. And we all know about my feelings about spaceships…  Buy the Rama books from an independent bookstore (I’ve linked to Broadway Books in NE Portland this time).

Good afternoon, Mr Tarragon. I’m going to eat you! Bwahahahahaha. #garden #herbs #dinner

A photo posted by Taylor Rush (@rush.taylor) on Mar 1, 2016 at 3:43pm PST