You Can Fly

I am part of the first generation of digital natives: in my teens, computing stopped being something that happened on campuses or in massive rooms with punch cards. The personal computer defined my teens: ever since the world has embraced both good and bad in technology. Social media has become both those worlds, and more beside: right now, anything goes. Somewhere, as I type, someone will be decrying it as an evil that is destroying free thinking whilst restricting constructive discussion.

Except I know differently. For me, a particular brand of social media has quite literally altered my existence. No, it’s not hyperbole, sorry, but genuine praise for a platform some people will tell you is both a waste of time and energy. Without it, my life would be considerably less interesting, entertaining and enlightening. I’ve met what are now my closest friends via the medium of Tweeting.

Without it, I’d be considerably less of a person.

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Over the last couple of years I’ve written poetry to thank those people online for being awesome. This year, the process moves on a stage further. From a woman who couldn’t see the point of this platform when other people adopted it, I am now almost evangelical about the benefit of free speech. How can I say this with a block list that now reaches into three figures…? Not everybody will be your friend in life.

Expecting everybody to like you is a waste of everybody’s time.

Starting Monday, December 2nd on my personal account (@MoveablePress) I’ll be tweeting my thanks to the people who have changed the World for me in 2019. It has been genuinely tough this year to pick the list, but were it not for every one of these individuals, this year would not have been as transformative as it undoubtedly has.Β I’ll use this post as a repository for the tweet-threads when they’re done.

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I’m not a great fan of buying useless Christmas gifts: this year all close family will be receiving cards detailing how a lump sum donated to Oxfam will be used to fund charity projects worldwide. Altered Paths allows me to thank and give, all at once, is eco-friendly and comes with no wrapping paper to feel bad about recycling. It ticks all the boxes too: don’t just take, remember that giving is what matters most of all.

Thank you to these people who have helped me evolve and grow in 2019:

December 2nd -25th’s Twitter links will go here

 

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Was It Worth It?

Once upon a time, I got quite obsessed over the number of people who followed me on social media. This coincided with Twitter’s public and high profile attempts to remove the legions of robots and fake accounts from their platform. The reality of this change is pretty stark: I’ve seen zero follower growth since April 2018Β on the ‘other’ account. Ironically, this was the exact period that this project began to gain momentum: interest here is far and beyond what was ever thought possible in such a short period.

In my lessons and observations of Social media over the last few years, there’s been a veritable legion of people in the background, advising me how to ‘influence’ in all its forms. What is abundantly apparent is that the best success stories, people who genuinely deserve all the plaudits and numbers on their teams are those individuals who do, in fact, put in the hard graft. It doesn’t have to be sitting on Social media, either. The right combination of immediacy and backroom work pays massive dividends.

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I do love me some good organisation, but in the end none of it is worth the Post It notes you wrote it on unless summat budges. I’m pretty sure now the path that was originally trodden with what’s now very much a personal Twitter is the absolute opposite direction things need to head: if anything, I’d be going backwards. So, it is time to stop selling myself, and to start ‘selling’ myself. Those two quote marks are actually quite vital too. Before it was all far to serious. Now, if summat good happens, it’s a bonus, but honestly I’m not fussed.

Last time out, there was an agenda and I HATE THOSE. I’m not an influencer, just a woman with stuff to say and her own shit to sell. Not anybody else’s mouthpiece or spokesperson, just my words and stories that need to be told and might well find a larger audience if I push them. So, here we go. Gonna give it a year and see where we go. If all else fails, I might luck out and get summat published in the meantime, who knows?

It gives me something to do apart from the housework and exercise, if all else fails…

Who are You?

Twitter have been working hard over the past few months to clean up their act: removing fake accounts, discounting locked accounts from follower numbers and all manner of tomfoolery is being employed in an attempt to make our timelines more representative of reality. Except all this work is largely pointless when you think all a robot is made up of is automated code and all anybody on a sock account wants to do is to spread hate speech. My feed is teeming with robots, and it is time to start weeding them out.

This account is typical of many that are quite possibly advertising a real person, but it is most certainly not them using their account in a fashion that would be considered as ‘normal.’ The Follower (singular) that we share is the biggest giveaway: an account with massive follower numbers that retweets only scheduled, curated content. These are not ‘people’ I could have a conversation with, but they provide the filler which increasingly is holding sections of Social media together.

Their output, almost exclusively, is retweets of other accounts that pick up hashtags and then send them onward. In this case, the #amwriting and #amediting snared me. I did honestly go back more than a week to try and find evidence of actual humanity but none was forthcoming, and a look at the followers? Nobody I had in common except that single account. They’re a MASSIVE red flag and I want nothing to do with them.

After a while it becomes really easy to separate the reality from an automaton. Even if Liam is a real person, he’s using robot software to like simultaneously, and that’s an instant turnoff. It’s like when I follow someone and they then immediately DM me a thank you which is clearly an automated response. If I can write and curate every tweet, so can you.

When the person who follows you tweets in another language, it should not be an obstacle to communication. I follow lots of people for whom English is not their tweeting language of choice, and it really is not an obstacle to understanding. Not reading my tweet and (again) only following that one account? Your language of choice is irrelevant. SHOO.

I can do this all day and night. Let’s see who blinks first.

Why

To kick-start my Internet Month, it seemed like a good idea to start asking questions of the place in which we all live. I’ll be honest, it has begun better than could possibly have been expected.

Reading my feed today, someone made the comment that generalising about the bad in people seems to have become a fairly predictable means of guaranteeing retweets and follows, and I think he’s spot on. Outrage generally appears to be the order of the day for some, and responding to that fallout a predictable (and often just as pointless) upshot for many others. After one person’s made the point for you, there is no need to keep recycling moral indignation, yet that is exactly what happens. Looking for an antidote to this, I’ve decided for the next month to let the impetus out of my hands, trusting those around me to interact.

Then we see how many of that number are willing to have a discussion.

This message (and follow) today was as good a validation of the process that I could possibly have wished for. Sometimes, it isn’t simply about spewing random facts or ideas into the ether in the vain hope someone will be interested. What matters more is to find out what it is that motivates people away from the reasons they use Twitter in the first place, and to remind others that it is just as important to take part as to stand on the sidelines and watch.

Now all that has to happen is for me to provide the questions which will stimulate healthy debate and not start fights …

The GSME: Back in Time

On March 14th I decided, after a fair amount of consideration, to sign up for Twitter’s Promote Mode beta. I’ve spoken about this in previous GSME articles, that it could be a great idea for someone like me in order to advertise myself without having to worry about micromanaging a bunch of stuff through often unwieldy UI selection screens. I’m just over halfway through my first month, and honestly?

I’m beginning to grasp how much will have to change in my own feed to make this exercise worthwhile.

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In basic terms, this is exactly the same deal as Co-Promote used to offer, but for a lot more money. That system offered me a ‘vague’ target audience based on what was, at times, pretty inaccurate interest tagging. Twitter allows me to pick the part of the globe I can promote in, and 5 ‘areas’ in which these tweets get promoted. After that, I have no control over what gets picked.Β The algorithm then selects tweets, from my timeline, and off they go into the wider world: this has resulted in some quite amusing exchanges with random members of the public.

I might get some people take interest in my feed, I might also get the odd random follow, but I’m more likely than not to get someone tweeting me directly to askΒ ‘WTF is this tweet being promoted by Twitter?’Β That’s been the overriding thing I’ve noticed. I might have 14% more people looking at my Tweets, but when most of the actual engagements are people calling me a c-word or telling me to fuck off? This is not either relevant or helpful. It means that ANYTHING I say or do in my timeline has to be an advert, or a way to sell myself, or indeed a combination of the two, and here’s where the bigger problem lies.

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I cannot say ANYTHING that isn’t targetted specifically at my audience, and lose the vital (and rather importantly) organic nature of how my growth took place initially. Sure, if I’m cute I can stack things up, and I can cut out the ‘irrelevant’ nattering that does often take place. However, this isn’t a true reflection of my feed either.Β Sometimes it is the spontaneous and brilliant which defines me, and having no say at all in what gets thrown out into the world is, quite frankly, less than brilliant.

However, the interactions I’ve had with WTF Joe Public are a demonstration that yes, people do read their feeds.Β So, this month I am considering the potential of exploiting this randomness, with full knowledge given to you guys well in advance. I should be turning a negative into a positive and using the bizarre nature of the algorithm to start selling my own random nature. It is time to find out whether I can begin to use the platform to promote myself, in a manner that befits the truly organic nature of Social media.

It is time for some new ideas.

#GSME18 :: Forget You

I did wonder at the end of last year whether Twitter would have a relevance for me in 2018. As it transpires, there’s more than ever to discuss in the world of Social media.Β 

It’s rather satisfying to see that the Real World [TM] is finally catching up with a truth many hardcore Twitter users have known for years. It’s the Social media equivalent of Gold Farming in online games: you wanna look cool and clever? Just buy the followers you need.Β This expose also explains why I’ve seen a significant drop offΒ in followers from accounts a) clearly only looking for reach and b) randomly following me out of the blue. Sure, it still happens, but the practice is now finally being weeded out and shut down. Of course, you won’t stop the thing completely, but there is now at least an acknowledgement the practice takes place.

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The Tweetdeck platform now likes to tell me who other people on my Friends List are following presumably in the hope I’ll consider doing the same.Β However, I’ve started to consciously buck the trend of courting followers. At this point I have little or no interest in actively promoting myself using any of the platform’s tools: I’ve even ignored various invites to join the Beta of their ‘all in’ promotion tool. Right now I’m happy to sit on the sidelines, slowly removing followers I’m confident either aren’t real or who are detrimental to my mental health. Sometimes they fall in both camps, but the number of robots or automated accounts is beginning to level out. I’m now looking for clearly-curated streams, with a real person behind them, and this policy is beginning to pay dividends.

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Half a million impressions in January, considering my current output, is a decent baseline to improve on going forward.Β It gives a guide to what I’m capable of, and now I’ve stopped caring about ‘growth’ in terms of audience, there’s more space to simply work on the content. I’m interacting far more regularly with the people who are around, which is a more satisfying situation that becoming frustrated with negativity. Accentuating positives, amazingly, does work.

You can, therefore, expect more on the Great Social Media Experiment going into 2018.

I Think We’re Alone Now

Last week I got a couple of shocks via Social media. All of them involved people having conversations where it was abundantly apparent they’d forgotten the Internet is public.

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We’ve all experienced a moment in our lives when something’s been posted on the Internet we wish hadn’t. Once upon a time, there were no delete buttons. You did not get the chance to reverse your decision. However, crucially in current conditions, even deleting an offending post will not mean you’re off the hook. All those people I watch remind themselves ‘I must delete all that stuff I said in the morning’ are already far too late to fix the damage done. If someone else can see it, they can screencap it. Sure, there are ways to spoof Twitter to make it look as if someone said summat they didn’t, but this is largely beside the point.

You should not be saying in public anything you will regret, ever.

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Yet I watch people who accuse others of being troublemakers when that’s exactly their own modus operandi: casual racism, sexism and all points in between. Pronouncing righteousness, reinforcing stereotypes, and the by now almost metronomically predictable subtweeting. Yeah, I get those other people piss you off. If it is that much of a problem, then remove them from your feed.Β Use a mute button, block them but do not sit and complain. If someone professes an opinion that you do not ascribe to, this is not a reason to hate them. It is a reason to keep them in your feed and learn from them.

The Internet is not just here for your benefit.

Tolerance is in short supply right now and is sorely needed in every walk of life. It is possible for us all to learn from each other, in so many different and surprising ways. Telling other people how to think and act has taken place for thousands of years, the only difference now is that the stage on which it happens is far larger than ever before. The sensitive and susceptible are in danger of believing everything they read as truth. It is already happening.

I wish more people would start thinking and stop posting.