Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Impulse Control (And Why Twitter Scares Me) by Jess Riley

A piece of writing advice I always try to stick to is, “never go with your first impulse,” because it is usually a clichéd metaphor or tired device or stale phrase. 

In my case, my second, third, and fourth ideas are often equally hackneyed, but you get what I’m saying.

For example, my first impulse for this post was to write something about my New Year’s Writer Resolutions. (Write more! Read more!) Then I realized that everyone else was writing this, too. (Write more! Read more!)

"Basically worse than genocide ..."
Anyway, turns out this rule of thumb applies equally well to other aspects of the writing and publishing life. For example, let’s pretend you get a snarky, mean-spirited one-star review, saying your book is basically worse than genocide or pedophilia, and definitely more trite. After you stop crying into your basket of chili cheese fries at Culvers Custard, your first impulse will be to march back online and tell that meanie reviewer to eat a bag of dicks. Don’t do that! Instead, Google her, because she was dum-dum enough to post with her first and last name AND city. Enjoy a warm glow of schadenfreude when you learn she’s embroiled in a nasty legal battle due to something that was entirely her fault.

Social media. Well, here every one of my impulses here is to collapse in my chair and slide onto the floor. I joined Twitter last winter, and since I can’t bring myself to believe anyone is all that interested in my caffeine withdrawal or how my dog enjoys chasing frozen peas across the linoleum, I don’t tweet all that often.  Also, self-promotion makes my b-hole cringe. Every once in awhile I’ll get the fighting spirit and tweet four things in a row or comment or retweet something funny or interesting to my negative four followers, and then I’ll collapse in my chair and slide onto the floor. 

Here’s a sample tweet from a folder I started on my computer called “sample tweets:”  I don’t post about political stuff because I don’t want to be rude to my stupider relatives. 

Did I tweet this? 

Hey, got any peanut butter?
No. I lost interest and fed the dog peanut butter instead.

Also, Twitter kind of scares me. The other day someone neat started following me. Based on her screen name and interests, I thought she’d followed me ON PURPOSE, because I am also of this life situation / values / opinion / sense of humor. I immediately followed her back, feeling happy and loved, looking forward to interacting with my new friend. I liked her page on Facebook and read a few of her older blog entries, one of which was all about boosting your Twitter following (while decreasing the number of people YOU follow)…I guess the goal is to look really popular, like back in high school that none of us want to go back to. She’d gotten it down to a science, and there was a complicated process involved that seemed like it would take about forty hours a minute to coordinate.

One of the options for a “Tweet management service” this blogger utilized was an app that can “force people to unfollow you,” which seemed counter-intuitive to me.  Isn’t the whole idea to get more Twitter followers? Not, the service explained, if they ‘contaminate your brand.’
Holy Jesus Soul Vacuum!  SERIOUSLY?!

As soon as I finished reading this I logged back onto my Twitter account—perhaps forty minutes had elapsed between her following me, me following her back, and me reading this article and trying to wrap my head around booting people who didn’t smell nice enough for you, or whatever. 

Guess what? My new BFF unfollowed me the second I followed her back, hoping I wouldn’t notice she was using me to game her numbers. So, in mature fashion, I unfollowed her also. Who’s back to square one now, bishes?

So, Happy New Year, one and all! (Write more! Read more!) I hope your third impulse is to re-tweet this post.

Jess Riley is the author of All the Lonely People, which is great for anyone who just endured a holiday from hell with their family, and Driving Sideways, which is great for anyone planning a road trip to meet their kidney donor.  Her Twitter handle is @jessrileywrites, but don't expect much.


  1. I get more writer's block looking at those 140 character spaces on twitter than anywhere else in life!

  2. Oh, I know...and some people make it look so easy! :)

  3. Happy New Year!When I first started Twitter I did so because I wanted to get more followers for my book review blog,and just to promote authors and their book(s).I was so surprise when I had a lot of followers following me.Especially authors,and some writers,and some other bloggers who does book reviews,and also other people to.Mind you I was fairly still new at this tweeting thing,but I wasn't dumb enough to know when I been had.I had state if you follow me I would follow back.Up behold people started following,only for me to find out that alot of them unfollowed me,after I had follow them.I Had Twitter for almost two years,and Facebook about four years with no interaction whats so ever.I deleted both accounts.What's use having something to promote or interact with, when the people I had on the these social sites were non-responsive.So,now I just have my blogs to focus on.I know #TMI....But your post reminded me why I left those sites,it not to say I won't be on them again just for now,I'll pass. I know again #TMI

  4. Thanks for starting my day with a laugh, Jess. What a fun post--much better than Write more, Read more!

  5. Hilarious, as usual, Jess!! But I totally want to read tweets about how your dog enjoys chasing frozen peas across the linoleum. Read more, write more, TWEET more!!!

  6. When Prostitutes for Jesus started following me on Twitter, I wondered WTH I posted to draw that attraction. Seemed, though, like an entirely oxymoronic group. Or perhaps just moronic.

    Your post should have a warning label about not consuming hot fluids while reading. My coffee almost ended up in my lap from my laughing.

    Thanks for the funny start to my morning. And please do throw a few frozen peas and pups Tweets our way every so often.

  7. Prostitutes for Jesus?!?! LOL

    I'll try to Tweet more, but Twitter still feels a little like streaking through a packed convention hall and everyone stops talking and shouting just long enough to watch you run by naked, and then goes back to talking and shouting.

    F.A. Ellis, I hear you!!! :)

    1. Gosh, I think it feels like they don't even stop talking and shouting. They just keep on talking and shouting while you run through naked. (But maybe that's just me and my lack of cleavage...)

      Anyway - I'm off to follow you, even though I find Twitter completely overwhelming so don't go there much...

      Funny post. :)

  8. Hilarious...these sorts of cliquey, you follow me but I'm sure as hell not going to follow you attitudes, are what scares me about all social media. It reminds me of a sentiment once expressed to me in junior high - in my yearbook, one of the popular girls wrote,"To a nice girl who is neutral." I think I made up for the nice part a little in high school, but I sort feel this has been my life since then - sitting smack dab in the middle, sometimes of mediocrity, sometimes enjoying the sensible peace of not being a Mean Girl or a bottom feeder...maybe that'll be the title of my book - To A Nice Girl Who is Neutral" - or my blog, neither of which I have aspirations to undertake, but don't' steal my title in case the muse strikes in 2013. Thanks!!

  9. The follow and the unfollow! A well known comedian started following me, I followed back and then 2 days later was unfollowed.

    In the next 6 months, people did #FFs with her name next to my name. Over and over. I thought, TAKE THAT, BITCH. Eventually she followed me again. And I, followed her back. And we remain codependent to this day.

    p.s. This comment brought to you by #humblebrag

  10. I have this impulse control problem with FB - I find *that* dangerous. :) And Twitter is like people standing on the side of the road twirling their cardboard advertisement - mostly useless. I jump in now and then just in case...

  11. I do not tweet because 140 characters is not enough to contain all of my awesomeness. Also, because, seriously, my life is not that exciting. Sad but true. Maybe my new year resolution will be to pick up my poor neglected blog again.

  12. Your Twitter story cracked me up. I think everyone who's been on there has discovered people who follow, then immediately unfollow as soon as they get a follow-back. (Hmmm. How many times can I use the word 'follow'?) The thing is, though, in the end they're the ones who lose out because they don't get what Twitter is for: interacting with people. It's about the fun, not the numbers. (That said, it IS hard when our friends are quantified like that. It's hard not to feel at least a little pressure to make those numbers look good, because they're easy to quantify and they're available for everyone to see.)

  13. Holy Gerard Butler, I needed this!! I am constantly volleying about my social media. I'm going to delete it all (you can't really do that, you know!)...I'm going to start a new webpage. I'm going to throw my laptop from the roof. I'm going to go buy one of those all-in-one, state-of-the-art, touchscreen mega-monstrosities. Yes, I'm totally irrational, but it's nice to know I'm not alone. Thanks for the first real laugh of the New Year. Hope yours is great, Jess!

  14. I loved reading all these comments! Thanks, everyone.

    I think Gwen Stefani would have a hit if she remade "Hollaback Girl" into "Follow Back Girl" and wrote some satirical lyrics to go along with it. (Hopefully she beats Weird Al to the task...)

  15. I get pleasure from, lead to I found just what I used to be having a look for.
    You've ended my four day lengthy hunt! God Bless you man. Have a great day.


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