of algorithms and facebook likes…

mrsmetaphorwrites

My 13-year-old son had to explain algorithms to me. It’s okay, I’m not embarrassed or anything. I am comfortable with the amount of data my brain has deleted over the years in the “math” department. When I stop remembering whether or not I like chocolate and coffee then I’ll be worried but until then I’ll live with the blank spots where the math facts used to be.

He had to explain it to me because I had just read an article about how Facebook works where “Page likes” are concerned. Only recently I was complaining to someone about the low “seen by” numbers coming at me when I would post something on my Facebook “fan” page. I don’t have a ton of people who follow my page but they mean a lot to me. I like them. I’d buy them all donuts if I could. Who knows, maybe I will one day.

Apparently the new algorithm (which is a set of rules or calculations for data processing, just so you know) skews better for large corporate types and not so good for the small, home-grown types such as myself. It sucks because the small, homegrown types such as myself really can’t play ball on the field the big guys use. For a good patch of time, Facebook leveled that playing field, giving us a chance to actually reach people who might not have normally seen our work before but now, the way things have changed, not even my own peeps are seeing my posts on a regular basis and that hurts.

But that’s not really what I’m here to talk about today. This post came to me via Twitter from Angela England, who is all kinds of awesome. In this post, entitled, “Your Facebook Fans do not owe you anything” Angela talks not about the algorithm but about the whole idea of Facebook “fans,” a term with which I have always been uncomfortable. When I started the “fan” page on Facebook it was for this blog, Mrs Metaphor but when my book contract came through (yay!) I realized that what I wanted to work toward in that page was more than just showing blog posts from Mrs Metaphor. I mean, I like sharing thoughts I come across about the writing process, about the changing nature of publishing and sometimes (but not always) about emergency kittens. This post from Angela England hit me in a good place today in the wake of the whole “algorithm” realization. It shifted me back into the place I want to be because to be honest, having a book coming out throws me into a little bit of a panic sometimes. There’s some new pressure to having someone commit to edit, print and distribute this 75k words one has compiled and I don’t want to succumb to that pressure.

Suffice it to say that though I am not pleased with the algorithm stuff on Facebook, I am thankful for the reminder from Angela England about what’s really important where social media and my work are concerned. I’m thankful for that home-grown group of lovely fans who have chosen to “like” and “follow” me both here and on the various social media sites. That’s all. Thank you for being there and being willing to simply walk alongside. You really do mean a lot to me.

I hope I get the chance to buy you all a donut one day. I mean that.

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clever angles…

A few weeks ago I was talking with someone about Twitter (no big surprise there.) I suggested that he ought to Tweet more and I suggested this not because I was trying to help him grow his followers or his business or his online persona but honestly because I don’t get to see him enough and because I love the thoughts that come through Twitter when he does Tweet. It’s that simple. Throughout the conversation about Twitter and social media in general one comment he made struck me. It was along the lines that social media has become a way for all of us to show off how clever we are. I bristled a little at first but having given it some thought I realized how true that is for me.

I used to blog, tweet, fb pretty much whatever crossed my mind and believe me when I say everything. I was the person who joined Facebook and updated her status every hour. “I’m going to the store now.” “This custard is awesome!” And I was the person who poked you.

All.The.Time.

And I threw sheep and ramen noodle icons with Superpoke, which I think is now gone forever into the shadows of Facebook. I don’t really know because I stopped doing that about a year into Facebook. Yes, I confess it took me a year to get into a real groove and figure out what I was doing there apart from while away the day.

One might argue that I still give the play by-play in my Twitter feed but I would beg to differ. I do try at least to Tweet things that are interesting to someone other than myself. At least I hope I do.

Or do I hope that? Should I hope that?

I hit 900 followers on Twitter this week which to some of you is no big beans because you are heavy hitters and all manner of awesome. I can appreciate that. To me, it is kind of big beans because for the most part I’m a “sit on the couch and write stuff all day” lady. I’m not a celebrity. I’m not a “go getter” and if you ask @Klout I’m not influential in donuts but I’d like to be.

When I hit this number, a milestone of some fake importance to me, sitting on my couch, I felt some trepidation. Who are these people? What do they want from me? Do I have it to give? I suddenly felt some need to be clever, entertaining, witty. It was an odd feeling for ordinary me although I feel it on some level here at home every morning when I wake up. Being a parent of 4 rather unconventional and energetic (read: chaotic) children I’ll admit to waking up most mornings at the hand, or more specifically the fingers, of a kid poking me. “Hey! Mom! Wake up! Can I eat this candy I found accidentally in that high cabinet? Hey! Mom!”

“Who are these children? What do they want from me? Do I have it to give?”

After a couple of seconds of poking I realize I know the short answer to all three of those questions which makes them no less unsettling, let me tell you. And so I get out of bed and wander through the day trying to be the very best version of myself because I have rehearsed the conversations they may want to have with me when they are adults and seeing a therapist and it could potentially get ugly if I don’t work on this “improve parenting skills” thing.

This brings me back to Social Media and the clever angles because I’ve been trying to write a post for three days. I have seven drafts in the draft folder, all different subjects, all different tones. SEVEN. Looking at them this morning and deciding which one to beat into a pulp gave me some angst because the first felt preachy and the second was goofy and the third was too hot and the fourth was too cold and I sat on the fifth one and it broke, ack. It’s been a long and weird morning.

Ultimately what stabbed me in the hands as I typed was this idea that perhaps none of it was clever enough. None of it was interesting enough. It wasn’t enough.

Oh, “lie of enough” we meet again! I hate that it creeps in still, every day, in every aspect of my life. The lie of enough. It’s an old struggle. I suspect it’s a life long struggle. At least it’s familiar. I can recognize it coming down the road. When we come face to face on that scorching black top more often than not I’m likely to embrace that lie like an old friend and take its advice. Now it has a new jacket it wears when I’m stressing about social media apparently. I clothe that old tired lie in the flimsy but fabulous threads of “be more clever” and it’s convincing even as it’s debilitating.

And it’s sobering. As a writer I want to engage and entertain my readers. I want to provoke a response in you. I guess I do want to poke you and throw sheep at you, truth be told. There is a place for putting it out there in a way which is interesting, readable and perhaps even have it’s moments of “clever” but for me the “lie of clever” can’t be the reason for the writing when all is said and done. I promise, Facebook friends or Twitter followers,  I don’t intend to go back to posting the full spectrum of minutia, don’t worry. I hope, though, that I’ll find me a happy medium in this social media going forward.