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Book Review, Books, Life

The Online You and Me

Kiss Me First coverThis week marks two years since I joined Twitter.  Within months, I’d started the Literary Sofa blog and the rest is…  amazing!  Now, wherever I go, people talk to me about things they’ve read or discovered here.  That makes me very happy.

I’m often asked ‘how I’ve done it’, especially by would-be or reluctant bloggers.  That’s flattering but not easy to answer.  I normally mumble something about it being a combination of enthusiasm and luck.  (I’ll endeavour  to come up with something more useful in a minute.)

Last July I wrote a piece about my first year online.  I still think social media is a positive thing.  As a writer it has been really good news for me, relieving the isolation of working alone at home day after day.  I’ve made dozens of new friends (many also in real life), been to events and workshops I’d never have heard of, entered lots of competitions (and even enjoyed some success)  I’ve taken part in spoken word events and loved it (something I never thought I would) and had two stories published as a direct result of being on Twitter.  Result!

Let’s face it – if it weren’t for social media, I wouldn’t be writing this and you wouldn’t be reading it.  And yet despite all the benefits, I have paused to reflect on the effects of social media recently: on me personally, on my family and on ‘society’.  This intensified when I read a novel which I instantly knew belonged on my Top 10 Summer Reads, Kiss Me First, by Lottie Moggach.

The magic of Kiss Me First is that it’s highly compelling with big commercial appeal but also thought-provoking on the issue of who we are online.  Just this weekend, a chilling and macabre story in The Guardian revealed that several women were deceived by an online dating fraudster who turned out to be a woman, not a 35-year-old man.  Tales of online identity deception aren’t unusual, from the very serious problem of adults grooming minors to ‘sock puppets’ hiding behind fake identities to say things they’re not willing to put their name to.  In Kiss Me First, one woman sets out to assume another’s identity online and things quickly become very complicated.

These are extremes and I feel sure most people using social media do so without any malicious intent, but even ordinary users can experience adverse effects.   Like many others, I do worry about what this means for real life social interaction.   If my 11-year-old is on his i-Pod, his 15-year-old brother is on Facebook, my husband’s on a bike forum and I’m chatting to you about the book I’ve just read on Twitter (and that’s a real example) – what does that say about us as a family?  I do insist that we sit down to eat and talk to each other but I bet I’m not the only parent to sometimes curse technology and wish half this kit had never been invented.   I’m convinced it’s incredibly damaging to children’s attention span – even if they do learn to multi-task along the way (our record is one person using four devices simultaneously and no, it wasn’t me.)

It’s not going to go away, but I think it’s right to question the possible consequences.

Twitter and Facebook can be addictive.  It would be possible to waste hours on there every day chatting, which might be fun, but that’s not how novels get written, or any kind of work done.  I enjoy Twitter but lately I’ve become acutely aware of its limitations.  It’s difficult to get into a proper discussion in 140 characters and that’s frustrating.  Blogs offer the opportunity to take part in discussions not limited by length by writing and commenting on posts.  In fact, that’s one of the reasons many people blog, so they can express what they really want to say, although –  and here’s a top blogging tip – it’s best to resist the temptation to drone on.  There are lots of competing demands on people’s time.  I’m far less likely to read blogposts that exceed the two screen ‘rule’ which is about 1,000 words!

Something I’ve always been attuned to as a writer, a linguist and human being:  communication is far harder when tone of voice, facial expressions and gestures are stripped out.  This, combined with enforced brevity, can result in misunderstandings online, even with people I know well in real life!

Context matters too.  I don’t like being able to see other people’s conversations on Twitter (which appear in your timeline only if you follow both parties).  OK,  you may get to join an interesting conversation, but sometimes it feels like eavesdropping.  You can forget other people are ‘listening’.  Conversations with people you know personally have a different tone and (despite what I said above) you mostly know where they’re coming from and they know you.  Someone ‘overhearing’ the conversation may not at all, and may take offence.

Once, I was having what my older son calls a ‘banterous exchange’ with a friend about the ridiculous complications of family life between generations.  I found myself about to tweet something referring to our different religious backgrounds (I still can’t say it).  My friend would have understood completely and also known that I meant no disrespect, but I realised in the nick of time how it might sound to someone who didn’t realise I was joking.

I find myself self-censoring a lot and I feel much duller for it.  Many of us aren’t only online in a social capacity after all; I’m a novelist looking for representation, not a reputation.

And that leads me back to the question raised in Kiss Me First – who are we and how much do we want or need to share to be ourselves online?  I agree with the social media advice to be your own best self (I’m assuming you’re witty, pleasant and engaging….)  Don’t snark or bitch and if people attack you – it’s happened to me – just  ignore it.  Where other writers’ work is concerned, the old adage If you can’t say anything nice…  is one that I follow.  My aim is to spread word of books I love, not slag off those I don’t.  It doesn’t mean I can’t have a balanced critical view and authors have even written thanking me for it!

Often, when I catch up with friends in person, they’ll say ‘I know your news already from reading the blog.’  When we get talking it’s clear that there’s a great deal I haven’t said – things I just wouldn’t share with the world at large.  When writing a blog, it’s essential to give something of yourself and for that to be genuine, but sometimes, as with writing fiction, it’s just as important to know what to leave out.

KISS ME FIRST GIVEAWAY!

June was the second-busiest month ever on the Literary Sofa with several hot topics – I always aim to spark a debate!  I have high hopes of this one and to further encourage you to comment, Picador have kindly offered a first edition hardback copy of Kiss Me First which will go to a winner drawn at random from all who comment or share the link on Twitter or Facebook.  Closing Saturday 13 July 4pm GMT.

So what do YOU think?

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About Isabel Costello

Novelist and short story writer based in London. Debut novel PARIS MON AMOUR now out in digital and audio, paperback on 22 May 2017. Host of the Literary Sofa blog.

Discussion

31 thoughts on “The Online You and Me

  1. You raise some valid points about the downside of social media here. Lots of social media enthusiasts don’t like to admit to these, so well done. I myself go through periods of thinking it’s wonderful and periods of disillusionment. In your case, I reckon the secret ingredient could be passion. Anyone who succeeds on social media tends to be really passionate about it, in my experience.

    Posted by writerlyderv | July 8, 2013, 14:24
    • Thank you Derbhile for that lovely commment. I do absolutely love doing the blog and it’s only the fact that lots of people read it that justifies the time it takes. Social media can be fantastic, but like all good things, it does have drawbacks. I know a lot of people who share your cycle of enthusiasm and disillusionment about it.

      Posted by Isabel Costello | July 9, 2013, 09:18
  2. Like you Isabel, I have benefited greatly from embracing social media but I’m also wary of the negative impact of giving too much away. When I first dabbled, I was paranoid and over analysed every post and tweet and rarely shared photos. As time went on, I relaxed a bit more and as I’m a very visual person, I like to tweet pics but I do try and stick to some rules I’ve created for myself. I very rarely tweet personal details or photos of my sons or husband as I feel that I don’t have the right to share this unless they’ve given me the ok to mention them. I also make sure I avoid topics like religion and politics even if I have strong views on issues I prefer to air them privately. I don’t swear on social media but anyone meeting me in real life might have been mislead into believing I was more mild mannered than I really am. As you say, it can lead to a ‘tamer’ version of the real you but I feel it’s much safer. I also like to talk about books (you’re partly to blame about the size of my TBR pile!) but my silence says more if I’ve read something I haven’t enjoyed. I also consider the effect on family life but as my husband is a complete technophobe and doesn’t even have an email address, he is quick to warn me if I’ve got too caught up on my phone or laptop and provides a good balance. I’m pleased to say that anyone I’ve met in real life from Twitter has not been dramatically different from my expectations but I’m fascinated by the personas that some people adopt on line and so Kiss Me First sounds very intriguing.

    Posted by helenmackinven | July 8, 2013, 15:28
    • Hi Helen
      Your comment made me smile because we’ve never met but I feel we’ve got to know each other quite a bit over the last two years through our blogs and Twitter. How interesting that you also feel you’re a toned-down version of yourself online! I really hope the real-life versions of us get to meet soon – are you going to York in the end?

      Posted by Isabel Costello | July 9, 2013, 09:21
      • I’d love to meet up in person too Isabel but it won’t be at York! The festival sounds great and it seems like all my Twitter ‘pal’s are going but I have day job commitments in Sept. I’ve also made a decision not to spend anymore money on workshops etc for the foreseeable future. It’s not because I feel that I’ve got nothing to learn but more a case of needing to bring money in rather than racking up even more expense pursuing my writing dream. I wouldn’t want to tally up what I’ve spent on writing courses etc so I need to draw the line under it for now. But it’ll be a shame to miss out on the social aspects and support of others which is just as valuable, if not more so than another class on POV etc! Enjoy York, I’ll be there in spirit but I’m sure Twitter will keep me updated on all the shenanigans! 🙂

        Posted by helenmackinven | July 10, 2013, 13:49
      • Helen, I totally know how you feel. I didn’t think when I attended last year that I’d be going back and if I didn’t have a serious agenda (to pitch my rewritten manuscript) I wouldn’t have been able to justify the expense for the social or writing benefits, great though they are. Like you, I’m having to be very selective about which events I attend – it’s lucky launches don’t cost money because I love going to those and find them very inspiring. I’m sure we’ll meet eventually.

        Posted by Isabel Costello | July 12, 2013, 15:15
      • Slightly off the subject, but I agree with Helen’s comment about totting up the cost of writing courses, workshops, events, books, etc. I must have spent several thousands on this sort of thing — and in financial terms, given the average income from a novel, I’d probably have been better off buying lottery tickets even if I get my work published. I do think it’s all improved me as a writer but not sure it can be classed as an investment — good job I enjoy writing and the social opportunities that sometimes come with it.

        Posted by Mike Clarke | July 13, 2013, 10:29
  3. Any down sides of Twitter have, for me, been completely been outweighed by the positives. I’ve probably been using Twitter properly for about eighteen months, and hanging out with writers there has allowed me to get past the feeling that I wasn’t capable of writing a novel. I kept talking myself out of it, but there are all these writers on Twitter just getting on with it, putting one word after another and I realised I couldn’t keep making empty excuses. And as I embark on this journey (bleurgh!) I know there is a wealth of writerly experience on Twitter to see me through the sticky patches.

    I made a decision quite early on to use Twitter for ‘professional’ networking and keep Facebook for private family stuff – it just made sense, given that Twitter is entirely open. That hasn’t prevented me from making friends on Twitter, nor does it stop me posting silly incidental things from my day, because getting to know people is about more than sharing ‘professional’ information. But I’ll rarely post anything truly personal on Twitter – I consider it to be the office water-cooler and wouldn’t be overly personal there, either.

    I try not to moan at all on Twitter. Seriously. Moaning makes me feel worse and bores other people. Pointless.

    A final observation – I have a 12 year-old and a 15 year-old. They are constantly multi-tasking. My youngest does his homework while listening to some weird youtube games commentary on his headphones. Does this worry me? Not a jot. I used to do my homework on my lap in front of the TV, quite often while being simultaneously on the phone to my friend. I worked this way right up to and including my finals at university, and it seemed quite normal. It’s only now that I’m old that I’m incapable of focussing on more than one thing at a time.

    Posted by Rachael Dunlop (@RachaelDunlop) | July 8, 2013, 16:41
    • I agree 100% about the benefits of Twitter for tapping into a supportive and encouraging writing community. I’ve come across people who’ve gone hugely out of their way to help me and that generosity is very touching. I’m really pleased that you’ve decided to write a novel after all and I’m sure you’ll get lots of moral support along the way, as well as people happy to celebrate your success. Good Luck!

      Posted by Isabel Costello | July 9, 2013, 09:27
  4. As you and Helen both say, you do self-censor and present a tamer version online. After all we are presenting ourselves as professional writers as well as individuals. But in the same vein I would never say some things in person either unless I knew someone really well, so I don’t really think the online and offline me are that different at all. Having met many people in real life that I first met on Twitter I’ve discovered that they were all who I expected them to be too. I find the whole phenomena of pretending to be someone else online fascinating, baffling and, in some cases, sickening and alarming so would be very interested to read Kiss Me First. Which will go on my ‘to be added to the TBR pile’ list whether I win your comp or not. When I will ever get time to read the pile I already have is a whole other question!

    Posted by Amanda Saint (@saintlywriter) | July 8, 2013, 17:16
    • Hi Amanda
      I think you’d love Kiss Me First. It’s intriguing and a bit scary in the same way as that real-life story which fascinated and appalled us both at the weekend. It’s staggering to think of the effort and concentration required to pull off something like that – and for what?
      The issue of meeting people IRL who you previously only knew on Twitter is really interesting too. I’ve met tons in person now and although the vast majority are exactly as I expected, I’ve come across a couple who are much milder in person than online and a couple who are really extrovert and a bit outrageous online but very shy and retiring. So far I’ve never liked anyone online and not in person, so that’s good!

      Posted by Isabel Costello | July 9, 2013, 09:32
  5. What an interesting post. I can’t remember how long I’ve been on twitter (probably a bit longer than 2 yrs but not much). I’ve found it an overwhelmingly positive experience. It’s the reason I’ve met you, and talk to people like Helen and Rachael and Amanda above. It removes the isolation of one woman, one laptop, one distant novel-finishing-line. It makes me laugh.

    Interestingly, I don’t agree with the point you feel about eavesdropping on others’ conversations. I love that. Sometimes you can drop something in (always noting that you’re butting in, and being sensitive about it). Coincidentally, Moose Allain (an artist, and a thoroughly nice and mostly hilarious man) has just blogged today about that very subject, and I find myself completely agreeing with him:

    http://mooseallain.wordpress.com/2013/07/09/the-nazi-hunter-and-the-singer/

    Posted by isabelrogers | July 9, 2013, 09:57
    • Thanks for your comment, Isabel. Notwithstanding all my musings on the subject, it’s been ‘overwhelmingly positive’ for me too. Your comment about other people’s conversations has made me think again. Of course you’re right: Twitter would be much less entertaining if you couldn’t see other people’s conversations at all. Maybe instead of making such a blanket statement I should have said that it sometimes makes me uncomfortable ‘eavesdropping’ and it sometimes makes me feel inhibited if I find myself in a particularly juicy discussion esp if it involves people I know personally.

      Reading Moose’s sweet post also reminds me of something that’s easy to overlook – that everyone’s experience of Twitter is effectively bespoke, and therefore different, depending on who they follow.

      Posted by Isabel Costello | July 12, 2013, 15:28
  6. I think the whole thing is quite complex because, as writers, we’re using it for two slightly different things. There’s the social support and connection with other like-minded souls and there’s building on our author platform, if not now then certainly for the future. Regarding the latter, we can’t afford to be too controversial (although perhaps some can get away with it) we’ll put people off but nor should we be too bland it looks like we don’t have any opinions, and therefore aren’t worth reading. Some people are happy to plunge in and deal with the consequences; others constitutionally more cautious.
    I’m fascinated that I seem to be approaching it back to front to most people here (website first, then my blog, only now considering branching out to Facebook and still terrified of Twitter, although I’ve been grateful for the odd occasion when people have tweeted my posts – including you Isabel – so can see lots of advantages for speedily sharing information). Don’t know how much its age, personality or coming from a professional background where confidentiality and a neutral persona was prized.

    Posted by Annecdotist | July 9, 2013, 14:32
    • You’re certainly right about the complexity, especially where social media for writers/individuals is concerned. The pressure for writers to be in direct contact with their readers is a relatively recent thing and not straightforward at all. At an event this week, three of us around a table had been put off reading someone’s book by the way they behaved online – there are dangers as well as benefits to unveiling the writer’s mystique!

      Posted by Isabel Costello | July 12, 2013, 14:56
  7. I think you make an excellent point about censoring yourself. I feel that a lot of people using Twitter forget that other people can see what they’re posting and they don’t think about the impact their words have on others. I have to agree I also censor myself and really think about what I’m saying before I press the ‘tweet’ button. I work in PR and so I know the importance of reputation management. Information published online lasts for a long time and a quick Google search will often lead people straight to your comments.
    Twitter has been a great experience for me because, while I can be quite shy in real life, it’s much easier to speak to strangers (and indeed famous people!) through social media. It’s meant meeting lots of fun people, who share my love of reading and writing and led to me setting up my own blog. I’m often quite sparing in my use of Twitter, only tweeting when I actually have something to say, but I think that is more indicative of my personality. I agree with your point about ‘being your own best self’. Being true to yourself is the best way to be in all walks of life, not just on social media.
    Great post, keep up the good work!

    Posted by LM Milford | July 9, 2013, 14:55
    • Glad you enjoyed the post Lynne and thanks for commenting. Yes, I bet you do think it all through very carefully as a PR! Twitter is thought of as ‘ephemeral’ because it’s so fast-moving, but I’ve often been struck by the longevity of some impressions made there.

      Posted by Isabel Costello | July 12, 2013, 14:59
  8. I totally recognise that false idea that people think they know everything that’s going on in your life from what you’ve shared on social media.

    I’m sure I come across on Twitter like an open book (open… webpage?) but actually there are plenty of colossal things that I never mention because they’re either too personal / private or involve people other than myself.

    I remember having this conversation with someone at Bristol Women’s Lit Fest, and they were telling me that one of their real-life friends vocalised a bitter jealousy towards this person’s online friends! She had to be reassured that they were in fact very different, and in no way does social media (especially in a semi-professional capacity) take away from your real-life friends and family. If it does, you’re definitely doing it wrong!

    Posted by cariadmartin | July 9, 2013, 16:17
    • That’s really interesting about the jealousy towards online friends! To me, the two kinds feel very different. The people I talk to online but also know in person are always far more real and ‘themselves’ face to face – I don’t see how it could be otherwise. I guess a lot comes down to personality and what someone’s objectives are in being online. Maybe someone writing a lifestyle blog would reveal a lot of personal information about themselves, but mine’s a book/writing blog – I go out of my way not to make it too much’about me’, hence my surprise when friends think they know what’s happening in my life from reading it. I’m happy they read it, as long as they still want the real me!

      Posted by Isabel Costello | July 12, 2013, 15:04
  9. Interesting post. I started writing under a pen name (to keep my fiction away from the day job) and used Twitter to share links to stories, mine or others’, and generally chat with strangers, so it was as if I’d been invited to a large gathering where I knew only a couple of people. And that’s how I chatted. I’ve always semi-expected my tweets to be seen as incidental, really. On the flip side, when a close friend started tweeting to me using my pen name, I felt quite alarmed — because she knew my real name, so why use any other? Of course, she was just replying to a tweet and it was meaningless, but it was an odd moment. As I made more friends online, the pen name felt weirder and in the end I ditched it. I quite like Twitter, but I prefer blogs (and smaller groups). As for it being the real me, in real life I’m a scruffy little blob, so online I like to pretend I’m gorgeous. And tall. Yes, I am e-tall! #twall

    Posted by t upchurch | July 9, 2013, 18:56
    • People who only know me on Twitter think I’m tall, and then they meet me. Am quite as small as it is possible to be for a grown up! That’s another things that’s interesting about Twitter – you form an idea of someone’s physicality just from a headshot and the sorts of things they say. Apparently I have a tall personality.

      Posted by Rachael Dunlop (@RachaelDunlop) | July 11, 2013, 18:32
      • Hiya, yes, I think we chatted about this on Twitter. I always imagine people on Twitter to be taller than me, and slimmer and cleverer. I don’t know if this is because I only sit down to tweet when exhausted by childcare, work, or housework/gardening — so I’m usually all crumpled and wiped out. In this sense, it’s possibly true :))

        Posted by t upchurch | July 11, 2013, 19:01
      • This is fascinating! I must NOT have a tall personality then because when people I know online meet me they always seem really surprised at how tall I am. I’ve even started to think of myself that way when previously it never really occurred to me. Maybe that’s because where I live you can barely move for 6 foot women (though I’m only 5’10!) I must say I find it much harder to relate to people online who don’t provide a headshot. A cartoon or book cover doesn’t do it for me at all.

        Posted by Isabel Costello | July 12, 2013, 15:11
    • I find your experience of being two different people (so to speak) very interesting, as is the fact that you chose not to stick to it. See my reply to Rachael re the physical attributes issue!

      Posted by Isabel Costello | July 12, 2013, 15:08
  10. One of the difficulties is that people talk about social media as if it were all one place, when in fact it’s far more fractured and disparate than that. Social media is a street full of pubs, cafés and restaurants. Over here is Twitter, next door is Facebook, across the street is Linked In, then WordPress and Tumblr and Pinterest and Reddit … a whole town full of places you can go if you want to, some of them so far off the main street you might never notice them, others right in your face, the online equivalent of a Starbucks or a Wetherspoons.

    So first you have to choose which ones you like, that suit you and where you think you’ll meet people you want to meet, for whatever purpose matters to you. And it’s up to you which side of yourself you show when you go in there; jeans and flatties, or stacked heels and painted fingernails? You want to wear a blonde wig? That’s fine; just be prepared in case it starts to slip. (I love the concept of ‘e-tall’, by the way, Tracey!).

    Personally, my venue of choice is Twitter; it’s the one I spend most time and where I have met the most interesting people. Its décor and atmosphere seem to appeal to writers and designers and actors and other creative types, and the rules of the place don’t let people ramble on ad nauseam like they do over in the Facebook bar.

    When I first started going there, way back in 2009, it was new and still pretty quiet; these days it’s getting crowded and sometimes it’s a bit too noisy for me. But I still go there, because it isn’t just a single room café; it’s a pub big enough for lots of different groups to get together without bothering each other. On my left as I go in is a small bunch of my real life friends – though we only occasionally meet here, in passing, because quite often we’ll have already caught up in person, by phone or text or email or face-to-face, and sometimes our conversations can switch between all those channels in a matter of moments. On my right is one of my favourite places to spend time; a big group of interesting, stimulating, funny people, some of whom know each other, some of whom don’t. I like to hear what they have to say; and sometimes I feel I have something to contribute to the conversation, or I want to share what they’ve said with other people that I know will be interested. Quite often that leads to other conversations and new friendships, and sometimes we’ll find a way to meet up away from the Twitter pub as well, which so far in my experience has always been worthwhile. Though I’m very picky about who I do that with.

    Up there, above the bar, is a TV screen that I glance at every now and then, just to catch the news headlines and find out what’s going on (or rumoured to be going on) in the world. And I know that somewhere a long way down a rather grotty, smelly corridor at the back of the bar is a room full of nasty, stupid, bored people. I don’t spend time with them or they with me, and when we occasionally come across each other by accident we’re both equally surprised to find ourselves in the same place and scuttle back to our own corners as quickly as possible.

    There’s also a another branch of this Twitter pub, just down the road; it’s more of an office than a bar, and when I go there I dress differently, I use a different title (though it’s still definitely me) and the picture on my security pass would not be recognised by my friends in the pub, I talk work stuff and have virtual meetings of 140 characters long with people who are interested in the same professional things as me but who I would otherwise never come across. It saves on train journeys and dysfunctional video conferences and can occasionally lead to mind blowingly interesting collaborations and opportunities. There are, however, rarely pictures of kittens shared in this place.

    I guess some people who are used to seeing me in one part of the pub might get a bit confused if they come across me somewhere else (‘I didn’t recognise you with your clothes on!’ they’ll cry); but that’s fine. I’m still me. They just haven’t seen that side of me before; they’ll get used to it. But even if they follow me round every room they’ll see no more of me online than anyone else would in any real world bar; I’m here for the beer and the craic, you see, not to bare my soul.

    So, who’s up for a drink?

    Posted by janeide2013 | July 11, 2013, 12:30
    • Great analogies, Jane! It’s as if you’ve written us a story. You’re right, there’s a lot more to social media than Twitter, blogs and Facebook which are the only ones I know (and I don’t really like FB). I have several real life friends who are on Twitter in a serious professional capacity and feel they can’t chat to people about frivolous things or express personal opinions, so I can see why you choose to keep the two separate. We are destined to meet in real life before too long – it’ll be interesting to see if we conform to expectations created online!

      Posted by Isabel Costello | July 12, 2013, 15:21
  11. Interesting post. While I find Facebook as a company to be quite infuriating, their platform is a lot more straightforward than others. I don’t have thousands of FB ‘friends’ — they’re nearly all people I’ve met before and I often use the privacy settings to change which groups of friends see my posts (it’s surprising how many Facebook statuses are exchanged between neighbours in my village). The distinction between personal pages ‘friend’ and commercial pages ‘like’ is also a good idea.

    Twitter is an intriguing mixture of broadcast messaging and the interactive and most of my tweets are probably addressed specifically to other users. I feel a bit awkward about eavesdropping into other conversations too and I’ve sometimes been a bit taken aback to have a third party join in — but that’s the way it works. (Perhaps Twitter should have set up a category of reply that can only be seen by the recipient?)

    Given Twitter’s transparency, I’m baffled how some people use it. I’m sure a lot of readers of this blog follow literary agents on Twitter for the very sensible reason that many of their tweets are informative for writers, both in general and specifically about their tastes as an agent. What I don’t understand is why some don’t set up separate professional and private Twitter accounts so that their tweets to their friends about what they had for lunch or their dog or something get put on thousands of strangers’ timelines — and perhaps worse, their followers are tempted by the virtual familiarity of Twitter to make conversation that’s not welcomed. (Although I think some do enjoy the interaction.)

    I guess the reason behind this, as in much else with social media, is that you dip your toe in the water experimentally just to see what happens and then before you know it, you’ve established some kind of presence and started to interact with people and, while you wished you might have done things slightly differently, it’s too late to change. I started off writing a blog about a novel writing course and I used the same title for my Twitter account. Not that many of my tweets are about novel writing despite my username.

    It is very interesting to meet the people behind the tweets. I went to the York Festival of Writing knowing many people through Twitter but not having met anyone there in person. Some are like you expect, some are very different. I guess it’s down to how people like to manage their personas — and I suppose writers should be pretty good at that.

    Posted by Mike Clarke | July 13, 2013, 11:07
  12. Congrats, Isabel!! 🙂

    Posted by Writerlious | July 22, 2013, 03:04

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