Our topic this week mirrors the one last week at Write in The Shadows, interestingly enough. And no, it's not my fault, it's just a coincidence because I don't do the schedules on either blog anymore.
Do social networks work for you? Yes, without a doubt.
How do you handle privacy issues? For me, it's pretty cut and dry - use a pen name and don't post personal stuff you don't want the world to know. But what if you don't have a pen name? Then things get trickier.
You will actually have to learn how to use all those nifty privacy settings - like who can view which albums you post, who receives your writing related status updates or news on your kid's latest achievement at school. And here is a novel suggestion - stop playing games and allowing apps that steal and/or share your personal information.
Do you have a favorite? Yes, Facebook. Although, I have some friends who rave about Twitter and I know I need to use it more. I just don't have the time to master one more social tool. Sucks time from my writing and/or my general procrastination to write.
Since I mentioned time sucks, I have to say I never use the aforementioned Facebook apps and games. Did a little reading on that one and decided no thanks, I did not want a third party developer to have access to my information... just for a cute game or bling thingy.
"Friends" of C.J. on Facebook will notice several things:
1) There are almost no pictures of my children posted -- just one. It is the last picture taken of my nephew when he visited with us and it happened to be when he was seated with my kids. I didn't take a ton of pictures when he was here last because I was worried he was getting too old to tolerate his aunt hounding him with a camera, "Oh, you're going bowling with the kids? Here, take this and get some pictures."
2) I almost never mention my children in status updates or anything else. The stuff I do share is usually personal and always true.
3) Rarely do I mention my frustrations with my husband, because (although common) they are quite fleeting and to harp about them on Fb it would sound like we're on the verge of divorce or something. We're not, we're normal and he drives me crazy sometimes.
4) You'll never see me bitch about another writer. Not professional and I won't do it. Ages past, I mentioned a reviewer on Goodreads once who was a close friend of one of my competitors, who slammed my unpublished work during a contest... and later she bitched I sent my fans after her.
Since none of my FB friends ever emailed her or said anything about her, I can't say that anyone went after her. But, I learned that I should keep my mouth shut when I felt unjustly attacked in an biased "review" or blog posting. And yes, it just about killed me to do so. Good lesson to learn and I certainly see enough new writers commenting on reviews who need to learn the same hard truth.
5) Nothing nice to say? Then zip it! Never argue publicly -- whether it's Twitter, Facebook, or a comment on a blog post. It will never work out well. Considering I never shy away from a bully or confrontations, you can bet this one has been a hard one for me to swallow.
And now, I'll tell you something you all probably know about the Internet. Were you ever teased or bullied as a child?
Growing up outside Manhattan during my teenage years, living in the single most competitive metropolitan area I've ever been exposed to, taught me to not back down and to stand up for the underdog. I'd never been picked on or teased so much in my entire life until I moved north. Kids are cruel and it's a harsh reality learning to deal with narrow-minded bigots -- of whom, I found, there are many more north of the Mason-Dixon Line, than south of it.
Those angry hostile people aren't just near Manhattan and they didn't disappear as I grew older. They're online now and in social networks. It's a great tool, but it's also a great weapon for those who are mean-spirited and have an agenda. My advice is to learn how to make these networks work for you and cut yourself off immediately from anyone who may wish you harm.
You'll never change someone's opinion by arguing with them in an open forum and it's best if you don't say anything that can be twisted back on you later. Proceed with caution and wear your game face. But above all, you've got to be in it to win it, and social networking is here to stay. Learn to use it wisely so you can benefit from it.
How about you? What's your favorite social networking tool and why? Anyone have some twitter advice for me?