Channeling My Twitter Obsession Into Poetry

Not sure if I’ve mentioned it here before, but I love Twitter. Some might say I’m a little obsessed with it.

One drawback of this is that I frequently find myself sucked into drama on Twitter surrounding some social or political issue. I love the access to people and ideas from all over the world, but it can also get overwhelming. At times I’ve had to step away completely to recenter myself. Plus, as with any social media platform, time tends to evaporate when one gets dragged into these dramas, so it’s necessary to put on the brakes in order to get anything of substance accomplished.

That’s not to say that I think Twitter is petty or inconsequential. I believe that Twitter, and to a lesser extent Facebook, are radically altering how social and political problems are understood and addressed in this country, because these platforms facilitate such timely and broad communication.

One day not very long ago, I was scrolling through conflicting political opinions on Twitter and I was struck with the idea of making a poem out of them. And so, in the ephemeral spirit of Twitter, I’ve created a quick and dirty site called Hashtag Snapshots where I’ve begun to post found poems that I typically whip up in one day based on a single hashtag that has captured my interest and won’t release my brain until I give it its due.

Yesterday I felt compelled to address the #Kaepernick controversy. I welcome your thoughts and reactions. If you’re interested in my methodology for creating the poems, it’s here.

The project is on Twitter (of course): @HashtagSnapshot

Why blog? Why tweet?

I’ve been ruminating on why I’m so drawn to social media and on what I hope to get out of using it. We writers are continually being told by those in publishing who know about these things that we should build our “platforms,” cultivate our audience, even before we have a book to sell. Certainly I began using social media with these directives in mind, yet social media is more than marketing for me.

I was first invited to join Facebook six years ago by a friend who lived in another state, as a way for us to keep in touch across the miles, and this keeping in touch with people who are far away continues to be one of the main reasons I maintain a personal profile there. A lot of people, though, use personal profiles for professional or advocacy reasons, so over the years I’ve had to find a way to incorporate those connections without compromising my privacy too much. This has probably been my biggest challenge in using Facebook.

I set up a professional Facebook page, but it’s been difficult to get people to go over there. The things I post on my professional page are directly related to my writing goals and my writing life, whereas what I post on my personal profile are usually things like photos of my kids and silly quizzes and comments about local or personal things that are going on. Continue reading “Why blog? Why tweet?”

Be careful to not create a chain reaction resulting in multiple posts of the same content to the same platform. For example, WordPress gives me the ability to share my posts with Facebook and Twitter. I can also set up Facebook to share updates with Twitter and/or set up Twitter to share tweets with Facebook. I do not want to send my blog posts from WordPress to Facebook and Twitter, and then also share my Facebook updates to Twitter, because this will result in one blog post being sent two times to Twitter, one right after the other. Do people do it? Yes, but it always looks sloppy to me. To avoid this, I set up WordPress to post to Facebook, and I set up Facebook to post to Twitter. This way, a blog post goes out once to Facebook and only once to Twitter, and I don’t annoy anyone.

Push your Facebook updates to Twitter if you must, but please don’t push your Twitter updates to Facebook. Tweets necessarily employ abbreviations, shorthand, lack of punctuation, etc. due to their 140-character limit. Good tweets also employ hashtags. Sometimes they reference others’ Twitter handles. None of these things translate well to Facebook. Plus, people typically tweet much more frequently than they post to Facebook and also typically retweet the same information multiple times in one week or even one day, which is extremely annoying on Facebook.

Bonus tip: If you do link your Twitter account to Facebook, remember that you did so, and keep your Facebook status updates short enough to make sense as Tweets. Long paragraphs do not work well on Twitter. Sometimes a long update from Facebook will be cut off with ellipses, other times only a link will be tweeted without any explanation text. And if the update is coming from a Facebook profile rather than a public page, a reader on Twitter may have to log in to Facebook to even view what you’ve written. He probably won’t bother.