Provocative opinions aired on the clothes line of life.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Confessions of a Cyber Junkie

Oh my meme 
Right: @Oh_Merde

A friend recently commented that it would be a rather straightforward endeavour to stalk me if someone felt that way inclined. Of course they were not referring to my popularity or wholesome likability for that matter (people don't like me?) - but instead to my voracious appetite for online social networking. In fact, it's become a bit of a running joke with my less techno-prone chums as to how much I reveal about myself and the myriad details of my life across the seemingly vast landscape that we call cyberspace.

I began to argue that it was only as a result of my blog, when I looked down at the current geo-enabled app I had poised ready to check-in to wherever we were and realised that my love affair with the internet was by no means new. In fact, as soon as the facility had been first bestowed on me - I was hooked.

As a relatively fresh faced teenager I distinctly remember watching the little MSN people tantalizingly dance around each other via my sluggish AOL dial-up connection. Yearning to sign in and have virtual conversations with peers I'd sat opposite all day in a classroom.

In college it was all about kitsch layouts, suggestive bulletins and the freedom to assert your personal tastes and opinions in an unlimited profile which wasn't complete without that all important tune of the moment. Myspace. (Also quite a handy beginners crash course in HTML). 

Then communicating online with friends was taken to a whole new level in my coming of age fresher days. Facebook. I remember breathing life into mine when it was still limited to University usage. Back in 2005 when the profiles were far more limited (which I preferred) and not everyone was up to speed on keeping them private. Now of course it's a haven for the people of your past who you know but wish you didn't. Giving a voice to casual racism and the facility to share scanned photos of fetuses at every chavy whim. Casting a worried eye over your newsfeed sometimes makes you wonder if democratic free speech is really such a good thing after all.

Then about two years ago I created a Twitter account. And like most new users who had grown accustomed to the uncomplicated and comfortable familiarity of the Facebook bubble, it took a little getting used to. 

Retweets@mentions  and #HashTags were an alien vernacular to me. I was safely cocooned in a privacy protected environment which didn't allow me to stray too far out of the close knit circle of people who I knew in my everyday world.

And while I still have my friendships which transcend cyberspace and are successfully sustained without it (my best friend has never succumbed to Facebook) I've suddenly found myself connecting with a vast array of like-minded people through witty and concise conjectures.

Twitter has become my social pipeline to the world. As well as a support network, an endless tirade of banter and ultimately a very effective channel through which to plug my elongated filthy opinions (otherwise known as what you're reading right now). It's also a far more cathartic and cheaper alternative to therapy. With thousands of like-minded people available to validate your opinion faster than you can say tweet tweet.

Some people can't get enough of you.

While others tire easily.
(Note I favourited that).

The thing to remember with Twitter is that it's an incredibly informal network (far more so than Facebook) so when you're unfollowed you can't take it too personally. (Oh don't I sound rational?) It can also be a double edged sword at times, as you try and find the balance between tweeting too little and too excessively. Both can be detrimental to your follower count - particularly when you're constantly advertising links to content which some of your followers are simply not interested in. And yours truly has been wildly guilty of the latter lately. My Twitter used to be reserved for the occasional link to my personal blog, with the rest of my tweets dedicated to outlandish self-deprecation. But over the last few months, I allowed the business side of my life to overshadow my personality and received quite the backlash.

So in order to rectify this I have split myself in half and created a Twitter account solely for my blog @DirtyKnicksBlog. Some people have commented that I should use my current Twitter account for my blog and create a personal account. And I know this may sound stupid, but I don't think I can let go of being @DirtyKnickers_ in a personal capacity.

Besides, I can't just pull the magic switcharoo on my followers with no warning. Now you follow me, now you don't - and in fact follow my blog instead. I want people to choose to follow the blog links I post, instead of being bombarded with them every second of  the live long day. (I can only imagine how irritating it must have been. Especially if you don't follow a great deal of people - I dominated the timeline). I'd have unfollowed too. In fact I have done to people in the past.

But it's been a learning curve and I thought I might as well share a little handy hint which I've learned during my time in the Twittersphere. 

There are literally hundreds of Twitter apps out there to measure stats, flush out the inactive accounts, generate more followers and target similar users to you. All professing to enhance and benefit your Twitter experience. But if you only ever use one web based Twitter app, then I emphatically recommend:

It takes a snapshot of your list of followers and then catches unfollowers in real time. It sounds a little crazed (and yes it probably is) but there is a benefit: it can maintains your Twitter ratio between the people you're following and the people who are following you. In order to have a positive ratio and be considered worth following back, your follower count must be higher than the amount of people you're following.You don't want to continue following someone who has unfollowed you. The application  also tracks the accounts who don't return your follow. So after a couple of days you can unfollow them, thus preserving your ratio.

Of course, people will argue that it's more important to have quality over quantity when it comes to followers. And yes, this is true. I don't relish spam bots following me but it's exactly like throwing a party - in that you let the freaks stay until it livens up. Also, Twitter is an incredibly shallow network. People will decide whether to follow you back based on how many followers you have and then will try to ascertain why you have them. If you have 500 followers but you're following over 2000 people, you'll instantly be regarded as someone who has simply converted a small number of people to follow you back through the odds of mass following.

However your Twitter worth is also dependent on other factors. Such as your Retweet success and the amount of times you're listed. But I'll save that for another Twitter related post, as I am after all a cyber junkie.

So Skype me.