My Advent Thanksgiving series is a series of posts about stuff I liked in 2011. Music, books, tv, games, handsome gentlemen – you get the idea.
Imaginary friends (& Joss Whedon)
I had a Twitter account last year, but this is the year that I finally ‘got it’. The biggest change came when I was watching Serenity on tv and couldn’t help but ecstatically tweet some lines from the film. Other people replied. People I didn’t know! What?
Until this point I was following some names I knew from blogs, a handful of comedians, the Guardian’s books feed and the few web-friendly mates I had who also had Twitter accounts. I didn’t really know how to find anyone else. But one search for #Serenity brought up loads of other people who were also watching the film and spreading the Whedon love. I said hello. They said hello back, and we all swooned over Nathan Fillion. This was fun!
I searched for #Whedon, #Buffy and #Firefly and discovered hordes more people with similar tastes as me. This wasn’t an exercise in getting more followers, this was me falling down the rabbit hole and finding twitter streams full of links and jokes that led me to more people, more sites, more blogs. Twitter started to be a whole lot more fun.
I expanded my search and started finding people who were into #scifi, #fantasy, pop culture and music. Lots of them, all with something to say. Now all I have to do if I’m bored (or procrastinating) is open up Twitter and my imaginary friends suggest pages and pages of content from all over the web that I can spend all day reading if I’m not strict with myself.
The 3 main things I’ve been writing this year (apart from my novel) have been reviews for Slacker Heroes, The British Fantasy Society and my blog. None of these would have happened without Twitter. It was a tweet from @BritFantasySoc that told me they were looking for book reviewers. And a day or so after I watched Serenity with my gang of new friends, Jen from @Slackerheroes tweeted that she was looking for a book reviewer for her site. I’d found her on Twitter because she loves Joss Whedon possibly even more than me. I replied, she said yes, and now I love being part of her team. And my blog? I have no idea how I would let people know about it without Twitter. I might have still been writing for it, but no one would have known. How could they?
If you don’t ‘get’ Twitter yet, try searching for things you are interested in. Someone else will definitely like the same stuff as you, and if you’re lucky they are as interesting, funny and friendly as they people I’ve met online. Then have a look at who they follow, and who follows them. Say hello. Be nice. Have fun. Add me.
It’s not a game of numbers – Twitter will only ever be a chore if you think that it matters how many followers you have, or someone else has. It’s about finding people who also think the cancellation of Eureka is enough of A Bad Thing to tweet about it. Who are as excited as you about baking bread, or knitting. Who always find funny Star Wars articles and share them, so you don’t have to go looking. Who can recommend books you might like, and warn you away from the bad ones. You know how Facebook and Amazon are always trying to suggest things or people you might like, but get it so embarrassingly wrong? Your Twitter feed can be an auto-suggest that works, a constantly updating list of things you will like, hand picked for you by people who like those things too. Pretty cool, huh?