Not Nice… Tone & Social Media
Hey, I think I’m a nice person. I try to be as much as I can. Whenever other authors ask me for prize donations for an event, I never turn them down. I retweet and share as much as I possibly can across multiple platforms. I know I don’t get everyone, but I try with all the energy and time I’m allowed. I love animals and am a huge advocate for their rights, donate to the causes that ask for help with their vet bills. I know my schedule makes me cranky at times, but I really, honestly try to be nice to everyone.
Imagine my shock at getting a DM on Twitter from another writer, telling me in no uncertain terms I was, and I quote, “not nice.” She didn’t know me. We’d never interacted. I certainly hadn’t called her a bad name or thrown rotting produce at her…
So what had she taken issue with that drove her to message a complete stranger, someone she knew very little about, and tell said stranger they were a not-so-nice person?
Ultimately, it was the unintended tone of my Twitter bio. I am a writer. I need adequate space and character count to communicate my thoughts with any real authenticity. Twitter only allows a user 160 characters to tell the world who you are—barely more than a tweet! Desperately trying to convey all the information I wanted to get across, I tried to make a few points.
Twitter is a very reciprocal social media site. If someone retweets you, you want to retweet them back. Let me first say that I know I miss retweeting some people, simply from the sheer volume, and I retweet plenty of people who never connect with me at all. I try to help other authors and present the best in book and book blog news…along with a few other interesting tidbits. So, one of my short points I tried to get across in the confines of the limited space was “RT 4 RT.” Hey, you retweet me, why shouldn’t I reciprocate (unless it’s porn or hate speech)? It’s only polite to return a favor. That was my meaning.
I also included, “Will unfollow if no follow back.” I had no idea anyone would take issue with that. Why should I follow anyone who doesn’t return the favor? There are very few celebrities I follow and that’s because I don’t think anyone else on Twitter is ‘better’ than me or vice versa. If someone can’t take the time to follow me back, there is no good reason for me to continue to follow. It implies they have no interest in me or my tweets, so, naturally, there is no incentive to follow back. I mean it in no other way than this. This is my standard procedure on Twitter, so I was merely being upfront about it.
Due to my forced brevity, I supposed my message may have come across as snotty or callous, but I certainly didn’t mean it that way. I was shocked to find a message in my inbox saying said person might have followed me if I hadn’t said I unfollow (and I always give a week’s time to be fair) for not following in return. Then, she flat-out called me, “Not nice.” I have to admit I became quite enraged. As I said previously, she didn’t know me and knew nothing of my interactions with others, so I proceeded to tell her this. She still came back, arguing that what I’d said made me undesirable to her as a social media pal. I tried further to explain that Twitter is a very reciprocal community, and I was merely behaving within the unspoken rules that seem to drive the Twitter machine.
She still thought I was being a pompous ass (my words, not hers…but that was her general assessment). I promptly blocked her...I remove negativity from my life. I have enough stressful things to deal with, and refuse to invite anything further. Afterward, though, being a progressive thinker, I revisited my bio. I didn’t want anyone else to take me the wrong way, so I did make a change. It now reads: “RT in return, followback <3 same courtesy .” Despite being attacked in a way I considered most unjust, I didn’t want anyone to be put off by my words, so I did make the change and promised myself I would be more careful with my social tone. We’re already at a disadvantage what with no vocal inflection.
By the way, this little incident did have a happy ending. Although I’d blocked my attacker to avoid any further conflict, she did have one of her friends message me so that she could apologize via the friend. I told her friend to tell her I bore no hard feelings and even ended up helping her friend with a few questions she had about social media. Even though I would have preferred not to go through it in the first place, I’m happy it ended well and gave me some insight into considering the words I put together on social media profiles and posts.
Do any of you have a similar story to tell? I’d love to hear your stories about how social media might have earned you a verbal ‘ruler to the hand.’ Please share them with us below!