The Loh Life

Sandra Tsing Loh expands her social media presence

I just joined Twitter. But don't worry. I'm not asking you to follow me, because I'm not really Tweeting anything, and if I see a new person following me, I will get scared and feel pressure. 

I just joined because I have a new book out, and apparently now everyone with a project has to be on Twitter.

In fact, that's where I found immediate solace: at the L.A. Times Book Festival. I was having lunch with another tech-impaired, middle-aged female author whose publisher had ordered her to master the mysterious art of social media. We were both bewildered by the "at" and "hashtag" signs, and how on Earth authors could have 1.5 million or 10,000 or even 800 followers.

We decided in solidarity to follow each other, if we could figure out how, ... and here was my first stab of satisfaction. Whereas I had only 40 followers, she had even fewer: 27.  Soon, another friend joined us. A poet.  Having started just two days earlier, she only had 11.

"I've never heard of people having so few Twitter followers," I said. "It's like our Twitter feeds are artisanal."

We were each serving as kind of a Twitter "shelter" or safe haven for other people who are not very good at Twitter. And, by that, I mean we are actually harming ourselves. Another journalist friend recently dropped her phone on the street while trying to compose a Tweet, shattered the glass screen. And now every time she swipes to turn her phone on, she risks slicing open her finger.

My publisher told me to just stay in the game.

And so I did. I figured out how to read other people's tweets, and, I thought, this is funny stuff!  My humorist friends Henry Alford and Merrill Markoe have hilarious feeds, and I just started retweeting them, delighted I had all this great free material.

But then I did a book signing for Small World Books. They are a wonderful independent bookseller in Venice who have Facebook, Twitter and a fabulous store cat named Conan the Librarian. I suddenly had a very Internet savvy idea! To celebrate this great bookstore, I would tweet a screen shot of that cat!  OK.  Control 4.  Slide cursor.  Snap!  Ta-da!

Then ... ding!  Here's an invite to stay at a beach house from my writer friend Marcy! I tweet my thanks, then receive a tweet to say she had actually been tweeting someone else. Then my publisher tweets me that in posting the cat, I had inadvertently screen-shotted my whole desktop, including all of my Hotmail and my Bank of America statements!

So that's where those new three followers came from!  Ah well, as long as they "favorite" it, it's a good day!


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