Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Is There a Social Contract in Social Media?

Okay, I admit it. I’ve been immersed in philosophy for the past two hours in a film called Examined Life. It’s a series of interviews with a variety of thinkers on things like ethics, ecology, interdependence…  And I found it fascinating. It also prompted me to ask this question: Do we owe each other anything as participants in the various activities of social media?

At first blush, I thought “not really.” We enter into online relationship at the flick of a thumb, clicking yes to a request for a like or a follow.  In many cases, even these responses are automated, so how could we possibly claim anything as complex as a social contract being involved in this interaction?

Yet, I pressed on. If nothing else, we all seem to have expectations attached to belonging to a group on Facebook or being the follower of an individual on Twitter. The way in which we anticipate our online compadre will act varies from one member to the next, but we all seem to have some idea of the behavior that is acceptable from the other. 

Some people don’t want to have to put up with solicitations for someone’s product. Others would like to have actual dialog once in a while. There are those whose sole requirement is that the messages or tweets be entertaining.  In my humble opinion, it appears that all of us want someone to pay attention to us and our communications.

Further, I wondered if two of these “contracts” ever conflict with each other. For instance, I’m a member of several tribes on Triberr, a social support groups for bloggers where we have agreed to tweet each others’ blogs links. So, then do we have more of a responsibility to our fellow bloggers to post the links regardless of the content – whether the post is interesting or not, relevant or not, even intelligent or not – or to the people who follow us on Twitter. Are we recommending the post by simply posting a link, and if the post is a snooze have we let our followers down and damaged our credibility?

I would say we’ve probably damaged our credibility, at the least, because I do think those who follow us expect some  level of recommendation in the tweet but, admittedly, I don’t know that to be true.  Perhaps, we as tweeters, have become so accustomed to links being constantly proffered that we can no longer be surprised by a tweeted link that seems completely incongruous with the personality of the tweeter as we’ve come to know he or she? Maybe we simply don’t care.

Do we have a social responsibility to be civil on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. or is it acceptable to rank, rail and degrade someone? This is a serious question. Facebook and My Space, in particular, have been the vehicles for many reported cases of cyber-bullying.  We haven’t really put into place anything to restrict that kind of activity that I know of. I have been called names and stalked on Twitter and while you can block the individual from ever contacting you again, the harm is already done in many cases.  So do we have an obligation to be respectful on social media or not?

In my view, whether we interact in person or online, the same social contract applies.  I think we do owe our followers something and what that is will be similar to what we owe our acquaintances in life. I believe we do need to act with restraint as we express ourselves on Twitter and elsewhere. The lack of another’s presence in our space should not alter our behavior.

In some ways, I think this is analogous to the person who sends a scathing letter to the editor – anonymously.  With certain exceptions, public safety being one of them, negative assertions about someone or something needs to acknowledged by the accuser.  In the same way, we shouldn’t make derogatory remarks about another tweeter or Facebook entity, unless we’d be willing to say the same thing to their face.

That’s my opinion. What’s yours?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Instant Gratification Girl

One of those many characteristics that lives within me, I named Instant Gratification Girl many years ago. Of course, she was around long before she was named, but I hadn’t recognized her presence.

She’s prevalent in everything I do and demands that there are quick returns on any effort I put out. This is a bit tough to square with most fiction writing, so I must offset the long term projects I pursue with blogging occasionally to give IGG (interesting acronym, isn’t it?) the feel-good she needs to keep me going.

The thing about characteristics that are deeply ingrained in us is that they are often both good and bad. This is certainly true about IGG.  She has been firmly behind me when I choose to write Blog & Tweet over a weekend and The Great Twitter Adventure when I had four days off. IGG also made the Fourth of July weekend of 2011 into Twitter Days, during which I delved into Twitter for four straight days, learning how to “do” Twitter and coming away with my first 38 followers (the big payoff!).  She has no problem with stringing long hours together with short breaks and little sleep. She’s a driver, big-time.

On the other hand, IGG is a problem whenever I start a new novel. I have to find a way each time to either suppress her or entertain her. It was only recently that I understood how playing a CD she loves while I write serves to seduce her into compliance. She’s the one singing along (usually out loud) while I type out my story.

This past weekend, I spent two days making eight new items for my Etsy shop. IGG was right there, waiting anxiously for someone to tell her they are pretty! She’s the one who enjoys photographing each item and putting it online.  “Done!” I can almost hear her saying in my head.

I think creative types, especially, really have to find ways to embrace their various characteristics and even honor them, because it is truly the combination of those traits that make us unique in what we do. 

My advice - trot out the good and the bad of each one, and give them a hand as they scroll across your  brain then figure out to put them to good use.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Letting Go of the Indie Author's Expo

This is a tough post to write. I have gone down a fairly significant path towards putting together a three-day event for Indie authors and I’ve had a great response from the writing community on the concept. I have had to admit to myself, and now to all of you, that I just can’t do it at present.

I was feeling pretty powerful a few months ago when the idea struck me. It seemed that I could accomplish anything if I put my mind to it and I still believe that’s probably true, assuming that I could put my mind to it.

The thing is that I’m currently fighting for my own survival. I’m trying to find a new job before my unemployment runs out, having failed to produce enough income streams to support myself without a job.  I’m still working on this, but time is running short.

This fact, along with the passing of my father, has changed my outlook and emphasis on things. It’s also difficult to get very far in the planning process without cash to lay down as deposit.  I had planned an IndieGoGo campaign to raise the funds, but don’t feel I can ask people to support something that I’m not absolutely sure, in my bones, I can do.

So, here’s the deal. Anyone else that wants to pursue this plan – you have my full support and I’ll be there to assist you. I hope someone else will pick up the ball and run with it. An Indie Author’s Expo would be a good thing, and is certainly possible with a totally devoted individual.

Thank you for your support to those who encouraged me and offered to help. I wish my mindset was different and I could follow through. It’s just not the case at present.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

2012 Wounded Warriors Fund Drive

I launched my second annual Wounded Warriors Fund Drive on Monday. Last year, I kept it going throughout the month of September and kicked it off with a blog post on Red Mojo Mama Musings you might want to revisit – Honoring Wounded Warriors

If you read that original post you’ll know that I started supporting The Wounded Warriors Project because I wanted to also honor my father. Dad passed away this year, of the terrible disease I described in that first post – COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease).  A couple of months before he died, I reminded him that as long as I was selling books, there would always be contributions made in his honor to the Wounded Warriors.  He smiled, reached for my hand and simply gave it a squeeze. 

I regularly donate to the organization by sending them 10% of my royalties.  In fact, I had neglected to send them my second quarter donation because life was a little out of control in July, when I would have normally sent it. Not to worry, I just wrote them a check.

However, I plan to donate all my royalties for a dedicated period once a year. Today begins the 2012 fundraiser and it will continue through Sunday, 10/14.

What does this mean for you? It means that for any of my books you purchase during these two weeks, the royalties will go to The Wounded Warriors Project upon receipt from Amazon.  If you’ve been meaning to buy Red Mojo Mama or maybe its sequel Red is an Attitude, do it now, because a little more than $2.00 will go to benefit my father’s  (and many of my Twitter followers’) favorite charity – The Wounded Warriors Project. The donation amount varies with the price of the book you order. Any of my books can be ordered by clicking on the appropriate picture at the right. It will take you straight through to the Amazon link.


I recently became an Avon representative, primarily because my daughter-in-law called to tell me that there was an online fundraising option now. GREAT! I signed up the next day.  I just set up an online sales event that will benefit The Wounded Warriors Project, with 25% of the sales going to the organization. The event lasts through year-end, so feel free to order more than once.

Here’s the link:
Kathy Hall Wounded Warrior Event  BE SURE to insert the promotional code MYWWPROJECT.

Thank you for your order and your help and again please BE SURE to insert the promotional code MYWWPROJECT, otherwise the funds may not be designated for this group.

Last year, I was able to send Wounded Warriors slightly more than $60. Let’s hope this year nets much, much more.Are you with me, gang! I know you are!

I'll keep you posted!