Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Six Ways to Stay Scintillating In Person When You've Already Twittered It All

You've been there, haven't you?

You: Listen, I had an incredible idea!
Her: Yeah, I know. I read your tweet about it.

You: I found the most amazing shoes! They were---
Her: Yeah, I saw a picture on your Tumblr.

You: You'll never guess what happened -- he's taking us to Italy!
Her: Yeah, I read your blog.

It's hard to stay scintillating in person, when you're very busy being scintillating online. Don't get me wrong. I know how important it is to document and express all the minutae of my existence on the internet. The many upsides to Twitter and Facebook are too numerous and obvious to mention. However, when I get to the park and the kids are playing and I just want to have girl talk with the other mommies, it's like they've been reading my diary. Whatever it is, they already know, because I've put the picture on Facebook, the link on Twitter, the anguish on my blog, or maybe I've Tumblred the whole conversation. What's a girl to do? Besides yawn and talk about the weather?

So how do you keep yourself relevant in an actual conversation, while simultaneously microblogging your entire life? Here are six ideas:

1. Go lower. There are always things to talk about in person that you can't talk about on Facebook. You know what they are -- utilize them. Yeah, you may need to fall back on gossip, unkind remarks, rumors, and unsubstantiated theories. When all your girls are on Facebook, your regular safe mom topics may be met with a chorus of "Oh yeah, I saw that." Get past it! No small talk -- whatever! The good news is that Facebook and Twitter themselves are sources of a brand new kind of gossip and bitter whispering behind the hand. "I saw her playing Lexulous when she was supposed to be taking the kids to the Planetarium!" "She flaked on our party because she was sick, but then she was tweeting all over the place, drunk as a goat!" Forego the pleasantries and mention the unmentionables. Pleasantries are over. Save them for the status updates.

2. Be more mysterious online. Try tweeting something like, "OMG! HELP!!!" or Facebooking an unexplained picture of a llama. Try "Whee!!! It's finally here!!!!!" or link to a book about stripping your way through college without explanation. The good news is that when you run into your buddies at the grocery store, they're going to be very eager to chat with you. The bad news is, you're going to have to come up with something to tell them.

3. Find new friends. It wasn't always this way for us, remember? Remember the acronym IRL? It meant "in real life." The world of the internet used to be a separate life. You could gambol about saying anything you pleased because only a very few people were listening, and you were unlikely to run into those few at the gym. Even after the advent of blogging, real life friends weren't always up on every bounce and jiggle of life online, and before Twitter and Facebook, news took at least a few hours to disseminate. Now it's immediate. If it happens, they know, and they're all online. Right now. Gathering info. So look: From now on, your current friends are newly categorized as your online friends, and your new friends are out there waiting for you. They don't have laptops, they don't understand their phones, and they think Twitter is a sound birds make. They want to hear all about what your kids did today.

4. Stop Twittering and Facebooking every damn thing in your life. Okay, I'm not saying stop! Because that's crazy, right?! Totally. I would never say that. I'm just saying, a little withholding. A tiny bit, in the interest of keeping it interesting. Withhold like 30%, and see where that gets you. Try not telling us what you're making for dinner. Maybe next week you could extend to privatizing the lunch menu. Just give us details from one child's diaper -- keep the other's excretions a mystery to be revealed only in person. If you find yourself about to spill the big news just before Girls Night Out, and you find yourself about to reduce to 140 characters a story which in person could be stretched out over a whole martini, withhold! You don't have to tell us now. You can tell us in a couple of hours. We promise to listen just as much as the whole internet would have, only with laughter you can hear.

5. Give up on "real life" interactions. Let's face it, the line between "real life" and the internet is gone. Why worry? When you and your friends get together, use the time to check each other's knitting progress, enjoy each other's children, and eat. Talking was overrated. All that hee=hee and yak-yak. Much more efficient to use the internet for that, and use the coffee shop for consuming pastries and smelling each other's shampoo. Zip it. If they want to know what's going on with you, they'll read your blog. You need the traffic. If they want to know how you feel, they'll check the results of your "What flavor of bouillon are you?" quiz on Facebook.

6. Be more, do more, say more. Hey, you're awesome. You can keep up with at least eleven more ways of expressing yourself and still have interesting things to say. If you fit it your entire brain into your Tumblr this afternoon, then think of something else, something new, something more, and put that in there tonight. There's not a finite measure of you, after all; there's plenty to go around. You could Twitter, Facebook, blog, bookmark, and still have something to say at the park, regardless of how dull a day it's been. You read books, don't you? Okay, well, you watch TV -- say something fresh, regardless. You owe it to your friends. They have the patience to listen to you, in all your various modes of blathering. Sharpen up. Rise to the new media. Adapt.

As for me, I need to work on 4. I think I'll start by withholding my thoughts on applesauce, and maybe my plans for 2013. The rest is essential info and I have to get it out there right away. In fact, I need to go Tweet about this blog post right now. See you at the park!


  1. this is the funniest thing i have read in a looooong time.

  2. Well, your FB comment is even more entertaining now that I've actually followed the link and read the post. Funny and embarrassingly true. My local friends have found me online and now I can't seem to beat any of them to my own stories! At my local book club last month, a woman kept making references that I didn't understand until I realized she'd read my blog. Two thumbs up for a "you gotta read this" post.

  3. Caitlin8:37 AM

    I still find you scintillating, you and your yellow yarn.

  4. Thank you, Caitlin! You are one of the primary sufferers of my oversharing online and then oversharing in person! Hehehe.

    Fortunately for me, you're probably not suffering as acutely in actual fact as you are in my completely narcissistic imagination.

    Now go play Farm Town!

  5. Laume, I had the idea for this post after a conversation with one of my local friends who reads my Twitter, and everything I started to say she said, "I heard" or "I know" -- it got pretty funny. :) I ended up sitting there like, completely aware of my own ridiculousness.

    Fortunately for me, no one is actually paying as much attention to me as I believe in my grandiose fantasies. ;)

  6. Hey Lori, I know you know what I mean, with your multi-presences online. :> People just don't understand why I need *so many* blogs.

  7. Hi there, I just clicked over from ProBlogger and I'm glad I did ... this post is riot. So on point and completely hilarious. Thanks for the morning chuckle! :)

  8. Hi I also saw your blog on ProBlogger. I'm working on FineCraftGuild dotcom as part of his challenge.

    Anyhow, I'm pleased to have found your blog, and while your post made me laugh, I have a complete different Twitter philosophy: online I'm 'seriously' talking craft, offering tons of free advice, and just Twitter about this. No nonsense like 'I'm going to bed now twit twit...' I unsubscribe from other Twitters (even if they have a good craft blog) who are boring me with their 'I'm peeling potatoes anecdotes'.

    And, I post only one article per day, which because of that, actually has good info, nice illustrations & patterns, you know.. substance.

    OK. My 4 cts.

  9. Anonymous6:57 PM

    Lydia, this is hilarious! I am now suspecting that my "IRL" and online life are one and the same...

    I don't microblog my daily life, but I see it happening around, and it's really funny to watch. It is to be expected in social networking times.

    I love your solutions, in fact, let me tweet about this right now! :-)

  10. Be more mysterious online... I knew tweeting with a mask on wasn't enough!

  11. Great post - linking from Problogger and totally get this! Sometimes talking to people IRL is hard because I feel like I already said it all online. :)

  12. I'd never thought about this before. I guess I'm lucky as none of my real life friends are net heads, so it's not a problem I face!

  13. These are very helpful tips and #4 is my favorite. I like this post because I have wondered how I can have friendships outside of the social networking arena if I already posted every interesting tidbit on twitter or myspace etc. but then it brought me back to the fact that I don't post everything that I do or am interested in on social networking websites.

    Most of the content is centered around my movies, other filmmaker's projects or the entertainment industry in general so my friends still have something to talk to me about in person.