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A Break from Social Media

Yeah. I know we’re supposed to be socially distancing in our real, physical lives. I’m DOING that. I haven’t left the house for anything but grocery shopping and hiking in the woods for two weeks. I’m growing a quarantine beard and it itches SO MUCH.

But I’m taking a break from social media, too.

I’ve been needing a break for a while. It’s always caused some anxiety, though not to the extreme degree that some people get. Lately, it’s been more negatives than positives, so, yeah, it’s time for a break. Wanna know more about my reasoning for this decision? Here’s a list of what social media does for me:

  • Gives me a place to share pictures of Greta. LOOK, if that’s what you’re interested in, you can sign up for my newsletter. I’m probably bumping that up to TWICE monthly, and that’s enough, isn’t it?
  • A place to share my writing news. Ok, if something big happens I’ll still drop something into Twitter or Facebook to let you know. My blog posts automatically drop there, so you’ll see that for sure. Yesterday I was part of an AMA over on Redit’s r/fantasy, and it was loads of fun. Those don’t really count. Those activities aren’t the compulsive checking followed by a black hole vortex that swallows hours out of my day.
  • Staying connected with friends I met at conventions. This one is a problem. Twitter is essentially my only way to feel connected with a lot of people. Someday when the world starts doing conventions again, I’ll see my friends again. It’ll be fine.
  • Funny memes and animal pictures. Here’s the thing. If it’s REALLY good, my wife will tell me about it. She’s the best. If she ever quits social media I might need to buy one of those desk calendars or something.
  • I don’t know… book sales or something. Haha. Look. I don’t sell a lot of books through social media. I sometimes share promos that help me grow my mailing list, and you’ll probably still see some of those from time to time. I occasionally read a book that I need to geek out about, and that might draw me back in for short periods of time.

I’ll come back to social media eventually, and my break isn’t complete. It’s more of a SCALING WAY BACK. Expect me to drop in from time to time just to check on what’s happening in the world. Getting Twitter’s skewed worldview and a heavy dose of outrage is, after all, a nice way to find some perspective.

In the meantime, if you want to stay connected with me, join my newsletter, follow my Patreon, or just drop me a comment here on the old blog.

Until then, Greta and I will be sheltering in place.

Sheltering in place
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Bringing the Search Term Crazy

puffinThere are various ways to arrive at this web site. Maybe you know me personally. Maybe you’re finding this blog from one of the various social medias. I know that some of you fell from the sky as a comet passed unnaturally close to the Earth and landed directly on my blog.


Some people arrive via various search engines. One of the features of my tooling is the ability to see (sometimes) what terms lead hapless wanderers to my site.

It’s sometimes a source of amusement. Continue reading Bringing the Search Term Crazy

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TweetDeck – Tag Following

I’ve been going on and on about how much I love TweetDeck lately. First, I blathered on about filtering away retweets. Then, I burbled up some nonsense about lists. Those are fine things, but now I want to talk about following tags.

The #mswl tag on twitter denotes two things. First, it’s used by agents or publishers who want to tell writers about their manuscript wishlists. Second, it’s used by clueless writers who want to draw attention to the fact that they don’t really know what they’re doing. Continue reading TweetDeck – Tag Following

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Using TweetDeck – Listing

My last TweetDeck post described how to filter some of the crazy out of Twitter. It was a semi-permeable film separating you from the gibbering madness beyond. It’s better than nothing, but oh, God, it’s still out there.

Now I’m going to show you how to let a little bit of it back in.

There are people on Twitter who are consistently funny, entertaining, intelligent. We like them, but once you follow a couple thousand people, those sane voices fly by so quickly you’ll miss the good stuff. Continue reading Using TweetDeck – Listing

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Using TweetDeck – Filter the Noise

Twitter is the unregulated id of social media. It’s nothing more than a firehose of insanity.

When I first picked up Twitter all I saw was an ugly mess. The user interface on the website is clumsy and featureless. The garbage information flowing through it is a hideous mess of sludge with a few diamonds floating just out of reach along the surface.

Then I discovered something.

Twitter is actually a huge, ugly mess.

But TweetDeck is like a shit-sludge filter that can help you get at those shiny gemstones of cleverness. It ignores that godawful Twitter UI and brings a modern grown-up interface to something that has really established itself as one of the best ways to connect with random other people around the whole wide world.

I plan on coming back to more features of TweetDeck, but for now let’s just talk about filtering some of the noise. There are a couple different ways to do it, and TweetDeck is designed for the kind of customizing that should let you get something that approximates whatever you need.

What if you could filter out some of the garbage?

No, I’m serious. It’s really not that hard. First you click on the menu for your Home column.



Once that’s open, click on the Content pulldown and, wow, there’s your filter. The absolute best thing I ever did was exclude retweets:


Doesn’t that cut out the essential wonderfulness that makes Twitter what it is? Aren’t retweets the central mechanic of a fully functional echo chamber?

Well, yeah. If you like to see retweets, I’d suggest creating a second column for that purpose. Watch them speed by endlessly spewing whatever it is that the collective consciousness spews. Intelligence? Yeah, let’s call it that.

Also, note that you can filter out keywords. It’s not a terribly intelligent mechanism, but it’s possible to avoid tweets that contain certain offensive words:


Follow those steps and you’ll have a nice little stream full of greatness. It won’t all make sense, but blocking retweets lets you see the absolute brilliance coming directly from those you follow:


Better, right?