Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Idol blogging and social networking: Don't be a TOF

(Pictured: A prime specimen TOF in its natural habitat.)

We all have our very own That One Friend.  

You know, the TOF who still refuses to text because "well, 'tis just a TERRIBLE communication method, sir!" 

The TOF who still refuses to get a Facebook page because "it's just for 'collecting people.'"

Or conversely, the TOF who is all like, "I used Facebook before it was cool, and now it's just too mainstream and corporationey, duuuuuude."

The TOF who won't use Twitter because "PSSHAW, the truly erudite simply do NOT express things in 140 characters or less."

The TOF who refuses to get a cell phone because reasons.  (Yes, those still exist.)

The TOF who won't use Tumblr because "it's a slippery slope of stupid." (Okay, I'll let that one slide)

Well, until very recently, I was 100% guilty of being a huge TOF.


When I first started doing the idol blogging THING in late 2010, I had no clue what I was doing.  Before that, this blog housed a mishmash of political posts (UGH) and creative non-fiction that I was too embarrassed to post on Facebook.  But during a couple of dark, heavy quarter-life crisis years that hit me like a brick shithouse after I finished my first B.A., I dove headfirst into idol culture and discovered an honest-to-jeebus passion.

And for a while, it confused the crap out of me.

On one hand, I was taken aback by the weird love-ban rules and the mostly male fanbase and the gravure photobooks and all the institutionalized fuckery those imply.  But on t'other, I was ineffably drawn to the happy fun music, the adorable girls and the complete otherness that comes with being both an idol fan and living the West.  I blame my Gemini-ness, truly.  And that's how fly in the f*ing wine was born!

(Exhibit A: Occidentally in love)

As an idol blogging nooblet, I just kind of just "wrote stuff" in the hope that someone would stumble across it eventually.  I knew that wasn't how the big bad interwebs really worked, but, well, I was too much of a TOF.

What was I to do to get the word out?  Well, playing WoW (yeeeeeeeeeah... yeeeeeeah...) "taught" me that forums are the playground of small-minded 12-year-olds, so that was out...even though I did leave my blog URL in my signature on H!O, and continued to post occasionally.

I also thought about doing Twitter, and I did for a while, but then I came up with some big sophistic rant about how our culture is sloganizing everything to cater to THOSE SILLY COMMONERS, and decided to float away on my big fat cloud of smug to LANDS MORE SOPHISTICATED MMMMYES.

Tumblr was fun for a while, but I got annoyed with how easy it was to just reblog stuff and not come up with original material.  "Well, HARRUMPH TO THAT," I said, twirling my sexy moustache over a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon, "I SHALL TAKE MY PHENOMENAL COSMIC SMARTNESS ELSWHEAH!"

(Fitting that this cat is black and white, ne?)

When someone on International Wota found a post of mine and plugged it (probably by finding it through SOME SORT of social media), I felt like a newly discovered starlet.  But I'm not going to lie, I also felt a little smug.  "FINALLY," I huffed, "THE WORLD SHALL KNOW OF MY GREATNESS."  And what happened then?  Well, in Meville, they say, Mara's BIG HEAD grew THREE SIZES THAT DAY!  

Okay, maybe that's an exaggeration, but replace "head" with "confidence," and you've got it spot on.

I decided to try using the "recommend a post" function to promote some of my posts (while, of course, making it clear that that was exactly what I was doing), and I got addicted to surfing the recommended reading section and reading all the awesome stuff idol bloggers have to offer.  I felt icky every time I promoted a post, but in the end, I wanted to participate in a community more than I wanted to NOT look like an arrogant prig.

In addition to being a bit technophobic, I also had some really strange ideas about modesty when I started out as an idol blogger.  For some reason, I had it in my head for the longest time that if I tried to promote myself in any way for any reason, whether I was good at the thing being promoted or not, then I was bad and I should feel bad.  

Thankfully, as time went on, I felt less and less bad about plugging my writing.  But that pesky TOFness still remained.  I got comfortable just coasting along through that one medium.  My audience had increased quite a bit, and for a long time, I thought I was happy with that. But then I joined a few idol fan groups on The Facebooks, and my mind changed almost overnight.  Through the Facebook groups, I got to know a bunch of other idol fans, including some fellow idol bloggers.  And they were cool, hang-out-with-able people!

I've always been someone who likes talking to people.  Any people, about anything, at any time.  That's just who I am.  But *emo flashback noise* I'd also had some confidence issues in that area as well, so it took me a little while to really start participating in conversations.  But once I did, it was fun!

We all traded Twitters and Tumblrs and various other social sites, and everyone was super-excited about it, so I decided to give it a shot and see what everyone was up to.  And you know what?  It wasn't so bad.

Twitter in particular is quite useful.  Yeah, posts are short, sure, but you can post a lot of news in a short amount of time, as well as read about it if you don't feel like clicking the link.  You can have themes to your tweets if you want, where you just post about one thing and give it a short, pithy intro (my current obsession is posting songs I listen to while I write with the intro "Songs to Write to."  Maybe not super original, but simple and fun).  Tumblr is also a great time-waster, and while I do not use it much myself, I follow a lot of my friends that way.

I also started exploring the world of fanfiction recently (as well as writing it myself), and have talked to some fun people while reading some fun stories about how they see their favorite fandom.  People have some neat ideas, and even if they're not the most expertly crafted pieces of literature EVAR, I still have fun reading them.


In short, the world of social networking has not just been a great tool for me to get the word out about my idol blog, but a great growth tool for me personally.  The internet is scary, kids.  This is a fact.  But not all people out there are trollbags.  In fact, most of them aren't.  And not all fanfiction is JUST FOR THE FAPS.

If you're a new blogger and you want to get the word out, get out and talk to people.  There are people out there who want to read your stuff!  I promise, we don't bite, you're not a conceited jerk for promoting yourself, and you'll have fun.

Give stuff a try!  Don't discount something new just because it's not brainy enough for your face, or you've had bad experiences with it in the past.  Don't wag your cane at the kids on your lawn just because they do things differently.  Don't be that guy who just won't.

Don't be a TOF.

P.S.: Whoever is reading my old gnu jokes post, you make me smile :P

1 comment:

Bryan Urasky said...

Kasan was asked to officiate at the funeral of a provincial lord.

He had never met lords and nobles before so he was nervous. When the ceremony started, Kasan sweat.

Afterwards, when he had returned, he gathered his pupils together. Kasan confessed that he was not yet qualified to be a teacher for he lacked the sameness of bearing in the world of fame that he possessed in the secluded temple. Then Kasan resigned and became the pupil of another master. Eight years later he returned to his former pupils, enlightened.

This is hardly a criticism. Coyote the younger never got around to speaking for nobles. Coyote the elder never bothered.