There goes the neighborhood

I’ve spent a fair bit of time lately on this here blog showing you around the places I hang out, like my front yard, my favorite new cafe, and my favorite place to go for lonely walks along the shore.

From all of this, you might deduce that I get around.

You would be wrong!

Seriously, I am one heck of a recluse. Since I work mostly from home, I can go for days without having to go any further than the grocery store and the post office. It’s true that I try to take a wander in my garden every evening, just to check in on everyone and make sure we’re all tucked in for the night, but other than that I tend to stick very much within my own four walls.

But that doesn’t mean that I don’t get around. So to speak.

Frankly, I spend pretty much all of my time on the internet. I’m on the internet all day for work, of course.

And when I’m done for the day, do I close my laptop? Oh my goodness gracious no. The end of the work day just means that I can now give my full attention to the internet! To my far-flung (and not-so-far-flung) friends on Twitter and Facebook. To all of you nice people here. And to a few other, possibly more obscure corners of the internet that you may or may not have heard of.

So I thought I’d give you a quick tour of those neighborhoods, too, for a little change of pace.

You in?

Twitter

I’m one of those whack-job early adopters you read about in the papers, so I got addicted to Twitter way back in the olden days of yore. Which doesn’t mean a damn thing, really, except that I’ve been using it long enough to have accreted groups of friends from several different areas of my life.

This is actually one of my very favorite things about Twitter.

It’s one of the beauties of social media, I think, to be able to simultaneously have conversations with a friend from college, a colleague from work, and a blogger from Australia. I love chatting with my West Coast friends until the early morning hours, outlasting them, and then being there to say good morning to my pals in the UK when they wake up. Even when I don’t have anything to say, it helps me feel like I’m part of the rhythm of life to listen in, to lurk, to observe other folks going about their lives.

I freaking love Twitter. I have literally met some of my best, closest, honest-to-God friends on Twitter. You should feel free to come say hi to me there any old time.

Facebook

I’m a little bit more selective about how I use Facebook, but not by much. I used to keep it mostly trimmed to folks I actually knew in real life, but I’ve expanded it since then to anyone I feel I have a relationship with, online or off. Friends of friends are fair game here, too. I came a little late to the Facebook party, by my standards, and I still have mixed feelings about it.

Mixed feelings, you say? How can you have mixed feelings about Facebook, when you’re always on it? Well, I think it’s clear that they get a lot wrong about how they treat their users, for one thing, and they tend to behave like a textbook example of how NOT to do version updates, privacy policy changes, and user-facing changes in general. And then they respond to user outrage with an arrogance that can be truly breathtaking.

All of which is to say, you should totally hit me up on Facebook, if you’re so minded. I’d love to see you there.

But since part of my job is to know how to use Facebook and Twitter well, and to teach others how to, too, I tend to have both of these windows open all day long. And so my work life and my personal life inevitably intermingle and cross-pollinate to a large extent on both of these platforms.

So this leaves a person looking around for a place where they can just be themselves, and not worry so much about the professional world. (Not that you should ever, ever do anything on the internet that you wouldn’t be comfortable having your mother, father, and boss see. Because they will find it eventually, you know. It is a Law Of The Internet.)

But it is nice sometimes to know that the screen you’re looking at is being shared at least mostly by people who are just there for fun, with no ulterior motives of selling you something, or angling for a job, or a date, or a reference, or whatever else it is people do on these wacky old interwebs. So where do I get that elusive experience?

This Here Blog

That’s what this blog is for me, for starters. And it’s why I’m such a big proponent of blogging, if you want to spend any time online at all. Not only is it a great way to find and form relationships with people who share your own weird, insanely niche little interests, it’s pretty much the only space on the internet that you can build and truly call your own.

You don’t own your corner of Facebook. You don’t even own your Tweets. And the pictures you upload? Those terms of service can change on a dime, calling into question whether or not you own those, too.

But a blog is a place you can actually call home. Buy a domain name, find some free blogging software you like, and go to the trouble of learning how to install and maintain it yourself, too. Yes, I’m serious. No, it’s not hard.

It’s the difference between owning and renting. You spend as much time online as I do, you want to feel like you can bang a few nails into the walls once in a while, you know? Crank the heat if you feel like it. Plant some sunflowers.

Having this blog gives me my very own sandbox to play with online, and I’m not nearly as subject to the odious whims of Mr. Zuckerberg and his ilk. Also, it’s just plain fun.

You know what else is fun?

Pinterest

Have you checked out Pinterest yet? Because it is a seriously awesome place to hang out. It’s kind of like Flickr, only the emphasis is less on photography and more on cool stuff. Here’s the idea: you see things you like on the internet — clothes, maybe, if that’s your thing, or houses, or crafts, or interior design, or wedding cakes or hairstyles or album covers or whatever.

You “pin” that pretty picture to one of your boards. And then you know where to find it again when you want to get inspired for your next sewing project, or when you’re telling your wedding cake person what it is you want, or you’re trying to replicate that amazing bedroom you saw in some magazine somewhere.

And then you go looking at all the other stuff other people pinned to their boards, and that’s when it gets really exciting. Because if you’re like me, that’s when you start to realize that other people are much, much cooler than you are. Oh, wait, we already knew that. But that’s OK, because you can just re-pin their stuff to your boards. And then you can be cool and have great taste, too!

Me? I use Pinterest to pin pictures of dapper Regency men and women, so I can get the details of their clothing, houses, and surroundings right when I write about them. I also keep a pretty active board of hot British men. You know, for Literary Inspiration, when I’m Creating Characters.

WHAT. IT’S RESEARCH.

Here’s me on Pinterest, if you’d care to join me there. It’s fun!

OMG CRAVATS

And this is the last stop on my little tour of the internet, because it is by far the silliest.

Sillier than a collection of photos of hot British men? Why yes!

A few months ago, I built a Tumblr. I had some time on my hands, and I wanted to see what it was all about. Tumblrs are basically really stripped down blogs — or at least, that’s how a lot of people use them. Dead simple to build, dead simple to use — you can see the appeal.

There’s a whole world of single-topic Tumblrs out there, including a few that I follow myself (I’m looking at you and you and you in particular). And some of them are real, live, grown up websites.

Me? I built OMG Cravats. Mostly at the prodding of one of my friends, who shares my affection for the well-cravatted man, and who was prone to sending me images of men in cravats just for the heck of it. So I thought it made sense to give them a gallery of their own. And, you know, to give me a place to gaze lovingly at pages and pages and pages of men in my very favorite form of neckwear.

What, did you think I was kidding? About how much I love cravats?

My friend, I was not kidding about the cravats.

In conclusion, I am lame

So the idea here, of course, was to make it so that I might get to meet some of you stealthy readers in another environment, if possible. Lots more people read this blog than ever leave a comment, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be friends. Turns out, different people feel comfortable hanging out in different pockets of the internet, and I wanted to let you know where my own personal little street corners were, so that maybe we could get together there someday.

You know, if you happened to be in the neighborhood.

4 Thoughts.

  1. I’m a jealous wannabe recluse – I became an accountant so I could talk to spreadsheets all day, but I missed slightly and went into audit, and there I have to talk to people and work with people and I’m not allowed to hide :( So I’m very jealous of your working from home, alone :)

    I will come find you on Twitter. My FB rules are “good friends in real life only” because I have an overshare habit there. It’s easier to curb my friend list than my habit.

    Plus you’ve prompted me to try out Pinterest!

  2. Great post. I feel exactly the same way, but a few years behind you. Love Twitter and how I’ve met so many interesting people through it – you for starters. It seems that if there is anything important/interesting/cool/worthy of my attention then someone will put it on Twitter. Facebook is OK but seems like a lot more work – more than 140 characters, I don’t think so; who has the time? And blogs have become my new favorite thing. I’m really starting to enjoy writing mine and there hundreds, even thousands, of fascinating bloggers out there – ordinary people writing interesting stuff. Pinterest and Tumblr I don’t know but clearly I need to take a couple of hours and find out. Thanks for letting us know about them.

  3. I have just discovered the Pinterest thing, but haven’t had the time to figure it out yet. I wanted to stop by and tell you that I LOVED the scone recipe on your blog, so I put a link and a pic on my blog this morning. They are the closest I’ve been able to make so far. Thanks ever so much!

  4. Yvann – It took me a really long time to manage my life successfully to the point where I could be this much of a recluse and still earn a living. I discovered early on that the secret is to start asking for it. If there is even just ONE DAY A WEEK you can be working from home, try to get that nailed down. It tends to cascade from there, because (1) people realize you actually can get work done from a remote location (in my case, even more than in the office), and (2) you start to discover pockets of your field in which you can work from home even more. It’s hard to see those pockets from the office, but they are there.

    Sian – I love that you love Twitter and your blog! It is SO GREAT to see you taking off like you have, and I am delighted to count you as an online pal who actually lives not that far from me. BTW, my husband just started working across the street from you (sorta). You should pop in and say hi :)

    Cathy – So glad you like the scones! They are the closest thing I have been able to find, by far, to the real thing, and I am delighted to share the biscuity goodness with all. It took me a while to “get” Pinterest, too, because I don’t get all frothy over a lot of the things you see other folks getting frothy over there. I think my A-Ha Moment was when I stumbled across a board called “Pretend Boyfriends” and said Oh now THAT I can do!

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