Posts Tagged ‘socialnetworking’

Facebook Cull Harming the Harmless

Thursday, September 12th, 2013

Well, folks, they’re at it again. Yes, our favourite anti-social social network is doing their utmost to destroy whatever joy there is in using the site by initiating a mass deletion of any users who don’t fit their description of what a user should be.

In a nutshell: Facebook is culling any user profile from their site whom they do not consider to be of the “human” species, pets in particular. This includes many friends of mine, be they canine, feline, and ursine (including “stuffies” – ie those whose innards are not of the moist and pulpy variety). This cull also includes a large number of animal rescuers who do good and valuable work to help animals whose lives have been harmed by this apparently superior species known as HUMANS. Condescending to allow non-human users to have a Facebook page is not the same. The interactivity of pages is very limited and designed to be, therefore the experience and usefulness of social networking is greatly diminished from a page. I know this from my own personal experience using a profile versus a page. There is no comparison!

These Gestapo tactics are destroying the fun and usefulness of social networking and hurting a lot of individuals and animals. If you think the word “Gestapo” is too strong, believe me, it is accurate. There is such a fear among users these days that many are even afraid to speak up for fear their profile will be deleted. It has happened before, with people such as social media and tech bloggers who dared to call Facebook onto the carpet discovering that their profiles were mysteriously disabled. So if the Gestapo fits… (Keep an eye out to see how long I remain on the site – I might be next!)

Many users rely on their Facebook friends to bring them joy, entertain them, and convey useful information. Indeed, there are large numbers of elderly, home-bound and disabled individuals who rely heavily on their daily interaction with their Facebook animal and stuffy pals to help get them through the day and bring a much-needed smile to their faces. And I am no different. The fact that some of our pals do not fit the biological specifics Facebook claims a user must have is irrelevant and prejudicial. In fact, it is species-ist.

Since Facebook went public, there is an increasing push from their end to earn revenue off the site. This is perfectly understandable and logical. However, if this latest cull (and this is not the first by any means) is about generating more advertising dollars, non-human users are just as likely to click on an ad and make a purchase as “human” users, perhaps even more so. Facebook is missing out on a major revenue-earning opportunity by deleting all these profiles. Instead they can be targeting these users with appropriate ads and doing better than they’d ever dreamed of. Talk about being short-sighted.

If you think these deletions of non-human profiles are not important, you are dead wrong. This cull has now come to the attention of major media, including ITV television in the United Kingdom. If ITV considers this issue important, it won’t be long before other major media outlets start taking notice. There is already a backlash against Facebook regarding privacy concerns, and the shine on Mr. Zuckerberg et all is dulling by the minute. Some users have already jumped ship rather than remain on the site having their private information being used in ways they did not intend for it to be used. It seems to me that Facebook should be trying to keep our business rather than drive us away and further earn our enmity. This latest bit of nastiness with the mass deletion of non-human profiles is not the stuff a good PR campaign is made of. Nor does it make good business sense.

I urge you to contact media outlets as well as Facebook’s corporate offices and express your outrage that Facebook is deleting accounts in good standing that cause no harm, yet meanwhile Facebook has no problem allowing pedophiles, pornographers, animal crush enthusiasts, animal abusers, hate mongers, prostitutes, and every kind of scammer out there to proliferate on the site like flies on dog shit.

Please give your views about these unfair and unjustified deletions and why pet/non-human Facebook accounts are valuable and important to you or your friends or even just in general. These profiles are causing no harm to anyone. If anything, they do far more good than most of us realise!
If you’re interested, here is a petition that’s been started.


Mitzi Szereto interview on The Hammer Show

Thursday, February 9th, 2012

I recently had a chance to chat with Ross Hemsworth on his UK web radio programme The Hammer Show and a good time was had by all! From the controversy surrounding my recent novel Pride and Prejudice: Hidden Lusts and my work on Mitzi TV, to celebrity culture and Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney’s animal cruelty involving his own dog – no subject is immune!

Tune in for some lively discussion and a perspective on the world from both Britain and America. Clink to listen to the replay of the interview at:

Social Networkers Need Some Table Manners!

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

No TrespassingAs users of social media, we’ve all been the targets of online marketers and spammers and webcam girls. Of course, social media is still fairly new, and the boundaries are continually being tried and tested, not to mention pushed. We’ve all made mistakes and, we hope, learned from them. This isn’t the first time I’ve addressed this issue (see Tweet Tweet Tweet: Will Someone Please Shoot That Effing Bird?). However, there really needs to be some form of established etiquette – because the methods being employed to get one’s message across are getting out of hand.

Now I’m not exactly a novice on this subject. In fact, I’ve even given talks about the use of social media (see Social Media For Creative Artists). Although I’m going to focus on those in the writing and book business, I’m sure we can find parallels in other fields. As everyone knows, I’m a big user of Facebook. I’ve worked very hard to establish myself on the site and build up a fan and friends base. I always try to be respectful of others and respectful of the space of others. Meaning: I do not post my “advertising” on people’s personal profiles or personal fan pages. By advertising, I mean self-promotional content.

This is the kind of thing you often see manifesting itself in sneaky posts on your wall – you know, the ones that say “nice to meet you,” but a “nice to meet you” that happens to include a very handy link to a website or the jacket of a book. Add to this the practice of tagging someone in order to get your content onto their page. Further add to this a reply tweet that uses your Twitter name to spread someone else’s message. And these are just the subtle methods.

More blatant forms of such promotional trespass consist of folk posting content designed to draw attention to themselves and their product without even attempting to disguise what they’re doing with a personal message, plastering these website links and book jackets, not to mention book trailers and book events right smack dab onto your wall like a giant neon sign. Perhaps they justify this activity by saying so-and-so is a Facebook friend (and possibly a fellow writer), so I guess that means I can be a squatter in his or her house.


I mean, it’s bad enough when this happens on your personal profile, but you won’t believe the number of times I’ve had to remove the advertising of various individuals from my fan pages. I mean, I’ll have a fan page for a book of mine (for instance In Sleeping Beauty’s Bed), and these cheeky buggers will post a book jacket and link to THEIR book on MY book’s fan page. Excuse me, but this is really taking the piss!

Now I’m all for self-promotion as everyone knows, only this is not the way to go about it. I realise things are tough out there, and I know it’s likewise tough to make a buck, but for pity’s sake, use some common sense. If you’re posting to a fan page or group page or even a personal page that indicates it accepts and welcomes these kinds of posts, then fine. But to randomly post on personal profiles, groups and fan pages that are clearly NOT an interactive billboard asking for your advertising (and you can see no evidence to indicate that it is), well, that’s just plain tacky and rude. In fact, it’s SPAM.

Of course you can always remove these posts, and I do it all the time. However, there’s only so much I’ll tolerate when it keeps continuing, especially from the same individuals. Allowing yourself to be a graffitied wall to benefit and promote someone else’s agenda is not going to make them like you. (They don’t like you – they’re using you!) Rather than outright removing said person from my friends list, I try to give them a chance to mend their ways by making my displeasure known via a polite note requesting they cease and desist. You’d think this forthright and civil approach would work and therefore generate an embarrassed apology, right? Well, think again.

A recent SPAM-fest I was made the victim of came from some supposed “book reviewer” who listed quite an impressive CV of where he’d reviewed books. I received a Facebook friend request from said person, and I thought, well sure, of course I’d like him as a friend – until I started to get daily posts on my wall of his various book reviews, none of which were even of my books! Now excuse me, but what in hell is that about? Did my Facebook profile suddenly turn into Publisher’s Weekly? Needless to say, I sent him a polite note requesting he kindly refrain from said behaviour. And get this: he actually un-friended me as if I’d done something wrong!

Awhile back I had another bizarre run-in with some Norman Bates of a poet I’d never heard of. This individual’s personal information was vague to say the least, unless you count the hazy photos of her that looked as if they’d been taken when Nixon was president. It seemed she was hiding behind some paid membership website – and she was continually posting on my Facebook profile and various fan pages advertising said website. When I asked her to stop spamming me, I got a nasty message, followed by some extremely nasty, erroneous, and downright libelous comments she attempted to publish on my website. Had they not been so pathetically inspired by professional and personal jealousy I’d have reported her to my web-host (and my lawyer).

Then just the other day an author posted her book release event on my profile wall, likewise tagging me for the event, following it up by posting her book trailer. Since when did Mitzi Szereto become Barnes & Noble? Hey, I have my own books to sell! Rather than send a message, I removed her from my friends list. I’m not going to be nice with second chances anymore, especially when I end up being disrespected for it. Yes, I’m interested in seeing what others are doing, but I’d prefer not to have it forced on me via a space which is supposed to be for my use and under my control, especially when I can easily find out what’s happening in my newsfeed and by visiting friends’ profiles and pages! I post many things, a lot of which are not self-promotion (I’m big on animal welfare groups such as StopCrush.Org and Charlie to the Rescue), so I find it annoying to get a post that’s not only irrelevant to me, but serves no purpose other than to get a free ride off my hard graft. I don’t much care for freeloaders, nor do I know anyone who does.

So if you want to mark your territory, use your OWN personal profiles and pages to get your message out rather than trespassing on those of others – or else ask permission before you post or tag as a method of self-promotion. It’s called “having good manners!” 😀

Ian Somerhalder, Where Art Thou?

Sunday, May 16th, 2010

Ian Somerhalder with his mate Teddy Tedaloo

I’ve been invited to speak at the upcoming Social Media in Business Conference in London on the subject of social media for creative artists, and it’s really got me thinking (I do indulge in this on occasion). As the “Queen of Facebook” (according to Wikipedia and my hapless suitor Mark Zuckerberg), not to mention author and editor of numerous books, blogger for “Errant Ramblings” (you’re reading it now!), creator and presenter of Mitzi TV, and the mother to my famous bear Teddy Tedaloo, it’s probably safe to assume that my name carries a bit of clout. You can find me pretty much everywhere on the internet. Heck, I’m a social media goddess!

I have thousands of fans, friends, followers, tweeters, and stalkers from nearly every country in the world, running the gamut from authors, poets, tech geeks, musicians, pensioners, estate agents, educators, students, actors, film producers, social media gurus, doctors, lawyers, Indian chiefs, journalists, politicians, pervs (see “politicians”), exiled Communists, serial killers, PR people (see “serial killers”), dead rock stars, and teddy bears – to your aunt Tilly from Temecula who no one ever talks about since the cops dug up her back garden and discovered all those bodies. (But hey, they got great wi-fi at Quentin, so she’s always wired and ready to go – well, at least until they strap her in the chair.)

Sounds like I pretty much know everybody, right? Then why is it with all my contacts, not a single one has responded to my request to fix me up with Ian Somerhalder? Yes, I mean the very same Ian Somerhalder who plays the dishy but nasty vampire Damon Salvatore in “The Vampire Diaries“. What exactly is going on here? Where are all these people I’ve cultivated and made so happy with my many posts, tweets, rants, and raves? You know who you are, so don’t even try to wrangle out of it.

Fine, so you retweeted me a few times – big deal. But what have you done for me lately? Where are you when I really need you? I’m beginning to get Jewish mother syndrome here. I do so much for you, I sacrifice, oy oy oy.  Yet the minute I ask for something, everyone runs to the hills. (Hey, wasn’t that a really bad Iron Maiden song?)

Am I supposed to believe that with thousands of people at my electronic beck and call, not one of them will show their appreciation for all my hard work and sacrifice by having a word in Ian’s shell-like? Okay, I do expect flowers, but he doesn’t have to go all out and blow his entire pay packet on them. (I’m not one of THOSE girls.) But heck, if I’m willing to offer up my tender neck, I expect him to be enough of a gentleman when he sinks his teeth into it. On second thought, tell him to ditch the flowers. Some nice chocolate will suffice. Let it not be said that I don’t have my priorities right.

I’d always vowed never to get involved with an actor. Having served some time in Los Angeles, let me tell you that you can get weary of actors very quickly. And they don’t necessarily make the best waiters either, despite popular opinion. Could be one reason why there are so many sushi bars in LA – you don’t need that many waiters to staff them. The thing is, you can’t always predict or control whom you’ll fall for. Actor, bus driver, binman… It’s in the lap of the gods.

As for Ian, I think we’d be really great together. (Sorry, Mark!) And, even more importantly, Ted likes him. Ian’s a big animal lover and, although his love seems to focus more on cats and dogs, Ted’s pretty certain he can win him over with his ursine charm. In fact, judging by that photo of them together, I’d say it’s already working! (Mind you, I just hope that Ian’s not trying to use him to further his own career. You tend to get that with these artistic types.)

So Ian, what time are you coming to get me?

Screwy Rabbits: The Dangers of Twitter

Thursday, October 8th, 2009
Me and Mr. Bunny

Mitzi Szereto with bunny

I know what you’re thinking: that Mitzi, you just never know what she’ll get up to next. Now she’s dating Bugs Bunny!

Okay, I admit he’d be one hell of an improvement over any of the male members of the human species I’ve known and loved. But before you go getting all excited and churning up the rumour mill, let’s put a bit of perspective on the situation.

On second thought, why bother? Who needs perspective and logic and all those other things that take the life out of life (and the love out of love)?

I have a confession to make: as a kid I used to adore those wonderful old classic Looney Tunes cartoons. Elmer, Bugs, Porky, Daffy (are you thaying I have a thpeech impediment???)… I wanted to live in those cartoons. In fact, I still do! And judging by the above photo, you’re no doubt assuming I got my wish.

Me and Bugs, walking off into the sunset together. Oh, and Teddy, of course! I won’t go anywhere without my beloved little bear by my side. You’d have to pass muster with him before you get anywhere near me!

As for meeting screwy rabbits…

I use Twitter.

Therefore I can only blame Twitter for landing me in the furry arms of a lascivious rabbit the other evening. Yes, I said lascivious! Bad enough he shed all over my black top. People were plucking his fur out of my hair all night long. It was as if I’d suddenly gone white, like what you hear happens when someone’s experienced a traumatic shock. Hmm… perhaps that wasn’t too far off the mark.

You see, I’d innocently headed out to London’s famous Carnaby Street for an evening of networking with other like-minded Tweeters, only to end up fending off the amorous attentions of a Tweeting bunny. All I can say is, he might have been hearing “Some Enchanted Evening” playing in his big white floppy ears, but I sure as hell wasn’t. The truth is, I never really fancied hairy guys, especially sweaty ones. As for a sweaty hairy rabbit…

…It just wasn’t going to happen. Besides which, he was too tall!

I guess this is what I get for being a social media maven. I’m terrified to think what might happen if I ever went to a Facebook event. Aside from being the officially recognised Queen of Facebook (and Robert Scoble thought he was popular? – no one even knew who he was till I friended him on Facebook!), I have enough trouble with Mark Zuckerberg as it is. The Silicon Valley boss man of Facebook simply refuses to let go. There’s something terribly heartrending about seeing a man cry – especially when you’re the cause of it. I tried to let him down gently, I really did. I mean, could I help it if Teddy didn’t take to him?

As for my floppy-earred suitor, I have serious doubts about it going anywhere. He just came on too strong for my liking.

I’m sure Bugs Bunny would not have behaved in such an ungentlemanly fashion.

Molested by Bunny

Mitzi Szereto molested by bunny

Yet Another BBC Radio Interview with Mitzi Szereto

Wednesday, August 5th, 2009
In The Big Smoke

Mitzi Szereto on a Mitzi TV shoot in London

A chat about my grand passion the internet, along with email etiquette, social networking, geekdom, and all things Mitzi TV; (broadcast on 4 August 2009, the Dave Monk programme, BBC Radio Essex).

Click to listen:

Tweet, Tweet, Tweet: Will Someone Please Shoot That Effing Bird?

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

If you’re a regular user of social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook, does the following look familiar?

lying in pool of own vomit w/ @parishilton @britneyspears

cottaging in 4 seasons toilets w/ @georgemichael

caught massive dose of clap off @skankypantz

disembowelled outside palo alto starbux by @mansonlvr

I’m sorry, but I can’t take it anymore. No, I’m not talking about the man who done me wrong. I’m talking about this endless twittering, tweeting, and retweeting… So what was wrong with two cans and a string to communicate our news? Andy Warhol must be turning in his Campbell’s Soup can. I doubt even he could have imagined this kind of fifteen minutes of fame.

Hey, don’t get me wrong – I’m all for social networking, I think it’s great and it serves a useful purpose! I admit that I’m totally addicted to it. Just call me a social networking crackhead – if I’m near a computer I’ll be online, even if I’m at someone’s house. I’ve even done it at parties! I’ve stuck myself up on a ton of sites, and now I can update them all via a simple one-stop shop at However, a lot of this social networking has gotten out of hand. Fine, keep people up to date, but don’t make us want to run out and buy and gun and go postal with it. There’s a huge difference between being informative and being excessive. And baby, the line has been crossed.

Perhaps I didn’t notice it that much before, or at least not until Facebook decided to sneak into Twitter’s back garden and grab their knickers from off the clothesline. Hello Mark? Does your “new” newsfeed not look just a wee bit familiar? Where’s that innovative Silicon Valley spirit? Or did it go careening off a cliff on a mountain bike? They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Frankly, I’m not buying it.

I admit that I try to exercise a reasonable amount of restraint when it comes to my own status updates. But how few are too few and how many are too many? That is the question, Hamlet, and it’s a bloody hard one to answer. Of course I want people to see my name, get involved in what I’m doing, follow my little exploits, be they mundane or exciting. Yet I’m also very aware of how I myself react when I see the same people continually posting, and I mean posting like a machine gun – rat-tat-tat-tat-tat – one after the other, like those butch Italian cowboys being shot down in a Spaghetti Western when you know there can’t possibly be any more bullets left in the gun. I mean, it’s not like these folk actually need to keep updating and updating. Often you’ll find the updates are nearly identical. They remind me of a student I taught in a university creative writing module who stubbornly refused to engage with the process of redrafting and thought she could get away with changing a couple of words here and there.

As for this ad nauseum updating business, I know several users who have deleted other users from their Twitter and Facebook accounts – and I’m talking very high-profile users (many even of celebrity status) whose updates were getting to the point of either being analogous to spamming or making everyone ill. Do they not realise how annoying this is? If you’re losing followers on Twitter or friends on Facebook, then maybe it’s time to acknowledge that your social networking methodology might be backfiring. Granted, you don’t have to be high-profile to spiral into overkill.

Can you imagine if we had Count Dracula constantly updating his status? (It would likely be at night, unless he was inside his coffin during the day sending tweets from his mobile phone.) It would probably go something like this:

chowing down flies w/ @renfield

taking a bloodbath w/ @dracsbride

hiking in carpathians w/ @jharker

debating wooden stakes v silver bullets w/ @vanhelsing

I’ve now reached the point where I’ll comment on people’s updates just to wind them up. In fact, I recently engaged in a bit of a Facebook fracas with a gentleman who was attending a convention (I won’t say which convention, though you might be able to guess). He kept updating his status every few seconds – yes, I am serious: SECONDS, so I thought I’d tease him about it, interjecting little jests under his various updates, hoping he might come to realise just how ridiculous this was getting. Alas, the point of my repartee was completely lost on the fellow, and finally I could take no more. I said, “hey, if you want to see some updates that are actually entertaining, take a look at my page.” And do you know what he replied? “Oh, I don’t really have time to look at other people’s updates.” Umm… excuse me? Needless to say, I clicked that little X alongside his updates, opting for one less nuisance in my busy social networking life. Hey, if I have to read your updates, it’s only fair you read mine, right?

Now before you hardcore updaters drag me off to the stake to be burned, realise that all I’m saying is this: before you update your status for the gazillionth time, ask yourself the following:

1. Do I really need to update when I just updated a minute ago?

2. Is it absolutely necessary when I’ve pretty much said the exact same shit in my previous update?

3. Will anyone be remotely pleased to see my update or will they pray that lightning strikes me dead?

I think you know the answer.

(By the way, it’s @mitziszereto in case you want to follow me on Twitter! xxx)

Get Your Tractor Off My Lawn!

Sunday, March 15th, 2009

soup mix

“I have to go on Facebook to find out you’re sick???”

Throw in an “oy vey” and yup, we’ve got mega Jewish Mother Syndrome at work here. (I knew there was an explanation for all those food parcels containing Manischewitz Matzo Ball Soup Mix.) This is pretty much typical of what I get on a daily basis from South Florida. Oh, the joys of social networking sites! Not only does the entire universe know your business (including stalkers, potential stalkers, serial killers and hapless suitors), but you get your mama nosing around to see what you’re up to. Not that I’m ever up to much of anything, but…

I actually posted a status update saying that I wished my mother would stop spying on my Facebook. And guess who saw it? Yeah, my mother. Just as I knew she would, which is why I posted the status update in the first place. It only took a few minutes and there she was, posting a maternal retort on my page, saying “you thought I wouldn’t see that?”. Well, of course I thought she’d see it. That was the whole point!

It’s all my fault. I’m the one who turned her onto Facebook. I’m no better than a schoolyard dope peddler. (“Hey kid, wanna get high?”) And what do you think mummy dearest does to thank me for my social networking kindless and generosity? Steal my friends. Not only that, she donates a bunch of her friends to me as if I’m some Facebook Johnny No Mates (hell, I’m almost at the 5,000 friends limit!), only to later ask who’s that crazy Hungarian woman who keeps poking her or who’s that lad in Moscow who wrote on my wall? – to which I have to remind her that SHE was the one who gave these people to ME! And if that’s not enough, I’ve even seen several of my friends go over to her camp. Then when I ask her about it, she goes all innocent and claims they sent friend requests and since she saw they knew me she accepted their add. Hmmm…

I’m now wondering if it’s only a coincidence that she got bounced off Facebook at the exact same time I did a few months back. That was when the site was changing over to their new security system, resulting in disaster for a number of users, myself included. Between the two of us (and a slew of Facebook friends I’d recruited for this purpose) we were launching email tirades at every Facebook employee we could find to get our profiles back up and running again. I’m sure there are photos of us on the walls of their Palo Alto headquarters that have been made into dartboards. In fact, I’ve heard Mark Zuckerberg‘s got a full-length one of me in his office – and I won’t even tell you where he aims his darts. (Let’s just say that if I ever do another volume of Wicked: Sexy Tales of Legendary Lovers, he won’t be one of the legendary lovers.)

As for my mother and her keen interest in my Facebook goings-on, I’m certain I’ll catch hell for this blog post, but in the words of former Prime Minister John Major, “Get your tractor off my lawn!”


Seriously, you have GOT to play this video:

And give this one a listen too:

Tweeting in Soho (And No, It Isn’t Illegal!)

Thursday, December 18th, 2008

I guess it’s safe to say I’m now officially a social media tart. I’m on everything: Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Plaxo, LinkedIn, Flickr, Tumblr, and probably some places I’ve completely forgotten about or would prefer not to remember. I even linked up my Facebook status updates to appear as my Twitter updates. Okay, I’m lazy, so sue me.

I recently joined Flickr and it’s been a right larf. I’m now being stalked on there by some Cossack who plays the balalaika (no I am NOT kidding). I’m telling you, he’s way out there, Russian Orthodox and single (oy vey). He looks like he could be straight out of Dr. Zhivago. (Ironically, I’ve a copy of that very tome given to me as a special gift on my bedside table – and I’m seriously considering setting fire to it.) It’s a shame the Cossack doesn’t float my boat, or else I’d be viewing dachas with Russian estate agents as we speak. There’s also a really hot Hungarian guy on my Flickr. And don’t ask me how, but even Robert Scoble got on there. And no, he’s definitely NOT hot. Well, except perhaps to Mrs. Scoble. (Sorry, Bobby! Kiss kiss!!)

Which brings me back to Twitter. I already had a very severe case of laryngitis (that has now developed into bronchitis) before I arrived well armed with Moo cards at their London networking event on Monday evening which was, by a curious twist of fate, called “Twinterval” (it’s got the word “winter” in it, get it?). So trying to shout above the impenetrable din at The Match Bar in Oxford Circus was a major challenge, as was the pushing and shoving by too many people crammed into too small a space. Fortunately (or perhaps unfortunately) I was plied with mango Bellinis courtesy of a free drinks coupon and courtesy of some social media guy from Toronto. So rather than squawking like bird roadkill, I squawked like an injured hawk that hadn’t yet become roadkill. Mind you, the evening was only just beginning.

I ran into a few familiar faces from other networking events I’ve attended recently, including a blogger from France who remembered that I’d been about to take my “Life in the UK” test the last time he saw me. In fact, I’d forgotten all about it until he asked how I did. (If you read my blog post “How Many Chavs Does It Take To Screw In a Lightbulb” you’ll know that I passed.) A number of other people came up to me too, recognising me from Facebook and other sites, which was kind of cool in a rather friendly stalkerish way. There’s no anonymity on the internet; you’re out there naked for the entire world to see!

When it became clear that my oral communication skills were severely hampered and weren’t likely to improve, I set off trying to locate what was left of the free munchies (I have my priorities right). I tell you, that crowd chowed down nearly everything in the place, leaving only the tables, chairs and couches behind. I ended up parking myself at a table full of people I didn’t know or speak to just so I could eat the hummus and pita bread they weren’t remotely interested in but had somehow been fortunate enough to have ended up with. Talk about eat and run.

Now I realise that I tend to fluctuate between being a social star on one end and being a hermit on the other, but I find it rather curious that what was supposed to be a networking event consisted of several “networkers” sitting solo at tables typing into their laptops. Am I missing something about this social networking gig or what? Or were these people trying to demonstrate their geekiness by disengaging from the entire process of face-to-face networking and interaction with other human beings? I’d be willing to bet they were continually updating their Twitter status too – and updating it with snappy little tweets that made it sound as if they were really living the high life. (Sounds a bit like Facebook, eh?)

I don’t know if this is coincidence or not, but suddenly a slew of people are now following me on Twitter. I have no idea where they’re coming from or how they found me, but hey, if they want to follow me, so be it. I won’t complain. Isn’t that the entire point of this exercise? Unless there is no point, and I’m missing the point.

I suppose no evening out in London – or at least an evening out involving me – would be complete without its fair share of science fiction. Just as I was leaving the event, I was given a little gift bag, which thankfully I didn’t open on the underground, or worse yet, on the train back home to Oi Oi Essex. Mind you, I could have made some really good friends very quickly had I removed the contents of my goodie bag. What was in said bag, you ask? Well, try this on for size (ahem): condoms, massage melts, a “love ring” (yeah, there’s a ruder name for this and you damn well know what it is!), and something called a “Curlywurly”. (For some reason this makes me think of scissors and the importance of personal grooming.) I don’t even understand why this stuff was handed out. It had nothing whatsoever to do with the nature of the event, and as far as I know, the sponsors for the evening included the likes of Sun Startup Essentials and Openwave, not the Jiggy-Jiggy Sex Emporium. Unless I was the only one who received these treasures and everyone else was given a more respectable bag of Lotto scratch cards and cards for free international phone calls and packets of Maynards Wine Gums.

Hmm… I wonder if my dishy Hungarian might have had a hand in this? 😉

Facebook: The Anti-Social Social Network

Friday, November 14th, 2008

You know that expression “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned”? Well, how about “Hell hath no fury like a social networker scorned”?

A couple of weeks ago I had my Facebook account disabled with no warning or explanation. I’d been online in the evening and had left the page open while I took an overseas call. When I returned to the computer – BANG!! No more Facebook. Needless to say, I was not amused. I figured it was yet another of their multitudinous technological glitches – the very same glitches that have prevented me from accessing many of the applications I have loaded. I mean, I can receive Poke Pros, but I can’t seem to send them back out. What’s the world coming to? I figured this time something truly major had malfunctioned. However, when my bear was able to get into his Facebook account, I realised that things were definitely not kosher.

For several days running, I sent copious emails to copious Facebook email addresses, as did many of my Facebook friends, who wished to lodge their protests over my apparent and tragic assassination. I hadn’t done anything I could think of to bring the wrath of the Silicon Valley gods down upon me. My only consolation that it had all been some dreadful mistake was down to the fact that on the very same night my account went missing, so too did my mother’s. Now this was truly bizarre, especially since she uses it nowhere near to the slavish and fanatical extent in which I do. I smelled conspiracy. And I was out for blood. There was more at stake here than simple social networking. I had things on my Facebook of great sentimental value to me – and perhaps this was what hurt the most: losing them forever.

To say that I was ready to recruit any surviving members of the Weathermen (or those not still in prison) to come with me to Palo Alto and do some major sorting out would not have been an understatement. (I should add that I’ve been told I look pretty hot in khaki too.) Had I actually boarded that flight to Northern California, well… let’s just say that Mark Zuckerberg (can we think of anything that rhymes with “Zuckerberg”?) would have been wise to pack up his cojones and head for the Mexican border. This was NOT how The Queen of Facebook should be treated!

When I received an email containing a Washington Post link from a friend about what can only be described as an indiscriminate cull by Facebook against its users, I really freaked out. Forgive me if I’m wrong, but there definitely appears to be a discriminatory policy in operation here. My bear has been the victim of it; so too have a number of his mates who, like him, don’t qualify as sharing the same species as you and I do. Having said that, I know plenty of homo sapiens who have likewise been treated unfairly, having their accounts randomly and bizarrely disabled for reasons known only to some anonymous entities hiding behind a computer screen whose sole source of social interaction is derived courtesy of their own hand. Bad enough to get scolded for adding too many friends or joining too many groups, but where will it end? Delete accounts of people who have a big schnoz? (Guess Babs Streisand will be shit out of luck on this one!)

To make the situation even more bizarre, only a few weeks before my enforced disappearance from my favourite social networking site I received an ominous message from the Facebook gods that a photo I’d uploaded had been removed due to a “violation of terms of use”. Now that puzzled me. What could I possibly have posted that could even remotely have violated anything? A photo of me at a book launch? A photo of me at my mother’s house? A photo of me with my bear? WHAT? Hell, I’ve seen stuff on Facebook that’s downright pornographic, to say nothing of the kind of groups they allow to proliferate – groups which should only be allowed on a subscription porn site, not on a mainstream social networking site. Hell, I’ve seen profile photos of women who look as if they’re plying their dodgy wares on a street corner. But who gets a threatening message about violating terms of use? Me! So I combed through my various photos, trying to figure out which one had been excised out of existence. And guess what? It was the book jacket for my anthology Wicked: Sexy Tales of Legendary Lovers. I nearly fell off my chair. Okay, it’s got nudity, but it’s artful and subtle nudity, not pornographic nudity. You see raunchier stuff on a postcard from Miami Beach. I couldn’t help wondering who in my circle of 4,000 plus Facebook friends would have complained about the cover of a book I’d done, especially if they were interested in having me as a friend in the first place! Ironically, Wicked has been and still is being sold by major booksellers – and placed out on the front tables, not relinquished to some unreachable top shelf in the rear of the store next to the toilets. Clearly, Borders and Waterstones have no objection to the book jacket. Go figure.

Anyway, my story has a happy ending… at least for now. I’m back online at Facebook and, I am pleased to say, was apparently sorely missed. In fact, I received a number of messages and wall posts from people I’d never even spoken to before, welcoming me back and saying that it had been really boring without me. Gosh. Perhaps there is something to this social networking gig after all. I mean, a little bit of mass adoration can go a long way.

And who knows? That random poke you receive might develop into the love of your life! (If it doesn’t lead you into the arms of a serial killer first.)