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Twitter: A Dangerous Sense of Entitlement

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photo by jesse.millan

Today I want to talk about a problem I see in the community of writers on Twitter: a growing sense of entitlement.

We writers work hard to build our platform. We’re told how important it is, so we put our time, energy, and hearts into the effort of building our potential audience. And there are certain unspoken rules, as most of us know. Tenuous things such as, If I retweet your blog post you’ll retweet one of mine soon, and If I add you to my list of awesome writers you’ll add me to yours. Most of these rules come down to the idea of digital karma. If we support and promote other writers, they’ll do the same for us. Which is usually true.

Except when it isn’t.

And who knows why sometimes it isn’t? Maybe someone just didn’t like your blog post this week. Maybe they don’t want to be associated with your genre, persona, or presence. Maybe they’re busy. Maybe they just forgot. There are dozens of fair and unfair reasons that someone might not do what we wanted, hoped, or even expected them to do… which is when our sense of entitlement rears its ugly head.

Which is the perfect time to step back, think, and remind ourselves what’s what – and what’s worth it.

What We Are Entitled To

…And that’s pretty much it. (But that’s a lot.)

What We’re Not Entitled To

The Bottom Line

It’s easy to mistake courtesy with entitlement. Is it polite for a person to respond when we @ mention them? Yes, of course. But they are not obligated to. Would it be nice if everyone we followed followed us back? Yep. But that’s not how it works.

[Side note: the follow-back issue is a big, complicated, and volatile one. I’m not here to convince you one way or the other – because I do believe that everyone has the right to use Twitter exactly as they please – but I will caution against assuming that everyone who doesn’t automatically follow-back is snobbish or evil. There are as many ways as there are reasons that people use Twitter, and just because someone doesn’t use it like us doesn’t mean they’re rude or a bad person.]

It’s normal to occasionally get our feelings hurt by a less than desirable response to something on Twitter. We’re human; it happens. The problem comes in when we act on those negative feelings in an inappropriate way. Not just for the sake of said person, but for our sakes, as well. If we react negatively on Twitter, we risk coming across as immature, self-absorbed, rude, and sometimes nutso. And since we’re all writers trying to build professional platforms, this is a catastrophic mix. You never know who might be watching you throw your little hissy fit. And this is what I mean by a “dangerous” sense of entitlement – dangerous to our careers. Are hurt feelings really worth burning professional bridges?

Warning Signs To Look For

Ice Cube had it right: You’ve got to check yo self before you wreck yo self. The operative word here is before. So how do you know when you’re about to go spinning down the crazy spiral of self-destruction? Look for these signs:

Remember my rule about putting tempting tweets in the incubator [2] for a few days? By the end of that time, those tweets usually get deleted rather than sent. If you find yourself on any of the precipices listed above, warning bells should go off in your head. Take a giant step back and think first. Once it’s out there, you can’t take it back.

Better Ways To Deal

Here’s the real kicker; sometimes we’re right to be upset. Sometimes people are jerks (no secret). Maybe someone you actually know and have been following for years randomly unfollows you. Ouch! It can be awfully tempting to confront them about it. But unless they’re actually your good friend in real life (which is a whole other ballgame), that confrontation can lead to nothing good. Here are some better options:

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Our reputations as professionals are quite valuable in this industry; no one wants to work with an entitled jerk. But guys, everyone makes mistakes. If you’ve done one or more of these things before, don’t freak out. Take it as a lesson learned and move on.

So how about you all? Have you noticed an increase in the sense of entitlement of writers on Twitter lately? And how do you deal with it when you don’t get the reaction you expected or thought you deserved?

About Annie Neugebauer [3]

Annie Neugebauer is a two-time Bram Stoker Award-nominated author with work appearing and forthcoming in more than a hundred publications, including magazines such as Cemetery Dance, Apex, and Black Static, as well as anthologies such as Year’s Best Hardcore Horror Volumes 3 & 4 and #1 Amazon bestsellers Killing It Softly & Fire. She’s a member of the Horror Writers Association and a columnist for Writer Unboxed and LitReactor. She's represented by Alec Shane of Writers House. She lives in Texas with two crazy cute cats and a husband who’s exceptionally well-prepared for the zombie apocalypse. You can visit her at www.AnnieNeugebauer.com for news, poems, organizational tools for writers, and more.

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