Tag Archives: Twitter

15 Things I’ve Learned From 15 Years of Blogging

I’ve been blogging at lydiaschoch.com for almost eighteen months now. Since I imported all of my old posts over from my previous site, the archives here begin in July of 2010 instead of November of 2016. I’ve been blogging much longer than that, though!

Over the past fifteen years, I’ve had several different blogs.  With the exception of PK Stories, none of them still exist to the best of my knowledge, but I’ve still carried the lessons I learned from them forward to my current online home.

Today I thought it would be fun to list fifteen of the things I’ve learned about blogging over the last decade and a half.

1. Never post anything you’d be embarrassed to see plastered on a billboard in front of your home.

This really should go without saying, but I think some people forget just how long a blog post can be passed around online. I’ve shared and I’ve also seen others share thought-provoking posts that are several years old because the information in them is timeless. In a few cases, I’ve seen posts much older than that continue to circulate.

You never know when something might go viral, so I try to always be careful about what I say and how I say it.

2. Ignore the trolls.

Arguing with them never helps in any way from what I’ve observed. The best way I’ve found to encourage them to permanently lose interest in you is to refuse to engage with them at all.

They generally seem to feel bored by the lack of conflict after a while and will wander away on their own accord once they realize that they won’t be getting a response.

Luckily, the vast majority of the people I meet online are friendly and don’t behave this way at all.

3. Don’t use pop-ups.

Pop-up ads or messages are intrusive, annoying, and counter-productive. I automatically leave sites who obstruct my view with pop-ups, and I don’t return to them in the future.

4. Share other people’s work liberally.

Every time I discover a new blog that I plan to start following, I set aside some time to read through their archives after I’ve added that site to my RSS feed. If I love their current posts, chances are excellent that I’ll adore their old stuff, too.

As I browse through their older material, I take note of the entries that were most appealing to me. Those posts are then either added to my Suggestion Saturday lists or tweeted by me at some point in the future. Most of the latter end up being included in the #MondayBlogs hashtag on Twitter due to how popular it is.

Since I enjoyed those posts, folks who follow me might really like them as well.

5. Don’t worry about reciprocation. 

When I promote other people’s work, I do it with zero expectations of them returning the favour. There’s no imaginary scorecard in my head or anything like that. While I deeply appreciate everyone who shares links to my posts, I think of those responses as a happy bonus to something I already find rewarding.

I believe in sharing the things that bring me joy with the hope that others will find them just as entertaining.

6. Blogging isn’t a competition.

There’s plenty of room for everyone to shine. In fact, I’ve only seen better opportunities emerge for networking and promotion as more and more bloggers are connecting and collaborating with each other. Think of it as a group of people using cooperation to reach their goals instead of as a competition.

7. It’s smarter to focus on a handful of topics than to write about everything. 

In a couple of my previous sites, I blogged about whatever was on my mind on any particular day. I’ve found that it’s much easier for me to think of new things to write about and attract readers if I focused on a handful of topics and explored them deeply instead.

8. Be genuine. 

No matter who you are or what you’re into, there are people out there who will connect with your interests, passions, and hobbies. I believe in regularly talking about whatever it is that makes your heart skip a beat without worrying about how popular or SEO-friendly it is.

9. Protect your privacy and the privacy of your loved ones.

There are certain things that just shouldn’t be shared openly online. For example, I shudder when I see buddies publicly sharing details of their itinerary for an upcoming vacation.

I don’t discuss stuff like future plans for safety reasons. If I’m going on a trip, I’ll save any amusing photos and stories about it for after I return home. Talking about it before or as it happens only gives potential burglars or other people who may have nefarious intentions advanced warning that my home will be empty for that period of time or that I’ll be in a specific place at X time.

10. Write down ideas for future posts. 

As soon as I get a new idea for a future blog post, I jot it down in a file I created specifically for this purpose. This is something I do even if the idea is partially developed or I’m not sure if I want to use it at all. If only all of you knew how many times I forgot ideas before I started making myself write down all of them!

Some of these ideas have been sitting there for months, and a few of them are years old. Eventually, I do hope to write about all of them when the time is right. For now they remain safely tucked away in my list until I need some inspiration for an upcoming post. 

11. Use recommendations from your readers as writing fodder.

Every once in a while, one of my favourite bloggers decides to write a follow-up post to a question or comment I or someone else had about something they wrote. There have also been a few times when I’ve gotten blog ideas from people’s comments on my own site.

It’s thrilling every time that happens. I only wish it happened more!

12. Allow comments, but do moderate them.

I filter out all of the spam comments on my site. In the distant past when I had a troll or two lurking around, I immediately deleted their messages as well.

Other than that, I tend to allow just about any sort of comment slip through. I respond to them, too.

13. Leave thoughtful comments on other sites.

Speaking of comments, I’m so glad I got into the habit of responding to other people’s posts. Sometimes the comment section is honestly just as interesting as the original article because of the high quality comments that are left by fans and the site owner. April Munday’s blog is one of the many examples of how beautifully this system can work.

14. Build relationships.

I’ve made several good friends through my years of blogging who are still part of my life to this day, and I’ve gotten to know many other people through this activity as well. If you’re open to it, this is a fantastic way to build a supportive community of likeminded friends who live all over the world.

15. Have fun!

Blogging is a deeply rewarding experience that has improved my life in more ways than I can count. I hope that every blogger finds the same happiness from crafting their posts and sharing them with the world.

What have you learned from blogging?

Who to Follow on Twitter If You’re Into Mindfulness and Meditation

A few weeks ago I started a new series of posts on this blog about Twitter accounts that share the same theme. This week I’m going to be recommending accounts that are about mindfulness and meditation.

There aren’t as many mindfulness and meditation suggestions as there were for the science fiction and fantasy version of this series, but I’m tentatively hoping to eventually write a part two for this once I’ve found more high-quality accounts that talk about it.

If you have suggestions for specific accounts to recommend or topics for a future post in this series, I’d be quite interested in hearing about them.

@bunnybuddhism‬.

The cute rabbit pictures were what first drew me into following this account, of course, but one of the reasons why I enjoy the tweets from the woman who runs it so much is how insightful she is about topics like grief, death, and truly living in the moment.

‪@tinybuddha‬.

This is the official account for a Buddhist website by the same name. They tweet a lot, but their articles are well-written and full of helpful advice for people from many different walks of life.

‪@yogainspiresyou‬.

Ntathu teaches yoga and meditation. I love the positivity of her tweets, especially when it comes to the short quotes she shares regularly.

@SatyaRobyn‬

Satya is a Buddhist priest I’ve known online for years. She has a lot of interesting things to say about mindfulness and her belief system in general.

‪@calm‬

This is a meditation app I’ve used off and on for years. The guided body scans in the app itself are fantastic, and their Twitter account is full of good information as well.

Previous posts in this series:

Who to Follow on Twitter If You’re Into Science Fiction and Fantasy 

How Social Media Is Changing the Rules About Spoilers

Those of you who have been following me for years might remember my post from 2014 about hating spoilers.

Since then I’ve been paying attention to how social media – especially Twitter – has been changing the rules about if, whether, and when it’s okay to share spoilers.

It was especially interesting to see how people reacted to The Handmaid’s Tale a few months ago because of how much faster that show was released in the U.S. than it was in other parts of the world.

Canada was always one or two episodes behind the United States depending on which day of the week you were on. Other countries were even further behind us.

People in the States were sharing spoilers before or right after the latest episode there ended. Even mainstream news sites were leaking plot twists as they discussed what had currently happened and what was going to happen next. I had to mute the hashtags for that show and avoid reading all news articles about it until I’d finished the whole series.

While I still believe that it’s rude to share spoilers for a show that has just aired, not everyone agrees with me and not everyone who does agree with me has the same rules about how to go about sharing them after a certain amount of time has passed.

The Old Rules

This varied according to which parts of the Internet you spent time in, of course, but I remember the old rules being as follows:

  • Always put a spoiler warning before sharing anything that mentioned even mild plot twists.
  • Don’t discuss the latest episode of your favourite show with people who haven’t seen it yet unless they tell you they don’t mind.
  • When in doubt, don’t mention it.

I do not remember the mainstream media releasing spoilers back then the way they do now. To be fair, I don’t know if that’s because I watched fewer shows at that point or if the rules have since changed for the media as well.

The Controversy

If cats knew what spoilers were, they’d disapprove of them.

I’m going to be doing some generalizing and simplifying here for the sake of brevity, but people who have an opinion on this issue seem to fall into one of two camps.

The first camp believes that everything is up for discussion the second a show has finished airing in their time zone. While some of them do warn everyone about their discussion of spoilers ahead of time, many others don’t bother to mention it at all.

Interestingly enough, my own mother belongs in this group. If I read a book or watch a movie that she hasn’t tried yet, she genuinely doesn’t mind hearing spoilers about it. This blows my mind sometimes, but I’m much less cautious about discussing how stories end with her than I am with almost everyone else I know.

The second camp is against all spoilers. We want to be warned of potential spoilers well in advance so we can avoid them. We often also want everyone to use the official hashtags for that show or movie so that we can mute them before any of the plot twists are revealed.

The New Rules

  • Always use the appropriate hashtags when discussing your favourite shows on social media.
  • Give people fair warning if you will be sharing spoilers.
  • Find likeminded people to discuss (or avoid) spoilers with.
  • Respect the rights of others to make different decisions.
  • When in doubt, don’t mention it.

From what I’ve seen, the Internet hasn’t yet come to a conclusion about how long everyone should wait before spoiler tags are no longer necessary.

I take a conservative approach and add spoiler tags to almost everything. Just because a book was released a few decades ago doesn’t mean that everyone has read it. While I do occasionally share spoilers about old movies, TV shows, and books, I warn people first in case they don’t want to know what happened.

It’s going to be interesting to see how all of this plays out over the next few years.  Is giving spoiler warnings for everything no matter when it was released the best way to handle it? I honestly don’t know. This is something I do as a courtesy for others, but I don’t think it’s currently realistic to expect everyone to follow this rule given how unwilling they are to wait even a few days to dissect current shows.

With that being said, I would like to see people become more aware of the fact that their favourite shows have global audiences and that not every country or time zone gets the latest episode simultaneously.

What Twitter Can Teach You About Mindfulness

Something fascinating has been happening to me recently on Twitter. Social media definitely isn’t the first place I’d expect to grow more mindful, but I’ve been learning more about what it means to live in the moment when I use this particular site for several different reasons.

Reason #1: The Case of the Missing Tweets

Every once in a while, my Twitter stream grows quiet for a few hours during the day for reasons that I’ve never been able to tease out.

There’s no pattern to it that I can find. It doesn’t happen at the same time or on the same day of the week. The small number of people that continue to tweet during those quiet periods shifts as well, so it’s not that everyone in a certain time zone or geographic region has suddenly been distracted by something.

The first time I noticed this, I thought I had missed out on a big section of my timeline. I scrolled back through my timeline to find the tweets I thought I’d lost only to come up empty-handed and more confused than ever. It took me a few rounds of this to stop searching for the tweets that never existed in the first place. The people I follow simply grow quiet at the same time every once in a while, and I actually look forward to those moments these days.

There is something relaxing and surprising about spending time on social media when barely anyone else is around. It’s kind of like being the last person to leave a party. The room that was so full of energy a few hours ago has quieted down. You can almost hear the final note of the song or the sound of two people saying goodnight as your eyes sweep the room before you turn off the lights.

I’m always glad to see my timeline fill up again, but I’m learning to enjoy these pauses in the conversation as well.

Reason #2: Everything Has a Season

There are memes that last for a day or a week before suddenly disappearing forever. Other jokes can come back when you least expect them to.  Your timeline might be full of depressing political news one day and cute puppy pictures or a hilarious conversation between friends the next. People you once had long conversations with might stop logging tweeting tomorrow. Other people sometimes show up again after being away for six months. In short, Twitter is in constant flux.

When I first began using this site, stuff like this bothered me occasionally. I worried about the people who disappeared and wished that the collective mood there would somehow become more consistent. It was strange to log in every day and have no idea who or what I was going to find.

The interesting thing about accepting all of these sudden shifts on Twitter was how it changed the way I think about the non-digital world as well. While there are things I can have an influence one, some experiences aren’t ever going to be predictable or controllable.

Everything has a season. You can’t make it begin early or stop it from ending. All you can do is enjoy the ride and see where the stream takes you next.

Reason #3: Every Tweep Can Teach You Something

The best part about following people from so many different walks of life is that my timeline has become a beautiful mishmash of ideas.

An angry political tweet from one tweep is often immediately followed by a Haiku poem, a picture of someone’s naughty cat, a link to a news article about a new scientific discovery, or the announcement of a different tweep’s brand new book or website.

I can’t count the number of times that someone has tweeted something that was exactly what I needed to hear or see that day, whether it was a joke or a serious essay. If you sit quietly and wait, all kinds of wonderful and meaningful things will come your way.

The picture on the right reminds me of what this process feels like. The best thing to do as the tweets flutter by is to sit quietly and see what they’ll teach you.

Reason #4: Tweets Are (Usually) Temporary

This reason is similar to reason #2, but there were just enough differences between the two for me to separate them into different points.

A tweet’s shelf life is short but also unpredictable. It’s rare for me to see anything retweeted on my timeline that’s older than a day or two, so I have to live in the moment when I’m on Twitter. What is relevant today might be forgotten tomorrow.

On the other hand, I have had a few of my own tweets travel much further and for much longer than I ever would have expected them to. These aren’t things that I was expecting to happen. What grabs people’s attention isn’t always easy to predict, so I try not to have any expectations when it comes to what kind of reception my tweets will get. Sometimes they are ignored, and other times they are the beginning of a long conversation.

There’s something to be said for throwing yourself so fully into the moment that you don’t think about what might happen tomorrow. No one can predict the future. Just pay attention to the present without any expectations about what might happen an hour, a week, or a month from now.

Reason #5: People Don’t Always Tweet the Full Story

The strange and fascinating thing about social media in general is that it only shows the highlight reel of most people’s lives for reasons that are far too complicated to get into in this post.

One of the nicest things about fully realizing this is that I don’t assume I know everything about someone because I’ve read their tweets for X number of months or years. This isn’t to say that I think people are lying about their lives online. Being careful about what you share for privacy or other reasons is something a lot of folks do, including me! It’s not a bad thing at all.

You can accept what someone shares without making any judgements about how your life compares to theirs or what the hidden parts of their life are like. This isn’t something any of us can know anyway, and making assumptions about it doesn’t do anyone any good.

If you’re not already on Twitter, I hope this post has given you some food for thought. If we hang out together over there, I’d love to know what you think of this post. Has social media changed how you approach mindfulness? What has Twitter taught you about life?

Why You Should Be Following the Mystery of Tom Thomson’s Death

Tom Thomson

Tom Thomson was a famous Canadian painter who died nearly a century ago. His landscapes influenced the Group of Seven. Had he lived longer, there’s no doubt in my mind that he would have become an official member and they would have been called the Group of Eight instead.

If you haven’t heard of this artist or the kinds of paintings he and his friends became famous for, the links above will tell you all about them.

For the past few years, he has been tweeting through the last eight months of his life. His tweets are heavily researched and include references to his diary entries, conversations that others remembered having with him, and many other sources.

What I want to talk about right now, though, is why you should be following Tom Thomson on Twitter. He also has a blog, although he is much more active on the former. His tweets about his final months are beginning again today, so now is the perfect time to get to know Tom and his art.

Tom’s paintings are beautiful in an understated way. My favourite one from him is included below, although there is something I like about every piece of art I’ve seen from him so far. They remind me of what it feels like to stand outside on a freezing January morning, or a breezy May afternoon, or a hot and muggy August evening and feel everything that nature has in store for me on that particular day. The weather can’t always be tied up into neat packages, and neither can Tom’s work.

There are many things we know about the ordinary fabric of this artist’s daily life. His tweets discuss everything from what he ate for specific meals to how he liked to spend his free time to what sketches he was working on in the last few weeks and months before he died. More than once I was impressed last year by his descriptions of the small details of his life. One day, for example, he mentioned eating boiled potatoes and stew. I barely remember what I ate for dinner last week, so have those details of someone’s life from a hundred years ago is surprising and fascinating.

In the last nine months or so that I’ve spent getting to know him online, Tom has been kind, funny, and personable. There are times when he seems unsure of himself or when he doesn’t know what he should do next. Yet he still picks himself up the next day and tries again. These are the tweets I’ve come to appreciate from him the most because of how much they reveal about his personality and character. He’s the Monday Blogs Painting Picturetype of person I’d invite out to dinner if we were living in the same century.

Exactly how he died is a matter of debate. We know he was alone at Canoe Lake and that his empty canoe surfaced days before anyone found his body in the water.

Did he have some kind of medical emergency that lead to him falling into the lake and drowning? Did his canoe accidentally tip over or bump into something submerged in the water, leaving him to drown before he could be saved? Did he stumble across someone who was doing something illegal and who didn’t want any witnesses of their crime? Did someone else murder him for another reason?

There are so many different possibilities, and he’ll tell you about all of them as the date of his death grows closer.

I have my own theory about what probably happened to him, but I’ll keep the details of that to myself until we get closer to the end of his saga. The urge to write short, speculative stories about his fate is growing stronger. I don’t know if I’ll give into it, but it is something I’ve been thinking about doing as he gears up to once again chronicle the end of his life.

Which theory you end up believing will be up to you, but I hope you’ll start following Tom and learn a few things about him and Canadian history along the way over the next eight months. I’ve been finding a lot of writing inspiration in his tweets. Who knows? Maybe you will as well!