Why I love Twitter.

ilovetwitter

It wasn’t love at first sight.

When Twitter first came out, I didn’t get it.    I hated having to edit my thoughts down to 140 characters.   It seemed stupid and pointless to me.   As an INFJ who tends to like to ramble on and analyze everything down to its molecular structure, keeping my thoughts and feelings so constricted seemed impossible and what’s more, it seemed so shallow.  I had the idea that Twitter was nothing more than celebrities and other notable people with “verified accounts” “tweeting” about the most inane banalities of their glamorous, perfect, exciting  lives–and everyone else just trying to collect as many followers as they could.  What could you say in 140 characters?  Not much, it seemed.  Oh, how wrong I was, but I’ll get to that in a minute.

There might have also been something about its name.  “Twitter” and the term “tweet”  just seemed so childish and dumb.   But after all, a rose by any other name is still a rose.

I gave up on Twitter for awhile out of sheer frustration.  I wanted to be able to pontificate and ramble on as long as I pleased.  Blogging, of course, allowed me to do that.    But when I began to blog, I realized that sharing to Twitter is important in getting more views and exposure.    At first, I used it almost exclusively to share my posts, and rarely “tweeted” anything.  I still don’t really tweet a whole lot but I’m starting to more than ever before.

It helps you slim down “fat” writing.

I’m finally getting the hang how to use Twitter effectively.  It’s a skill you have to learn. I’m actually finding that the art of composing a tweet is a great exercise for writers who tend to write overly descriptive “purple prose,” like I do.   In a tweet, it’s entirely possible to still get a lot of “meat” in those 140 characters, but you have to cut out all the “fat.”   That’s something most writers can benefit from–getting down to the meat and bones of an issue.

Deep thoughts in 140 characters or less.

Some Twitter uses are masters at composing compelling, interesting, hilarious tweets that actually contain a lot more depth than you’d ever think possible.  Some are so good they’ve gone viral.   Some are even profound.   These tweets become quotable.   Sure, Twitter is also a platform for celebrities to blather on mindlessly about their charmed lives and for non-thinking nonfamous Tweeters to comment on the most inane, banal things you can imagine, but for many of us, especially those of us who write,  Twitter forces you to think first about what you have to say and say only what is important.  You learn to streamline your writing and organize your thoughts in a clear and direct manner.  It’s a real skill and it takes time to learn to compose a good tweet.

There’s lots more to love.

There are other things I like about Twitter too.    I can’t speak for others, but for me, I don’t have to worry about family members and people from other areas of my life outside my blogging life seeing my tweets (probably because so few people I know IRL even use Twitter).   Unfortunately on Facebook and LinkedIn I have that problem (the boundaries of different areas of my life merging together in a most unsettling way), so I can’t always share all my posts on either of those platforms.   There also seems to be very little drama on Twitter.   Again, maybe that’s just my own experience though.  My Twitter followers don’t like wasting their 140 characters to troll someone.

I also like the simplicity of Twitter.  It’s a lot easier to use and navigate than Facebook, which has become way too cluttered with apps, digital bells and whistles, ads, invitations for games, too many features, and just way too complicated overall.   Twitter has only what you need and that makes it a lot easier to use.

I also like the real time feel of Twitter.   You get news and relevant information quicker than on any other social media site.  My feed continually supplies me with teasers and links to news stories and articles that are in line with my interests.   If the tweet looks compelling, I can click it on and read the whole story, without having to slog through 1,675 badly written words to get the gist of what someone is trying to say.   It’s all right there in one or two concise lines and I can scan through my feed and choose what to look at right then and there.

I also like Twitter because it seems my posts get the most views and shares there (outside of Facebook, when I do share articles there, which is only about half the time).   I’ve also made more friends on Twitter that share my exact interests more than anywhere else.  People are always retweeting your stuff and most of my Twitter followers have found me and my blog that way.

Twitter isn’t just for twits.

I read recently that Twitter is having problems and its growth has been slowing, mostly because people just don’t “get” it.  Like I did at first, a lot of people have this idea Twitter is for shallow people with shallow interests. Again, it could be that name, which can be offputting.  Facebook continues to grow like a cyber-cancer swallowing up everything in its path, but in my opinion, it’s lost any original attractiveness it may once have had (if it ever had any), and has  become something vaguely unpleasant, like a summer cold or a surprise visit from the Jehovah’s Witnesses.  I try to avoid it when I can, which isn’t easy to do.

As far as other social media, I think there are limitations to their appeal.  I don’t use Pinterest or WhatsApp,  I have a Reddit account but don’t really understand how it works, Tumblr is basically just a blogging site (I do share my posts there too), Instagram is for photos, and  LinkedIn bores me most of the time and is even more confusing to use than Facebook.   Stumble Upon is fun and a great way to share your posts (and they do get views!) and also find articles in line with your interests, but it’s not a social media site in the sense that the others are.   If I could only use one social media site, I’d pick Twitter.  I hope it’s around forever.

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Using StumbleUpon to boost your traffic.

stumbleupon_Logo (1)

About a month ago, at the suggestion of another blogger,  I added a Stumble Upon sharing button to this blog.  This blogger said they got a huge upsurge in traffic just from sharing on StumbleUpon.  I didn’t believe it though.  I never thought of SU as being one of the “big” social media sites, but apparently it’s a bigger player than you think.

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My  “trending pages” from StumbleUpon.

 

WordPress used to make the SU sharing icon available, but discontinued it for some stupid reason last year.  But it’s possible to make your own custom sharing button, which is what I did.   You can do this by saving the SU icon to your media file and resizing it, and then go to Sharing –> Custom Sharing and following the instructions there.  Now I “stumble” all my posts, as well as sharing to Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Google +, and LinkedIn.   And I have to say, my blogger friend was right.  I’m actually getting the most activity from StumbleUpon.  It’s actually trumping Facebook and Twitter for views.   Don’t believe me?  Here are my “referrer” stats from today:

 

stumble2

 

 

 

F*ck you, Facebook.

facebook-sucks

I’ve always had mixed feelings about Facebook.  I know it’s the best platform on which to share blog posts, but my problem is the nature of my blog.  Much of what I write is highly personal or about my family, and people from many different areas of my life, including family members, are Facebook friends or at least know where to find me even if they are not friends.  Even though I changed the spelling of my first name on Facebook, most people who want to can still find me there.   You’re not allowed to create a second account (although I suppose it could be done using a second email address) or use a handle.

I guess I could set up a “page” connected with this blog, but that page would still be  attached to my main account, so when I press the “share” button under a post, it gets posted to my main account, not an associated page.    I don’t want family members, people I know from work or from past jobs, neighbors, and my kids’ friends reading certain of my posts.  Since I do share some of my posts to Facebook,  if someone REALLY wanted to read my other stuff, they could find it fairly easily by browsing through my blog, but I don’t want to call attention to those posts to people who have no business reading them.

It sucks because blog posts on Facebook always get the most shares.  I’ve had some posts that were shared over 200 times by others.  One post has over 1000 shares.   But I have to rely on others to share my posts.  I can only share the less personal ones there.

I don’t have this same problem with other social media because I don’t use my real name on those accounts and they were set up for the primary purpose of sharing blog posts.   Facebook (and to some extent, LinkedIn) is a different story, because I’ve had my account there since 2008 and had no blog until 2014.   I’m tempted to delete my Facebook and start over under a fake name, but then I’ll lose all my contacts.   I’m not sure how to get around this issue.  I don’t really like Facebook much anyway and I never have.

F*ck you, Facebook.

Further reading:

When My Worlds Collide

10 Reasons Why Facebook Drives Me Insane

 

Graphic example of how Facebook feeds narcissism in young women.

Young girl using laptop on Facebook page

Okay, so my daughter isn’t exactly a kid anymore, since she’s 22, but she’s still young enough that she likes participating in those awful Facebook groups where random people rank your photo based on how attractive they think you are.

Her profile picture was ranked along with 3 other girls in this group.
Here she sums up what happened.

facebook_trolling

She got a lot of comments telling her not to be upset, or that people were just jealous of her good looks (she is very pretty, but I didn’t see the photos of the other girls). This morning she told me her feelings were still hurt today in spite of encouraging comments she got from her friends and boyfriend who kept telling her how beautiful she is.

This sort of thing isn’t unusual. It happens every day, all over social media. Not only can such online “contests” lead to bullying based on one’s appearance by total strangers, but they also feed a girl’s narcissistic supply or cause narcissistic injury, even in non-narcissists (my daughter does not have NPD, but can act very narcissistic). Let’s be honest here–we all have some need for narcissistic supply (positive feedback), especially when we’re still young and unsure of our place in the world.

The teenage and young adult women who participate in these contests learn to value surface attributes such as physical appearance or sexiness above anything else. I see it happening everywhere. Millennial girls seem more obsessed with how cute, sexy or pretty they are than any generation that came before them, and I think this is due to the plethora of reality shows, beauty contests and Facebook photo rankings they are inundated with, as well as the trend for taking as many Selfies or Youtube videos of yourself as you possibly can and posting them for the public to see and comment on. This seems to be a generation with more than its fair share of female somatic narcissists and girls with HPD (histrionic personality disorder).

I can’t keep my daughter from participating in these sort of activities since she’s an adult and she seems to enjoy them (and usually gets a lot of compliments about how pretty she is), but I worry about a “low ranking” (which really wasn’t that bad) like she got yesterday damaging her self esteem (which is shaky to start with) or teaching her to value physical appearance above other qualities like personality, intelligence, or kindness.

Wolves in sheep’s clothing.

wolvesinsheeps

I wrote an article about this issue a while back, but I decided it was time to write about it again because I have seen this sort of thing happen so many times online, including within the ACON community. It’s a real problem for those of us recovering from narcissistic abuse. We are fragile and it’s so hard for us to trust anyone anymore, but we want so much to trust people who have been through similar experiences and connect with them.

The sad news is that you just can’t trust everybody you meet online.

If you’re a member of the narcissistic abuse community and participate in social media groups, blogs or forums intended to help or inform victims of narcissistic abuse, remember you are engaging with a lot of hurting and damaged people. There are people in this community who may themselves have been so damaged by their abusers they developed narcissistic ways of relating to others.

Narcissism is contagious, just like a disease. If a person was raised by narcissists or were in a close relationship with one for any length of time, they can pick up what’s known in the ACON community as “fleas”–narcissistic behaviors that stick to them the way fleas stick to a dog. If the fleas stay around long enough or become severe enough, it’s possible to actually become a narcissist!

Most narcissists aren’t aware they are narcissists. In the narcissistic abuse/ACON communities, there are narcissists who you would think are anything but. Don’t be duped into thinking just because someone’s a victim of abuse and hates their narcs (and narcs in general) with the white hot heat of a thousand suns, that automatically means they aren’t one. They probably don’t even know they are.

Some people who seem holier than thou may have developed full blown narcissism. They appear to be sheep, even though they are actually wolves. Unfortunately it’s hard to tell until you cross them or disagree with them.

Narcissists project onto others traits they hate in themselves. Just because a person was abused and professes to hate narcissists does not mean they are free of their own narcissism, which they deny in themselves but project onto those they disagree with.

In particular, be very careful around anyone who uses religion to intimidate or abuse you or attacks your beliefs. There are many religious people in the ACON community who have turned to Christ after their abuse, and of course there’s nothing wrong with that. But if someone is intolerant of your religious beliefs (or lack thereof) or calls yours a “false religion,” that’s a huge red flag, in my opinion.

god_ego

There are unfortunately people even in this community who either pretend to be victims to exploit people they see as “weak” (I think there aren’t too many of those though, and the ones that are are usually on social media such as Facebook) or actually are victims, but have become narcissistic due to the abuse they endured. (because I am not qualified to diagnose anyone, I cannot say they actually have NPD).

But there are red flags you can be on the lookout for:

— They act “holier than thou” and use religion as an excuse to treat others badly or judge those they disagree with.
— They never seem to get any better.
— They think there is something wrong with you because you are growing and no longer wish to hang onto your rage.
— If they see someone is changing or letting go of anger, they accuse them of betrayal or worse (if they’re religious) say they are being influenced by Satan. Pathological envy? I don’t know. Maybe.
— They use personal information they were given privately against the person they are targeting. They may even state this private information in public against your wishes. Be careful what you tell people unless you know them very well.
— They attack and smear those they disagree with.
— They overreact to slights or criticism.
— They overreact to opinions they don’t agree with. You are not allowed to have a differing opinion.
— They are self righteous and never apologize.
— They talk a lot about empathy but don’t seem to really have any.
— They show no remorse for their hurtful actions.
— They ban or attack people who defend those they disagree with.
— They misquote you, twist your words, and accuse you of saying things you never said. That is gaslighting.
— They are quick to call people they disagree with narcissists or at least make obvious hints to that effect.
— They will introduce a hurtful criticism or a projection of their own narcissism onto you with a phrase such as, “I don’t mean to hurt you, but…” Bullshit they don’t mean to hurt you.
— If you object to this online abuse, they might tell you in a condescending or smarmy way that they are “only trying to help” or are “praying for you.”

level-headed

A non-narcissistic person will not do these things. Yes, they may disagree with you. Disagreement is normal and is to be expected. I certainly don’t expect everyone to agree with everything I write. I’m well aware some of my opinions are controversial and even unpopular. That knowledge won’t stop me from posting them though. But I welcome dissenting opinions, because that can make a discussion more interesting than if everyone agrees with me all the time. There is nothing wrong with a good, healthy debate. I could even learn something from you, and I’ve admitted when I’ve been wrong. Hey, I’m not perfect and never will be.

If there are disagreements, as there will be, a non-narcissist will just say they disagree with you, state their case, and possibly give their reasons why they disagree with you. If they feel especially strongly about an issue, they could stop following you or decide your blog is not one they wish to read or participate in anymore. All of that is fine. It happens. You shouldn’t take it personally if someone is so offended by something you wrote they stop following you or stop commenting. But it should stop there. A normal person will simply move on and not bother with you anymore. A non-narcissist is not going to start a smear campaign against you, talk down to you as if you’re beneath them, call your religion a “false religion,” tell you you’re influenced by the devil, call YOU a narcissist, twist what you said into something you did not say, misrepresent you, or publicly bring up a personal issue you talked to them about in private just to embarrass you.

All of us can behave narcissistically when triggered. I understand that. I do it myself. If you tell someone who has attacked you in a narcissistic way because they were angry, hurt or triggered that their actions upset you, a non-narcissist will be chastened and will apologize or try to make amends in some way. If the person fails to do that, even after they are told how much their actions have hurt you, suspect a narcissist. They don’t have empathy for how you feel. You are not a person to them. They don’t care. You are wrong, they are right, and that’s that.

judgement

The insidious thing about narcissism is it’s those you would least suspect of being narcissists who in fact may be. Sometimes the Internet can feel like a minefield, and you have to be so careful where you step to avoid detonation.

Something happened to me several months ago that was a real wake up call and made me realize how careful we have to be when engaging with people online. There as a woman on Facebook who talked about her relationship with her husband, a man she said was a malignant narcissist. She said she had found a way to make her relationship with him work. Intrigued but skeptical, I sent her a private message asking what she had found out. I also sent her a friend request.

She did not accept my friend request (saying she did not know me well enough) but sent me back a strange private message that said, “I have been wanting to talk to you.” Instead of being alarmed, I was intrigued.

We talked about her “malignant narcissist” husband and the way she “handled” him. The woman’s Facebook posts were always so heartwarming, effusively proclaiming the deep love she had for her husband. She constantly posted pictures of herself with him, along with comments about how much she loved him. I looked at the photos of this guy on her timeline, looking for anything in his face or eyes that would indicate malignant narcissism (they usually have a hard or cold look, or dead, flat eyes). I didn’t see it. If anything, I thought the guy looked weak and even a little scared. In fact, his face and body language screamed codependent. The woman always wore a huge smile, but something in those photos suggested a predator “possessing” their prey. Yes, she was larger than he, but there seemed to be a look on her face that said, “he’s mine. I can do what I want with him.”

victim_abuser

I should have smelled a rat. Instead, I thought, “what a wonderful woman, who loves her husband that much in spite of his disorder.” We had several more conversations. Eventually I told her too much about myself. I told her about my psychopathic ex-husband, and how much I envied her for being able to “make things work” with her husband, but that what she did would have never worked for me because my ex was a psychopath and didn’t have enough self awareness to be able to “work with me” on controlling his narcissistic and abusive behaviors.

Shortly after divulging my own situation, I received a puzzling and upsetting private message from her. I won’t quote it here, because it was too long and I no longer have it anyway. It was a very nasty message. In a condescending, insulting way, she had the gall to let me know that my ex couldn’t have been a psychopath (really? did she know him personally?) She said, “I don’t mean to hurt you or anything, but frankly, there is something about you that is a little “off.” That hurt a lot, but was also a huge red flag. She continued, saying that she suspected I was actually the narcissist in our relationship. Oh, really? Was she a fly on the wall during our marriage? Did she have some God-like omnicience to be able to “know” all this about a person she barely knew? Then she ended her long diatribe saying that “prayer is not going to help you” and “I am trying to help you see the truth about yourself.” It was one of the nastiest messages I’ve ever received, and it was sent under the guise of “being helpful.” I could have received more “help” from a serpent.

monsters-nietzsche

The next day I got two private messages from two of my Facebook friends informing me this woman had PM’d them and told them that I was crazy and to stay away from me. The bitch was gaslighting me and triangulating against me, attempting to turn my friends into flying monkeys! I promptly blocked this woman and later found out she had done this to several other women who she envied for one reason or another. It dawned on me that she had been projecting her own malignant narcissism onto her husband, who I am sure was the real victim in their relationship. It explained the possessive, predatory way she had posed with him in their photos. It explained everything.

I want way too much to trust people in this community because so many people have experienced the same type of abuse that I have, some less so and some more. It’s natural to feel like you’ve found a haven of like-minded people who are your friends by default because of their similar stories. You simply don’t want to believe there may be wolves in sheep’s clothing lurking within the community who may have suffered devastating abuse but have actually turned to narcissism as a way to cope with what happened to them. When you realize this, it can come as a shock and you feel so horribly betrayed. You begin to wonder if anyone can be trusted.

Yes, there are people you can trust but online, as in any other community, you have to be careful. Don’t assume someone isn’t a narcissist just because they are anti-narcissist, have a blog for survivors of abuse, or have a sad abuse story of their own. That doesn’t really mean anything. Use the person’s actions and behavior–and your own intuition–as your guide. If someone makes you feel like you always have to be careful what you say around them, if they intimidate you or make you feel like you’re walking on eggshells, proceed with extreme caution. Even if they’ve shown no narcissistic behaviors (yet), be watchful and vigilant. Don’t ever give personal information to anyone you don’t know extremely well.

The Internet is a wonderful resource for abuse survivors, but remember there are wolves in sheep’s clothing online too. Please be careful.

The dumbing down of the Internet

google
Even Bart Simpson knows what’s going on.

Up until 9/11 and its aftermath, and especially since the twin-monster births of Facebook and Twitter (and their older retarded brother MySpace), the Internet was like being set loose in New York City during the 1970s and 1980s or Paris during the 1920s and 1930s.

Ever since Facebook, Twitter and other major corporate-run websites came along and steamrolled the entire web, visiting the Internet is more like taking tours of the world’s most depressing slums with weekends spent in Disneyland.

Social Media – I am not impressed

Opinionated Man’s thoughts about bloggers getting too full of themselves and failing to keep things real. This is great advice for all of us who blog.

Why this blog is becoming successful and how yours can too.

grow

The beginning: Taking that first, scary leap of faith.

When I started this blog in September, my intention wasn’t to have a “successful” blog. My initial aim (and still my primary aim!) was to heal myself from PTSD, severe anxiety and depression caused by many years of victimization by narcissists. The healing isn’t finished yet, and probably never will be completely.

Deciding to make my personal diary a public spectacle seems rather narcissistic, but my reasoning for doing this was (a) as an alternative to traditional psychotherapy, which I could not afford (and still can’t afford); and (b) my belief that complete honesty on the Internet with complete strangers was the key to my healing and overcoming my many fears, especially my fears of social interaction.

It’s a lot like that first venture into the deep end of a swimming pool. At first you’re scared to death, but soon no one can keep you away from it!

deep_end

So far, it’s working. I can honestly say these past five and a half months have proven to be the best therapy I ever had. Yes, putting my heart and soul and vulnerability out there on the web was incredibly scary at first, and I hesitated much about posting some things about my past (and still do sometimes), but I went ahead and did it anyway, then held my breath and waited for the psychopaths, bullies and trolls to descend on this blog like the wicked witch’s flying monkeys descended on Dorothy and her friends in The Wizard of Oz.

That never happened. The few trolls are easily controlled–I just don’t approve their comments. I guess I’ve been lucky: there’s only been about two on this blog so far. I learned not to take what they say personally. I’ve already been the victim of Internet bullying, and feel that with my own blog, I have a lot more control and I know how to handle the bullies and trolls.

My first mentors.

The word Mentor in magazine letters on a notice board

Early in my blogging experience, I was fortunate enough to have three very different people from completely different backgrounds help me obtain more visibility. These people were my first mentors, before I learned the ropes of blogging or how to get it seen.

As a brand new blogger and a person not known for being patient, when my first week passed and I had a measly 12 followers, and was getting practically no likes or comments after slaving away for hours on a post that was painful to write, I expressed my frustration in this post (which is still one of my most popular). I couldn’t lie anymore–although I started this blog as an online journal, dammit, I wanted people to actually read my thoughts! Opinionated Man, known for his kindness to newbies, reblogged that post on his blog HarsH ReaLiTy the next day, and I spent the entire weekend fielding so many comments and new followers that I never had a chance to do my laundry or go grocery shopping!

I consider that my first big win, or maybe my second. My next big win was writing an article about “I, Psychopath,” Ian Walker’s documentary about Sam Vaknin, and that attracted the attention of Sam himself (who admitted he found the article by Googling himself!) For awhile he was sharing every article I wrote about him (and I kept writing more not only because of my interest in him, but I have to admit, to keep my momentum going, since every article I’ve written about him has become wildly popular, even if not shared by Sam himself.) He’s been doing less sharing of my articles and that’s perfectly alright, because now I know how to build my own momentum.

My third big win (but really my first) was Fivehundredpoundpeep’s wonderful blog. Prior to starting this blog, I’d been reading hers religiously and was astonished how much I could relate to this woman, who is an Aspie like myself abused by a truly evil family of narcs (even more so than my own). I added her blog to my blogroll and started commenting on her posts and soon this was a mutually beneficial arrangement where she added my blog to her blogroll (and hers is a pretty popular blog).

All these things have helped my visibility enormously. OM reblogging several later articles has helped too, as well as taking advantage of his regular invitations for bloggers to “pimp their blog” on his website.

Getting over my fear of social media.

facebook_fear
Would I really sell my soul to this devil? Well…yes.

Even with all these fortuitous events, I was still terrified of sharing my articles on social media, Facebook in particular, because of my fear of my FOO (family of origin) and other people from my past I prefer to keep a distance from finding this blog. There’s only so much visibility you can attain through the help of others. To become really successful and for your blog posts to move up to the top of search engines, you can’t rely on other people to do all your disseminating work for you. Eventually you will need to promote your blog yourself, and that doesn’t take into account just writing posts people want to read (which I will get to in a minute).

I didn’t have too much of a problem sharing my posts on Twitter or Stumble Upon, since none of my FOO use those services (except my son, who’s a Twitterholic), but ignoring Facebook is a bad idea for a blogger who wants to grow their visibility and have a successful blog. So I held my nose and first signed up for a LinkedIn account, which seemed less “dangerous” than Facebook. A few weeks later, I finally threw in the proverbial towel and decided to start sharing my articles on Facebook too, even though I use my actual name there instead of my psuedonym, as I do here.

At first nothing much happened. But soon I found I was friending and following people on both Facebook and Twitter who may be interested in a blog like mine. I started paying attention to the “who to follow” section, which always annoyed me before. I followed or friended a number of groups and organizations too that were relevant to the subject matter I write about. By following organizations and groups, you get a lot of new people at once seeing your shares instead of just one person at a time.

Within the past two weeks, my Twitter followers have increased from about 80 to about 130. Every time I sign into Twitter now, I have more followers. That was never the case before.

I’m still wary about Facebook, but I’ve noticed my posts always get the most shares on that site (sometimes in the double digits), so I make sure to “like” relevant groups and organizations, as well as friending a lot of individuals in the narcissistic abuse community.

I recently was able to start running ads on this blog because my traffic was sufficient to do so. I doubt I’ll ever become rich with this blog, but I may earn a bit of pocket money anyway. I sure would love to earn enough to be able to quit my day job, but that’s probably more likely to come from writing a book at some point and selling it on Amazon than it is from this little blog. But that’s okay. Things are happening at the rate they’re supposed to, and not before I’m ready.

Reaping the harvest.

harvest

Due to my becoming far bolder about sharing this blog on social media, it’s been attracting attention from professionals and other people I’m surprised found it. Last week I posted a video of Christian singer-songwriter Danny Gokey’s hit “Hope in Front of Me” and I got a direct message from him on Twitter thanking me for doing that. I got a thank you and several retweets from film director Eric Casaccio, the maker of the upcoming movie, “Narcissist.” I have received a private email from two academic researchers from the University of Georgia who asked me to link to their survey about parental narcissism on this blog. I was more than happy to help them with that project. (The survey is still open and the link to it is in the sidebar; the deadline for that is February 28th). I’ve also been asked to review a new book for abuse survivors and am currently working on that too.

In the past week, my followers have increased by more than 100, and this doesn’t include random readers who are not following my blog at all. As OM says, it’s not about how many followers you have or how many “likes” you get, it’s about how many hits you get. Several of my articles are now on Page One of Google. Other search engines are appearing in my stats now too, including obscure ones and AOL (does anyone actually use AOL anymore?) This is all kind of shocking to me, but the more stuff you have appearing at or near the top of search engines, the more hits you will get. It’s a self-perpetuating mechanism.

All this may sound like bragging, and it probably is. I can’t become too narcissistic about all this as vanity is one of my character flaws. I still have a long way to go. I still have a lot of healing to do, and healing is still–and always will be–the main focus of this blog.

The best reward of all.

help_yourself

More encouraging and exciting than anything else, though, are when I get emails or comments from abuse survivors who tell me this blog or my story of abuse has helped them. I used to feel so incompetent and useless in the world, so testimonials from people who tell me they feel less hopeless and broken because of something I wrote feels like winning the lottery. Better than winning the lottery. It makes me feel like I have a purpose, that I wasn’t put in this world just to be narcissistic supply to others. I used to actually believe I was put on this earth as an example to others of how not to be.

God, how wrong I was about that. If you feel that way and you are emmeshed with a malignant narcissist or psychopath, you have been trained to believe you are nothing and can offer nothing good or useful to the world. Please believe me, that is wrong. Your abusers are projecting their own self-hatred and worthless feelings onto you.

Tips on writing a blog people want to read.

blog_tips

Besides taking that leap of faith to finally promote my blog and share articles on social media (and getting a lot of help from others, especially in the beginning), if you want to grow your blog there are several other things you really need to do:

–Include ALL the social media buttons under every article. Even if you don’t use them (but you should), others will. That will help your visibility even if you don’t promote yourself.

–You don’t have to be a Shakespeare or a Poe or have great writing ability. If you know how to string together a few sentences and have halfway decent grammar (grammar and spell check will help), you can still write a blog post people want to read. The key is to make it conversational and personal. Don’t overload the reader with too many facts or pedantic language. And always, ALWAYS be honest. People can tell when you’re lying or leaving out pertinent information. They will finish reading your article feeling unsatisfied and cheated and may never return.

–Use graphics for long posts to break it up. No one wants to read a wall of text, no matter how well written it is. Pictures are easy to find on Google images–just type in a phrase that describes what you’re looking for, or even use pictures you took yourself. Quotes and block quotes work well too at breaking up walls of text, and never be afraid to use humor!

–If your blog focuses on one or two subjects as this one does, it’s okay to add in an occasional article or post about something unrelated. In fact, I think it makes your blog fresher and more interesting. Another benefit of posting unrelated material is that you will attract readers who may not otherwise be reading your blog. I have had a number of foodies and furries reading this blog (and even following it in a few cases) because of articles I wrote about those subjects. It helps to be versatile, but be careful not to lose your original focus.

–If your blog is about a serious or dark subject (as mine is), watch the negativity. People won’t feel helped if all you do is complain or act pessimistic. It’s great to be honest, but people want to feel like you’re giving them some hope for their hopeless situation too. That’s why I include inspirational memes and quotes, happy or cute photographs, cartoons, jokes, and lots of music. (Music has been major in my healing, second only to writing). Sometimes I find that if I post something positive even when I’m feeling like I want to jump out a 16th floor window (it happens more often than you think!), it actually improves my own mood.

–Make sure you post frequently. You don’t have to go crazy like me and post 3-5 new posts a day, but if you publish one post per day, that’s enough to keep readers interested. If you can’t think of anything to write about (and I do have those days), sometimes just a funny cartoon, inspirational meme or pretty photograph with one or two sentences will do. There’s nothing that will kill a blog faster than abandoning it. If you don’t appear to care, your readers will go somewhere else.

–Use as many links as possible in your articles. Doing this will create a pingback or a trackback: Blogs you link to will see the pingback and in return, will most likely follow your blog and recommend it to others.

–Link to your own articles too. Doing this not only adds depth and background to your article, but it also encourages readers to not stop with the article they’re reading–they might click on your links and read your other articles too!

–If you have the time, comment on or at least “like” posts by other bloggers. Follow as many other bloggers as you can, too. Most people are polite so most likely they’ll follow you back.

–Unless you are in a situation where you have potentially dangerous people stalking you on the Web, never, ever, EVER require people to sign in to read your blog. I know if I see a blog that requires me to sign in or use a password to read posts, I’ll bypass that blog, even if it’s about a topic I’m jumping out of my skin to read about.

–Probably most important of all: always reply to your comments! It might seem like a chore, but if you fail to reply to your comments, your readers will think you’re ignoring them and no one likes to be ignored. I also don’t understand why some people don’t allow comments. Interaction is necessary for a blog to be active and dynamic. Replying to comments will keep your readers around and make you seem like you care about them.

There’s a lot of other blogging advice that’s more technical than what I have offered here, and I don’t consider myself any kind of expert on how to run a successful blog. I’m nowhere near OM’s level of viewership and probably never will be, and that’s okay. Besides all the above things I suggested to improve your visibility and readership, I strongly suggest adopting his blog HarsH ReaLiTy as your blogging bible–and in return he just might reblog something you posted!

For more about increasing readership and popularity of your blog, see this article (told from an earlier–and more humorous–POV–I wrote it in early December): https://luckyottershaven.com/2014/12/08/this-blog-is-growing-yours-can-too/

When my worlds collide.

Worlds_Collide___Phaeton___by_Meckie
Worlds Collide-Phaeton: by Meckie at Deviantart.com

I have lived in several different online worlds at different times of my life, each as remote from each other as the Milky Way is from The Great Magellanic Cloud. They may even inhabit different cyber-universes. But on Facebook, these universes have a disturbing and slightly eerie way of all melding together into a single, writhing, freaky ass clusterf*ck.

I recently became somewhat active on Facebook again, even though I really can’t stand it. This happened because I decided to start linking my blog posts there (it does help visibility), and, well, you start poking around looking at stuff and before you know it, you’re updating your status and talking to people who want to comment about your updates.

One thing that always happens that drives me insane, but is really sort of cool when you think about it, is when people from different areas of my life start conversing because they’re both my Facebook friends and they both wind up commenting about something I posted.

My friend Kevin, from a political/history forum I used to be active on (the site has become pretty much overrun by trolls but has a FB page now) got into a heated debate with another friend of mine I just met because she’s active on Sam Vaknin’s page. They got into a discussion over the religious implications of malignant narcissism and whether or not Vaknin would be saved by the Holy Spirit. It was an interesting if somewhat strange conversation. I got a kind of odd thrill from seeing two people from completely different compartments/timeframes of my online life get to know each other on my wall.

Okay, I admit it. It’s cool as hell.

I always wondered about the freakiness of my worlds colliding. When different areas of my life–or different times–somehow “meet” it’s very freaky. They don’t belong together.

This reminds me of when I was about 4. I was in the grocery store with my mother, and suddenly a woman appeared with a cart of groceries and started speaking to my mom…she was MY TEACHER and I started crying because it scared me because THE GROCERY STORE was where you bought GROCERIES and the TEACHER BELONGED IN SCHOOL so what in the name of all that is holy was my teacher doing in the GROCERY STORE?
It’s a little like that, but not scary or upsetting, because I’m not 4…..but its still weird.

That’s one of the reasons why Facebook scares me. It makes me wary and inhibited about posting ir some things or sharing certain blog posts there. There’s some topics I like to keep separate from people who inhabit one of my other universes. Why that is, I can’t explain. I don’t know myself well enough to explain why I have this strange neurosis about my worlds touching. Is this some bizarro world cyberspace version of a kid who freaks out because the gravy on their plate is touching their peas?

mixing_them

Most disturbing (but really just more annoying) of all is constantly seeing updates from old coworkers I lost contact with years ago and having friends I don’t recognize because I can’t remember why I added them or where I knew them from. Also many members of my FOO post on FB too but I have quietly defriended most of them. I HATE mixing my IRL life with my online one.

7 science-based reasons to use emoticons

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I thought this article by Courtney Seiter was pretty interesting.

7 Science Based Reasons to Use Emoticons
By Courtney Seiter

Do you remember seeing your first emoticon?

The first documented use of “:-)” dates back to 1982, when Scott Fahlman proposed that it be used as a “joke marker” on a message board for Carnegie Mellon University computer scientists. Here’s his Internet-changing message:

“I propose that the following character sequence for joke markers:

“:-)”
Read it sideways.”
Today, emoticons need a bit less explanation. As social media has grown (and character counts have shrunk), these pictorial representations of feelings are playing a significant role in communication.

If you’re still not sure whether emoticons are a good fit for your brand’s social media voice and tone, we’ve gathered up seven real-deal scientific studies that say using emoticons can make you appear friendlier, grow your popularity on social media, and even make you happier offline!

I’m feeling 🙂 already…

7 reasons to use emoticons

1. They make you more popular on social media

An analysis of more than 31 million tweets and half a million Facebook posts uncovered the fact that positive emoticons can be a social media status marker.

Simo Tchokni of the University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory and her colleagues used various metrics such as number of followers and Klout score to determine the traits of influential social media sharers—and emoticons were a common factor.

“The emoticon features achieved high performance, suggesting that there is a strong link between emoticon use and social power. Powerful users tend to use emoticons often and high Klout is strongly associated with positive emoticons,” the study concluded.

2. We react to them like we would real human face

If you ever wish you could reach out and talk to your followers and fans face-to-face, here’s some good news: An emoticon might be the next best thing!

Scientists have discovered that when we look at a smiley face online, the same very specific parts of the brain are activated as when we look at a real human face.

A caveat: This only works in the left-to-right format. In other words, humans now read “:-)” the same way as a human face, but not “(-:”.

“Emoticons are a new form of language that we’re producing, and to decode that language we’ve produced a new pattern of brain activity,” researcher Dr. Owen Churches, from the school of psychology at Flinders University in Adelaide, told ABC Science.

Why might this make a difference when it comes to social media and marketing? Because human faces are particularly effective attention-grabbing mechanisms.

“Most of us pay more attention to faces than we do to anything else,” says Churches, who has been studying the neuroscience of face perception for years. “We know experimentally that people respond differently to faces than they do to other object categories.”

3. They’re OK even in business settings!

You might have heard that emoticons aren’t so professional for workplace communication. That might still be true in some industries, but more and more smiley faces are entering work emails—and the science shows that no one really seems to mind.

A University of Missouri-St. Louis study wanted to test how people perceive smiley faces in a work email as compared to a social email. Researchers sent two types of email messages to a group—one a flirtatious message, another extending a job interview request—and added emoticons to some of each.

The researchers discovered that the smiley faces in both types of fictional emails made the recipient like the sender more and feel that the sender liked them more. Even in the work oriented mail, the sender’s credibility wasn’t affected by the emoticons—even when they used 4!

Emoticons in work emails

“In a task-oriented context, where impersonal, cold, and unsociable features of computer-mediated communication are strongly encouraged in order to build credibility or professionalism, using emoticons in e-mail might create a positive expectancy violation by being friendly, emotional, and personal,” the study concluded.

4. They soften the blow of a critique

Got a critique or some feedback to share? Emoticons can lend a hand.

Studies on workplace communication show that when specific, negative feedback from a superior comes with positive emoticons, employees are more likely to feel good about the message and more likely to make the changes asked of them.

“Our results suggest that using liking emoticons increases perceived good intention of the feedback provider and decreases perceived feedback negativity when the feedback is specific.”

It’s worth noting that using disliking, or negative, emoticons had the opposite effect in some cases.

emoticons2

5. They make you appear more friendly and competent

Want to look smarter and more approachable online? Emoticons could be the answer.

In a study that had participants chat online with “health experts” and “film experts” who either used or avoided emoticons, the participants rated the experts in both topics friendlier and more competent when they communicated with emoticons.

This study also noted an awesome side benefit to emoticons: It might help you remember what you’ve read more easily! The study authors write:

It appears that the presence of emoticons affects cognition as well, because participants’ scores on memory for chat content were significantly higher in the “emoticons present” condition than in the “emoticons absent” condition.

6. They create a happier workplace

Researchers have long known about the negativity effect in email, which is the phenomenon that a recipient is likely to perceive an email as more negative than the email sender intended. Since we don’t get the chance to share facial expressions and other nonverbal cues in our emails, they can sometimes be tougher to interpret.

But emoticons might be able to help.

In a 2013 study, 152 professionals read an email message both with and without smiley emoticons that were part of a fictional workplace situation.

Example Message:

I can’t make the meeting you scheduled because it conflicts with my staff meeting. Email me and let me know what I missed.

vs.

I can’t make the meeting you scheduled because it conflicts with my staff meeting. Email me and let me know what I missed. 🙂

When they were questioned about what they read, the results showed that emoticons reduced the negativity effect in the business-related email messages—the same message sounded less negative when paired with a positive (smiley) emoticon.

“The findings suggest that these symbolic emotional cues help “clue in” the recipient towards a particular emotion (in this study, the smiley face emoticon represented a more positive tone), thereby clarifying the intentions of the sender,” the study’s authors write.

They added that emoticons could help employees in remote locations more accurately “read” the emotional content of a message and could help mitigate cyber aggression and conflict over email by clarifying messages and giving the conversation a more “light-hearted” tone.

7. They correlate with real-life happiness

One last reason to consider adding emoticons to your vocabulary? They might just make you happy!

A 2008 study found that emoticon users experience a “positive effect on enjoyment, personal interaction, perceived information richness, and perceived usefulness.”

The study added that emoticons are “not just enjoyable to use, but also a valuable addition to communication methods.”