Friday, May 22, 2015
A popular Instagram #hashtag these days is #nofilter, indicating that the beauty captured by the photographer in the posted photo is completely natural, without any augmentation by the application's supplied "filters" for editing. The #nofilter means that, in contrast with other doctored photos on the site, the photo bearing this hashtag is more worthy of awe.
I find it amusing to ponder another meaning of "no filter": the meaning applied to people who have no sense of what NOT to share in public. Wouldn't it be appropriate to add #nofilter to the comments sections of posts on Facebook, Tumbler, and Twitter in which people post excessively intimate confessions, hateful rants, sexually explicit photos, grossly descriptive medical information, and mean-spirited gossip? And to be sure that the hashtag's non-photographic meaning is understood, an accompanying hashtag could appear: #TMI (for Too Much Information). Instead of cringing as we read lengthy posts featuring someone's blow-by-blow bout of gastrointestinal problems, recollections of extreme familial dysfunction, or bigoted diatribes tantamount to verbal hate crimes, we would simply add to the comments section #nofilter to alert the post-writer to the fact they he/she has offended us. In this way, offended folks could avoid further pollution of the internet with their own unfiltered retorts to TMI, as well as avoid prematurely"unfriending" someone before giving the offender a chance to reform via a polite hashtag reminder.
Just a whimsical thought for the day...
If you leave me a #nofilter message in the comments section, I'll consider self-editing for the future! (;
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
New to the Twitter world, I have taken on this social media platform warily, even disdainfully at first, considering it a vacuous "Look-at-me!" exercise. But at a recent writers' conference, I kept hearing about how important tweeting is to drive people to read more from you if you hooked them with your cleverness. "That's how you get people to visit your website, read your blogs, know your name," claimed the presenters. So I signed up, and then studied tweet patterns like a birdwatcher, noting whose tweets turned my gaze to them, which inspired me to tweet back, and which of my new flock bore bands that showed they're being tracked.
I found out it's a game. First, it's about who can make the best move in 140 characters, catching the eyes of followers and inspiring them to retweet a post; second, who can be consistently clever, snagging the top branch of the Twitter feed at just the right time for maximum exposure; and third, who can achieve the highest number of followers, without following more than follow him/her ("Mom, you never want to be following more people than follow you," advised my daughter, a more experienced player. "AND you should follow people who follow you if their posts interest you and they have a lot of their own followers, because they might retweet you to their people. See?") Yes, it's definitely a game. A game with rules that reveal themselves as you play. A game that makes me nervous about the etiquette that seems to underly it (regarding who to follow or unfollow), and makes me hesitate to type something for unknown eyes that might mislabel me and end up on "my permanent record." Yes, I feel like I'm back in elementary school, tweeting hesitantly and hoping others like me.
Aside from the realization that the Twitter game requires strategy, I notice something else that has to do with its worth to writers: forced conciseness. Like a poetic structure, a tweet must use hashtags sparingly--I still haven't quite figured out how to use them!--leaving room for the strongest possible words. I find myself cutting down tweets to fit the 140 character limit, substituting words for shorter synonyms, and paying more attention to word choices than I have to do on Facebook. It's like the difference between poetry and prose. I advocate that all writers practice writing poetry to tighten their prose. Now I'm advocating that writers use Twitter not just as "Look-at-me-and-follow-me" tool, but as an exercise in the economy of words!
And now I'm off to tweet an interesting observation that just occurred outside my window. Curious? Come follow me on Twitter: @sllipson.