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Preparing for the social media maelstrom

913 hits Updated: 02 October 2019 Blog
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How to prepare yourself for the social media storm that is Twitter

If your enemy is secure at all points, be prepared for him.  If he is in superior strength, evade him.  If your opponent is temperamental, seek to irritate him.  Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant.  If he is taking his ease, give him no rest.  If his forces are united, separate them.  If sovereign and subject are in accord, put division between them.  Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected.Sun Tzu, “The Art of War”, 5th century BC

Do not be deceived—social media is a battlefieldWhen I created my first website on the internet, some twenty-plus years ago, it was a fairly nerve-racking experience.  I had dabbled with HTML and Javascript for a couple of years before that but I knew nothing about cross-browser capable websites or CSS or all the other features we take for granted these days, and this internet thing was a whole new experience.  Suddenly my work would be on show for thousands, if not tens of thousands, of people to seeI still have a copy of my first website stored on a CD somewhere..

Over time, as I practised my webcraft, I became more confident and adventurous—exploring the opportunities of DHTML, client-server applications, etc.—and, by the time I left the workforce, I was in a good position to use my experience … perhaps to make some spare change.  Who knows?

My first experiments with Joomla! were a shambles.  I must have created forty or more test websites before I came to terms with it.  I spent entire days just reading:  books, online tutorials, forum discussions, anything I could lay my hands on.  Fortunately, I stumbled onto a group of people who were willing to offer me their help and things just snowballed from that.

It’s probably no surprise that, for the first few years of my involvement with Joomla!, I really had no sense of purpose about what I could do with it in my retirement years.

As nerve-racking as it is to put yourself “out there”—spending whole weeks or months preparing for the journey into the unknown—Twitter comes along and it's life-or-death in 280 characters

If my “expertise” in webcraft is as good as I think it is, my expertise at Twitter could be compared to a drunken sailor trying to dance without falling flat on his face.  You can read all the books, watch hours of online tutorials, ask questions in forums and talk to your friends, but nothing can prepare you for the battlefield of social media.

For someone like me who thinks a lot about how to compose what I write, when you press that “tweet” button at the end of your 280 characters, there’s no going back.  If you’re fortunate enough for someone to reply, that’s a start, but if the reply is disparagingly re-echoed and amplified around the Twittersphere it’s almost enough to make you consider committing “social media suicide”.

It’s the “luck of the draw”.  As good as I might consider myself to be in writing several hundred words of prose, it’s really easy to make a complete fool of oneself in 280 characters.  I know that I’m only a clown fish taking baby-steps in the great big ocean, and there are many dangers lurking in the deep from bigger fish who have 56.5K tweets to their name.  It’s not like when I first started using Joomla!, when I was lucky enough to find a group of friendly people who graciously offered their help.  Twitter creatures can be mean and savage and they don’t take kindly to little fish, like me, polluting their ocean with a half-dozen clumsily-worded tweets.  Perhaps they could be more tolerant of newcomers?

It takes courage, persistence and belief in oneself to persevere in spite of the odds.  I’ve made a start—I’ll have more to say in my next article—and I’ve tried to correct my mistakes.  Time will tell.  I hope that time will be kind.

About the author:

is a website hobbyist specialising in Joomla, a former member of the Kunena project for more than 8 years, and an active contributor on The Joomla Forum™. The opinions expressed in this article are entirely those of the author. View his profile here.

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