Social Media Offenders: Crime and Punishment

They follow you on Twitter and then as soon as you follow back…Poof! They’re gone like that blond girl from I Dream of Genie. Why do they do that? The old follow and then unfollow trick is probably the world’s number one social media offense.

Just for the sake of venting a little steam, Rachel has allowed me to write this guest post where I indulge my fantasy of a world where social media offenders get what they deserve and get rehabilitated. These offenses are not unique to writers, but it’s geared toward the bad things they do most.

Warning: Don’t worry if you find you’re guilty of one of these social media offenses, the facilities are quite nice and I’ll be your guard for the evening.

Crime: Asks everyone to “like” them

You contact them about this interesting tweet they posted two minutes ago and… what’s that? Could you like their fan page on Facebook? And you will, because you’re nice like that, but first you need to know their name.

All the talk about engagement on social media steams from this single issue. None of these offender’s fans know who they are. The rest aren’t even real people. They were created by software developed in India and bought for five dollars.

Doesn’t everyone know that desperation has it’s own unique odor that is so offensive, it even transmits digitally? Yeah, that’s right. We can smell a fraud half way around the globe. Even if we like you, we don’t like you like you.

Punishment: Six-month restricted Internet use: dial-up access only on a desktop computer with a 3” mouse that only runs on a special 2”x2” pad.

Crime: Assumes everyone is his or her fan

Much more serious is the offender who responds to your casual message about their recent post by assuming you are their worshipful fan. They pelt you with hype about their latest work and in the process ignore why you contacted them.

Yes, I’m glad to hear that your book Twenty-three Chapters to Nowhere is being released next month by One Man With a Computer Press, but I won your free drawing for a Kindle Fire and I was wondering when it might be delivered.

Punishment: Every profile image on their social media accounts replaced by a grainy image of a bowl of dried pasta for no less than a duration of two years.

Crime: Spamming I and Spamming II

People don’t have to be a bot to spam. They just have to lack respect for anyone who follows them online. At the first level, spamming is just over-promotion. You get too many posts that link to their work for sale somewhere else and they almost never interact with their followers.

Punishment: Spam. Spam. Spam. For one entire week, the offender gets spam from mass marketers promoting spamming software and spam the carefully processed luncheon meat-like substance. They even have to eat spam shaped like an exclamation point for every meal while reading the contents of their email spam folder.

On the next level, is serious spam. It’s spam that violates your trust. They found your address when you both attended a workshop and added you to a mass-emailing list. What they called “opportunities,” you politely tell them is spam. But careful. These spammers may be in denial of their problem and can be dangerous.

One time I asked to be removed from an emailing mailing list, a woman contacted me and insisted her spam was good spam that I should want it. I promptly blocked her. She turned around and signed me up for every mass- mailing list she could find and informed a mutual friend about her “revenge.” Jokes on me now, right? Now, I know what real spam is.

Punishment: Psychiatric care. I’m not a heartless social media prison warden, but I will be serving offenders an all spam menu while they’re in intensive anti-spamming therapy working through their denial.

Not all social media offenses come from over-promotion though. Some offenders are shy individuals with self-esteem issues who are misrepresenting themselves.

Crime: Never tells followers what they are writing

I follow lots of authors on social media, but I have no idea what most of them write. Is it a secret? I know they don’t want to spam me and I respect them for it, but they called themselves a writer in their profile. We added each other, believing we had that in common and now they’re only willing to talk about their kids. I didn’t follow a mom. I followed a writer.

These writers are often prone to saying, when I ask about their work, that I wouldn’t like it and I can’t see it. It’s the opposite problem from assuming everyone is their fan. They’re assuming they know what I like and it won’t be them. Give me a chance? No? Fine, we’ll move on to the punishment.

Punishment: Participate in ten poetry readings or…change your profile. And if they don’t write poetry? They can read their text message inbox.

Doesn’t fit the crime? Sorry. I’m actually quite sympathic toward bashful writers, but I also understand that shy plus low self-esteem plus a computer often equals profile images of people’s pets or children and if I was actually following their toddler or your Labrador via social media…yeah. See what I mean?

As author Mariam Korbas says, she’s a writer, not a model. When I’m looking for writers to read, I just want entertainment and in this era of social media where everyone is trying to be popular like we’re all at some giant digital high school talent show assembly, I find myself more and more attracted to people with the confidence to be themselves.

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