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What better way to express a great big THANK YOU! than through a blog post dedicated to my fellow writers, bloggers and friends!

I’ll be perfectly honest – I haven’t had the greatest relationship with social media from the start.

The first account I ever opened was through Facebook back in 2009. I was a lonely college student, with a 40 minute commute to campus six days a week. Being a commuter student may have a benefit or two. You don’t have the additional expense of campus housing, atop of all your other college expenses. Nor do you have the room mate concerns, or feeling like you don’t have a moment for yourself.

Discouraging Beginnings

So perhaps you have a little more freedom with your self time, and a little less student loan debt, as a commuter. However, it really sucks when it comes to nurturing a brand new social life beyond high school. Getting involved on campus was something I tried to do to the best of my ability. But it was physically and emotionally taxing. There were days where I drove home after my morning-early afternoon classes, only to leave again around 5 or 6 pm. Heading right back to campus via the highway to be there for evening theater practices, meetings, or whatever else.

What was most frustrating to me was that despite my putting my best foot forward, I still struggled with making friends. The college I went to was a small, private, predominantly-women’s Catholic school. I remember a lot of the resident students complaining about how dull campus life was. The lack of ‘great parties’. So many of them wanting to get off-campus housing. But there was still a kindred connection that a lot of them shared as ‘traditional students’. No matter how much I wanted it at times, it was something I couldn’t get.

I certainly wasn’t the only non-traditional commuter student. There were many others like me, but even THEY were hard to make any connections with. A lot of them were mainly there to complete their degree programs for occupational advancement. My education was important to me, yes. But I wanted more than anything just to make friends. So I felt understandably stuck regarding my lack of a social life.

Facebook First Timer

This was what led me to Facebook – quite apprehensively. I’d heard so many negative stories about it. Trolling. Cyber bullying. And I dreaded putting myself out there on the internet in any way, shape or form. But I wanted to believe that perhaps I could strengthen my acquaintance-like connections with some of the women in my classes through Facebook. Maybe this was the way to foster friendships more successfully…

So I made a few ‘Friends’ with some of the people I was familiar with. I got to know the basics of how this popular social media platform worked. But I soon discovered that Facebook was actually making me feel worse than I’d felt in the first place. Why was it that I was initiating all the contact, but nobody seemed to be reciprocating? I thought these people were my friends. Why were my posts going unnoticed?

As I was already in a super vulnerable place, mentally and emotionally, this was just another brutal kick to my self-esteem. It hurt looking at everyone else’s lively profiles; with all their comments, likes and happy pictures. Everyone out there had a fulfilling social life. All except me. This was something I fell even further into the trap of believing. Soon after graduating, I closed my Facebook account. There were only two other attempts I made with Facebook in my post-college years. And just like my first experience, they both left me feeling terrible about myself.

A New Platform, A New Opportunity

For many years, I was of this belief that every social media outlet was the same. All about numbers. Fickle connections. Fostering a sense of inadequacy through comparing oneself to the rest of the world. My experiences with Facebook actually left me unwilling to even try anything else. I couldn’t understand why some of my current-day friends were so successful in the virtual world. Why they rave about how great Facebook is. Maybe they just have more friends in their everyday life that they connect with online. Who knows?

The turning point for me happened when I started my blog, All Things H.L. Chen, earlier this year. Being a new blogger, and still kind of virtually-inept, I began researching ways to get my content out there. In particular, ways which wouldn’t require Facebook. It was then that I discovered Twitter, and the Twitter Writing Community. Establishing this new social media account was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Not only have I been able to make some wonderful connections with countless fellow writers and bloggers, but the limiting beliefs I had about social media as a whole have changed for the better.

I learned so many valuable things from one of the Community’s more well-known members, Emma Lombard (@LombardEmma), that I wish I’d known all those years ago when I first started out on social media. One of the biggest issues that I didn’t understand, until fairly recently, involves algorithms. Because I’m not the most tech-savvy (at the moment, I’ll say), I’d recommend clicking on the hyperlink for a better explanation. Basically, there was more of a technical reason than anything else for why I wasn’t getting the responses I was expecting. It was never me, personally.

Twitter for Writers and Bloggers

The Writing Community is a great, supportive place for writers of all kinds. Whether you’re an author, a blogger, a poet, or you just love writing in general, I can’t recommend this place highly enough. Long-time ‘Twitterers’, or those like me who recently joined, can all share a generally welcoming space where we’re free to put our work out there into the world. I say ‘generally’ because – as with all social media platforms – you’re going to come across some unsavory things out there. But that’s where the Block option is helpful.

In my own experience as so far, I can say that even if things start out slow, active participation really pays off. I’ve gotten a few sales from my fairly-recently published Kindle eBook, The Monontuk Dot. My blog has also been drawing much more traffic since I started on Twitter. What has helped these things with getting off the ground is actually quite simple: posting links.

There are wonderful people out there who facilitate link shares, and it’s a great opportunity to post links to your works. Some accounts like The Blogging Tribe (@thebloggintribe), Blogging Bees RT (@bloggingbeesrt), and The Clique – Bloggers RT (@theclique_uk) – to name a few – are helpful for bloggers to get their blogs and chosen posts out there. Book sales have come from Twitterers who have put up posts requesting links to others’ books. Sharing is a core value at the heart of the Writing Community, and it’s a great way to get to know fellow writers from all over the world.

‘Lonely Writer’ No More

There is a common belief that’s been around forever that writers have lonely lives. Even Ernest Hemmingway is quoted as having said, “Writing, at its best, is a lonely life.” Perhaps it has something to do with our more introspective nature. There is also the need to commit a lot of alone-time to our work – whether we’re writing novels, short stories, blog posts, or anything else. Writing is a solitary endeavor, in so many ways, and it’s important to find a balance between ‘the writer’s life’ and being in touch with the world around us.

Twitter’s Writing Community to the rescue, once again!

It’s a 24/7 hangout where everyone can share not only their work, but connect with others just to talk about whatever they feel like putting out there. The support I’ve received, given, and seen people giving one another is really uplifting. To express and experience kindness is nourishing to the soul! Whether you consider yourself an introvert, an extrovert, or perhaps a bit of both, you are accepted here for who you are. And for anyone that’s only in to cause a stir, they start losing Followers and getting blocked pretty quickly. The zero tolerance for harassment policy is pretty well-enforced in the Writing Community, from what I’ve seen.

A Nest to Call ‘Home’

I’m glad I went out on a limb, so to speak, and gave Twitter a try. I’d strongly recommend it to anyone who’s seeking to make virtual connections – especially those who have an interest in writing and reading. I wish I could personally thank each and every one of my Followers, and everyone who has helped me in reaching the 1K mark! These milestones are so much more than just numbers to me – they are connections I have made with amazing people from all over the world. It’s kind of a big deal for anyone who’s dealt with loneliness for much of their life. When you feel like you’ve finally found your place – even in the virtual world – it’s pretty special 🙂

Haven’t connected yet on Twitter? You can find me at HL Chen (@HLChen4). Interested in reading a short psychological horror story about a little town with some dark secrets? Head on over to Amazon to get your Kindle copy of The Monontuk Dot for only .99! And of course, if you’re looking for more inspirational blog posts, check out my website, All Things H.L. Chen.

Here’s to YOU, Twitter Friends!