I have a very special first-world problem. It’s not the kind that revolvers around money, or stuff, or even the temperature of my latte. It’s a social media first-world problem.
I joined Twitter early. Like, in February or March 2007. I was actually invited in late 2006, but there’s no need to gild this particular lille. Because I could, I claimed the Twitter name @shelly for my own. Had I not joined Twitter for professional reasons, I would have been @shellyspodcast, which is how I rolled in those days, producing my own weekly eponymous podcast for the enjoyment of hundreds of people. But in 2007, I was also managing editor at the late lamented Blogger & Podcaster, and was writing my first feature article for the magazine. The B&P publisher was eager for me to put Robert Scoble, noted tech gadfly and early adopter of trendy things, on the cover of our first issue. Robert was evangelizing Twitter, just then. Fortunately for me, this made him eminently stalkable, once I had also signed up and followed him. When Robert came to Austin for SXSW in March, I tracked him to a meetup at Salt Lick, a famous BBQ emporium. I never actually got to speak to him there, due to an abundance of panting fanboys who surrounded him at all times. (I did talk to him later, having observed that people who pronounce how open and transparent they are usually have their own rules about what that means, and the obeisances expected.) In the end, Twitter did provide a nice lede for my Scoble story.
The trouble with having a Twitter name that is also your first name is that folks use it in @mentions that are addressed to people who are not you. Some don’t realize that typing a space after @shelly will direct the mention to my timeline (as in @shelly kramer). Others have a friend named Shelly, and don’t bother to look up that person’s actual Twitter name. Finally, Internet sharing tools will sometimes introduce a space where there shouldn’t be one. That’s how I get lots of mentions intended for a woman who shares dessert recipes on Pinterest. She’s very popular, by the way.
The long and the short of all this is that my morning rituals now include blocking Twitter mentions that belong to others. Tweetdeck on the desktop excels at this this. Sometimes, there are a couple of notes (often in a language I don’t speak) addressed to random Shellys around the world. There’s also a Shelly who has adopted the persona of a white teenaged girl who is a virulent racist. Perhaps that’s actually who she is, but I sincerely hope it’s a fake identity. Apparently, there are a couple of reality TV “stars” named Shelly, too. People don’t like them very much. Occasionally, one of the other Shellys, usually the one who is both a dude and a “social media expert”, gets retweeted heavily. On those mornings, I hit Block quite a bit. God help me if he’s attending a social media schmoozefest; aka a conference.
So whadaya think? Should I tweet this post out to all the Shellys of the Internet? Will they @mention and retweet me back, or is @shelly destined for a thousand block lists?