Twitter isn't your friend: FOMO and self-promotion

Remember that post about changing priorities?

I think fear of missing out (FOMO) makes most people use sites like Twitter or Facebook. They might know how harmful they can be, but the fear keeps them enthralled.

People who want to promote the things they make get a second tier of the FOMOmenon. They aren't just afraid of missing people. They're afraid no one will ever see the things they worked hard to create!

I've been there. When a post is a hit on social media, it's great. A billion hits I didn't have to do much for. Neat. And then...nothing. You have to keep getting those hits. Or you have to keep re-retweeting your links so everyone sees them. This is exhausting.

Technology is supposed to free us. Technology is not supposed to lock us down or make us afraid and dependent. Every startup backed by billions of venture capital dollars heads down the same road. First they lure you in with "engagement." Then they lock the platform down, shutting out app de…

But what does it mean?

Twitter says I "earned" over 270k impressions in the last 28 days.

Reddit says I have over 13,000 "karma."

I have almost, maybe more than, 10k points on Hacker News between accounts I've made over the years. All of them were exploration.

Most of the connections I made on these sites fade away if I don't stay there. Even the connections I maintained depend on participation on other things: chat rooms on Telegram or Discord, message boards, et cetera. These people are notoriously difficult to get to know elsewhere.

I'm aware of all the tales of people becoming great friends online. Even I had such a story! But it turned out he only connected on Twitter, and he was glued to the app in person. Trying to pull him away for a substantial in-person conversation just led to resentment on both ends.

You know all those '90s shows about virtual reality gone wrong? People jacked in and that was it. You never saw them again unless you joined up. I hate to sound l…

How I draft stories

I discovered that trying to write one big blob does not work for me. I can get as far as 2000 words before the volume overwhelms. As with many things in life, breaking it down into pieces helps a lot! This is where most outlining writers suggest a big bulleted list where you work out all the beats of a story.

That's gonna be a no from me. Tried it. Didn't work. My method uses stubs. Here's an example. The example character is named Bean. While this uses a fiction example, it works for nonfiction. I developed this in college to get through all the things I had to write.

[Story opens with Bean climbing an ancient ruined skyscraper]

The brackets help set the outline apart from the story. Paragraphs grow off these bracketed stubs.

Here's some more.

[Bean climbs into a room][finds some food so she won't die]

I don't always do one per line. Sometimes I have to map out an entire paragraph to write it. Something about the noncommittal nature of stubs makes it easier, a…

A reintroduction, reclamation, and rebuilding

Hello! The name I was given at birth is Michael Robinson. You may have seen something I wrote in the past. Only a handful are worth preserving, and I only reposted one with plans to follow up on it.

I spent the last ~5 years exploring the heck out of identity. Unless otherwise stated, assume any view I expressed in the past is either no longer current or has substantially evolved. While none of it was egregious, I was headed down the extreme right rabbithole. I feel like it's a good idea to preempt some questions and concerns.

Trans rights are human rights. I understand the myriad arguments people make against trans equality, and not one of them is compelling to me.Black lives matter. Contrary to popular misconception, saying this does not assert the opposite for other identities. I actually read Ta-Nehisi Coates' "The Case For Reparations" to the end and understood it as a chronicle of mistreatment of black people and the attacks on their communities that continue to…

The web is a mess

A long time ago in a blog far away, I wrote a post titled "The web is a mess." Over 25,000 people saw it. Plenty of people agreed. Plenty of people did not! This was back in 2012 before the current tech boom went into full swing.

I've reproduced the post here and plan to do a followup with 7 years of hindsight.


You remember way back in the early ’00s when your favorite blogs posted a few times a day at most, had a handful of great writers, and were a joy to read. Then something happened. Your beloved Lifehacker got out of hand, and you couldn’t keep up. TechCrunch bombarded you with shallow coverage of every little funding round and seemed to create ten new scandals a day.

The story repeated itself over and over, and you turned to the filters of Twitter and Facebook to keep up on the news. I want you to do a little experiment, to confirm that you aren’t losing your mind.

Go back to that favorite blog you abandoned when you realized you couldn’t keep up. You’ll find …