Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Compliments from Strangers: Fav, Poke, Endorse, Repeat

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles
When I was a kid I thought adults had all the answers. Then I grew up and realized that they, we, don’t know anything. We’re all making it up as we go along. Welcome to life. Welcome to social media.

I’d like to think that I navigate the Twitter stream pretty well. I follow. I am followed. I tweet. I retweet. I’m not so much a Twitter Jedi as an enthusiastic Padawan. I try stuff. Some of it works. Some of it doesn’t. If, at the end of the day, nobody dies and Anthony Wiener doesn’t direct message me then it’s all good.

What stumps me on Twitter is the Favorite button. I think it’s meant to emulate the Facebook Like button, but perhaps it’s more truly analogous to the Facebook Poke. Everyone uses it for different reasons they can’t quite articulate but make perfect sense to them when they’re doing it. 

At first it seems straightforward. You see a tweet you like, you hit the favorite button. Okay cool. But what happens when I want to thank someone for favoring one of my tweets? (I’m nothing if not painfully polite on social media. Why? Because somebody has to be.) You can fav a retweet, but you can’t retweet a fav, or fav a fav. (You also can’t fight the power, but that’s an entirely different #issue.)

There’s also no easy way for me to thank someone for favoring a tweet without it sounding like they did me an actual favor or that we had sexual relations. Could this possibly be where Mr. Wiener went wrong? I err on the side of courtesy and let the assumptions fall where they may. Thankfully nobody cares since I’m not running for political office.

They say putting 10,000 hours into an endeavor makes you an expert. Does 10,000 tweets do the same? If so, somebody owes this Jedi a sexy, hooded cape. I’ll take a medium please. But perhaps I shouldn’t be too quick to pat myself on the saber. I’m still pondering the mysteries of the dubious yet ubiquitous LinkedIn Endorsement for skills that I may or may not possess. If someone has figured this one out, please #share.

Recently a LinkedIn connection endorsed me for “Stage Combat.” Being a stand-up comedian is a tough job but it’s not literally going into battle. Call me a coward but I try not to work the kinds of places where a brawl is as likely to break out as a belly laugh. I don’t think that wrangling with hecklers counts either. The rare times that I am heckled it’s a verbal joust not a physical fight. Thankfully it’s never come to that. I’d hate to pull a muscle dusting off my black belt.

If you’re not familiar with the platform, a LinkedIn endorsement comes from a connection; someone who knows you professionally and is familiar with your CV (curriculum vitae). Could the person who gave me the combat kudos possibly be thinking of my early theatre work? The last time I fought on stage was in the late 90s during a one act play called “Punch & Judy. Are they one of the 87 people who saw that show? It’s nice to think so, but it’s much more likely that LinkedIn presented them with a list of possible skills to endorse and they just got click happy. The mouse can get away from you. I think I once endorsed one of my introverted contacts for public speaking.

I don’t know if you can delete a LinkedIn endorsement. I need to find out because that single vote for stage combat looks lonesome and flukish. I’m feeling the pressure to pick a fight and kick some ass. Hecklers, you’re on notice. But things like that make me wonder about the integrity of the whole liking-favoring-poking-endorsing system. I mean what’s happening in the world when we can’t put our full faith and trust in random compliments from strangers? Then again, what do I know? I’m just a grown up.

The Urban Erma, the longest running column on, was created and written by stand-up comedian Leighann LordListen to the podcast on iTunes and Stitcher RadioWatch the video edition on YouTube.comIf you enjoy The Urban Erma please leave a comment, Like it on Facebook, follow on Twitter, And share it with your friends. (Share it with people who are not your friends and maybe they will be.) Get her free e-books of The Great Spanx Experiment and Sometimes I Wish Facebook Had a Hate Button. 

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