Social Media, DirecTV and the Power of the Hive Collective

I know this has been used so much it has become a cliche — “With great power comes great responsibility.” Spiderman’s Uncle Ben sure hit a nerve there, even though he wasn’t speaking of social media but more about his nephew’s atomic spidery- superpowers. (Oh, so ICK!!! I have a thing about spiders. But I’ma let it pass for the sake of this argument. The things I do for you people!!!!)

OH MY GAWD THIS THING JUST AIN'T NATURAL

Case in point:

I saw a posting on Facebook about DirecTV telling their customers in Joplin, MO in the wake of the devastating tornado they would have to turn in a box or remote in order to cancel their service or be charged a $500 penalty fee.

Say WHAT?

I don’t reside in Joplin, nor am I a DirecTV subscriber. But this caught my attention because I don’t live all that far from Joplin, and am in fact living in what is known as “Tornado Alley”. There but for the grace of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, and all that. I have spent many an anxious moment in my bathtub waiting for my roof to be blown off and to be transported on an unscheduled visit to Oz.

Oh, yeah. I've seen skies like this. Shortly after I have to change my underwear.

However, before I reposted such information, I needed to verify it. Because, what if it wasn’t true? Then DirecTV is painted with the Asshole brush, and if the rumor is false, that’s hardly fair.

So I employed my Mad Social Media Skillz.

I posted on Twitter and asked if anyone could verify the truth of this rumor. I posted on Facebook and asked the same thing. I visited the Joplin, MO Recovery page on Facebook, and asked. DirecTV started following me on Twitter and at first gave inconclusive answers, but I persisted. I wanted a “yes” or “no” answer. I finally got one this morning. Here is the recap:

There’s a rumor going around Facebook that residents of Joplin, MO with DirecTV services were being told unless they turned in a box/remote in the wake of the tornado, they would be assessed penalty fees of $500 for cancellation of services. I ran this down as far as I could — DirecTV followed me on Twitter and I received this response to my question about the situation:

“Absolutely not; we do not want to make things any more difficult for them than what they are already going through.”

I also posted the question and responses from DirecTV on the Joplin, MO Tornado Recovery page on FB. No one has confirmed the rumor, and this was posted:

“Camille Ramsey: If anyone who’s (sic) equipment was damaged by the tornado in Joplin has a CSR (Customer Service Rep) tell them that they will be billed for the equipment, they need to be asking for a supervisor, because that would be incorrect info. As per guidelines for natural disasters, once an area has been determined to be a natural disaster area, equipment lost/damaged during the natural disaster is to be at no cost to the customer for replacement. I am a Directv employee of over 5 years.”

So there you have it. Don’t mindlessly re-post stuff without first checking it out. Social media is a powerful weapon. Unfortunately, too many people will copy and paste the negative rumor, never checking it out for themselves. Like sheep.

Oh sure, they're cute. Just not all that bright.

Now, I just spent at least four hours chasing down this one rumor. Time I should have spent working, time I will never get back. And what do I get out of it? A free subscription to DirecTV for a year? I’m not even a customer. How about a t-shirt? Nope. Didn’t get anything, don’t want anything. What I did get is a feeling of satisfaction of keeping my integrity intact and not just copy and pasting information because it’s out there and it SOUNDS titillating.

The Hive Mind can be a good thing. But sometimes it's a load of shit.

If you’ve been involved with social media for any length of time whatsoever, you have to be more than aware of its astounding reach. A rumor like this could really destroy a company, or at least do some damage. You have to consider the source, take time to verify the info otherwise don’t friggen’ post, okay? Not all links take more than a minute to check out, but jeezum fecking cheeto, be responsible.

Otherwise, we’ll have to revoke your spidey-powers.

Find “Not Nice and Other Understatements” at Amazon and now at Smashwords in any format you desire! Autographed copies are still available through the link on this page. Spread the word! And thanks for all of your support!

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Caveat Emptor vs. Caveat Venditor

WARNING: This is a true NettaRant. You might want to wear a helmet.

ā€œIā€™m just feeling kind of truthsome right now. Life is too damn short for ifs and maybes.ā€ ~ Capt. Mal Reynolds of the Serenity

Instead of your regularly scheduled programming in which I feature some form of Fabulous Fiction, I have instead decided to shake things up in more ways than one.

Yep, it's likely to get thick. And I'm pretty sure it's not going to bring any boys to the yard.

As you may well be aware, I am all for supporting the self-publishing wave, also known as the Indie Movement. (Although some contest the moniker, “indie”, as it really applies to a different aspect of the publishing business…still, I’m not one to split hairs.) I believe passionately in self-publishers coming in to their own without the stigma of “if you’re self-published, your work sucks hot rocks.” That being said, some self-publishers are making it VERY difficult to don the pom-poms and rah it up.

Oh, not on purpose, I’m sure. Pretty sure. Right now it seems like it’s the “American Idol” of publishing, and like American Idol, some people are just not right for the stage, and that’s my nice way of expressing it. It’s a buyer beware world out there — I’m not saying it hasn’t always been that way, but at least with the Big 6 as gatekeepers you had some assurance of quality. (You can argue about their control issues another time. I’m on to something else right now.) In this Wild West Frontier of self-publishing, as a reader you have to do your own due diligence as far as sniffing out quality material to read.

Okay. Now that I’ve laid the groundwork, I need to vent. Consider this your wake-up call.

FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT’S GOOD AND HOLY, PEOPLE, GET YOUR SHIZ-NIZ TOGETHER!

It’s not just a “let the buyer beware” world out there, it’s a “let the seller beware” world! Wake up! I understand you want to jump on the bandwagon and present your work to the world, but have some patience! Is it your best work? Could it be better? Have you EDITED your piece? Have you hired a professional editor or just let your sister who has a degree in liberal arts have a whack at it? Did you put it away for a few weeks to look at it with fresh eyes, or did you mindlessly throw it up on Smashwords or Amazon so fresh off the word processor it’s bleeding from a thousand knife wounds? You guys are KILLING ME.

And while I’m at it, let’s take a look at formatting. Is it formatted properly? Is it consistent, or do you have flawed formatting throughout the entire novel? You know, like it starts off with indents, then goes to block, then back to indents? Are there proper spaces between paragraphs? ARE THERE EGREGIOUS TYPOS?? Did you even bother to put it through a simple spell or grammar check?

Am I perfect? Oh, hell no, and I’ll be the first one to tell you that. It’s not perfection you’re going for here, but at least aim in the general vicinity!

Oh my GAWD, you make me stabby, cranky and want to spank you so hard you can’t sit down at your word processor for a YEAR.

Don't make me get out the whip. Because I WILL do it!

I have seen so much potential absolutely RUINED by LAZINESS and that makes me NUTZ and quite frankly, it pisses me off. As a self-publisher myself, every one of you that is too damned lazy to make sure you’re putting out a quality product is adding to the very stigma you’re trying so hard to dispel! I know you’re in a hurry, I understand why you’re in a hurry, but slow the hell down! Will it really kill you to take an extra few weeks to make sure your work is polished, professional and ready to fly?

If it’s not, you run a real risk of wrecking any chance you might have of a successful launch, and instead you’ll be thinking oh, this self-publishing stuff is bullshit, just like you think the Big 6 is “The Man” and keeping you down, when in fact it’s your own fault! If this is any example of the kind of material you have sent to “traditional” publishers, it’s no wonder they kicked you out on your ass. And if your baby is NOT ready, then roll up your damned sleeves and DO THE WORK.

You’re doing even more damage than that. You are tearing down the credibility of every single writer out there in the self-publishing process who actually works their ass off to make sure what they produce is as good as anything from the Big 6. It’s aggravating, defeating and embarrassing.

I realize this post is not going to make me popular at parties, but someone had to say it. Go ahead, make your voodoo dolls and stick pins in me, but in your heart of hearts you know I’m right or you wouldn’t be so annoyed at reading this.

Go ahead. It wouldn't be the first time.

I am really frustrated (no, Netta, really??) by starting off reading a book by an indie and being unable to continue because of the above-mentioned flaws. I am frustrated because many of these pieces have great potential, but have sadly fallen victim to the author being in a big fat hurry or just not caring. And if YOU don’t care, why should I? That’s right, I don’t. I’m not liking your damned page, I’m not liking your damned book, I’m not re-posting, re-twittering or re-anythinging your work if you can’t actually give a rat’s ass about what you’re putting out there. I’m sorry. I just can’t do it. If that makes you hate me, oh well. I’m over it.

Self-publishing is not the easy way — NEWSFLASH — there is no easy way! Unless you realize that you’re not going to be successful and you’re just clogging up the works like a hairball in the drain.

Hire out what you can’t handle, such as formatting, book covers or editing and if you can’t afford to hire it out (and BELIEVE ME, I am so in touch with that!) then impose on good friends who do know how or learn it yourself. Stop pimping writers who aren’t ready. And for the sake of all of us out here, buyers and sellers alike, have enough respect for yourself, the profession and the potential fans to take your time to put out the very best you can.

Otherwise, get the fuck off the stage.

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