3 Things That Creep Me Out

Isn’t it weird how perfectly ordinary, everyday things can, given the right setting or the right conditions, end up being the things that creep the bejesus out of us? I mean, think about it. How many of us have been creeped out in the dark of night in our own bedroom after stopping for a reckless nanosecond to contemplate the possibility that the shadowy shape by the closet door might not be our dressing gown after all but a fluke-mouthed soul sucker in search of a midnight snack?

I started thinking about this the other day, and I was startled to realize how many mundane things, either individually or in combination with other mundane things, hurl me headlong into a full-bore heebie-jeebie mode. A lot more than three, that’s for sure. And it’s a good thing, too, because don’t each of those heebie-jeebies moments contain within them the spark of an unborn story? Aren’t these the stuff of Ray Bradbury’s “dark attic,” that fear-sodden source of a writer’s best material?

I’m taking Ray Bradbury’s advice and trying to coax down some of the Things “at the top of the stairs in [my] own private night.” So far I’m looking at things that creep me out rather than terrify me. Baby steps, you know. These are three items from the “whoa! creeps me out!” section of my writing notebook:

  1. Men with red, self-satisfied faces and bleary eyes who reek of Old Spice and stale alcohol sweat. If I’ve just described you, (a) sorry about that, and (b) let’s not get together in person any time soon.
  2. People who smack their lips and make a lot of wet noises  when they eat. Extra creep-out cred if they dribble food sauces down their chin in the process and/or manage to get food all over their hands. I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking there’s a big difference between grossed out and creeped out, and this sounds a lot more like the former. It isn’t, though. This is genuine creep out. I don’t know whether it’s because the wet and sloppy eating thing conjures memories of Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie moments that I wish I’d never had a chance to bond with, or whether it’s just some atavistic horror of being eaten alive that kicks in, but whatever it is, it’s creepy to the power of lots.
  3. People who wear blue, semi-transparent rain ponchos over backpacks. Especially if they’re also wearing baseball caps and walk with a slight stoop. I know. Weirdly specific, isn’t it? It’s not like any one of those things by itself is enough to creep me out. I have no issues with rain ponchos of any colour regardless of whether they’re transparent or opaque. People with stoops don’t worry me. And, let’s face it, if I were creeped out by baseball caps, I’d never be able to leave my house.  Throw all those elements together, though, and I’m starting to wonder which specific body parts that psycho has stashed away in that backpack.

So, how about you? What creeps you out? And, if you’re a writer, does the creep out factor grab you around the neck and drag you headlong into story?

Why I’m Divorcing Triberr

Here’s the thing. I’ve been on Triberr for a few months now, and I have to confess that I’m can’t seem to find the love.

On the face of it, Triberr sounds like a terrific idea. Just look at the menu of benefits it (theoretically) offers:

  • A gathering place for the “little bloggers” (as Triberr’s developers call us) to band together in cozy, bonfire-warmed tribes to tweet the bejesus out of one another’s posts;
  • One handy-dandy repository of links to share with the Twitterverse;
  • Mega-tweetage by our tribemates of our every bloggy thought in volumes hitherto unimagined;
  • Vast legions of visitors dropping by to bestow comments and a follow.

Really, what could be more fabulous?

Except, in my experience, the reality isn’t all that fabulous. In fact, in my experience–and I do acknowledge that yours may be very different–Triberr has become as much of a pollutant in the Twitter waters as, say, auto-DMs and auto-#FFs and auto-thanks-for-the-follows. I am so very much not a fan of auto-anything in social media. When we start automating our interactions, I think we pretty much override the whole “social” component of “social media” and step straight into botland.

I don’t know about your Twitter stream, but in the aftermath of our collective leap onto the the Triberr bandwagon, my stream has devolved into a great spammy wonderland of people “recommending” blog posts that they’ve probably never read to people who are highly unlikely to read them and providing precisely zero context for that recommendation.

Maybe it’s the cynic in me, I don’t know, but I suspect that many (if not most) people are approving and sharing many (if not most) of their tribemates’ blog posts out of a feeling of obligation and reciprocity rather than out of a burning desire to share something they’ve read and found informative, fascinating or inspiring.

I tried to come to terms with the bot-ness of my own Triberr tweets by visiting every blog I was promoting via Triberr. And commenting. Because, really, isn’t that supposed to be one of the reasons we’re using Triberr? To support one another’s blogs? Instead of just clicking the smart little “approve” button, I opted to click on the “share” button instead and to personalize my tweets to make it clear that I had read the post in question–and I stripped every tweet of that tell-tale “…via @randomtribemember” in the hopes that someone would actually follow the link.

That didn’t last for long. Too many blogs, too little time. I opted instead for only sharing about half the posts in my Triberr stream–the ones I had time to read, comment on, personalize in a tweet. The rest I ignored, or just winced and clicked the “Approve” button to share, even though I had no idea whether they were amazing or utterly banal.

But, you know what? I just can’t make myself do that anymore. I’m starting to feel like a spammer. I am a spammer. I’ve become part of the auto-occupation that’s stripping the “social” from social media and bogging Twitter down with a relentless, unending onslaught of tedious, impersonal, spam-o-rific linkiness.

And so I quit. As of the end of the week, I’ll be resigning from my tribes, turning in my bones and making my escape. I’m going back to old-school tweeting: having conversations and tweeting links to the blog posts I’ve read with a hint or two about why I think you might like to read them too.

So, how is your Triberr journey working out for you? Still loving the tribes? Or do you share some of the same (or different) concerns?