This week, I signed up for Twitter. I've been holding out and avoiding it for so long that I'm nearly the last person I know that still hasn't got onto this beast (luckily there's still Rish, who's even more of a Luddite when it comes to Twitter). But life can be difficult for a newbie.
I've found that I have a hard time following conversations a bit, but, you know, I'll get used to it eventually, I guess.
The worst thing, I've discovered, is that I'm stupid enough when it comes to Twitter to fall for things that I'd never fall for elsewhere. It's probably got a lot to do with the fact that I'm on Twitter in the first place to let listeners, who are almost all strangers to me, in on things a little better. So people follow me on Twitter, and I don't know who they are.
At first, I thought it would be common courtesy to follow them in return. Then I might be able to get to know them and perhaps they wouldn't have to be strangers. For some reason I never considered the fact that with anything like this (email, blog comments, facebook, etc.) there are the bastards who are out to screw everything up, or steal identities, or spread computer viruses, or spam the living sh*t out of you.
When you follow someone, they can send you a direct message. This is not a tweet that's open to everyone, but a private message. So, I did the common courtesy thing, following everyone who followed me, and I get a DM (abbreviation for Direct Message for those who aren't in the know like me) from someone I've recently added to my follow list. It's complete crap, and in any other non-newbie setting, I'd have seen right through it, but on Twitter...
DM: Nice pic you got there! What's with following Neilhimself?
I read that, and, naively thinking it's a listener, I try to figure out how to respond. I'm a little nonplussed. What do they mean nice pic? All I put on for my profile picture was the Dunesteef's spiral D logo. While I think it's a cool logo, it's not what I'd call a nice pic...
And the question, "what's with following Neilhiself?" Well, again for those of you not in the know like me, Neilhimself is the handle that Neil Gaiman uses on Twitter. At least I thought it was, but I'm a newbie. Maybe I'm following some bastard who is pretending to be Neil Gaiman but is actually something else. I check, and see that Twitter has put the little blue check mark by his name. Hovering over that confirms that this means that Neilhimself is in fact the real Neil Gaiman.
So here's where I fall off the newbie cliff. I respond to this person.
DM (from me): I likes Neil Gaiman. Just finished Anansi Boys the other day.
Why in the hell I didn't realize that this person wasn't genuine I don't know. It's always spammers and identity thieves that start off with the "Nice pic," line, I should have known better.
This morning, I get on Twitter and I have several new DMs from this person. They say some crap about how Neil Gaiman has a lot of followers. Then in a second DM they say messaging is too limited in Twitter and they're going to send me a link to their other account. Then in a third DM they say that I should send them a message when I get logged in, and there is a link pasted in with the message. The link leads me to a sign-up page for a dating website. Am I a man seeking woman? A man seeking man? A woman seeking man?
I sat there looking at that and thinking, "There's no way I'm going to sign up for this to talk to a listener..."
That's probably the most embarrassing part. I'm still thinking of this person as a listener. It takes many more minutes before listener is replaced with spammer in my mind. This piece of human dung is out there simply trying to get people to sign up for a stupid dating site. If it's even that legit. More likely it's a steal-your-identity site disguised as a dating site. It's the worst thing of all about the internet, the fact that people will do and say anything they want on there without any fear of consequences. The anonymity of the internet has increased the number of con-artists out there exponentially.
And being a stupid newbie, I almost fell for it.