WoB Talk

February 27, 2012

The Secret World of Twittiquette

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kari Maaren @ 2:55 am

Cards on the table:  I fell into the Twitter craze completely by accident.  I don’t even remember signing up; I don’t know why I did it, and I don’t think I even knew what Twitter was at the time (this was way back before Twitter had catapulted into popularity).  I forgot about the account soon after I had created it.  Eight months later, someone followed me on Twitter, and I got an e-mail.  I went, “Er…what’s Twitter?”  I tried signing in with a password I thought I might have used, and it worked.  This weirded me out a lot.

I’ve used Twitter sporadically ever since.  Lately, I’ve been using it more often.  By “using it,” I don’t really mean “posting.”  I post every once in a while, generally in reply to the posts of people I know personally.  Mostly, though, I just read.  I find Twitter a useful source for links to information that interests me (often about genre fiction).  Occasionally, a webtoonist or blogger I follow will post whenever he or she updates; these links are useful too.  (I don’t do this with my own comic or blog because I am terribly, terribly lazy.)  I suppose I am failing to optimise my Twitter experience, but I don’t want to optimise my Twitter experience; I just like the way it enables procrastination.

However, I’ve got to say:  some people really don’t know how to use Twitter.  I mean, they really don’t know how to use it.  As far as I can tell, what they’re doing with their Twitter accounts is assuring that all sane people conceive violent dislikes for them.

I’m not going to use any names because I’m not the devil,* but I do want to describe two examples of How to Ensure That Everybody on Twitter Hates You.

1)  I suppose this first one isn’t really about “hatred”; it’s more about “mild annoyance.”  I follow two prominent fantasy authors, both of whom shall remain nameless.  One of them posts prolifically but relatively sanely; she mostly just links to things that interest her and alerts followers whenever her books go on sale.  The other posts every single tiny detail about his personal life.  He has a lot of followers, so people apparently enjoy this.  He does have some good tweets, so I continue to follow him, but I could do with fewer details about his relationship with his wife.  I get this with a less prominent author too; some of his tweets verge on uncomfortable, as he occasionally insults his wife and announces to the world whenever they’re having a fight.  He also hates everything everywhere, as far as I can tell.

2)  I follow some webtoonists as well.  Most are fine; they just post links.  One, however, has driven me to loathe him.  I like his comic, but I’m on the verge of unfollowing him because he cannot shut up about himself.  Every time he pencils, inks, or letters a new comic…every time he has a brilliant idea…every time he worries that he doesn’t have enough readers (this happens constantly)…every time he decides that he is a misunderstood genius…every time he has either more or fewer readers than usual exploring his site…every time he wants to explain how much he deserves success…every time someone follows him on Twitter…every time someone unfollows him on Twitter:  I must get hundreds of tweets per day from him.  I mostly just skip over them.  Dude, please just draw your damn comics and stop whining about how wonderful you are.  I understand that self-promotion is important in the webcomics community, but there’s a fine line between “self-promotion” and “overweening arrogance.”  The only reason I still follow him is that I do like reading his comic, but eventually, my irritation with his tweets will win out over my need to follow his work.

Long story short:  Twitter can be kind of neat, and some people really know how to use it.  If you are not one of these people (I know I’m not), consider backing off.  Do you really need to post seventeen tweets within ten minutes?  It may be cute if you do it once, but multiple times a day?  If you have that much to say, why not just start a blog?  Think of it as like being at a party.  If you sit in the corner and don’t say anything, you’re not going to make any friends, though it’s possible you may still learn something interesting.  If you politely take part in a few conversations, you may make some friends; you will certainly be able to exchange ideas and opinions with others.  If your ideas and opinions are particularly witty, you will make even more friends.  If, on the other hand, you shove your way into every conversation and never let anyone get a word in edgewise, you will drive everybody away, no matter how brilliant your thoughts are.

*Or so I claim.


February 20, 2012

Leggo My Lego

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kari Maaren @ 7:07 am

Okay, yes, admittedly, I just drew a comic on this very subject.  However, a number of people have responded to it, and I, in my turn, have responded to them with some mini-Rants that have threatened to turn into non-mini-Rants.  I know it’s a silly thing to rage about when the world is plagued by actual problems, but then, I rarely deal with actual problems in this blog.*  So here we go:  Why I Want to Punch Lego in the Face.

The basic situation is as follows:

Lego has been around since the 1940s.  Unbeknownst to many North Americans, the toy actually originated in Denmark, but it has since become popular worldwide.  Lego’s current marketing strategy, in place for the past seven years or so, has almost exclusively targeted boys, despite what I would characterise as the gender-neutral nature of the basic toy.  I mean, it’s a bunch of plastic bricks you can use to build stuff.  Are we really going to claim that girls will be naturally less interested in this sort of thing?  Why, exactly?

As of late (i.e., over the course of the past few decades), Lego has become more and more interested in producing “themes” instead of just plunking a bunch of brightly-coloured bricks down into a huge tub and letting children have at them.  A visit to the Lego site will give you something like thirty-five thematic options, each containing sub-options.  Some of these themes allow the toys to be broken up and added to the glorious piles of loose bricks; others are less adaptable.  Lego has occasionally come out with “girls’ lines,” some of which combine with the regular bricks more easily than others.  The latest girls’ line, Lego Friends, involves a number of female characters–all of them differing in several ways from the regular Lego minifigs–who are apparently bestest friends with each other and spend their days hanging out in beauty parlours and cafes.  The marketing for this line involves a lot of pink and purple and seems to imply that it will allow little girls to emulate the exciting lives of the Desperate Housewives.

Lego Friends is just one of Lego’s thirty-odd lines.  The other lines are marketed to boys.  This includes the Harry Potter line and the Spongebob Squarepants line.  I was not aware that Harry and Spongebob did not interest girls at all.  The minifigs in these lines are mainly male, with some token females scattered about here and there.

The mere existence of Lego Friends is not what has me Ranting and making frowny-faces.  Some girls are, well, girly.  They like frilly princess dresses and play house a lot.  If that’s what floats their boats, more power to them.  Some girls, however, do quite like, well, building things.  They like adventure.  They like running around with imaginary swords.  They like imagining that they are princesses who outwit dragons while dressed only in paper bags.  They are fond of pirates.  I wouldn’t actually identify any of these “likes” as normally being exclusive to boys.

Why is it necessary to have a “girls’ line,” anyway?  Why not advertise all Lego for all children?  Ads that exclude girls are going to drive girls away.  Are you afraid, Lego, that ads that include girls will drive boys away?  Why do we simply accept that it’s okay for boys to be ashamed of being associated with “girly toys” and “girly books”?  What would be so terrible about just making as many female minifigs as male instead of including a few female ones as tokens?  Would the whole concept of a toy with which both boys and girls could identify, not because it was specifically gendered but because it offered scope for children to imagine out stories involving male and female characters, truly be that much of a problem?  Is the idea of a gender-neutral toy really such a revolutionary concept?

People who disagree with me on this one tend to ask what the problem is.  If girls want to play with Lego geared towards boys, these people say, there’s nothing stopping them.  The Lego is there; they can skip Lego Friends and go straight for the space stuff.  What these people are disregarding is that lack of female minifigs.  It could be pointed out that there’s nothing stopping little boys from playing with Lego Friends, but many would probably agree that there is something stopping them:  the fact that all the characters in this line are female.  Even if a male character were introduced, he would be a token, like Ken in the Barbie pantheon.  We tend to assume that boys should never be expected to identify with female characters and may, in fact, be incapable of doing so.  Simultaneously, little girls who want the more adventurous Lego are assumed to be fine with playing with mostly male minifigs.  Lego is thus, again, framed as a boys’ toy; girls who buy the sets on sale in the “boys’ aisle” of the toy store are deviating from the norm of their gender instead of just choosing to play with a neat toy.  The fact that they have fewer characters with whom to identify shouldn’t be a problem because everyone should be able to identify with male characters.

Incidentally, why not encourage male interest in Lego Friends?  There are, heaven forbid, some little boys who might be attracted to the idea of going to the beauty parlour and then chilling in the cafe with their BFFs.  Why not do Lego Friends with minifigs so it can be combined more seamlessly with other sets, and “Emma” and “Olivia” can hang out with “Harry Potter” and “Voldemort”?  Why not introduce a few spin-offs?  Lego Friends in Space!  Lego Friends in Their Time-Travelling Ice-Cream Truck!  Lego Friends Discover a Dystopian Otherworld in the Sewers of Heartlake City!  If you’re going to embrace themes, Lego, don’t stop with the boring stuff and claim you’re covering the female demographic.  Let the girls have their adventures too.  Also, consider using a bit of green and dark blue in the bricks used to construct the beauty parlour.  Better yet, build a comic-book store next door.

The possibilities here are actually limitless, and no, I am not being sarcastic or tongue-in-cheek.  I hate Lego Friends at the moment, but the hatred doesn’t have to last.  The line seems limited because Lego appears to have set limits on it.  If it tried, it could do more than simply assume that all girls were alike and should be exposed to only one type of play.

*Unless the actual problems involve bullying in some way.

February 20 – March 3, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kari Maaren @ 6:57 am

Casey is really not having a very good year, is he?

February 13, 2012

My Name is Kari, and I Hate Valentine’s Day

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kari Maaren @ 5:21 am

I know perfectly well that it’s a cliche to hate Valentine’s Day.  Worse, it’s a cliche that everyone expects from me, as I am, in fact, a thirty-seven-year-old single lady.  I should point out that I don’t hate Valentine’s Day because I am a thirty-seven-year-old single lady.  I hate it because it is fun to hate it.  I expect it’s much more fun than it is to participate in it.

I mean, come on:  you’re expecting me to believe that you actually look forward to a day on which couples obsess over making everything perfect?  Is it really enjoyable to spend hours looking for a piece of jewelry that says “I am very fond of you” without adding “and I think we should get married relatively soon”?  Do you look forward to dissolving into tears because you couldn’t get a reservation wherever?  Is this actually a necessary part of your life?

I’m sure some couples have fun on Valentine’s Day.  I’m also sure that even more secretly long for it to be over.  As for us supposedly sad, lonely singles:  why should we care?  It gets the schmoopsy couples out of our hair for one night, and the next day, there’s half-price chocolate at Shoppers.

I plan to spend Valentine’s Day marking, mostly because I plan to spend every day this week marking.  I’ll also probably edit part of an MBA thesis and update a lecture on sitcoms.  Then I’ll burn some sparkly pink hearts and chase nuzzling couples around Toronto with a laser.  All in all, it will probably be quite a good day.

Webcomic Blind Date 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kari Maaren @ 5:18 am

Guess who really invented Valentine’s Day?  Find out here.

February 6, 2012

February 6 – 18, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kari Maaren @ 6:46 am

The Third Great WoB Extravaganza may be over, but the Murder Game is just beginning.  Also, the banner is very, very pink.

There will be no Rant this week, as I just spent all day on an airplane and would like to go to sleep now, please.


February 1, 2012

January 30 – February 5, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kari Maaren @ 6:00 pm

Okay…let’s hope it works this time.  I did post this post already.  If I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have been able to link to it, and I did link to it.  WordPress is confusing me right now.

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