the word TRUTH on a card on the pavement found on a parking lot along Interstate 294 outside Chicago

Killing It on Twitter

Some time ago, I noticed someone on Twitter who was killing it. He had multiple tens of thousands of followers. He posted original content ten to fifteen times a day. People were commenting on and interacting with his posts. Like me, he had written books and was trying to get them published. I was curious what his social media secret was.

So I sent him a DM.

(For those who don’t know what that is, I commend you. You are living the dream! Also, it’s a “direct message,” aka a private communication through Twitter.)

I asked whether he would like to have a Zoom call to network and chat about using social media as part of our efforts to one day be published authors.

He said yes! This was before the pandemic, when most people didn’t know how to use Zoom, or that it even existed. I felt very savvy, using technology to network. (Ha!)

Networking on Zoom (Before That Was a Thing)

We hopped on the video chat, and the technology worked perfectly. We talked about our writing and our efforts to use social media. It was a congenial, quite lovely conversation with a stranger who lives across the country from me.

But the conversation took some strange turns. When I asked how he had acquired so many followers, his answer surprised me. I won’t give away his full strategy—not that I understand it fully myself—but, as it turns out, he knows something about computer programming. He had figured out how to automate almost everything about following and unfollowing accounts, while sneaking around Twitter’s elaborate rules against following and unfollowing too many accounts at once.

In other words, his massive following is based on his abilities as a computer programmer, not his abilities as a Twitter personality.

Well, okay. I don’t feel qualified to comment here, other than to say I felt a whiff of something dubious. On the other hand, his is hardly the only account on Twitter managed by an entity (robot or human) other than the person owning the account. That’s pretty rampant, and it puts mere mortals like me, who manage our own accounts, at a big disadvantage. Also, I was duly impressed by the computer skills he must’ve had to pull that off.

Still Networking on Zoom (Still Not a Thing)

We moved past that conversation topic and kept talking. But then came what I later thought of as the defining moment of our little networking endeavor. I don’t remember how the conversation turned in this direction; but at some point we talked about the part in my bio where I mention that I worked on a project for the Obama administration.

I really did this. It wasn’t a big deal. I did not meet Barack Obama. I did not waltz around the White House. My supervisor simply told me that the White House wanted a document ASAP, and so I created a document ASAP. Two days. Boom. Done.

But this dear networking partner of mine informed me that the way I wrote about this event in my bio was not impressive enough. He said to me, emphatically, “You need to say you were a speechwriter for Obama.”

I was flabbergasted. The thought of lying in my bio, or anywhere else, is so far outside the pale of anything I would ever think, let alone do—I was truly stunned. I don’t remember what I said in reply. I probably protested that I was not, in fact, a speechwriter for Obama, flashed a smile or made a joke, and moved the conversation onward.

We ended the networking session in a friendly and congenial manner.

Telling the Truth (Always and Still a Thing)

But I have thought about that moment ever since.

Lying on your resume is always, always, always, a bad idea. Someone will find out. It might be tomorrow, or it might be in twenty years, but it will come out. And, anyway, how could I walk around this world with my head up, knowing that I’m an actual fraud?

There’s so much in the news about imposter syndrome—about how awful it feels when you don’t give yourself enough credit. Why turn yourself into an actual imposter?? How is that supposed to help anything?

Plus, my goal is to write and publish books. Books that tell the truth! Even in fiction, it’s incredibly important to tell the truth—not literally, but as far as portraying real insights into really possible, or really imaginatively possible, worlds.

I knew in my heart then, and I know now, that I would never lie about my accomplishments (or anything else!). I would put my accomplishments in the best possible light, sure. But I would never lie about them.

The issue here occurs when I encounter, as I sometimes do, this acquaintance of mine on Twitter.

When I read his posts, and when I scan his bio, I now wonder . . . which parts are true?


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