***This is a story that started out as one thing and ended up as another. It was happening in real time. I was writing about hashtags while multi-tasking on Facebook and Twitter where another story was unfolding. The story within the story is written in italics. The first story began like this:
Let's talk about #hashtags. Those words strung together after the number sign.
Recently I started studying the search engine words that brought readers to my webpage. My most popular search terms are Sheila Blanchette or Sheila Blanchette Author. That one's obvious. But some people even do that in a roundabout way. One person searched:
New England Delray Beach Accountant Author.
They knew quite a bit about me, except my name. It must have been someone I met in a bar.
***The second story begins when I take a break from writing to send a Tweet.***
There is not a day that goes by without at least one person reading my blog about my trip to Joshua Tree National Park and the dangerous Jumping Teddy Bear Cactus that attacked me. I assume most people find this blog because they're Googling around for info on the park. Yes and No. Here's some of the other searches they use:
Cholo Cactus Guy
Teddy Bear Cactus Attack
Sheela Teddy Bear Name Wallpaper
Is there such a thing as Sheela Teddy Bear wallpaper? I enter the same words on Google. Links for Teddy Bear wallpaper come up but no Sheela, and sure enough, listed number four on the Google search is my blog about the Cholla Cactus Garden.
***Now that I'm back on the Internet Googling Teddy Bear wallpaper, I decide to share the Tweet on Facebook, with a little added info because I'm not restricted to 140 characters. I rarely share my Tweets on Facebook.***
It is also my fat ass that brings the searchers to the Cholla Cactus Garden. I mentioned my derriere in the piece because I had to hop on my husband's back so he could carry me out of the garden after I was attacked by the jumping cactus. There's a photo of this, taken by my friend who was walking behind us, and every day someone finds that photo.
Grabbing That Phat Ass
My Big Fat Ass
Asian Fat Ass My Eyes are Wide Open
I do not claim to understand all these search terms.
A very popular search is anything to do with cubicles, and these searches are most likely done in cubicles by people who are supposed to be working at their mundane jobs. I know this first hand. I've written about it. Often. As in an entire novel. My first novel The Reverse Commute has lots of cubicle scenes. The search words tell the story.
Never Work A Cubicle Job Again
Unhappy In A Cubicle
They Most Likely Own The Hotel And We Be Sitting In The Cubicle
I Need To Stop This Cubicle Shit
Cubicles Make Me Sick
Tears In My Cubicle
The list goes on and on. I feel their pain. I have decided I need to write more blogs about cubicles.
*** Over on Facebook, a friend I met shortly after I published The Reverse Commute has seen my post and asks if I can explain how to use hashtags. I break from writing the blog and do my best. I myself am still figuring this hashtag thing out, but as I write I realize if the words in your post, any words, match the search words, they may find you. However, I do not remember ever writing about wallpaper.***
Other search words are strange but easy enough to figure out.
Why Did They Name Her Ballsy?
These words brought the searcher to the blog about Delia Ephron titled Two Ballsy Chicks. I pause to wonder about the girl named Ballsy.
***My Facebook friend replies she wants to use hash tags to help find her granddaughter who ran away three weeks ago. She is a minor, a young high school girl. I have known about this since it happened and I have been talking to her privately. I give her a few ideas for hashtags. I am beginning to realize the important words one needs to use. In my Sex in an Empty Nest blog I mention we are visiting my daughter in Denver. We are on a plane and I am doing a crossword puzzle. I am sitting in the middle seat. I give my friend some suggestions. #Runaway #MissingTeen #LastSeenAt....***
How about this search?
Is Eden Roc Pool Public?
No, it is not, but the searcher learned how to crash it and that there is a public parking lot nearby.
Some of my walking blogs were found this way:
We Saw Sheila Walking Herself In The Park
In The Morning Sheila Goes Walking, Talking, Skipping Down The Main Street
***My friend sends a Tweet to local police departments along with the flyer describing her granddaughter. She uses #hashtags she came up with after she read my simplified tutorial.***
Some people's search words definitely do not help them find what they are looking for when they get to my website:
Sheila Colorado Springs Hairdresser
French Guest Blogger
Billboards For Vegetables in South Carolina
Where Does it Say You Cannot Park On Your Own Grass In Jupiter Florida?
I take a break from writing. This blog started out as a story about #FindMe, Sheila Blanchette Author, as in #ReadMyBlog and #BuyMyBooks. A comical list of search terms that brought people to my website. But I'm not feeling funny. My husband is still laid up with a bad back and sciatica. He's cranky and I need to get out of the house. His sulky presence interferes with my creativity. It has been a difficult three weeks. The CPA ladies laid me off just when we really needed the money, the work wasn't rolling in this tax season. On the very same day, a nasty stranger reached across the Internet miles and offered his hand, only to give me sarcasm and condescension.
I'm thinking about my Facebook friend and her granddaughter. She and I have never met. She contacted me after she read The Reverse Commute because she liked it. She really liked it! She wrote me a lovely review on Amazon. We became Internet friends and sometimes chat privately. I was worried about her young granddaughter. I needed a walk to clear my head.
When I got back to the apartment I had a Facebook message. "Sheila, you are an angel. The police just found my granddaughter, an hour after I sent the Tweet. Her Dad is on his way to pick her up. Thank you for helping me understand hashtags. I know you don't like the God stuff, Sheila....but I believe he put you in my path today and I will be forever grateful to him and you! I haven't been following your posts these past three weeks but something drew me to today's post. It was divine intervention."
I looked at the title of the blog I was working on. #FindMe: A #Hashtag Story.
Life is sometimes hard. It doesn't all go the way that it should. We live in a graceless age where the Internet makes communication more complicated and less personal. Sometimes we go too far when we have a computer screen to hide behind, when we don't have to look someone in the eye as we criticize and slander then quickly hit send. We don't think about the real person on the receiving end of that email, Facebook post, Tweet, or Amazon review.
Today I saw another side.
It is true I don't believe in God, and I am uncomfortable with organized religion, but I do believe there is something larger than each of us. I do believe grace happens more often than not. I believe in community, kindness, and empathy. Even when the community is a circle of Internet friends. Even when the hope and the prayer is a #hashtag.