12 Things They Never Told Me About Twitter.

Southern Nigeria, Jan 2010.

Chi-chi : Are you on Twitter?

Me: What is that?

Chi-Chi: A Social Media network. Like Facebook. You’ll love it! Just get it on your Ph–

Me: Forget it. Facebook is a handful already. I can’t.

Chi-Chi: Forget Facebook! Twitter is the place to be! You get to meet and tweet at all your favourite Celebs from all around the world….

Me: ( laughing ) … And? How does that help the pump prices?

Chi-Chi: Na you sabi, abeg Just try it. You’ll thank me later I promise.

Me: Hian! Okay o! But Chi-Chi, if this flops….

Western Nigeria, November 2013.

It has been about two years on this roller coaster ride called Twitter. Everytime I remember that talk with Chi-Chi I am just amazed at the power of Ignorance. My Ignorance. And its ability to keep us holed up, bound, trapped in old ways, habits, religions and relationships.

Today, I want to share twelve things I have learnt, from the minute I took the plunge into this crazy Aviaspora pool, to date. Six today, six later. I pray this will give someone out there a heads up on their Twitter game, and courage to try something new this week.

After all ‘strangers are friends we haven’t met yet.’

Gracias.

1. Choose a short and catchy name.
Hey, Welcome To Twitter! Great to have here Mr Samaila Toochukwu NtantaOffiong Jaiyesola!

I believed all that, but no one told me that a successful twitter handle is as brief as possible. Not too short, as to be forgettable, not too long as to stick out by the sides. Just right. It took me all of 4 months to morph into StNaija. But it was worth it. 🙂

2. Break your egg.

Pictures are a universal language. The world, is a globe. One thing any Twitter user can understand is pictures. The Egg you get when you open an account needs to be changed. Fast. More on this in Part 2. 🙂

3. Create or Carve or Kidnap a niche

Where do you belong? What sort of things are you

1. Very knowledgeable about

2. Very Enthusiastic about.

Let the answers to these questions guide your Follow/unfollow, Tweet/Retweet, Mention/Ignore actions. On Twitter, Less is often more.

4. Decide why you are here

Why did you open a Twitter account?

To read? Inform? Make money? Meet people? Stay current? More on this in Part 2.

5. Watch your Profile

How well do you know your statistics?

How do they compete with ‘Industry’ averages?

What are your ratios? (More on those in…you got it…part 2.)

6. Guard it Jealously.

Yup. You have to watch that basket. Else you’ll find that your eggs hatched but some wicked tweet thief came and stole them all.

What are your strategies to keep people following you? (???)

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I hope you enjoyed that. What didn’t they tell you about Twitter? Please share with us below.

Munto Obrigado/a

Edward Please Call Me

The first time he heard her voice, he was in awe. It was a fount of fresh water, refreshing and teasing him all at once. From then on, it became his daily companion, his addiction, on the long ride from Palmgrove to Ajah each day. Its soft, sure lilt made him smile, made him wince, made him laugh aloud.

Before long he knew her schedule, had the outlay of her programs tattooed on his mind. ‘Dream, Live, Achieve, Praise’ on Mondays, ‘Celebrity Spotlight’ on Tuesday, ‘Know Your Self’ on Wednesday, ‘Be The Change’ on Thursday, ‘Kisses and Knocks’ on Friday, ‘Rock it Hard’ on Saturday, ‘Vessels Of Clay’ on Sunday.

When she was away for three days of casual leave, his world veered off orbit.

When she resumed, it revolved again.

When she got a Youtube Channel. He was one of her first fifty viewers. She was as he had imagined her: brown, beautiful, full figured and feisty.

He took in every inch of her honey brown skin, her earthy smile and the slight squint of her right eye. He would give anything to be closer to her… there were no takers.

That is how he would have remained– a faceless, irrelevant online admirer–if she hadn’t opened a Twitter account.

When she did, the dice rolled in his favour, he had clout there and he made it count.

Using his twelve odd accounts he got her 1000 followers in two weeks, it was easy from there. Soon she was an OverLady, ruling over a virtual kingdom 10,000 followers strong.

She followed him, at his official account, but still, it was hard to make the leap. What was he to say, really? The truth would make him look like a common troll, a lie would toss him into the bin, along with all the celebrity mention seekers…

As he re-read the direct message before sending, he wondered why words were such inadequate things, when they were all you had. With two deep breaths and prayers to Cupid and Fortuna, he pressed ‘Send’.

She never acknowledged the message. After a while he sent her another one, again there was no reply.
Impatience gnawed at his gut, and Rejection nibbled his liver. His carefully planned transition from online admirer to real life lover was turing into a Hungarian horror film.

He disliked the thought of mentioning her, of being so obvious. In the end he had no choice, and even then, it made no difference.

The pin that burst his balloon with a bang was waking up to find that his main account had been suspended. Over 6,000 hours of wit, networking, quotes and favourites, wiped out like they had never existed.

Twitter admin cited user abuse and said he had been reported as spam.
Did he mention a certain account more than five times in two hours?

Liquid rage ran up his throat and erupted in a groan as he flung his phone on the bed. The hardy N900 nokia split into three wholes without a qualm. No! No oo oo ! He screamed as the fury rocked him like gunfire.

In the coming days, nothing soothed the pain: not music, not whiskey, not insanity workouts, not the news that his study leave application had been approved.

He logged out of his other accounts and deleted his Youtube App. With the renewed verve, he focused on reading for his professional exams. He did well in them, his scores soaring above those of his course mates,fuelled by the his rage.

A year later, he got an offer to work as Public Relations and Social Media Consultant in a multinational telecommunications firm. It was another welcome opportunity to bury himself in work. He gave it his all.

One saturday evening, at a dinner, he saw her. She was just the way he remembered from his Nokia N900 screen–a burst of colour, animation and bright smiles. A fresh jolt of pain hit him, but he braved it and smiled back.

“Very nice to meet you,Yemi. ” He managed.

“It is ‘my’ pleasure Mr Edward.” She gushed with a wide smile and a flutter of her borrowed eyelashes.

When she left, an usher slipped him her card.

Edward, please call me. It said.

Committing the number to memory, he squeezed the card into a ball and threw it into the nearest basket. At last the pain began to ebb, in its place there sprung a delicious dash of freshly ground revenge.

As he left the dinner that night, he tuned in to her program again for the first time in years. Things were going to be quite different this time, that, he was sure of.

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My Dear Mufutua, (A Most Robust Response)

1. #LongRead

2.This article contains Pidgin English, Broken English, Street English, Igbo, Yoruba, Hausa, Ibibio and Urhobo.

3. To be read in your best Akpos voice, with your best Waffi accent.

My Dear Mufutua,

How you dey? How body? I know say you don enjoy sotay, hehe. No wahala, I happy for you. Make you dey enjoy beta tins wey dey dat side, in short, carry go!

As tins be, I for no bother to write dis long tori give you. After all, wetin self? Wetin dey for this earth? No be just to come, eat, work, die, go give account? Where me and you from sabi self? Wey I go come wan talk plenty for your matter? Abi na just dis yeye tin wey dem call Twitter? mbok, no be government work.

The tin be say dis tori don dey worry me tay. I don try hide am, try forget am, try sub-tweet am, still, the tori no gree me rest. Na im I say make I write am, at least, even if you no read am,

1. the thing go comot my mind.

2. Me go fit rest.

3. Other pipu dem, wey read fit get one or two tins for inside am, as our fathers talk, person no dey wey sabi every, na share and learn we all dey.

First of all, I wan yarn about the magic wey you do, as you Block and Unblock me so. Tuale. Congrats you hear? Just dey continue, your reward dey. Liver nor gree you make you block am keep am like that. Enjoy, just know say as bird fly for sky, im leg, dey look ground.

Second matter, I wan tell you say you no try. Me. And you. We dey for inside domot dey discuss matter, you talk say you no dey do, before I fit open my eye, you don submit your tori already.

Dat one never still do, as me self dey try tink wetin to write, you don start to campaign. Your babe dem don dey announce am for Facebook, cold and fear don dey catch me gididgba for heart. No be clear eye I take scramble submit. At least, make we see as e go be, na so I tell myself.

Next ting, your babe start to talk wetin me no fit understand. See ehn, dis world we dey, na just waka pass we be o! E no good make you dey take trouble follow people wey take beta mind follow you. Even Bible take am say : Person wey carry bad tin repay who gi’ am good tin, na so-so bad tin go dey follow am. And na true talk, if you carry bad tin pay back person wey do you good tin, na kasala you dey plant.

Finally, I wan make we talk about dis Etisalat Flash Fiction Prize matter. Onto say, the wahala don already reach international community dem. Pikin wey im mama born am for in front of CNN camera, na to open de mama leg well make camera man film am clearly as e dey commot.

Mufu, na me and you dey lament as nobody dey send writers. Airtel own na to dey throw Big Brother Africa party.

MTN own na to dey dash people private jet or do competition for pipu wey dey sing or dance.

Nobody send writers.

If dem mistakenly remember us, na so-so condition go follow the award.

If na Caine prize, you gat to dey published already. And no be all that sme-sme wey you dey do with Ani, na better publishing we dey talk, for obodo oyinbo magazine dem. Magazines like Granta, Guernica, Transitions etcetera.

If na LNG, you know na. First, as you go take find who go publish you na wahala. No be person tell Amu Nandi make she go self publish her poetry. On top say dey the top three for this year’s $100,000 (N16,500,000.00) short list, nobody fit give am book deal. A word is enough for a lagos bus driver. Owa!

if plenty condition no follow, then prize money go dey less than wetin de company dey share as free recharge card, dat kind $60 (N10,000.00), before VAT tins.

Otherwise, na state of origin sure pass. (I think I don tell you say I don see wife? Her name na Chimamara, she from Anambra. We go yarn later).

In short, for we ‘unpublished’ writers? Country no good.

Then Etisalat Flash Fiction Prize come show.

My own be say, make Baba God bless the Etisalat people wey tink about ‘unpublished’ writers.

Like say dem give this marketing job– sorry eh, competition, to another group of artists like ‘undiscovered’ artists, or ‘unrecorded’
Musicians, we for no cough.

No be say the prize dey perfect or wahala no full am. But at least, e don set leg for we side. If we no ki’ de Prize with our bad belle talk and paralogism dem.

First, first , dis go be the roughest £1000 wey the winner don ever make for im entire life, I tell you.

By the time e don comb 157 countries,

Communicate: Speak 1111+ languages,

Campaign : Beg, ask,solicit, bully, coerce pipu make dem vote.

Advertise: tweet, share to Facebbok, Whatsapp,BBM…

Mobilize: host rallies, do readings, do advocacy, do community literacy programs.

Invest: buy recharge card, buy phones for pipu wey wan vote no get phone, sponsor competitions dem to increase awareness, buy shacks for guys make their ear take clear first.

Pitch: explain the matter give Mama and Papa, say all this 24 hour waka na on top money wey no fit buy keke.

Connect: re-establish all the broken friendship and membership links with long lost cousins, exes, alumni, phone book contacts, unfriendly neighbours, snobbish cousins etcetera.

All, to find votes.

No be person go tell am, e go sabi for body.

Except if im hack am. For which I gats to pause say — Holy Ghost Fire!

Ehn-he, so no be say na pure water, indomie noodles or moi-moi to win this thing.

The competition no dey perfect. We no dey perfect. Life self no dey perfect.

Important tin be say, make we dey chop sugarcane, comot sugar, throwaway cane. Make we dey try look the beta tins wey we fit accomplish with the competition…

For where? You no gree.

You dey follow people wey no get literary destiny play with your life. You dey form elitist give people wey no sabi the difference between Munro and Morrison. You dey form hard man come dey carry last.

Mufu, I shame for you.

No be de tin wey me expect say you go do be dis o! I talk true. You wey at least you don win voting competition before, no be now wey you gon get followers small, dat time your followers no reach 200, yet you still win abi na hack you hack am?

Small pipu like us just dey warm up say we go dey dey dub your maps, at least at-all-at-all na im be winch. Na im you cross your entire answer sheet for the middle of exam, squeeze your paper, throway. Na wa! Mufu, why?

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This Is How You Lose Him.

You are handicapped from the beginning. With your face shrouded in veils, all you have to keep his attention is the inadequacy of words. It is a pittance and you know it, but still you try. You try, to make your affection seen, heard, read, felt. You try to let your love shine through. You try, even though you fail, you fail in the act, never the heart.

He is the real thing. You are sure of this. You have seen every guy in the horrid guy book: the braggart, the brawler, the beggar, the sloppy, the crook. He is different, refreshingly so. You can read it in every line he writes, tweets, and in the ones he doesn’t. You have found genius. Real genius. The kind that isn’t aware of itself or its abilities, the kind that makes a smart publisher rich, yet….

The Igbo in you is livid, how in heaven’s name can we watch this raw gold get snapped up? Just thinking of the possibilities makes you grin, yeah, this is real raw talent right here. You want to sign him on yourself, but you aren’t a publisher, have never been one, and insecurity flaps its lead wings against your breast. You sigh, long and deep. There’s no winning these things is there?

Day and night the thought is awake stabbing your mind with pitchforks, prodding your head with skewers, you cave in. After all, publishers are made, not born. You begin to google then, little things first. Stuff like ‘ABCs of publishing’ How To Start A Publishing Firm’ ‘How To Spot Great Literary Talent’ ‘Basic Finance For Publishers’.

Of course you also come across the elegy to ‘The Last Publishing House In Nigeria’. You ignore that, failure is contagious.

All that changes when she appears.

From the minute you set eyes on her elegant well-tones curves, flawless make-up and cheek-brushing eyelashes, you know the game has changed. This is no longer about keeping his attention, winning his trust, becoming an over-night African Literature publisher or anything like that.

This will be a game of seduction, a dance of desire, a duel of passion and you, are unarmed. Your man will be taken, yes he will, just because she can.

You want to scream, to mark your territory, to put up a fight. You want to paste ‘Keep Off’ signs all over his handsome six foot frame. You want to make T-shirts for him, that Say I belong to____ and type in your name. Instead you watch in disbelieving silence as the dance of desire begins.

She calls, he answers. She teases, he responds. They lol, they lmao, they sigh, they do poetry duets. They waltz up and down your timeline, like a elitist ballet, you watch, like a zombie pawn. You ache like an arthritic joint. You see the handwriting scrawled on the wall– your time is up–but it doesn’t help break your fall.

You fall hard. Your heart bounces once, skids on the slippery floors of hope, then it shatters into a a shower of pink strips. That’s not all, soon, she comes along with her industrial roller and grinds your bleeding heart to dust. You want to shout. You want to beg, to ask for a little mercy. Your dry tongue cleaves to the roof of your mouth. You are ground to dust and a part of you ceases to exist.

Time stands still. Your agony isn’t something the world wants to forget. So, instead of feeling better or allowing your organic remnants rest, you are tossed instead, into the eye of the tsunami. A wall of solid seawater is crashing into your chaos… This time, you know–you are finished.

In the transient, fragile, final moments, between the surge and when you are swept away, one thought lingers,persists, stays: you gave your best, and you did it in good faith, and if this is what you get, let the waves, come, and let them be quick.

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Day 6 : The Thing About Tusabi

When you heard about the Flash Fiction Contest you were thrilled. At last there would be something continental to support the unknown/unpublished writer. You had little experience with stories less than 300 words, but what good is a writer–a human– if they can’t learn?

Self education began at once.

Read read read . You combed the internet for stories and manuals.
Some were amazing like: For sale: baby shoes, never worn. Some were bleh like ‘Jumping Through the Window at Dawn.’ You persevered. This was your chance, all you needed were 300 words or less.

You read the manuals and spent hours meditating on their edicts: ‘Bury the ending in the middle’ ‘Don’t force a twist’ ‘Begin the story as close to the end as possible’ ‘Make sure your story has a beginning, middle, and ending’.
As part of your warm up, you open a Flash fiction category on your blog and try writing some stories too. Some are ‘nice’, some ‘vague’ but they are read and you are getting better. What more could you want?

The D-Day arrives unannounced. Thankfully, it comes with a thirty day allowance. You have an entire month to write that one story that will knock everyone’s boots off.

Then you read the voting guidelines and freeze like a pillar of rock. It dawns on you as your belly sinks between your rocky feet, that there’s no way you have a chance in this.

You feel still born, dead before you have seen your first morn. What if Japh applies with this tens of thousands of followers or Linda, with her hundreds of thousands? The thought smarts and disappointment floods your soul. Another wild squirrel chase. Another case of dreams smashed to dust.

Then you remember who you are, who you have always been. You are a writer. Unknown yes, unpublished maybe but you are a writer. And writers write, just like fish swim, and sugar sweetens. You have nothing to lose after all. There are no reading fees, no submission fees, no required publishing credits.

You weigh the options with care and decide there’s nothing to lose. Cowards die many times before their death, you aren’t one. So you start looking for the ‘perfect story’ to send.
You write about five, your friends read and love them. Which to send becomes a problem you sleep and wake up with, for a fortnight.

Then you see Tusabi already canvassing for votes for her friend on Facebook. Before you have even entered, you feel sunk. Like the relay race runner picking up a dropped baton, you hurry and scurry to at least get your entry in.

A panic of last moment tweaks has you spelling trickle and phones wrong. You want to blame home trouble or Tusabi or anything really. But it its too late and it wouldn’t change anything.

Your heart drums a reggae under your cloak of anonymity, who will vote for me? What was I thinking? Is this trouble worth it?

Then you remember all the days you spent asking companies to take an interest in the unknown writers. You imagine that publicity and readers can only be a good thing. You rationalise that one missed 100% of the shots one doesn’t take. You think of all the benefits of vote driven contests and relax. This is a win win.

Even so, you understand the risks: being passed over for a poorly written, higher voted story, being misunderstood as begging not promoting, working like a donkey and having nothing to show at the end. The thoughts send jiggles spinning round your sides. You inhale as deep as you can and let the air out like released balloon.

Voting begins and all is well. Campaign teams form, Twelebs bandy. endorsements, you get your entire family to vote. You are doing great, so it seems, until Tusabi strikes again.

This time it is a totally shocking string of allegations, self-righteous dissociation, and flagellation for the contest. The sponsors can do no right. SHE can! And they had better listen to her. Many other writers chirp in. You read and are shocked, hurt, unhappy and appalled.

For one, Tusabi has an entry in the contest! She was lobbying for her friends and you had no clue … until now. Grappling the overt disdain and ridicule heaped on the prize sponsors by a fellow entrant is numbing.

In a flash, you see the backlash, hundreds (thousands) of writing contest proposals shredded in companies across Africa.

“No, we can’t do anything for that ungrateful lot.”

“Please, the last company that tried that got dressed down and mauled. Schedule a Big Brother Welcome Party instead.”

“Shred this. Quickly.”

And in that instant, your entry campaign paled compared to the consequences of Tusabi’s attack. Something had to be done; someone had to write a rejoinder. Surely, the other writers that entered the contest after reading the terms and conditions would speak out before this attack became the canon on the contest. Surely, they would all see that despite the imperfections in the contest, there were good aspects too. They would realise that we have more to gain than to lose by allowing more writers to get read than sticking our ‘elitist’ heads in the sand.

You watched and waited for days; it became clear that no one was writing any rejoinder. Tusabi’s post was spreading like the Black plague by now. It had been read in at least thirty countries and shared by over 100 people.

Your displeasure overflowed it’s banks. No. Never. You weren’t going to sit back and watch this happen.

Yes, you were in the contest. Yes, you were liable to be flayed for seeking favour. Yes, it might backfire, a little or a lot.

But heck, at what cost? If one contestant can ridicule the prize and get publicity, praise, followers and ‘front end’ contacts in the sponsor’s management, what did you have to lose?

Besides, how would you live yourself, if in the end you find that you didn’t get enough votes, didn’t make it into the less than 1% that is 3/480 and was muted to boot?

You knew the answer instantly.
In five minutes you wrote and published ‘God Bless The Sponsors’ shared it to your friends and DLAP team and felt a boulder roll off your chest. Relief flooded your soul– a fresh wind from heaven.

You didn’t know backlash was coming, if only ….

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The introduction.
Check for the next part tomorrow.

Sagay’s Twitter Beach Party 1

When he followed her back in a blink she felt warm all over– a pleasurable sense of being desired. She had a crazy mental picture of the tall well built guy snuggling behind her, warming her back, and cupping the curve of her bum like a spoon. She cast the thought away. Newly wed women weren’t meant to think such things.

In the days that followed, she read his tweets like a self-help manual, trying to get behind the brown eyes and the bright smile. She soon learned that he loved fast cars, rooted for Manchester United FC and hated indomie noodles. She also learned that he lived in Lagos, was single and liked Jazz. They were a match, so far.

Pius wanted to know why she was always smiling when she fiddled with her phone.

“Nothing dear, just these silly http://www.thenakedconvos.com readers. Gosh! Honey can you imagine there’s another list on http://www.connectnigeria.com!”

Pius would walk out in a huff. She would stretch and zoom Dafe’s latest avi.

It would have gone on like this forever: she, a secret admirer, Dafe, another tall muscular guy in aviaspora, Pius none the wiser, but Sir Sagaysagay ( http://sagaysagay.com ) had to host a Twitter party, fifteen minutes away from her house. And Dafe had to ask her to come with him.

She couldn’t of course. What woman in her sane mind sneaks out of her home to see a stranger? On her honeymoon? Especially after the Cynthia incident? Her marriage was just four months old, darn it. Yet, a plan to attend was already born.

It was a simple plan. All she had to do was get her hair messed up. Pius couldn’t stand unkempt hair, he would be the one to chase her off to the salon. She would get neat Ghana braids done while he was at work and then dump a old wig on it. On her way home to the party, she’d discard the wig and viola! New hairdo. Yes, that would work.

That would work just fine.

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Why I Followed You

You made so much sense during the Occupy Nigeria protests, it was as close to a handshake as I could get.

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Your avi. Dang!

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When I read through your TL, I had to keep my thumbs bent, else I would retweet 4/5ths of it. You are a kindred spirit.

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Your love for God caught me off guard. It was so fresh, so strong, so irresistible. I couldn’t help myself.

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You tweet the most fascinating links. Thank you.
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Your stories are a letter from a long lost sister. Following you was a reunion. Welcome.
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With a bio like that it was a done deal. Of course nothing says it better than a random sampling of tweets.
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Thank you, following you saved me thousands in newspaper bills. My gratitude is boundless.

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An act of kindness. Help for your struggling hustle. Alas, you didn’t appreciate this. Check. You have eight followers now instead of nine.
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Mutuality. Who are you? That when an OverLord follows you, you don’t jog back? Ah! I know better than that.

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You were that one true P I had to set. I will, just haven’t gotten the liver yet.

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Reading your tweets light up my day like a thousand golden lanterns.
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You feed my muse. She has spun five characters of your antics. Don’t stop. Please. My Nobel is in you somewhere.
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You followed me when I was an egg. Nah, we are stuck. For-web-ever.
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Your support, RTs, defence, Voltronism and loyalty are unparalleled. Justice is dead, yes. But I wasn’t her murderer.
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You knew just the right reply to send at the right time. You are a keeper. That is for sure.
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Your graphics. (^•^) (‘-‘) (•’_’•)

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Your wisdom. Reading your tweets is a trip to depths of the profound. Yes, I would do it again and again.
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Your kindness. No one else noticed when I lost my cat. You are special like that.
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Fawning. Yes, that’s what it was. We all have our heroes. You were mine before the ship hit the rocks.
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Curiosity. Maybe if I follow this guy I will find out what so fabulous about him.
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Hope. If I follow maybe she will too.
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I dunno. Maybe it was just meant to be. 😉