Following Atticus: Forty-Eight High Peaks, One Little Dog, and an Extraordinary Friendship by Tom Ryan is published by William Morrow. It tells the story of my adventures with Atticus M. Finch, a little dog of some distinction. You can also find our column in the NorthCountry News.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Considering the Following Atticus Facebook Page, Coming Up On Five Years

Our Following Atticus Facebook page will turn five years old in January. It started out at a slow crawl, and as a suggestion of our publisher the year our book was published. A few hundred became a few thousand. By the time Will appeared, sixteen months later, there were six thousand followers. 

The page continued at that slow pace until Atticus was diagnosed with cancer fourteen months later. By then there were twelve thousand followers. But writing about cancer, the amputation, and the chemotherapy brought about a huge boon. 
Today we’re just shy of 240,000. 

I’m not sure how that happened exactly, especially to a fellow with mixed feelings about Facebook. I’ll admit that I only have my personal page so that I can have the professional Following Atticus Book page, and I limit my number of “friends” to about fifteen. I do follow about twenty “business” or “official” pages, mostly having to do with nature, veganism, poetry, and theology. I don’t often comment on those pages, but I read them regularly. It’s what I like best about social media – the idea of finding something you enjoy, and following along.  

I have my moderators to thank for keeping the page a positive place to visit. Without them, none of it would be possible. I have very few rules I ask them to enforce. Otherwise, I trust them to take care of the page the way they want and typically all goes smoothly. 

I author most of the posts, but if one of the moderators does, I request they attach their name to it. Also, I tell them not to debate or argue with people. It’s not worth it, not that it happens all too often. It’s not what our page is about. I treat it mostly as a journal and forget it is a business page most of the time.

Lastly, I ask them to see that Atticus and Will are treated the way I’ve always treated them – as individuals and by the Golden Rule. “It’s simple,” I tell them, “if something posts something about Atticus or Will you wouldn’t want posted about you, delete it.” 

We avoid breed talk since I think all dogs unique, just as I see all animals as and people the same way. 

I like that they’ve also picked up on the notion that Will, when he was with us, and Atticus now, both are older than most of us who write or read about them. Therefore, they treat them as I do, as an elder. 

On the off chance that a post disappears, and it happens probably once every two weeks, or so, it’s because for some reason it’s gone bad, whether it’s angry comments or a heaping helping of unsolicited advice. I know offering advice is a thing on Facebook, but I always feel awkward about it and try not to offer it to anyone, even in real life, unless they ask me for it.  (If it gets out of hand, like the post about how I had decided on a Winnebago Minnie for a travel trailer and received more than two hundred comments about why I was wrong, well, as I say, life’s too short so it’s better to delete the post and move on. Although it was an incredibly popular post, it turned into a headache, and that’s the last thing social media should be.  

Last week, long time follower Pamela Bingham-Hall left a good-natured comment that brought smiles to our faces. It was in response to a few of the moderators having the opportunity to read three chapters of the new manuscript. Pamela wrote of envy in a sweet way, and classified our Facebook followers, including herself, as “the followers, the cheerleaders, the sometimes over-the-line commentators, the totally inappropriate outspoken, the innocent but well-meaning ignorant.”

Bravo, Pamela! 

Running a Facebook page like ours is usually very rewarding, and when it’s not, it can seem like a Mack truck full of crazy bearing down on you. As for the readers being “innocent but well-meaning ignorant,” the same can be said of the author. 

One never can be certain how a post will be taken. We try to keep things positive and simple, occasionally, though, a person wants to be angry about something. The old Undertoad part of me knew exactly what to do with those kind of people. The changing, growing, lighter me would rather not get entangled in drama, so we just part ways with the angry or the belittling in hopes they find a site that suits their liking better. I’m grateful it hardly ever has to happen.  

Considering how crazy the world can be, and how extra crazy Internet comment sections can be, we’re extremely fortunate to have so many positive and kind people joining us for this trip.

All-in-all, I strive to keep a Facebook page up and running that's as fun to write and administer as it is to read. 

Thank you, and, onward, by all means,


Anonymous said...

You are right. There's no use having a FB page you can't enjoy or doesn't represent your views. Thank you for keeping it all positive. Thank you to the moderators too.

CLARA said...


Mary Bromilow said...

Your Facebook wisdom is admirable. Thank you Tom.

Anonymous said...

I have enjoyed reading about Will, Atticus, and you for over two years. It has touched my heart, it has prompted a few chuckles, and it is something that I seek when I log on to FB. Know that reading about you and your unique spirited friends is a treasure - life as many live or prefer to live it: little drama, lots of heart, and being present to all around us. Thank you!

Onesnap said...

Thank you for a wonderful Facebook page!

Donna Jean said...

Thanks to you and the wonderful moderators, the Following Atticus page has become a sort of Daily Bread for many of us. I go there to be uplifted and to start the day in a positive way. I've been following your story since just before Atticus got cancer and I would miss it tremendously if it ever went away. I LOVE the book Following Atticus, I've read it multiple times and enjoyed it EVERY time. Listening to Tom's voice on the audio version is a huge treat and adds another dimension to the story by hearing it from the writer himself. The Following Atticus page allows the book to never end. A great book is hard to finish because you don't want it to end. You have made it possible for the story to never end and I thank you from the bottom of my heart!!! Love & Hugs to Tom & Atticus!

Carolyn Banks said...

I am one of those persons who cannot live without a canine companion. Your life style seems perfect to me. My companion, Miranda, is young but growing in wisdom with age. I truly understand how you have related to Will, and to Atticus.

Bonnie said...

Have been with you from the beginning Tom when I received this wonderful book to read and review. Facebook can be crazy at times, but you and team have always handled it superbly!

Unknown said...

Your posts on Following Atticus Facebook page is the only reason I go on Facebook....seriously. Love the FA family that has grown over the years!

Unknown said...

I keep coming back because you've helped me change for the better. I'm still growing, & I know now that no matter what happened to me in my past, I can move past it with a little work. And a bit of letting go. Thanks for helping me clear my head Tom.

Lisa-Hamburg, NY said...

Well said. Thank you! I so enjoy your FB page and posts!

Anonymous said...

Your Facebook page has enabled us to continue "Following Attucus" after reading the book. We missed you both afterwards and we overjoyed to find your page.
Your page is now our daily guide to a very fulfilling life full of love. We are even more aware of the beauty around us.
Keep on keeping on and thank you!

Linda P said...

I look forward to your posts because, as Donna Jean says, it's like the book never ends. I read Following Atticus a couple of years ago and loved it. I have given it as a gift and recommended it to many. Please keep the story coming.

Avalon808 said...

Happy anniversary and time sure flies. Best wishes to more of Atticus and Tom.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Tom, for getting me through a time when I really didn't know if I would make it out the other side. Following Atticus was a bright light that I leaned on every day. You have influencer more lives than you will ever know, and I am sure each of you sends you blessings. Onward, by all means!

Unknown said...

I read your book just after if came out. I so have so enjoyed and still do enjoy following the adventures of Tom, Atticus and Will. I speak of Will in the present as I had a companion of 14.5 years whom we lost 2 years ago, but her memory still lives.
I actually listened to the audiobook of "Following Atticus" just last month. It was even more delightful to hear your own voice tell of the adventures, the ups and downs, and hear the love of your little companion in your voice! . I look forward to "Will's Red coat"(?) and hope that you narrate that one also!
Merry Christmas, Tom and Atticus.,
Eliza Beth Walker

Anonymous said...

Amen to it all! Thanks for sharing your love for 2 and 4-leggees with the rest of us!
I appreciate being allowed to come along on your adventures! Looking forward to "joining" in on the trip beginning this April!

Can anybody out there in Facebook land or your administrators help me figure out why I can see every post, follow everything, it cannot like or comment on anything any longer? I used to be able to! I don't think I've done anything to be kicked off the page...:o) (at least I hope not... )
I'm allowed to share content but that's all! Help, please!

Unknown said...

I am reading Following Atticus and taking a reflective break after The Little Giant chapter, which took my breath away. Memories of my White Mountain hikes are remembering. Altho never Winter hiked, i had trekked thigh high deep in snow in winter with friends up small hills in Henniker NH to test it out. Yes icicles in your hair and frozen breath. This book is so real to me and the hike I had taken was in June 1975 up the Zig Zag canyon on Mount Hood with 3 others and a small dog we had found and splintered its sprain leg. There is so much more to this story am I'd love to write it someday. Tom Ryan's writing style is so natural to read, so well written that i know I would need training. Excuse me for rambling but i am so pleased to meet Atticus thru this book and recall my hiking adventures too..

Unknown said...

Thank you Tom & Atticus,for sharing your lives with me. I read your first book a few years ago,and just finished reading about Will. I could not stop crying, you are so inspiring !!!! Such a wonderful creature Will was to reach out and love again. I can not thank you enough, Tom, for taking the time to share your love with all of us,and encouraging all of us to be better people.I hope to meet you & Atticus one day on my journey home to New England. With much love, Susan