Last week, Sarah wrote about status, achievement and diplomacy. I’ll admit, she was much nicer about it than I would have been. It is something she and I have talked about a great deal over the years of our acquaintance. The discussions usually begin with something along the lines of “Can you believe. . . .” and relate to some author’s antics on social media.
You’d think with social media now an every day part of our lives that folks would learn to think before hitting that enter button. Not just think about what they wrote but how it would be perceived. Unfortunately, they don’t. Or they simply don’t care. Honestly, I’m beginning to believe it is more the latter than the former that comes into play each time Sarah and I start yet another conversation about an author behaving badly on social media.
You see, these authors don’t give a flying rat’s ass about how their words will be perceived beyond seeing someone react. They live by the adage that even bad press is good press. They want people talking about them in the mistaken belief it will translate Into sales.Sure, they might see a bump initially but they don’t take the long view and realize consistently pissing off their audience will cost them fans and sales.
Then, when they’re called out for their behavior, too many of them either try to paint themselves as victims or double-down on the behavior that caused the raised eyebrows in the first place. I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of it.
There is no reason for writers to act like assholes, especially to their readers or to other writers. Sure, there are some who have carefully cultivated online personas as trolls or such. But those writers, like Mad Mike, very carefully do not personally attack other people. I might often cringe at some of the stuff Mike posts but I know he’s really one of the nicest men you could want to meet. I also know if you are foolish enough to attack him, he will respond in kind–as certain idiots found out when they decided to try to force Wikipedia to take down his page because he wasn’t “noteworthy” enough of a writer. These are the same people who then whined and whinged when Mike went after them for their lies. They tried to use his responses as justification for their initial attack on him. A quick check of Wiki this morning shows the challenge to the page has been removed. Score one for the good guys.
What is important to note here is that many of those authors who would have been up in arms if this had happened to a lesser known author of the “correct” political bent were silent or openly backing the move. Why? Because Mike doesn’t bow down to their wokeness and march in lockstep to the cause du jour.
What happened to just writing good stories people wanted to read? That seems to have been forgotten in the race for the holy grail of social media hits. I don’t know about you, but I’ve had enough.
There are writers out there who know how to have an active social media presence without using other writers as their stepping stones to fame–or, more accurately, infamy. They use their feeds to discuss politics without being a douche about it–or they leave politics out of it completely. They certainly don’t use their accounts to belittle, insult or otherwise do anything to negatively impact another author.
Guess which authors I’m more likely to follow.
Social media isn’t your license to be an ass. Most of us really aren’t close to being as funny or insightful as we think we are, especially in a short comment or meme. So think long and hard before hitting the enter button to decide if you really want to let that comment or image out into the wild. Remember, the internet never forgets and even if you delete it, someone will have screen capped it or archived it or something. It will come back to haunt you.
Just ask all those journalists who are whining right now because their tweets from a decade ago are being pulled up and used to show they aren’t as “woke” as they claim to be.
The same goes when you feel the urge to respond to that negative review. Don’t. Just don’t.
In other words, use some common sense. Ask yourself why you are about to post whatever it is and what it’s impact will be on you and others. Is getting a day or two of “discussion” worth the potential loss of fans and sales? If not, then shrug your shoulders and don’t hit “post”.
Sure, there are some things you have to stand up for. But what that is is up to you. Not every author is comfortable talking politics in public. Others don’t talk religion or sex or whatever.
There are no set rules but there is common sense. Ask yourself if what you are about to post is something you would say in mixed company at a business meeting? Or would you say it to potential customers in a one-on-one? Or would you talk to your mother (or daughter) about it over Sunday dinner? If you answered “no”, reconsider posting it, at least in its current form and format.
And don’t be an asshat. Most of us can’t carry it off and only manage to piss off people when we try.
Finally, ask yourself what you want people to focus on–your books or your personality? For me, it’s my books. If you want them to think about an issue, consider spending more than a 100 character tweet or a meme to make your point. Write a freaking blog post and invite comments. Do a guest post for someone under another name if you don’t want it to be identified with your “author” name.
And don’t be a jackass about it. Be a wordsmith instead.
Featured Image via Pixabay.