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Don’t Be A Jackass

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.

26 Comments
  1. Good advice, for anyone who posts on the Internet.

    August 27, 2019
  2. Yep. By all means have opinions, but don’t be mean and foolish about them.

    August 27, 2019
    • As the old tradition goes:
      “Don’t be a dick.”

      August 27, 2019
  3. “What happened to just writing good stories people wanted to read?”

    Is that still a thing? TradPub stopped doing it about eight years ago, by my count.

    August 27, 2019
    • Mary #

      That’s our opening.

      August 27, 2019
  4. LTC Ted Ung #

    In re: Writing good stories, I happened upon Dorothy Sayer’s Trinitarian exegesis, “The Mind of The Maker.” Her purpose was to analogize the Christian Trinity by comparing it to the processes of the artist at xer best (sorry, didn’t resist). In so doing, I think she gives helful advice to all who wish to emulate the Christian Creator, as human creator.

    August 27, 2019
    • the artist at xer best (sorry, didn’t resist)

      lulz

      August 27, 2019
    • Mary #

      I found it more helpful than hellful, so I will presume that’s the missing letter.

      August 28, 2019
  5. Synova #

    In our current climate it’s probably impossible to *not* have an opinion… for example, to decide to be in the political closet, or even the religious closet, or heaven help you, keep your opinions about social issues to yourself, and be allowed to continue that way.

    And it might even be impossible to be allowed a moderate opinion on anything since a failure to squawk at the appropriate volume will get you accused of bad thought. Cheer the loudest and don’t be the first one to stop clapping…

    Or don’t.

    Because there’s no point to it. The accusations have nothing to do with you. I’m completely convinced of this. You’re simply available, that’s all. Monsters are needed and monsters will be had.

    So what should you do? Probably just have integrity to your own real beliefs and opinions and avoid being reactionary and letting other people push you one way or the other.

    Hmm… I’m trying to decide if this is neutral enough for this purposefully neutral blog. Yes, maybe. I think that everything I said does go for everyone who isn’t themselves a fringe *ssh*le who doesn’t know how to behave themselves in public. And no matter who you are or what you care about, if you’re deliberately limiting your audience to the choir, you’re doing it wrong.

    August 27, 2019
  6. TRX #

    There are several authors whose work I enjoyed, who couldn’t resist opposing principles I stand for, or demographic groups I am part of.

    I still enjoy those works, but I won’t be seeing any newer ones. Because this isn’t the 20th century, when any book I hadn’t seen before was a cause for celebration. Now there are more books than I can possibly read. So those authors who made the deliberate choice to piss off large chunks of their readerships… “there are more out there, and better than you.”

    August 27, 2019
    • There are a few historians like that for me. I value their early work, but they began to see certain modern trends as “ZOMG just the same as Stalin!!!” and are wading at the edge of the deep end. If I need one of their more recent works, I’ll get it from the library and read carefully.

      August 27, 2019
    • Religiously, Mark Shea.

      I won’t throw out the books I have from when he was sane– but I’m not going to his blog, now, and I’m actively opposing him. Because he went nuts.

      August 27, 2019
  7. Christopher M. Chupik #

    Good advice, but you’re preaching to the choir here. The writers who desperately need to hear this advice aren’t reading this blog.

    August 27, 2019
    • If my tealeaf reading is right, a few of them are.

      They probably won’t listen, but that is ALWAYS the way of it.

      August 27, 2019
      • Christopher M. Chupik #

        Well, there are a few who read our blogs to get material for their own, but they aren’t likely to take our advice on anything.

        August 27, 2019
      • Oh, you mean the Lurking Twerp Brigade, the ones who look here to sniff out scandal and then run back to tattle at their little hives of scum and villainy.

        Mostly because they’ve been banned here for being jackasses, and they can’t REEEE!!! at us.

        August 27, 2019
  8. MattB #

    It is better to keep your mouth closed and be thought a fool, than to open it and remove all doubt.

    August 27, 2019
  9. Well said.

    August 27, 2019
  10. I think that my time in military broadcasting/public affairs installed a kind of social media governor on me – and I started posting to a then-quite-popular milblog early on. (2002, for the matter of record.) Very early on, one of my first NCOs and mentors advised, “If you have to think about whether you should say it before you say it on air … probably best not say it at all.”
    And yes – military broadcasters were as rude, off-color, and outright filthy as any other military sub-group that any of us other veterans can mention. But we all had this sense of what was appropriate drilled into us from early on. With me, it was at the point where I had trouble even bringing myself to announce the titles of some pop songs on air, they were so questionable.
    I consider it an eleventh commandment: “Thou Shalt Not Kick Thine Audience in the Teeth.”

    August 27, 2019
    • Christopher M. Chupik #

      But how else can they prove their superiority if not by crass displays of power? /sarc

      August 27, 2019
    • Stephen Eric Rubin #

      Exactly, As a reader, I expect a book to treat me fairly and with respect. And I’m old-school enough to care only about the book and me, and NOT the author’s public persona.

      August 28, 2019
  11. This is utterly off-topic, but I don’t care. It is made of awesome.

    You’re all welcome. ~:D

    August 27, 2019
  12. Matt B #

    I have stopped reading or supporting a number of authors who ticked me off over the years. I still support the ones that I like who didn’t. I agree. Don’t be a jerk. People like me remember.

    August 27, 2019
    • Mary #

      There are writers who manage to hide their opinions when writing UNTIL you know what they are. Then you notice the ax grinding.

      August 28, 2019

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