Monday, October 22, 2012
Personal Opinions And Social Media
My writer friends on the web range from freelancers to essayists to novelists to poets. I love that they share advice, contests, quotes, articles, books and websites. But blasting personal opinions on every aspect of our culture? Not so much.
It’s not that I have a problem with opinions unlike my own. I may not always agree with your opinion, but I’ll defend your right to share it.
But an opinion once shared can’t be unshared. If I read a vitriolic attack, snide comment, or hurtful diatribe, I can’t unread it. The words are stuck in my head. And words have a power all their own, don’t they?
Say you’re a writer using social media for promotion, and to build your audience. You may have a ton of “friends” who find you through your work. You may constantly add people to your network, people who love what you’ve written, who really enjoy being a part of your professional world. After all, it’s exciting to know a writer whose byline is in a favorite magazine, or get tips from an author whose books you’ve seen in the library.
Except… these are “friends” of the writer you. They don’t really know you, the person. Until they begin to read a plethora of personal opinions. Then they begin to see what makes you, the writer, tick. How you feel about music, family, religion, politics, or pudding. And though a “friend” might not get too emotional about whether you like bread pudding served warm rather than cold, that same “friend” may get very emotional when you head into more contentious topics. Topics that can start out as an objective statement and end up in objectionable name-calling.
Now, it’s quite possible that a writer’s personal opinions will draw like-minded people in, build stronger relationships. But it’s also possible that a writer will alienate another faction of his or her audience with the very same opinion. And that’s a factor that could affect a writer’s bottom line in the market place.
So I suppose my bottom line is that I think it’s smart for writers to keep it professional out there in the wide world of the web. And honestly, I don’t think people mind hearing about Scruffy’s occasional hijinks or Junior’s latest brilliant award. It’s nice to get a peek at the human side of you, the writer.
But I’d save the strong personal and cultural opinions for the real friends, the ones who know and love you. Or consider adopting two personas, the public, professional writer you and the private, opinionated personal you.
Seems like good business to me. But then again, that’s my personal opinion. I’d really love to hear yours.
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