Monday, April 6, 2015

Social Media and Author Maturity

Recently on Twitter, I saw an author tweet about people they had blocked, mostly because of a disagreement over a subject. Out of a strange curiosity, I reviewed their twitter feed, and discovered that it was mostly them boasting about blocking people left and right, and for a variety of subjects. What took me aback by all this was not only did this person seem mean spirited towards the people they had blocked (referring to them by an ad hominem or a cruel name), but their tweets suggested that they had blocked quite a large number of people. They likewise took a "woe is me" attitude, as if the opinions of these people, and the action of having to block them, made this person a martyr on par with Saint Sebastian or Joan of Arc.

At first, I wasn't quite sure how to take all this; after some thinking, I felt inspired to write a blog post on this kind of attitude.

Of course, as one must always do on the internet when you first begin making suggestions or talking about a subject, let me make a few things clear: I understand this is the internet, and people are going to do what they want to do, and I can't control anyone, etc., etc., etc. Don't take this post as a declaration ex cathedra that must be obeyed; look at it as an author speaking to other authors and offering advice - mainly in why this attitude is a wrong one to take.

First, this kind of attitude is unnecessary social media drama. Seriously, I loathe Facebook because this sort of thing permeates it: people blowing their gasket at the first sign of contrary thought, then blocking people left and right over every tiny little thing. Blocking people because you disagree with them (even with a mute or unfollow function readily available) is just being a drama llama - especially if you proceed to go around bragging about it like you are some poor martyr who was compelled to do so.

That's not to say there's never a reason to block someone. Generally, I work by these rules in regards to blocking:
  1. If you post pornography or stuff in general that would embarrass me to see on my feed, were my wife to be sitting next to me.
  2. If your account is spam or doesn't serve any purpose that might produce some form of interaction.
  3. If you keep doing the "follow for automatic follow-back" thing several times (at that point, you're being obnoxious).
  4. If you're a jerk or generally act disrespectful to myself or to friends/family, and to the point that friendly interaction is no longer possible.
  5. If you're the Game of War Twitter account.
However, if someone's opinion or personal action, especially one that most people would find inconsequential (eg., celebrating Valentine's Day), upsets you so much that you have to block them...then you're demonstrating a great level of immaturity. Welcome to the real world: there are going to be people who disagree with you. You're going to have to coexist with people who disagree with you. And it's those people's absolute right to post their views on their account, provided they aren't going to an extreme in doing so. Unless they're directly attacking you, don't go blocking them or crying on social media about how you were somehow forced to block others, when all you could have done was count to ten and moved on with life.

There are people I regularly interact with on Twitter who I disagree with politically, religiously, etc., and while I'm not saying that I'm alright with every single thing they tweet or share, I try my best not to have a knee jerk reaction towards it. I try to avoid feeling the need to purge my feed of contrary opinion. Even if I choose to disagree openly, I try to do so in a respectful manner, and with consideration for their viewpoint. That's not to say I'm perfect - I could definitely go back in time and rebuke myself with this post. I've had to mature with online interaction, let alone real life interaction. One thing I've tried to live by is you choose your battles, and you choose what hill you want to die on. What's more, you have to remember that others outside your little conflict are watching and observing you, which brings me to my next point...

Second, it's a foolish way to act, given you are the persona of your material. That is, you are the face of your product, which is your literary work. One thing that is commonly harped about on most indie guides is that, as an indie author, you are marketing yourself. You don't have a publicist to be your public face, or to deal with the media when you go on a drunken rampage through downtown Los Angeles. As obvious it might sound, you are literally who people perceive you to be. Being an indie author permits people to see you in the "raw." They see you in the way you present yourself.

So, if you act like a ten-year old and flood your feed with stuff that makes fun of people for a variety of reasons, you present yourself  as that sort of person. Of course, your friends and those who agree with you probably aren't going to berate you, but you're going to create this aura around you that others are definitely going to notice. There's a reason why a writer like Norman Boutin is so infamous: because of how he acts, especially towards other people. There's a reason an artist like Tom Preston gets so much flack: because he's constantly playing victim, complaining about things that shouldn't bother him, and blocking anyone who displeases him in the slightest. Yes, you have a right to your opinion, and yes, you too have a right to do with your social media account what you choose to do...but remember what you are, and what you are trying to do. You're not only selling your product; you're selling yourself.

Again, I understand it ultimately boils down to what you want to do with your account, even if that includes blocking everyone who openly celebrates Valentine's Day, or everyone who's a Postmillennial because you're a Historic Premillennial. However, as I said before, remember your ultimate goal, and what you are trying to do. Are you really trying to build a reader base, or are you trying to gather together a team of monomaniacal sympathizers and supporters to come to and pat your back every single time you feel slightly depressed? We all have our bad moments, but if you examine yourself and find that you are repeating this over and over again, it will snowball at some point.

4 comments:

  1. I’ve never blocked anyone, twitter or blog. Unfollowed, yes, on rare occasion, but never blocked.

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    1. LIBERTARIAN!?!?! *BLOCK!*

      Just kidding :P I've blocked a few people in my time, but yeah, it's a rare occasion, and usually after prolonged consideration. Recently I blocked someone on FB, and it was years in the making.

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  2. Sadly, future generations will look back at this 'Age' and despair at how far the human race has fallen. 'Social' media fails on so many levels.

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    1. I don't wanna sound like a Luddite (because let's be fair, social media can have it's uses), nor a hypocrite (because I certainly have social media accounts, albeit for various reasons), but...yeah. In deadly hands, it just lessens our thinking process.

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