Thursday, August 25, 2011

Don't Be a Bonehead

by Joyce

I was scrolling through my Twitter feed the other day and saw this tweet from an author:
"GAWD I hate the XXX - nothing but legalized thugs and criminals." Except she used the real acronym. Now, my hubby happens to work for the XXX and he's the most honest person you'd ever want to meet. And considering the background check he had to go through before he was hired, and the ultra-strict protocol he must follow daily, he's as far from a criminal as you can get. So are his co-workers. Contrary to public perception, this agency has stringent requirements for its employees (more so than any other agency). They can be fired for minor infractions that would go unnoticed at most other places of employment.

I promptly unfollowed this author. I'll never buy one of her books, either.

She likely has no idea of the consequences of what she tweeted. Obviously, she was frustrated and maybe pissed off, but she should have thought before she tweeted. Maybe I'm the only reader she lost, but in this economy, every sale is important.

I have (I'm sure most of us do) strong opinions about a lot of things, but I keep them to myself. No one (other than family) will know what political party I belong to or which candidates I may support or those I think are total morons. I've unfollowed people on Twitter and stopped reading certain blogs when they get too political, even if I agree with their views. Unless a writer's platform is politics, there is no good reason to mouth off. It's a good way to alienate half of any potential readers. I'm not willing to take that chance.

The whole idea of social media is to be social. The point is to have a conversation. It's not a soapbox. Think of it as a large cocktail party. Would you spout off opinions about something if half the party goers walk away and avoid you for the rest of the evening? What if your boss was there and he had the opposite view? 

What about you? Why have you stopped following blogs or people on Twitter or Facebook? Do you think it's a good idea to keep your views private for the most part?


Ramona said...

Joyce, what a timely topic. There was a back and forth on a FB writing group recently on whether or not writers should discuss anything personal (politics, family, religion, pets, children, etc.) at all. Some took the stance that they were on FB to promote their books. Period. Their personal life belonged at home.

I wholly disagreed. I think the social part means you are there to socialize, not just BSP. Social networking allows readers and friends to see the author as a person, not just a writer. Readers want to know about the daily life and machinations of their favorite writers. (WE know it's dull as beans, but they don't!) And social means being part of society, and that includes these conflicted topics.

I like knowing some of the personal stuff about authors. I would not refuse to read an author because their political or religious opinions are counter to mine, but I might drop someone who was obnoxious or offensive in presenting it. That sounds like your problem with the XXX person.

I have this issue all the time. My husband is a journalist. If I walked away from everyone who bashed the media, I'd be a party of one.

Ramona said...

Geez, sorry, I wrote a book!

Joyce said...

I get exactly what you're saying.

I also unfollow authors who only promote their books and don't engage in any other way. If every tweet from someone basically says "buy my book"--well, I won't. Period.

From following a lot of writers, I've learned that the ones who end up selling the most books are the ones who are friendly. While they may mention they have a book coming out, the majority of their tweets are about other things. I've found a lot of new writers because I like them as a person. I'll buy their book even if it's not something I'd normally read.

Timothy Kane said...

Mostly I unfollow people who clutter the stream with only RTs and massive amounts of #FF mentions so I can't read anything else.

Joyce said...

Ack! Don't get me started on the #FF thing. An occasional one is fine, but there are definitely people who overdo it. I've never yet followed anyone because someone told me to!

Laurie said...

Not quite the same scenario, but I know what you mean. Although I tend to agree with Ramona in that I like to hear all different opinions and viewpoints; who knows, I might hear something that I never considered before, and end up changing my opinion on an issue. But like both you and Ramona stated, it has a lot to do with how the opinion is presented.

Awhile ago, I was at a new salon, and the stylist, went on and on, name calling and exhibiting what sounded like pure hatred for people who held a certain political and social opinion (that I just happen to hold). While I didn't want to engage in any sort of argument, or have my hair ruined,I sat quietly and let her rant. It was funny that she kept saying I'm really not supposed to talk about this sort of thing with customers, but continued on.

What was supposed to have been a relaxing experience ended up being rather stressful for me, and you can be certain that I will never go back. If only she had not stated her opinion with such hostility, I met feel otherwise.

Like Ramona, I apologize for writing a book!

Laurie said...

oops, I meant to write, "I might feel otherwise."

Joyce said...

Hey, write as much as you want!

I think the point is that opinions should be presented in a respectful way. Consider the fact that the person you're talking to may be "one of them." If I was in your position, I'd probably either write or call the salon owner and let him or her know that one of their stylists is likely driving customers away.

Laurie said...

Yep, that's it, Joyce! Opinions should always be stated in a respectful way.

Susan said...

I've been having this conversation with my friends for months. What do you post? What shouldn't you post? Why are we posting!!! LOL

The truth is people buy more from people they like and feel they know. But how much do you have to reveal for people to feel they know you?

As for unfollowing...if you post about your book once a week...I think you're letting me know. Once a day, I think you're not giving me credit for a memory. 3 to 10 times a day...I want to slap you. More than ten times I day, I think you're insane.

I'm right now on the verge of unfollowing two people...both of whom post "Buy my book" multiple times a day. Like 800. What is the deal with that?

But there are a few others who retweet every "good" comment they get about their books. Some of them are NYT bestsellers with huge fan bases. Do I need to hear EVERY good tweet about their books? Some days it ranges in the high 20's.

I think there's a fine line here for all of it. Promo. Happiness/excitement over a good review or tweet. Personal life. Beliefs.

Unfortunately, I don't think anyone knows where that line is yet! LOL

susan meier

Patg said...

I find the whole tweet/comment thing rather boring most of the time. Everyday stuff that tells me nothing about something I don't want to know about.
I don't unfriend or unfollow unless that person goes on daily on one subject and has nothing to say except what they believe is expected from you.
Happy vacation week fellow stiffs, I'm heading for Alaska.