So today I am going to talk about something unpopular, but hey. Someone has to do it. I really like Facebook. Actually, probably like it a bit too much, LOL. But lately? I just don’t even want to sign on. The non-stop ranting is just too much. Seriously. And it used to just be during an election year but now it is just non-freaking-stop. Everyone has some new thing to be pissed off about.
It won’t matter who wins the election we will likely endure rants about the next topic and the next and ENOUGH.
I work from home, which means I am alone the entire day, every day. The only socialization I get is on-line and frankly? I am getting really tired of being constantly poked with a stick. I am going to just throw this out there….
It actually IS possible to like and love people who are not just like us.
Just to be clear. I am friends with all kinds of people. All ages, races, political views, gays, trans…doesn’t matter. I like people. But what has been happening on social media is that too many people are forgetting the social norms that guide these forums.
As writers using social media, we need to remember we are creating a brand when on-line. The point of a brand is creating a name with the power to drive sales. We aren’t Regular Joe who can post whatever thought flits through his head without consequence.
We are selling to human beings who have real feelings and we are wise to consider that especially since we work a job that is 100% commission in a market that is ridiculously over saturated.
Readers are human beings. Humans are not rational creatures, especially when they are attacked. Have an opinion. Have a belief. We are writers, not Pod People. But carefully articulating an opinion is NOT what I am talking about.
It is the non-stop hateful memes, the ranting, the “If you like puppies better than kittens then just unfriend me now!” We are wordsmiths. Writers are powerful. Show me a sweeping social change, and I will show you the book that started it.
Never in the history of ever did calling someone stupid make them suddenly change their world view.
Avoid the Extremes
Any time I mention that bad behavior on-line will cost sales I immediately get attacked (ironically). Writers scream I am censoring them, that they don’t want to be whitewashed. But please calm down. This is not an all or nothing game. Just because I am calling for civility, manners and some BALANCE in no way means that I am calling for writers to hang up their beliefs.
By being on-line we are hoping to forge relationships and whether we like it or not, relationships have rules. Does it mean we never mention something we find upsetting or worrisome? No. Does it mean we don’t have thoughtful discussions or debate issues? No.
I am simply asking for folks to stop camping out in Negativity Land.
This happens in life. Do we want to hang around people who do nothing but complain? I have people I know in person who I won’t talk to because they do nothing but bitch and moan.
I hate my job. I had a bad day. My roof fell in. My dog died. My boss is mean. My coworker yelled at me. My neighbor is a jerk.
So I avoid their calls. I just don’t want to be depressed all the time.
There are a lot of writers doing this on-line. Their posts are just a nonstop barrage of complaining and being outraged. They are lacking any balance. It isn’t one post out of twenty mentions the election or birth control or rape culture or bathrooms or race issues. It is EVERY post.
Thus, I am pointing out the obvious. Yes, we have a right to camp in Negativity Land, but that comes at a cost. If every time readers check into Facebook we leave them upset or in tears? Doesn’t inspire them to buy our books.
Political Ranting WILL Cost Sales
Again, let’s be clear. Having an opinion is vastly different from non-stop ranting, name-calling, berating and bullying. Yet, whenever I say political ranting is going to cost sales, I get howls of protest.
That’s not fair!
No, it isn’t. But life isn’t fair and fair is a weather condition. This is just common sense here.
If we make a habit of constantly stomping on people, guess what? While we have a right to spout off every opinion, others also reserve the right to buy from authors who don’t constantly berate them and put them on the defense.
If we acted this way in a workplace? We’d be written up and fired for creating a hostile working environment.
Do I mind a post here and there about politics? Even those I disagree with? Even inflammatory ones? Of course not. But think of Facebook (or any social site) like a cocktail party. There is a difference between mentioning a subject or discussing a belief or even having a spirited debate versus cornering someone and going for their throat.
It is called courtesy.
Please appreciate that no matter what view we hold, at least 50% of the population will disagree and they have a right to. So when we draw that line in the sand and force people to choose sides—If you don’t agree with me we can’t be friends—that just cut potential readership in half. Additionally, since most artists lean the same way? Now a LOT of authors are trying to get the same readers from half the available pie in a grossly over saturated marketplace.
My political views actually don’t impact me enjoying a good romance, zombie book, science fiction or whatever and I actually want to sell books to all kinds of people, not just clones of myself. Conversely, I buy and read books from authors who are different from me too!
Imagine that 😉 .
I really don’t mind a writer being liberal and don’t care. My favorite writers are vastly different from me. I don’t care about politics, I care about behavior.
I care that I have literally spent YEARS being called names and yelled at. And, when I mention that behavior might be a problem, l hear all the same protests.
THIS IS CENSORSHIP!
I am a writer and I have rights and I have beliefs and you can’t censor me!
First of all, I am not censoring anyone. Censoring would be reporting you to Facebook every time I disagreed and getting your profile shut down. THAT is censorship. Dog-piling people who disagree with us is censorship. Unfriending people who disagree is censorship.
What I am advocating isn’t censorship, it is self-restraint. Being kind and polite requires we put a governor on our mouth and actually consider the feelings of others. We actually do this all the time in the real world.
I HAVE RIGHTS!
Yes, yes you do. But guess what? Others do too.
Well, It is Only Until After the Election
When I mention the ranting is getting old, often I get “Well I am only doing this until the election is over.” What these folks may not appreciate is I have had to endure TWO YEARS of being yelled at and called names. That would test even the best of relationships. And what they are really saying is, “I am only doing this until the election is over and my candidate wins.”
And please also understand that just because a person holds liberal views or conservative views in no way means they are die-hard fans of either candidate.
Some of us just want to stay home.
Consider the Market
My job is to teach authors how to brand and how to build a platform that will drive sales. When we get as big as Stephen King or J.K. Rowling we have earned the luxury of doing and saying what we want.
Until then? We need all the readers we can get.
With no gatekeepers in play the sheer volume of books readers have to sift through is staggering. Competition is a nightmare. I get writers who complain they aren’t getting sales, that they can’t quit the day job and write full time, that their career is stalling but often these are the same writers who are non-stop-rant-factories on-line.
When I suggest, Hey, ever thought of not being an a$$hole for a while?
I get a lecture about their rights to have an opinion.
*throws up hands*
At the end of the day, write what you want, post what you want, say what you want. Call people names. It’s a free country. But appreciate that readers are tired and worn and fearful and they will gravitate to places where they can find some peace. Readers read fiction to escape the sh*% that many authors are greedily shoveling into their feeds.
Manners are free. Have a Snickers. We are all friends 😉 .
What are your thoughts?
I LOVE hearing from you!
To prove it and show my love, for the month of OCTOBER, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).
September’s winner of my 20 page critique is Matt Bowes. Please send your 5000 word Word document (double-spaced, Times New Roman Font 12 point) to kristen@wana intl dot com.
Check out the other NEW classes below! Including How to Write the Dreaded Synopsis/Query Letter! I have also included new times to accommodate the UK and Australia/NZ folks!
All W.A.N.A. classes are on-line and all you need is an internet connection. Recordings are included in the class price.
NEW CLASS! OCTOBER 14th Pitch Perfect—How to Write a Query Letter & Synopsis that SELLS
You’ve written a novel and now are faced with the two most terrifying challenges all writers face. The query and the synopsis.
Query letters can be daunting. How do you sell yourself? Your work? How can you stand apart without including glitter in your letter?
***NOTE: DO NOT PUT GLITTER IN YOUR QUERY.
Good question. We will cover that and more!
But sometimes the query is not enough.
Most writers would rather cut their wrists with a spork than be forced to write the dreaded…synopsis. Yet, this is a valuable skills all writers should learn.
FRIDAY October 21st Your Story in a Sentence–Crafting Your Log-Line
Log-lines are crucial for understanding the most important detail, “WHAT is the story ABOUT?” If we can’t answer this question in a single sentence? Brain surgery with a spork will be easier than writing a synopsis. Pitching? Querying? A nightmare. Revisions will also take far longer and can be grossly ineffective.
As authors, we tend to think that EVERY detail is important or others won’t “get” our story. Not the case.
If we aren’t pitching an agent, the log-line is incredibly beneficial for staying on track with a novel or even diagnosing serious flaws within the story before we’ve written an 80,000 word disaster. Perhaps the protagonist has no goal or a weak goal. Maybe the antagonist needs to be stronger or the story problem clearer.
In this one-hour workshop, I will walk you through how to encapsulate even the most epic of tales into that dreadful “elevator pitch.” We will cover the components of a strong log-line and learn red flags telling us when we need to dig deeper. The last hour of class we will workshop log-lines.
The first ten signups will be used as examples that we will workshop in the second hour of class. So get your log-line fixed for FREE by signing up ASAP.
Those who miss being in the first ten will get a deeply discounted workshop rate if they would like their log-line showroom ready.
SATURDAY, October 22nd Blogging for Authors
Blogging is one of the most powerful forms of social media. Twitter could flitter and Facebook could fold but the blog will remain so long as we have an Internet. The blog has been going strong since the 90s and it’s one of the best ways to establish a brand and then harness the power of that brand to drive book sales.
The best part is, done properly, a blog plays to a writer’s strengths. Writers write.
The problem is too many writers don’t approach a blog properly and make all kinds of mistakes that eventually lead to blog abandonment. Many authors fail to understand that bloggers and author bloggers are two completely different creatures.
This class is going to cover:
- How author blogs work. What’s the difference in a regular blog and an author blog?
- What are the biggest mistakes/wastes of time?
- How can you effectively harness the power of algorithms (no computer science degree required)
- What do you blog about? What topics will engage readers and help create a following?
- How can you harness your author voice using a blog?
- How can a blog can help you write leaner, meaner, faster and cleaner?
- How do you keep energized years into your blogging journey?
- How can a blog help you sell more books?
- How can you cultivate a fan base of people who love your genre.
Blogging doesn’t have to be hard. This class will help you simplify your blog and make it one of the most enjoyable aspects of your writing career.
For those who need help building a platform and keeping it SIMPLE, pick up a copy of my latest social media/branding book Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World on AMAZON, iBooks, or Nook.
Well there, I think this is an issue of market. My books are dystopia and contemporary fantasy thrillers. They are political and emotional and they have five star reviews, lots of them, from people who are political, emotional and angry. My readers are attracted because of hard-hitting blog posts that make them feel included and give them a feeling of not being alone in this f–ing mess. So, this is your opinion. You are as much a ranter as anyone. This is just the opinion you’re ranting about.
But whether Kristen is “ranting” or not, she is taking the high road in doing so. She is pointing out an issue that is plaguing social media, plaguing authors, and basically plaguing human beings all together, and she is doing it with class. Her idea that we all need to grow the F up and start acting like adults shouldn’t be that hard to agree with. Yes, it is mere opinion, but it is also the MATURE and humble opinion- one that always wins in the end. If you wish to rant about which side is better than the other, by all means, that’s your right. Just know that it WILL cost you readers, 5 star reviews or not.
Blackadder: Baldrick, have you no idea what “irony” is?
Baldrick: Yes, it’s like “goldy” and “bronzy” only it’s made out of iron.
Thanks, Kristen, I needed a smile – Be Well – #amwriting #snickers
I always enjoy your blogs, Kristen, and thank you for inspiration on what to do my January/February column on! You got my writer wheels turning!
Thanks for a great post! Now, if more people would read this and apply.
At the same time…you COULD go onto FB a little less often. 😉 Admittedly, I’m there very seldom, as I know many posts are either lame–“Look what I had for lunch today!”–or volatile, and since there’s no use getting into a spat online, I’m left angry…with nowhere to channel the emotion–haha!
Anyway, thanks for speaking for those of us who wouldn’t articulate our frustrations as well as you do. 🙂
Yeah my problem is I get lonely. I work from home and not a lot of people around during the day so I hop on FB to chat in between writing.
I recently posted about pretty much this topic on my Facebook page. Facebook has stopped being fun because instead of being kind everyone wants to be right. Posting hateful messages doesn’t change anything and you won’t convince anyone to vote your way. We could change the world if all that hate was used toward something good.
Thank you. Period.
Amen! People seem to forget that twitter rants and inflammatory FB posts only appeal to people who already agree with them and alienate everyone else. Not a good business plan to alienate half your audience. No one is switching sides and changing their vote. They’re just unfollowing a bunch of people.
I could not agree more, and have been actively avoiding Facebook for that exact reason. It’s a shame too, since such fiery, passionate beliefs would be far more productive if channeled inward and utilized as inspiration for future characters and plot lines. Just imagine the stories that could be crafted as a result!
This is exactly what authors need to hear. I’m sick to death of the ranting and stress which is overtaking my happy place. I, too, work from home and have been saying this exact same thing. Friends create sales, reviews, and word of mouth. You want friends? Then stop drawing lines in the sand, stop belittling people, and stop the hate. It is immature and, frankly, makes people look like bullies. I sure don’t want to buy a book from someone I feel bullied by.
Amazing. I just came on here to post a comment and you already have dissension out of four comments. You called it.
I completely agree. When did everything all of a sudden become all or nothing? If you don’t agree with me, we can no longer talk about anything. Geez. I rarely agree with everyone. Maybe I should move into a cave…at this rate I’ll never have another friend… great post! Thanks for the reminder that we all have opinions.
Reblogged this on Erotic Vampire and commented:
Life isn’t fair and fair is just a weather condition. I love this post.
As a reader, I love to pick up a book by somebody who disagrees with me, and sometimes getting angry about it is a fun part of the experience. Sometimes.
Reblogged this on Chimaeral and commented:
This reblog comes from Kristen Lamb and talks about something very important – especially in the current climate on social media – how to handle political discussion (and other hot topics) on social media with your personal brand in mind. It’s a long post, but well worth the read!
This side of the pond is a little more calm, except for the rise in disgusting racist attacks aftet Brexit. As for me, I’m out of Facebook. Too poisonous. I care very much about social issues, but the culture of death by social media has eroded people’s capacity to accept views that differ. I have been guilty of this too. A couple of years ago, I thought all conservatives were close-minded bigots. Imagine my horror when I actually LISTENED to some views from conservatives and thought either “Hmm, you have a point there,” or “I hate to say it, but I agree.” Nowadays, I reject all political categories. I care nothing for the label of left/right, liberal/conservative, Democrat/Republican. I refuse to see myself as fitting a box, and to be honest, I think more Americans should be man enough to admit they don’t either. So writers should aim to engage with as broad an audience as possible and encourage the freedom of speech and thought we all extol, but never actually practice.
Yeah, I have to agree with this…even if I am guilty of going a bit overboard at times. But I try to refrain and I try to stay open minded and flexible in any discussion.
I’m a newbie to your blog and I think I’m going to like it here. As a “furriner” watching from the sidelines, I have to wonder what your founding fathers would have to say about it all. The rhetoric and madness south of our border is funny as hell and not a little alarming. Some of our reputed Canadian politeness could go a long way towards mitigating this acrimony.
Love this! ?
Sent from my iPhone
What annoys me about the FB trend of late is the nature of the ranting. A lot of what I see on my feed breaks down to ‘unsupported assertion is true, therefore my view is valid,. Because this somehow gets tied in to personal self-worth the result is effectively a personal screaming match. And it is not pleasant to read. As you say, its death to an author brand. I lament the loss of reason… though to have reasonable discussion would require more than a six-word aphorism as an assertion of self, which is what a lot of the ranting devolves to. Sigh.
You’re right, Kristen we all know (but some of us forget) that anything said online is there forever and if you’re a writer it can be off putting to at least half your audience. I don’t know how you make it work for you, but it must be worth it to put up with the ranters.
I think that (Anti) social media is an amorphous entity that works on the principle that might is right. It used to be called mob rule, only the violence and intimidation is verbal now. I despise it. Your three dimensional friends may bitch and moan, don’t we all occasionally. But they are flesh and blood. You know their strengths and their weaknesses; their body language gives them away. You can look beyond the occasional rant (or not). That’s my particular rant. 🙂
It’s sad that social media isn’t ‘social’ any more. Lots of people have their soapbox and use it a lot. I’m leery of any one who posts “All ____ are idiots!” type posts. I don’t care if they happen to be the same political or religious affiliation. Children think in terms of being all bad or all good, as an adult we are suppose to rationalize that people have flaws and are different. I keep hoping Facebook becomes a place for sharing ideas, but my hope is fading. Not too long ago and local news station posted a ‘Breaking’ story of a shooting and the story was evolving. I was one of the first to comment with “I hope everyone is ok” 10 mins later the news station updated the same post with “Breaking News: 1 fatality in shooting.” The response to my initial comment started – “Can’t you read?” “OMG What kind of idiot are you, it says in the post 1 fatality” … it was a dog pile of negative comments & snarky remarks. I finally chimed in and said “that’s horrible, when the story first posted no fatalities were known. I hope there are no more, in case there is another update as of this comment at 9:42 pm PDT there is only one fatality” One person apologized and deleted her post. I wouldn’t think of responding to anyone’s comment demeaning them. Now when I see breaking stories, I don’t comment.
Reblogged this on Mystery and Romance and commented:
Kristen Lamb says: “I don’t care about politics, I care about behavior,” and I agree completely!
I love this post. I’m voting for you as a write-in candidate.
In the middle of your blog I found the word “civility.” I don’t take to mean that you can’t use the word “fuck” or “pussy.” By all means. MY background tells me I will have few people who will agree with my opinions. I would hate it if they did. I love learning what others believe and why. But there is a civil way to have a dialogue, and telling people to “fuck off” or that they are “assholes” is far from the mark of being considerate and engaging.
Yes, Facebook is the new poster child of people attacking other people with deadly epitaphs that a even on the devil’s headstone it would be judged a little harsh.
I am prone to jump into discussions. I strive to be civil, and discuss what I know and believe. I don’t expect anyone to adopt my position, rather I hope they feel comfortable chatting with me. That is why I joined Facebook.
I posted this the other day on my FB page.
I have become more concerned for my friends and acquaintances than I have of any politician.
I guess folks are truly afraid of what might happen should one or the other of the candidates get elected to office. And none of this has anything to do with the real issues of the day. There is scarce a glance to all the pressing problems our country and the world is facing. Instead we are acting like a bunch of nosey neighbors chatting over the fence on the latest gossip.
But, open your mouth for or against one of the Presidential candidates and you will feel the sharp point of argument paint you as an asshole for starters, and totally stupid, bigoted, racist, and sexist as the tirade heats up. Not once will a real issue be raised.
Thank God for good music and whiskey.
Oh, and should any of you see any of my friends or acquaintances, please say “hi,” I’m afraid to.
I said something similar in a post to a friend on facebook, (a friend that agrees with me, natch), that it’s just becoming a cesspool. Nobody in the history of ever was convinced to change a complete worldview by a facebook post. Ever. So, why the screaming? My guess it’s just a manifestation of personal panic, frustration, and/or fear. But it does make scrolling down the homepage fairly unpleasant.
So, for the last few weeks, I’ve been systematically going through my settings on facebook, trying to get some control over the beast. Facebook’s algorithms fight you every step of the way, of course, but eventually you can be fairly sure you aren’t contributing to the mess. Unfollowing people who drive me nuts is a necessary evil until the silly season is over. It’s not disagreement that does it for me. It’s mindlessness. It’s the relentlessness. It’s the not even trying to see that the other side is human.
As for my own posts, I take advantage of the ability to select certain audiences for certain things, and after having placed all my friends into one bucket or another (which, yes, takes a while and takes some thinking), now I’m pretty sure that anyone who I don’t personally know is only seeing the apolitical side of me. And if I’m getting virulent memes from scrolling by from a friend I do know, I put them in the acquaintance bucket too. Generally, I’ve got “Friends” (anyone), “Close friends”, “acquaintances”, “Family”, plus some categories I’ve created myself. And I *use* those categories. Relentlessly. People who are just going to be pissed at something ought not even be aware that they haven’t seen it. I consider it to be like call-screening. No need to spam them.
I note my friends’ leanings when I accept their request (or make my own request). If they simply disagree but seem generally civil about it, I’ll leave them on the friends list. If they are virulent, or I really just don’t know, off to acquaintances they go.
I’ve also gone back into years worth of my posts, in anticipation that one day the book will be published, and future readers (yes, optimistic!) will want to know more about me, and I’ve changed the filters on posts from as far back as 2008. (I joined facebook in 2007, and most of that stuff has disappeared in various iterations of facebook’s timeline.)
So, as time goes on the workload of it will decrease dramatically, because I’ll be following the structure I’m creating, with every future post. But it’s worth it to invest this time now, to get a handle on the system to make it work in a way that’s not alienating to potential readers.
And in general, I don’t post nasty memes anyway. My political stuff is more likely to be long and pretty detailed. Only a limited audience gets to see it anyway. Funny unpolitical cat-memes though? Totally game for that. LOL
Thank you so much for the helpful advice! I also use the “hide post” and “unfollow” features but it didn’t occur to me to sort people in that way. It might be some work, but certainly worth it from the sound of it!
And yes – bring on the cat memes! 🙂
Yes! Yes! Oh dear Lord, YES!!! Thank you so much for a thoughtful, intelligent post addressing the * cough * elephant (donkey, whatever!) in the room regarding social media and politics! I used to love going on Facebook because I also work from home and love to keep up with my friends there. However, like so many others have commented, things are getting increasingly toxic and intolerable on there. It never ceases to amaze me what people will say online that they would never say to someone in person.
Well, I have to agree with you. Perhaps that is why I am not on any type of social media, have no blog, or website and at this time really don’t intend to.
Dana A. (The Rebel Bagpiper)
I’m in Washington, DC, so whatever you’re getting, I’m probably getting 10 times as much. DC is normally so bad with politics that when I got out of the Army, they told us, “You’ll have culture shock if you live anywhere else. They report on local news.” We have no local news. We have only The Hill.
So I’ve been trying to tune as much as I can out. I’m telling people the only thing I want is for this election to be over so the insanity will stop!
Yes, I just hid a fellow author from my feed because of the venomous, politically charged words he was posting. I totally understand where you’re coming from!
Love this! Very, very true. I don’t care what people think either, but when someone tries to bully me into fear-based thinking, I can’t even deal.
Yessss… thank you Kristen – once more, you’ve nailed it:)
I am an opinionated woman… and I have had my rantifications here and there… Of course not everyone is going to agree with me… and so what? The whole “you should vote for Hillary Clinton because she has a vagina and so do you!” thing is big time old! I have been thinking of getting an old stuffed animal to put next to the laptop… so if I see some political rant, I can just stab it with a butter knife instead of engaging. Awesome post, Kristen.
“I don’t care about politics, I care about behavior.” Well said.
This issue is why, despite having passionate convictions about some things, I choose to keep my blog light, warm and witty in tone. Yes, my beliefs are there, but they’re not screaming in anyone’s face.
Reblogged this on The Crooked Pen and commented:
I don’t normally reblog posts, but this one is worth sharing with the world. Especially with the current political climate in the USA. > . >
Never ceases to amaze me how many people don’t remember much about civics class. The Constitution guarantees you the right to free speach in that you won’t be hauled off to the gulogs. It says nothing about how others may react to what you say. Up to and including not to be your customer.
I love technology, but I am starting to wonder if too much technology is making us forget how to have normal human interactions. How to be a friend. How to be kind. How to politely disagree. How to be okay when someone doesn’t beleive everything you do. Makes me wonder if too many people thnk they’re yelling at Bowser rather than a real, live human being.
I often wonder if the people that are this toxic online are that toxic in real life. Perhaps they are, and that’s why they’ve turned to the internet. Makes we wonder if they were always like that and the internet just gives them a place to vent, or if they were made. And if they were made, can we unmake them.
As a writer of fiction I consider myself to be in the entertainment business and I try to remain aware of how my social media presence impacts my contacts’ perceptions of me as an entertainer. I do write about serious subjects, usually related to literary or philosophical theory, but I don’t look to artists for political news and I hope that most other people don’t.
I believe that my opinions are founded on the best information that I can find, but I also believe that my opinions are irrelevant to other people. There are news outlets, there are columns by people who know way more about the nuts and bolts of the issues than I do, that’s where people should be going for information on these topics. My job is to give people an escape from all that for a few hours.
I do my ranting to my cats, who agree with me wholeheartedly as long I come across with the kibble.
I love this post! It’s good to see someone is talking sense. I had to unfollow an author on Twitter recently because all she did was post about Donald Trump. No, really, that’s ALL she did. She posted about how evil he is and how he must be stopped at all costs! Of course she’s entitled to her opinion (and I’m not a fan of Trump either, so who am I to judge?) but it was SO tedious reading Tweet after Tweet after Tweet of anti-Trump rhetoric. Hell, she talked more about Trump than people who actually support him. I just kept thinking, “give it a rest, lady! We get it! You don’t like Trump, alright? Can we all agree on that?” Before this I enjoyed her writing style, but this experience has kind of put me off her books.
I’ve also noticed that some writers have a rather smug sense of superiority when it comes to their political views. As if they are the chosen few, the only ones that TRULY understand what is going on. Suffer the little undecided voters unto us! But, really, the opinions of writers aren’t any more valid than the next person. They are just able to explain their side more eloquently and with fewer grammatical errors.
I couldn’t agree more. I think this post can encourage people to not only be courteous, but put themselves in one another’s shoes. Our opinions are influenced by those around us. It follows that if we listen to a liberal and conservative news station, or a friend’s political views with an open mind, we will begin to adjust our opinions. Yes people rarely change their minds, but I think this is mostly because people rarely listen to beliefs other than their own. How often do people stop and listen to other peoples’ arguments and try to understand them? Yes there are certain things we may never understand, things that fly in the face of our intrinsic values, but that does not mean you should disrespect another’s right to hold an opposing belief. If you consider yourself a smart and open-minded person, which I am sure most people do, then you should listen instead of talk, and when you do talk, you will be respectful of all those listening.
Thanks for the post,
I’ve actually had my mind changed but it was posts that were thoughtful, well-written, and kind. I think that is what frustrates me when I mention this. Too many writers believe I am censoring when all I am asking is to adjust the approach. I can’t listen to people ranting at me, labeling me. I can listen to facts and logic and reason. I like hearing views counter to my own. Either is changes my view, makes me maybe modify it, or it challenges me to be better able to articulate my own beliefs. That while I respect the other point and see their side, I remain with my opinion.
And sometimes I wonder if people are complaining no one is listening to their side, without doing any evaluation of their approach. This happens in all relationships. Like a marriage! I can appreciate, “Hey Kristen when you do this, I feel this” far faster than, “Kristen you are a bitch!” One way sure there might be some defensiveness but I am not firmly in the crosshairs having to explain my existence.
Thanks for the thoughtful comment.
Wonderful post! I agree 100%!
What you say about censorship really hits home. I didn’t defect from behind the Iron Curtain just to censor others, or to suffer their censorship. So aside from being polite and expressing opinions in a time-and-place appropriate fashion, I really loathe when people unfriend others based on a different political view. We all want the same basic things: to live a decent life, to leave the world in good shape for our kids. There are opinions on how to get there, of course – but we share more commonalities than differences. And, of course, Snickers 🙂
At least you get to VOTE in the election. Those of us outside the US have to put up with all the politicking, and we don’t even get to protest vote for Grumpy Cat.
I’ve got the Freedom App, and lately? I’ve just been blocking the internet completely from 8:oo a.m. until 10:00 p.m. And you know what? I’m back up to writing 5,000 words a day. I’m happier. I’m more content. I’m not ANGRY ALL THE TIME. And I’m getting stuff done. Is it inconvenient? Yes. Do I miss stuff? Yes. But you know what … I’m beginning to look forward to ‘going dark’ for most of the day. I hadn’t realized how corrosive all the internet negativity had become until I started unplugging.
Yes, it has all piled up on me too. I find myself avoiding the place that used to bring so much joy. But I can’t sleep. I don’t want to eat. The anxiety is horrible and it is from BOTH sides of the political fence. I am bombarded with things I can’t control and smothered in heavy steaming ladles of fear. It is too hard on the muse.
I met a woman at a play reading. She lamented how few plays feature women like her. So I wrote a play for her. She performed that and another, and we stayed in touch via Facebook. Her posts have always been political; since 2015, they became increasingly negative and judgmental. She forwarded memes that called a class of people stupid, or “othered” them in some way. I rarely responded. I tried blocking the political sites she was quoting. There were too many. Apparently she spends the entire day seeking out these extremist pages and forwarding their memes. I realized she’s addicted to the adrenaline rush she gets from reading these things. My tolerance for her illogical, ill-informed, and insulting rants grew lower and lower. I finally pulled the rug on our friendship when she called me evil for not believing the way she does. I believe FB is deliberately being used to divide us.
THANK YOU! I’ve been thinking about it for some time. Because yes, I’m not American, so I look at all this from outside. I’m forced to follow closely, though, because my activities on social networks forces me to be bombarded with message and opinion and rant after message and opinion and rant.
So yes, I have a side that I’d be on, and you know what? I’m STILL unfollowing people in my writing circles from both sides because I can’t BELIEVE someone who spends time crafting beautiful works of art can thoughtlessly go and attack others in such personal, deplorable terms.
As a published writer, I know how much it hurts to have my work criticized even in the smallest terms. You know… “This book is beautifully written and I got sucked in right from the start, but….” That but already makes my heart sink. And then we fear and slowly back away from trolling reviewers who like nothing more than to rant about why your work and you as a person suck.
Those are the absolute worst and we HATE when this happens to our friends.
So how DARE we troll others in all but name? I’ve seen Democrats bully and demean others when they’re supposed to believe in everyone having freedom of choice and a place in the sun. I’ve seen Republicans blaming a woman for her HUSBAND’S infidelity as if that somehow precludes her from doing her job. I’ve seen the same woman being called a pervert for the same.
It makes me tired.
So if I see a rant (as supposed to a thought-through opinion), I disconnect. I even posted a message about it on Facebook, which was in essence what I wrote here, but realized it would just inflame more people and make them angry at me for something they did. (Which I’m also smart enough to realize is bad sales tactics.) So I deleted the message, but I’m still quietly unfriending everyone who makes me want to remind them that just because they CAN say anything on the Internet, doesn’t mean they SHOULD.
Thanks for the reality check, Kristen. I, too, am avoiding Facebook more and more, not just for the negativity and political rants but also the misinformation that is constantly posted to my page. I don’t have tine to check Snopes for accuracy, not if I’m going to get any writing done. I do, however, wonder about a few things. Are we becoming more negative and nasty or has social media provided an instrument for reaching a larger audience? Is this negativity a western thing or is it found on everyone’s pages, everywhere? On the other hand, I do prefer intellectual discourse on the sociopolitical injustices in the world over more photos of someone’s cats.
Like you, I work exclusively from home – and live in a secluded little cove in a tiny Smoky Mountain town that when the tourists and part-timers go home, there’s about 1000 of us in the town. And I can be a reclusive nature as it is – so being online is my “line” to the world and to friends and family far away and to my readers. And it is sometimes exhausting flipping past all the diatribes and name-calling and the world’s coming to an end and you-suck-no-YOU-SUCK posts.
I don’t discuss politics with anyone – not even my close friends and not even my family – there are some things I like to keep private “in a world” where I don’t feel as if much is private with all the FB, Twitter, etc, things I do – with my novels out there being the “face” of me all about here there and yonder – so some things in my life, and politics is one of them, are my own private thang, even if it I am completely a-political and watch it all from a distance of “well dang, look’it that. Huhn. Oh well, I got better things to do. La tee dah.”
I’m almost longing for the days when I had to scroll through tons of “buy my book” posts! Laugh.
Who would have thought we would miss book spam? LOL!
This has been a common topic among my friends as well. Yes, you are free to your opinion; that’s what makes America great. Virtually attacking people isn’t part of that freedom. Oh, how I wish for the days where you only found political views in the About Me section.
Today, people think that can assault you with a barrage of unpleasant “facts,” many of which aren’t true. There is no fact-checking, little truth, and no respect for the decency of humanity.
And no, your meme will not sway my opinion. All it will do is assure I unfollow you.
I go into FB and jump out asap, and always leave something positive, otherwise, who will? Thanks for bringing this up. Positivity POwer!
Thanks for the reminder. I feel the same way, but found myself starting to rant as a result of everything that was being posted about the elections. It was depressing me, so I deleted all of those posts. Now my wall has the feel I want my readers to experience. More kittens doing silly things please. 🙂
I love FB too, most days. And I don’t mind links to news articles about politics, I even post some. But like you I’m tired of name calling and bullying. Don’t like the article I posted? Hide it, don’t read it and if you do want to leave a comment – do be civil. Sometimes I think people forget how to use their manners. Sigh. Good post.
I love the way you can be so firm about something without attacking people. I don’t currently have an author page because I’m not there yet, but I understand practically why posting emotionally charged things on it would be anything but helpful.
THANK YOU!!!! Finally, a breath of fresh, honest air.
I have so few sales it doesn’t seem to matter and in fact my political commentary has actually helped build my brand. I do try to educate and try (not always with success) to avoid distasteful ranting. I’m fortunate to not need successful sales to survive. Being a political wonk and a writer of fiction is not easy.
Thankfully my FB writer friends know to not mix rants and “writer stuff”. Not yet, anyway…
As a non-FB person, never have had that in my life — on purpose — I stand on the shore and watch the chum hit the waters from afar. I like to talk to people face-to-face. I work from home, have for 20+ years, and want all my energy to go into my work, and the support I give to the authors I edit.
If I want a rousing shout-fest, I wait for Thanksgiving, where all the family gathers and we have our very own little FB rumble.
Common sense and civility are the guidelines that allow your blood pressure to stay low, and your energy levels high.
My suggestion for any writer finding themselves on the verge of binge ranting is to go get in your car, don’t start it–just pretend to be driving…then think of everything that has just got you all riled up — and shout it out! Pound on the steering wheel! Wave your arms around! Scream! Yep, might be a few people around who give you a look, but you’re in car therapy — so — screw’em, eh? :o)
Everyone just needs to find a safe way to externalize anger, like exercise, dancing alone with your dog in the living room (yes, that’s my choice), painting, chopping wood — find something that you can throw all that negative energy into that produces a positive outcome: sweat, endorphin surges, a pile of fire wood.
Thanks, Kristen – as always, you’ve brought out a thoughtful issue. Hope people chill out on yelling at you — and instead, find a mirror, and then stomp about and yell at their reflection.
Universal question: who are you really so pissed at?
Thank you, again for reminding me why I don’t do Facebook. Actually, Facebook hurts freelance writers like me. We don’t get paid to write on Facebook so it’s a waste of time, and when we do, editors can see it and prejudge us. I know people that lost jobs over Facebook posts. Building a platform on Facebook seems counter productive when you can build a platform writing for money. When I need to rant, I write op-eds. Op-eds don’t pay but it is a solid print credit.
Yes! I’m so sick of just seeing rage, fine if there’s an issue going on in the world that people need to know about, but ranting about it day in day out just makes me want to be a turtle, and hide in my shell.
Reblogged this on Books and More.
I just deactivated my Facebook account. For a long, long time, all I did was post happy stuff. And then FB got bad, and then worse, and then even worse. I have never seen such brutality as I have on FB. Enough is enough. There is too much hatred there, and I snapped. I shouted back at a few people who shouted at me, and then I blocked them. I also unfriended a lot of people. I’m not sorry I did, and I’m not apologizing, either. I don’t want those that kind of person in my life.
I came onto FB before all the algorithms, when everyone would see everything you posted and “Have your 5000 friends” was the common wisdom for writers. Now there are author pages, and we don’t need all those “friends”. Especially since having all those “friends” for years never helped my book sales, so unfriending them certainly didn’t hurt my already non-existent sales. When I go back, and eventually I’ll have to, I’ll only post on my author page. And I’ll probably unfriend more people. Maybe I’ll get lucky and more people will unfriend me. That will save me the trouble.
“Social Media”, my foot. More like “Anti-social Media”.
I so hear you. I hardly ever even log into FB, despite all the apps that try to drag me into the Maelstrom. I’m so sick of politics that I didn’t even listen to the debates. I ask my wife if anything noteworthy was said; usually her summary is about 3 to 5 minutes long….for a two hour debate.
I’m always assailed by my broter-in-law, who hangs out online with an old, radical, Clintonista and another friend who is a “the Feds blew up the twin towers” nut.
Grandkid pics from my kids, fine; but the ranting not so much.
I’m as opinionated as anyone; but I’m more interested in being a witness for Christ than winning a political argument. I also want to have a readership who will read my books and stories.
I’m beginning to think that Social Media is a time waster, nobody listens and Friending on FB has become an OxyMoron.
Oh man, so much to say on this. Because I write under my real name I made a Facebook author fan page to try to keep my writer life and my day to day life separate because I am VERY opinionated, and there are certain social justices that it is physically impossible for me to shut up about. . I also have family in politics that are championing for certain rights at the moment. Of course then I had a few readers try to friend me on my personal profile so I locked down my personal profile so that the only people that can see it are my friends and family. I don’t want to turn off readers with my political or social opinions. I just want them to have fun and read books. I’m an entertainer, I don’t want to be slapping my readers in the face with the ugly side of real life.
I think that it’s a matter of professionalism, and where you want to draw the line for your brand. Of course that line will be different for everyone, and that’s ok.
Someone unfriended me because I said I thought Star Trek offered a more progressive vision of humanity than Star Wars. *rolls eyes* Some people will take offence for the sake of taking offence. Now? I only post silly memes about Disney villains and horror movies.
That’s against the rules. They’re not supposed to unfriend you until you get into the Kirk vs. Picard portion of the debate.
[QUOTE: “With no gatekeepers in play the sheer volume of books readers have to sift through is staggering. Competition is a nightmare. I get writers who complain they aren’t getting sales, that they can’t quit the day job and write full time, that their career is stalling but often these are the same writers who are non-stop-rant-factories on-line.”]
Could not agree more wholeheartedly.
Forty some years ago, my dad ran a small thriving business. My mom pulled into the parking lot, her station wagon bumper sporting a new political candidate bumper sticker. Dad asked her to please remove it. Not in a heavy-handed way, but in a practical sense. “I do business with everyone, not just one political party.”
Readers come in all sizes, races, ages, religions, sexual orientation, and political affiliation. I write romance and try to respect all demographics. Obviously I can’t win over every single reader – no book has been written that appeals to every single reader – but I do believe in respecting readers and other writers. While the presidential race has been particularly nasty this go-around, I do think civility has receded because people can post anonymously and never be accountable.
Thanks always for your thoughtful posts.
I’ve known from the beginning that I really do need to keep my political opinions to myself lest I alienate potential readers. I know this because my list of Hollywood personalities who have alienated *me* with their political rants has gotten to the point where I basically don’t go to the movies anymore.
But it is real hard during the election not to get involved. What I’ve done is something I hope won’t be too harmful. I comment on Youtube videos that are already aligned with an audience sympathetic to my particular opinions. In short, I preach to the choir in isolated forums linked to specific videos. I also keep my comments intelligent and try to avoid name calling, although I have slipped a few times and made some good zingers about the various candidates. (But NEVER their supporters!)
I also have a separate blog that I reserve just for political commentary and nothing else. The idea is that when people read the political me, they don’t know it’s from the writer me.
Honestly, though, I wish I could just learn the discipline to shut the hell up. Maybe I should just realize that whatever I have to say in my works of fiction, which is about people and not issues, is far more important.
Yes! Chill, and be respectful. I haven’t been able to go on Facebook or Twitter for weeks now, because people on all sides of this election are so hostile. It’s so exhausting, and I’m glad that I’m not the only one who wants to leave all the vicious words behind.
Thanks for being a voice of sanity. I used to really enjoy facebook, and now I can feel my shoulders automatically going up around my ears when I log on. Facebook is a great way to connect with my readers, so I can’t not be on it. I have a rule of never commenting on specific political issues or candidates, for all the reasons you mention. But many times I’ve made what I think are extremely innocuous and positive comments, and I end up getting flamed by someone I don’t even know. Which then drives me even further into self-silencing mode. Sigh. I’m really beginning to worry that social media has truly damaged the fabric of our social contract and society.
We are getting to the point that it is dangerous to disagree with certain people. Good way to get your platform burned down.
I, of course, agree with you. And I think there are several ways in which this kind of social media “sharing” is damaging and discourteous:
1. You rant about your own political opinion in a harsh, my-way-or-the-highway tone.
2. You essentially call the other side stupid or evil because they hold an opposite view.
BUT also this:
3. You share on your page articles that support your opinion with seemingly courteous intro language like, “I don’t comment on politics, but this article was too good not to share,” and then the article goes on to rant about a political opinion in a harsh, my-way-or-the-highway tone or essentially call the other side stupid or evil because they hold an opposite view. Meaning you’re just making someone else do your dirty work. I’ve seen more and more of that lately.
I almost never unfollow someone, but I will hide their posts and then I don’t see as much of them. And if they want to later post about book-related news, Facebook isn’t showing me their stuff as much so they’ve missed an opportunity to reach me.
For me, what it comes down to is “The Golden Rule.” How about we just treat others the way we want to be treated?
Wonderful post, Kristen. With so much negativity in the world, its no wonder so many of our children are depressed. Taking the high road is a great option, sort of like ‘treat others the way you would like to be treated’ – obviously, with respect. I too write from home and it does get lonely when everyone is gone during the day and sometimes down right depressing (I am a very friendly, sociable person by nature). I have found a trip around the block, a trip to Zumba or 40 laps at the pool break up some of the quiet at home (and help with staying in shape). All the best to you, Kat.
I’m glad you addressed this. I’ve actually fell out of love with two authors and feel sick whenever I swipe past their book titles on my Kindle (buyers remorse!) simply because they have posted so much hate on FB over this election. I AM SO GLAD YOU ADDRESSED THIS.
so true! oh my. Some people feel it is their duty to save the world and the stupid people who didn’t vote the way they did. If they want to do that, fine, but of course it’s going to alienate people.