The easy accessibility of platforms like Facebook and Twitter have allowed anyone to express any random thought crossing their minds in a public forum. Sometimes while intoxicated, or angry, or hurt, or otherwise emotionally compromised.
It’s always a good idea to take a deep breath before you post anything on your profile page, or fire off a Tweet. I'm not mentioning any obvious names here, but the evidence in favor of exhibiting self-control and discretion, especially when communicating in a professional capacity, is overwhelming.
Even the most seemingly innocuous “outburst” can backfire on an author whose page is otherwise dedicated to pitching his or her wares, even at the expense of burning out some in their social circles that are weary of too much self-promotion (to whom I say “goodbye and good luck”).
This decision process applies to more than just politics. It also means exposure of your private life, concerns, aspirations, and fears.
Generally, the appeal of social media is the fact it generates empathy and support amongst friends and strangers alike, since the human condition, if not all human experience, is universal in both its appeal and its ability to repel.
I’ve often posted status updates detailing a depressive episode or career letdown, and then deleted them, even though they generated mostly positive responses. I have learned to discern between posts that are genuinely worthy of sharing in hopes it might help someone dealing with the same type of situation, and those that are merely self-indulgent excuses to blow off some steam.
At the same time, I never censor myself on my own platform. If I believe something I’m others would appreciate feeling, or if I choose to vent in regards to a broader topic affecting many of my fellow citizens, I never hold back.
The risk, of course, is alienating anyone that might be “offended” by your candor. For me, it’s worth it, since I figure anyone that takes umbrage with me expressing myself honestly on my own platform probably wouldn’t appreciate the rawness of my fiction, which can be pretty intense, viscerally speaking.
This is an individual call. You will have to weight your priorities in the balance of your dueling voices: the internal one that screams for company and an audience, and the external one that is trying to sell a few books, focusing on common interests rather than divisive “rants.”
For me, the trick is balancing the two in a way that collectively and comprehensively sells your “brand name” to the world at large. This includes various aspects of your tastes, personality, and lifestyle that have nothing directly to do with your work - even though all writers know that our creative and life forces are intertwined inextricably, even if the connective threads are invisible to those that don’t actually know us. And if you’re really skilled at concealing your artistic agenda, not even your closest pals can tell what is sublimation of facts or simply your imagination gone wild.
But when you’re simply posting as yourself on your social media platform about relatively mundane subjects, or something far more dramatic, rather than shielding or camouflaging your true self behind a character or characters, you’re opening yourself up not just to professional assessment, but personal judgments.
Because it’s not the writer that can’t always separate autobiography from fiction. Sometimes the readers can’t do it, either.
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New Orleans, LA