Here’s a reminder that is always worth repeating: there’s no erase feature for the Internet. Sorry. Just doesn’t work that way. Your interactions, blogs, tweets, Facebook updates and so forth all leave an indelible footprint on the Net
. “No problem,” you say, “I’m not searching for a job or a boyfriend.” Really? You’re not looking to engage a readership, now or in the future? Or if you’re reading this blog, you’re not in the market for an agent?
If you’re convinced that what you say on the web doesn’t matter, consider the following. You’re all fired up about a hot topic, like, oh whether agents shouldn’t be allowed to travel abroad. Even if you’re fully convicted on this front (and you might be right, if my accidental trip to Canada a few years ago is any indication), you could say something that you’ll regret having written once that agent visits www.BadSenseofDirection.com. Especially once she recognizes herself in your not so thinly-veiled remarks.
I’m being hyperbolic here (although I really did wind up in Canada by mistake—all the GPS lady’s fault!), but all humor aside, we’re in a time when people feel at liberty to say just about whatever they want on the web, and ultimately writing is your profession. It’s a business. So while today you may feel riled up about a topic, ask yourself if it’s really worth leaving that indelible mark of yours out on the web.
Likewise, I don’t recommend unfollowing people when you’re mad, either. That’s a really popular form of protest in Netland these days, and I can speak from experience and say I’ve been embarrassed within thirty seconds when I fell prey to this temptation.
The instantaneous nature of tweeting can be a siren song to angry outbursts or to furious unfollowings, which are the path to doom. In the past year, I was considering an author’s work, and was truly enjoying tweeting with her. She was all guns-aglory when she thought I was going to work with her. Then the minute—literally—that I passed on her work, she
unfollowed me. Here’s what is a bit foolish about that: I would have welcomed any other submission. And she probably thought I would never notice the unfollow, except I did. I knew she unfollowed me in a moment of sulk, and that made an impression on me. How would this same author handle revisions she didn’t like, or my asking her to change a book title? Probably with an outburst.
Likewise, if you’re frequently tweeting about politics or other incendiary topics, you should stop and ask yourself: “Am I going to lose potential readers?” Whether you live in a blue state or red, you’re likely surrounded largely by people who share your views because that’s how culture works. But the truth is that your readership is going to come from all walks, and you should consider whether it’s worth potentially alienating half your readership (since our country is an almost even split in terms of politics). I realize that my opinion on this isn’t popular with everyone. A friend and client of mine observed that some of her favorite authors were super vocal about what they believed in. My comment back was that it was fine because she agreed with those authors. But what if she did not? Basically, I think a lot of readers prefer to believe that an author shares their outlook, so to discover otherwise can be disillusioning—no matter what the beliefs in question might be.
If canadian pharmacy you really feel the need to engage on provocative topics—let’s face it, many folks enjoy a healthy debate and discussion—then perhaps it’s best to start a separate Twitter account where you can go crazy with your polemics. Or post anonymously on blogs so you can have all the tirade fun you want. Either way, if you’re more careful with how you participate on the Net, you’re less likely to alienate readers, agents, editors or any other professional associate. Now, go start a flame war all about me. I’m in my fire-retardant pajamas.