Sometimes I wonder what our lives would be like if social media did exactly what we wanted it to do. Don’t get me wrong — I am a fan. I love social media. I enjoy sharing quotes and videos, great articles and blog posts, occasional book promotions (mine and others), and you know, chatting and getting to know people who have similar interests as mine (books, poetry, music, social media and book marketing, publishing, the sexual abuse survivor community, Nutella, and so much more).
Social media is such a fabulous way to connect with people all over the world, form amazing communities, and learn from them — and it’s a crucial part of any author’s platform.
However, it must be said, the spamming, ignorance, trolling and outright hate can be overwhelming, particularly on Twitter and Facebook. So here’s my own personal wish list for what I wish people didn’t do, or what I wish didn’t exist at all, how to handle or what to do differently. Note: this is me, in my head. Feel free to disagree and create your own list or add to mine in comments.
Let’s deconstruct Rachel’s brain.
No more SPAM
Egad, the spammers. We all see it daily. Maybe, when we first start, we even participated in it. You know, the ‘Thanks for the follow. Please buy my book, review it, tell your friends, your dog, your neighbors, and buy 10 copies before you leave the house,’ DMs. I jest, but you get my drift. Sadly, the people who need to cut that &*(*^% out aren’t the ones reading this and that’s too bad.
On the rare occasion that I’ve asked someone not to spam me immediately (or heck, at all) but maybe first, oh, I don’t know, speak to me like a human, or maybe even read my bio, they have scolded me for daring to suggest that they are not spamming me but doing what they have a right to do. And to an extent, Twitter is a free for all, and it’s their Twitter stream. I’m not the Twitter police.
However, there are Twitter guidelines — actually, Twitter calls them rules. Rules, people. If you go to the Help section and type in spam, you get two pages of what constitutes spam in Twitter’s eyes. Not mine, theirs. I didn’t make this stuff up!
In my perfect world, there would be NO spam. No ‘buy this’ or ‘buy that’ — I know, can you imagine? People actually talking about books instead of hawking them? C-R-A-Z-Y. I’m a firm believer that Twitter doesn’t sell books anyway, to be honest. It’s a great way to build relationships that can lead to selling books — so the lack of spam won’t make any difference whatsoever.
No more IGNORANT COMMENTS
At least daily, I see people pontificating, er commenting, on articles they haven’t read. I shared a terrific article recently by Kristen Lamb about the success rate of indie authors, and at least five men (all men, no women, which I found interesting) commented, “well, it depends on her definition of success,” which she covers IN THE ARTICLE THEY DIDN’T BOTHER TO READ. I find that incredibly frustrating.
If you read the article and then have an informed comment that adds to the discussion, great! I can learn from that, as can others who have also READ THE ARTICLE. But if you’re simply blathering to blather because you can blather, because that is what you think social media is for, fine. Just don’t um, blather on my stream or wall.
I share a lot of poetry and literary quotes because well, I’m a poet and I love to share lines that resonate with me personally. Not to pick on the guys, but nine times out of ten, a Y-chromosome will leave some silly-ass comment on a quote by say, Anne Sexton (classic: I tweeted: “I like you. Your eyes are full of language,” and a guy tweeted in reply: well, then she should read my poetry, my eyes are beautiful and filled with whiskey. Me: Um, she killed herself in the 70s). If you’re going to compete with classic poets or writers, be damned sure your reply is awesome or better yet, abstain and just retweet.
Blog or Facebook post comments:
I frequently share what has or hasn’t worked for me or my clients with regard to promo campaigns or social media. I’ll often get replies like, “Well, I haven’t tried that, but I think it’s dumb so it won’t work.” I hear most often with Twitter or author platform in general. I have little respect for people who haven’t tried something, but still want to tell me how it doesn’t work, because I have been in the trenches for a little while, you know?
If you have experience to share, great! I’m totally open to learning what to do, and what not to do. I’m a lifelong student and love learning. I don’t know it all and am the first to admit that. Please for all that is holy, share your experiences! But if your comment is purely opinion based on air fluff and blather, leave it on your own wall. If you have genuine questions and a desire to learn? Pull up a chair and let’s do this thingy.
No more BULLYING OR TROLLING
A friend made a joke today about having family over to bake cookies and was questioning the sanity of that decision based on the mess he had to clean up. His post was funny. A fellow writer friend took offense to it and called him out on Facebook for potentially offending people. Wait, what? Who was offended here? His family that doesn’t even know how to turn on a computer, let alone have accounts on Facebook? Or the writer who apparently made herself the social media police?
Holidays can be hard on people, so I advised my friend to make the compassionate choice: wish the fellow writer well and let it go. Sometimes, that’s really, really hard to do, but I’ve found that, with bullies and trolls, it’s really the best course of action. And maybe that person didn’t mean to be a bully, but that’s how it came across.
Another writer friend vented to me privately that she despises some of the writers I share, writers whom I consider talented and on the edge of massive success. She encouraged me to stop sharing their articles and such because she finds them annoying. She went so far as to give me a veiled threat, along the lines of, ‘I will no longer share your stuff if you continue to share their stuff.’
Well. Social media is not a democracy. We don’t all vote on what goes on my feed, and I have no say on what goes on hers, or yours. If you don’t like what someone posts, unfriend or unfollow. It’s really that easy. (I’ve since unfriended and blocked her.)
Wouldn’t the world be a better place if people could just be nice to each other? If we could vent our silly frustrations about cookies and not be called out for it? Sometimes, though, our frustrations are bigger than we think, and more people see them than we even realize. As a former mentor used to say to me about social media: nobody is watching until you f**k up; then everyone is watching.
Let’s go easy on each other, folks. It’s just social media, but it can really affect someone’s well-being. Be compassionate, share interesting information, and quit worrying about what others do or don’t share. It’s not a competition.
So that’s my basic, in a nutcracker shell, wish list. What did I miss? Please add your wishes below!