Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Politics of Posting

I’ve decided to write on politics and web presence, even though I am probably one of least informed on the topic. I’m just a beginning blogger/writer who hasn’t done much to attract an audience.  But I feel that what I have to say is relevant.

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been subject to a barrage of tweets and retweets about a political issue.  It’s all been because one of the people I follow feels very strongly about it.  So to show their support for the issue, they have been sending what feels like every tweet that has a particular hash tag to my twitter feed.  The first couple of day’s I was ok with it even though I found myself on the other side of the issue, but now I find that every time I see a tweet with that hash tag I want to scream.

Now I know that I could unfollow the person in question, but the thing is that before this started I enjoyed his tweets, and even while this is going I still enjoy the tweets that don’t pertain to this issue. I’m really caught in a dilemma.

Which brings me to my point. Politics + Web presence = Trouble.  Whenever you start bringing politics into your blog, Facebook account, Twitter feed, your court trouble.  I can almost guarantee that what ever your position, someone will disagree with you.  Maybe even violently disagree with you, and this can lead to lost followers, fans, family members.

Now I have thought long and hard about this and I have discovered some exceptions to this rule.  One is, if your web persona is one who all about politics.  Wolf Blitzer and Sean Hannity can get away with talking about politics, people expect them too.  It’s what brought them there in the first place.  That’s exception number one.

Exception number two is if you are yourself all the time on the web.  What I mean by that is, if you are a person that will talk politics at the drop of a hat in real life, and you do that from the start when your on the web, then your ok.  A prime example of this is Larry Corriea who writes the Monster Hunter series from Baen books.  He has been and will always be a political monster, and those that follow him know that.  When he posts in his blogs about political issues he isn’t going to lose people because they know where Larry stands.

Which brings me back to my initial issue.  The person who has gone hog wild about politics all of a sudden, has previous to this, in the ten or so years I’ve been following his work, has never discussed politics.  People who follow him don’t expect it, and now that their getting it in large doses he’s losing followers left and right.  He’s admitted as much on his feed. Now in his defense he has given his reasons for the sudden out burst of political rallying, and they are decent reasons, but I feel they aren’t good enough. If you make a living or want to make a living off of people buying something you are selling, you can’t afford to knowingly alienate them.

So get out there write, live, have fun, but remember people watch you all the time.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A lesson I learned at LTUE

Of all the things that I learned at this years LTUE, I think that there will be one lesson that will stick with me forever. You are never to important to offer help and advice to someone else. Tracy Hickman said that “You need to treat everyone like they are important” and when I tweeted that it got bandied about on the net, but that wasn't the thing that brought it home to me.
On Saturday I attended the killer breakfast held by Mr. Hickman. It was fun and funny, an exercise in improv. Now there where some who didn't quite get the rules of etiquette for attending, it's to be expected at large group events. They were loud and interruptive, not so much that they interfered with the activity, but enough so you noticed. Now the ones here were young and I could tell they didn't have much practice at social interactions. I can relate, boy can I relate. One of them sat near me, a boy about twelve or thirteen, and I watched as his parent and sibling tried to inform him that he was acting inappropriately, but he just shrugged them off. I figured that he would routinely tune them out because he heard it all the time from them.
Now I remember what it was like to be a socially awkward teen. I remember the bitter guilt and anger I felt when ever someone in my family talked to me about my behavior. I don't like to get things wrong and when I do, I hate to have it pointed out to me. I too started tuning out my family to as a protective reflex. Words hurt, so don't listen. So as I watched this boy, I had a inkling of what was going through his head.
Then something happened that I wished had happened to me at that age. At the end of the event I watched as a big time, bestselling, cooler then cool, writer pulled the boy aside and talked to him about his behavior. From what I overheard, he wasn't mean nor rude, but he really was trying to help the boy improve. Now I know for myself, that if that had happened to me at that age I wouldn't have been happy. I probably would have horrible feelings of shame, not because the other person was trying to shame me, but because I knew what I did was wrong, and felt guilty. But now as I look back and see myself as the result of many patient teachers, I know that what he did will have a impact on that boy's life.
What truly struck me was this. This author didn't have to do what he did. He was just another person in the crowd at that point. But he took the time, to try to help someone who needed it. He had knowledge and experience and passed it on. He treated this boy like he was worth the time and effort it took to teach a lesson. That is the lesson that will stick with me, everyone around you is worth your time and effort. Even if they don't quite appreciate it at the time.