I’ve been scarce online the past months, working on deadline, consulting, and, of course, dealing with life. Oddly, the one place I’ve spent more time than normal has been Facebook… because I’ve found it fascinating to see what people post. And here’s what it’s made me think:
Y’all know this social media stuff is public, don’t ya?
I have seen three Facebook friends post things which I honestly believe could cost them their jobs. I have seen hateful vitriol in political posts (not simple differences of opinion, please note). And I have seen insults directed at, well, everything from the intelligence of readers to authors to parents to kids and to everyone in between.
Even if you only have 10 friends on Facebook or 10 followers on Twitter, what you say there lives in the public eye via searches and what others choose to share. Sure, it’s possible that no one beyond your small circle will see what you’ve said or done… but it’s more likely they will, even if you later delete the info.
This is not to say we shouldn’t speak our minds and be ourselves online and off. Rather, to me it means that we must understand that our words are public, we must be prepared to stand by them, and we must accept the consequences that come from what we say.
Personally, I assume that everything I tweet, blog, post on Facebook, or leave as a comment anywhere is going to be seen by everyone, including my mom, my friends, people I work with, and people I want to work with. I still am undeniably “me” when I post, but I am aware of my audience, and that makes me check in to be sure that I’m okay with what I post.
I don’t know that readers turn away from authors based on anything other than their books (which was the topic of a great #yalitchat the other night). I do know, though, that we all have to live with what we post. So, I think it makes sense to take a deep breath and re-read your content before you publish it.
Maybe everyone does this already, of course, but after a month on Facebook, I’m thinking “no.” As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts….
I treat everything I do online as totally public, figuring it will be seen by everyone (particularly if I don’t want it to be!). This doesn’t mean I don’t speak my mind.