Don’t discuss politics. I broke one of my own cardinal rules of branding.
I know! I did it. I shouldn’t have, but I suppose, after all, I’m human. I gave into the temptation to discuss politics for the past few weeks on social media. It’s been bloody, and frustrating, and glorious.
And now, I’m done.
Polite Discourse: Is It Possible?
I used to think so. Lately, though, no. I frequent mostlyTwitterandFacebook. Twitter moves faster, so I’d hop on a trending topic between working on clients and see some comment Trump made, or another misogynistic comment about women regarding Clinton by the media, and I’d retweet or share an article, often without commentary. Occasionally, I’d add my own take. As a fierce defender of women and children’s rights, that is my right. Right?
Wrong. The simple act of sharing an article I did not write, just shared, would bring about a barrage of hate and trolling. It’s not possible in this current political climate for people to have calm discussions without immature tantrums, mud-slinging and name-calling, which is sad. The assumptions people make about others is egregious. It’s as if having our own thoughts and opinions that differ from theirs is a crime and we must, therefore, be punished! Don’t even get me started on the guys who obsessively started stalking my various streams for daring to have a differing viewpoint.
Sure, there have been some amazing instances where people from both sides have come together to agree in some of our discussions, and that’s great and one of the wonderful, organic benefits I love about being on social media. Does it happen often enough to justify the barrage of trolling and racist hate? No.
I don’t take it personally because it’s not about me — after all, the perceptions we espouse are indicative of how we perceive the world — so when someone curses at me for disagreeing with them (and they do), it’s not about me, it’s about them. But do I need someone cursing at me? Times ten? No.
This mob mentality is something I’ve never seen before. I’ve voted in elections since 1984, and I’ve never witnessed anything like this. My parents, born in 1937 and 1940, say the same thing. It’s unprecedented.
Worse, the negativity was bringing out the worst inme. I wasn’t being the best person I’m capable of being, and I take full responsibility for that, which is why I’m stopping that behavior right now.
What’s been your experience interacting with opposing parties on social media?
Using Our Platforms For Good
In building my platform, my author brand, on topics I’m experienced in or passionate about, I used to wrestle with this question: do we have a moral responsibility to use our platforms for good? I believe we do, which is why I go out of my way to not be a self-promotional “Buy my book!” robot; rather, I use my time on social media to share articles and blog posts about people who have survived trauma, women’s issues, feminism, equality, and other topics that address what I feel are the inequalities in this world: sexism, victim-blaming and shaming, misogyny, inequality, racism, anti-semitism, and women and children’s abuse and trauma.
Sharing what we are passionate about shows who we authentically are.
Continuing to share articles and blog posts about these topics on social media, and here on my blog are important to me — it’s crucial to give others a voice after trauma, a practice I will absolutely continue.
Will I continue to share articles with regard to the political candidates, however? No. Arguing with trolls about why their candidate is better than mine is a ridiculous waste of my time (I especially love when they use SHOUTY CAPS). There is no winner, no changing of minds, no unicorns and rainbows — not that I expected that anyway.
The whole process left me feeling frustrated and wasteful — I could have spent that time instead on positive experiences, helping others, writing, creating. I ended up mad at myself for allowing the negativity to take hold. This isn’t me being a victim here (a foreign concept for me) — this is me being a survivor. Do I feel it’s healthy to argue with people for no good reason, where no resolution is achieved beyond name-calling (which I refused to participate in anyway)? No.
So, I’m done.
If you discuss politics on social media, how do you find it makes you feel?
As a woman with a strong voice, who has been recognized for my voice, I will continue to use my voice in my books, blog posts, giving others the opportunity to tell their stories, and support and fundraise to help women and children survivors of sexual abuse. That’s my thing, my branding, if you will.
Branding is really about managing people’s expectations. When people come to your social media stream or page, are you consistently discussing topics that you are passionate about? Be consistent, and people will come back for more. You know me as the chick who writes what scares her in Broken Pieces and Broken Places, and encourages others to do the same.
Politics doesn’t scare me; frankly, I find it ridiculous, staged, and what people argue about, quite surface.The issues themselves are important and deeply felt— the fact that people are arguing and trolling one another on Twitter or Facebook about it all won’t change minds at the ballot box, and that’s my point. I’ve long thought that arguing about politics is a time-waster. What else could we be doing with that time?
Come November, I’ll vote the way I want; but, make no mistake, I will vote.
And please, vote the wayyouwant. Just stop yelling at me about it IN ALL CAPS.
Note: I can see how one can get caught up in the craziness of social media. But I've always believed that discretion on anything personal including political views can be mutilated by those who don't think before they speak.
A fascinating read.
Social Meda Is Here to Stay "song" by Adam Drummond
“If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?” ― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago 1918-1956