A few weeks ago, an e-mail group I belong to got into a discussion about authors including personal information and/or opinions in their social media. The discussion was primarily centered on Facebook, although the issue carries over to other social media such as blogs, Twitter, etc.
Most everyone agreed that posting a little personal information - mentioning pets, children, hobbies - could be a positive thing. Readers enjoy getting to know an author as a person. But the group was split on the subject of authors expressing their opinions on more controversial or divisive subjects, i.e. religion or politics.
Those who thought authors should refrain using their social media as a "soapbox" reasoned that doing so could antagonize half their potential audience, resulting in lost readers. One pointed out that, as authors, our social media sites were places of business and therefore not the proper setting for presenting personal opinions.
It was also noted that a better place to express our opinions was in our writing (stories, books, etc.) where controversy could actually boost sales.
Others felt that, as artists, we had the right or even an obligation to speak out. A few said they liked having a social media platform to express their opinions on all kinds of issues.
Overall, those not in favor of expressing personal opinions on controversial issues outweighed those in favor about two to one. I was in the majority on this one. I enjoy sharing personal/family items but I keep my opinions on heavy social issues off my blog.
What do you think? As authors, what should be the role of your social media sites? As readers, do you want to know how authors feel about controversial issues? Would it impact your interest in their work?
An offshoot of this group discussion was the question of personal vs. professional Facebook pages. That will be the topic of my post next Monday.
Quotes of the Day: (some differing points of view)
"If you're going to say what you want to say, you're going to hear what you don't want to hear.”
― Roberto Bolaño, The Insufferable Gaucho
"Our opinions do not really blossom into fruition until we have expressed them to someone else.” ― Mark Twain
“When we have to change an opinion about any one, we charge heavily to his account the inconvenience he thereby causes us.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil
“It’s a fact that you’re going to have a different opinion or view on certain topics or issues. You need stand your ground by sharing your view.” ― Michael Barbarulo: Author God's Healing Hands: Allow God To Reshape Your Soul