Before You Take Something Personally On Social Media, Read This!

By Rachel Thompson | Blog

Feb 20

Social media is funny. People are cool and awesome and weird and funny. I love all of it (except for cyberbullies — they deserve every horrible thing headed their way. And stalkers…they suck, too.)

Sylvia Plath (flickr on Pinterest)

Sylvia Plath (flickr on Pinterest)

People sometimes question what I post on my Twitter stream or Facebook wall — it makes me wonder: why do they care what I share? Here are some of the silliest and funniest.

RELIGION AND POLITICS

If you’ve followed me for awhile, you know that I feel strongly that authors risk alienating potential readers by focusing too much on religion or politics, or engaging in discussions that have little or nothing to do with their books and focus on these topics instead. I’m not saying to NEVER engage in these discussions — that’s not it at all. I’m saying that, from a marketing perspective, authors should think long and hard before making the decision to potentially polarize their readers and lose sales in a public way.

Many disagree. One guy so vehemently disagreed with me that he refused to read this article I wrote about it, and harangued me for about 50 tweets, about the article he refused to read — much of it not even related to the topics in the article — until I blocked him.

Listen, this is my blog and I can express my opinion. If you disagree with me, cool. That’s fine by me. You have every right to believe what you believe, as do I. As does anyone. In fact, start your own blog so you can whine about a redheaded female writer/consultant who dares to express her own opinion. Just don’t tell me what I should or shouldn’t write and I’ll happily return the favor.

SYLVIA PLATH

Yes, a guy (why is it always a guy?), a male author, was livid — as in SCREAMING AT ME IN ALL CAPS — for daring to quote Plath. Apparently, he has quite an issue with the ‘spoiled, rich dead poet,’ and felt that I had no right to quote her. Whatever your feelings are regarding Plath (or any writer), what is the point of going off on a fellow writer for sharing something that resonated with them personally? (The quote was about depression, which interestingly, knows no class barriers.)

Why lash out? Why not just unfollow? I don’t know.

Maybe he felt better after he was done ranting. *shrug*

SOCIAL MEDIA

I posted something on Facebook and a guy (again) said: are you ever NOT on Facebook? I’m sick of seeing your updates.

Of course! But, why does he care? Or why not just unfriend me?

Social media is my business, so of course I share a lot of content: articles, promotions, pictures, quotes — not all about me, mostly tips and promotion of others. I’m also managing multiple client pages, connecting with readers, bloggers and reviewers, and chatting with many influencers.

Did he probably take the time to see what all I’m posting before spouting off? No. And I wouldn’t expect him to. People check in quickly on Facebook or Twitter, on our way to other things. He’s right, in that I do post a lot of content — mostly scheduled via Hootsuite and Pluggio, because I can’t possibly be all places at once.

I could’ve been a smartass about all that, but I wasn’t. It’s just not worth it. I politely thanked him for his perspective.

THE LESSON?

Take nothing personally. Everyone has their own agenda, whether it’s simply to watch cat videos or to discuss one’s love or hatred of Nutella. We don’t really know, do we? Unless we know that person in real life, they are truly a mystery. We only see a tiny part of that person, their persona, if you will. If they have a bad day and take it out on us, does that mean we have to jump into it with them, or go hide and cry in a corner because someone is ‘mean?’

If you find yourself having a bad day, or feeling that the pressure of social media is just too much, shut it off. Walk away. Talk to your dog. Play with your toes.

Social media will still be there when you get back.

I’d love to hear your experiences and perspective! Please share below.

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About the Author

Rachel Thompson is the author of newly released BadRedhead Media 30-Day Book Marketing Challenge: How to energize your book sales in a month – created to help authors market their book. She is also the author of Broken Places (one of IndieReader’s “Best of 2015” top books and 2015 Honorable Mention Winner in the San Francisco Book Festival), and the multi award-winning Broken Pieces, as well as two additional humor books, A Walk In The Snark and Mancode: Exposed.

She owns BadRedhead Media, creating effective social media and book marketing campaigns for authors. Her articles appear regularly in The Huffington Post IndieReader.com, The San Francisco Book Review (BadRedhead Says…), 12Most.com, BookPromotion.com, and Self-Publishers Monthly.

Not just an advocate for sexual abuse survivors, Rachel is the creator and founder of the hashtag phenomenon #MondayBlogs,  #BookMarketingChat (co-hosted with Melissa Flickinger) and #SexAbuseChat, co-hosted with certified therapist/survivor, Bobbi Parish all live Twitter chats.

She hates walks in the rain, running out of coffee, and coconut. She lives in California with her family.

Leave a Comment:

(19) comments

Lady Jewels Diva February 20, 2014

I’ve had people comment on my blog or email me personally about the things I write about, the way I write and why I can’t say nicer things. they clearly have never read any article past the one they were commenting on or complaining about as they would have seen that I do write about “nice” things as well as rant about whatever injustice I need to vent over or comment on.

I have also had people make up lies about me on Facebook when a simple check of my social media would disprove those lies. I have had people insult and criticise me for things other than the topic on a Magazine’s FB page and when I refused to play “their” game and made a big joke out of their comments and proved they were assuming bullshit I actually got a half-hearted apology from one woman and drove another one nuts to the point she went and checked out all of my websites and social media pages. I laughingly called her my stalker and she got mad.

Unfortunately when we see that we are being lied about or insulted our automatic response is to jump in and defend ourselves. Depending on your mood at the time you can either be scathing back, completely upset and end in tears or do nothing because whatever the twat said meant nothing and showed what an absolute idiot they are.

I’ve often just sat back and shaken my head at the absurdity of some comments, and have realised there is only a few ways to respond.

1 – not at all
2 – with humour as it will piss them off
3 – take the “moral” high road and tell them you forgive them for their comments, although it could piss them off even more
4 – with a comment so fine in its slicing and dicing abilities that you leave them for dead

Idiots will be seen as idiots and draw the wrath of others who will then attack as well. You do need to grow a thick skin but still, sometimes a comment can cut into that spot that makes us react. From my experiences, I need to stop jumping in at certain comments to defend myself and just play it cool.

After all, when someone leaves the line “just sayin'” at the end of their sentence, they ain’t “just sayin'” anything, they’re picking a fight.

Reply
    Rachel Thompson February 20, 2014

    It can be discouraging in situations like that.

    My daddy always says (especially when dealing with the public): Kill em with kindness.

    Dammit, that’s SO hard to do sometimes, but it works. When people can’t get a rise out of you, it’s puzzling — they’re not sure what to do from there. Which is fun.

    Reply
Janie Junebug February 20, 2014

Some people have made rather weird comments on my blog. I banish them to spam! When X criticized me for having a blog, I told him that if he didn’t like what I said that he could write his own blog and say what he wanted. He never bothered me about it again. I must admit I’m hung up on Sylvia Plath being called spoiled and rich. Her husband became wealthy after she died, and a large portion of the money came from her poetry. But she wasn’t rich when she was alive. Her father died when she was young, and her mother struggled to take care of her two children. I hardly think that anyone who worked as hard as Plath did was spoiled. She did not have a beautiful life handed to her on a silver platter. Life was an almost constant struggle for the poet. She did not commit suicide because she was spoiled and rich. But ah, I digress. Mention Plath and it sets me in motion every time.

Love,
Janie

Reply
    Rachel Thompson February 20, 2014

    Thanks for sharing that, Janie. Yes, and my point (with him) is that depression doesn’t discriminate — it affects anyone, rich or poor (whatever the real story is). I honestly just said, ‘okay, thanks’ and let him rant.

    It’s interesting, though, what sets people off. Why that one tweet, that one author? Not sure if he had obsessive traits or what … but I didn’t need to feed into it, thus the blocking.

    And ex’s — pft. If they don’t want us to write about them, they should have been better to us. 🙂

    Reply
Stephanie N. February 20, 2014

Amen. Funny how people want to stay so connected yet, they are so quick to pass judgement on what other people find interesting. I don’t get it. I’m sure there are people sick of hearing about my dogs or looking at Buddhist quotes. Matter of fact, they’ve told me. I agree that they should just unfriend or hide from the timeline (Facebook) I could care less. The ones who argue really take the cake but what shocks me are the silly things they are willing to take it to the mat over. Frankly, I’d rather play with my toes. Thanks for another great post. 🙂

Reply
    Rachel Thompson February 20, 2014

    LOL, I threw that toes line in at the last minute — made my son laugh, too.

    I love what you share — and the thing that we are always talking about…branding! — that’s where we decide which topics to discuss and what to blog about. If you are into dogs and Buddhism, it’s your absolute right to talk about those things. I’m not sure where the Subject Police came from, but I’d wish they’d go away.

    hugs, girl.

    Reply
Vicki Addesso February 21, 2014

Great article, Rachel. Straight-forward, to the point. Social media – Facebook, twitter, etc – can be mind-blowingly overwhelmingly stressful if one feels that they have to keep up with EVERYTHING or take everything seriously/personally. When I first started on twitter (I think I’ve only be using it a little over a year, and still feel like a novice) I was so afraid to tweet anything because a few times what I wrote got misinterpreted – which can easily happen when you’re limited to 140 characters, although I believe that texting and even e-mail can be tricky because you don’t have the voice or the facial expressions to help convey the “attitude” of what you are expressing. I got replies that clearly revealed that my way of expressing myself had been inadequate – after feeling embarrassed, I replied back & tried to straighten things out. Sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn’t. People are unique, moody, stubborn, easy-going, kind, nasty, crazy, brilliant – people come in all sorts of packages. So now I just let myself be myself (& with my own varied moods/psychological states, that can vary – there are many “me’s”) and I try to enjoy the many & varied personalities out there in the the social media realm – variety is the spice of life. Anyway, like you say, don’t take it personally. If something offends you or you disagree with something you have choices: ignore it; reply with your own opinion; begin an exchange of ideas. But don’t be mean, offensive, or a bully. Social media belongs to everyone. Embrace the wild wonderful wackiness of it. Each person has their own agenda (i.e. promoting their writing, business, tweeting inspirational quotes, and yes, posting cute kitten pics) & some people (like myself) are just out there bouncing around & exploring & having fun & trying to make connections. Thank you for this article, and your many other helpful tips and advice. Rock on, baby!

Reply
    Rachel Thompson February 21, 2014

    Thanks, lovely. It’s funny that you write this now — I recommended an article I wrote about avoiding the hard sell on Twitter to an author who was spamming hundreds of links. She just responded today (on my author blog) about it — in clearly a PO’d manner. I hit a nerve I guess.

    I love connecting with you and others who are real — we are assaulted daily with selling messages. If our goal is not to send that hard sell out into the world, receiving it can be jarring. as you say, everyone has their own agenda, and we can’t possibly know what’s going on with them IRL. I love what you say: social media belongs to everyone. That’s it exactly — while there are guidelines and rules, ultimately, we do what we want. hugs!

    Reply
Angel Armstead February 21, 2014

I’m glad to be still kind of new to blogging and I don’t do much on Facebook anymore. This gives me some things to look out for. I’ve had a few weird experiences on Facebook usually name-calling and death threats. It’s usually always because of religion or politics. The worst on Twitter I’ve had is being called a Communist. I’m fine with being friends with people of all beliefs. I do want to bring up politics/religion on my Twitter but I don’t want to cross the line and turn people off. My books do go into political/religious themes at times.

I remember the Twitter one so well because I was honestly a bit confused why a guy was arguing with you about a blog post that he’s never read.

Reply
    Rachel Thompson February 21, 2014

    Thanks Angela for reading and commenting. Yes, that was kind of a bizarre one. I think once he did read it he said the picture was sexist or something? IDK…

    If your books align with politics and religion, then that’s well within your keywords and branding. That’s all I’m wanting to get across to folks — and you’ve got it. If people can stay polite through disagreement, that’s how we move forward. It’s when it degenerates into schoolyard bullying behavior that I block. No time for that!

    Reply
Terry Tyler February 24, 2014

I haven’t got much to say to this apart from the fact that I used to challenge people and end up having a row with them IN PUBLIC, which is what Twitter and FB are. This is SO not a good look! Now, I make one well-thought out response and then block them, not because I am scared of what they might write back, but so that I can’t be tempted to keep it going! You’re so right about the ‘killing them with kindness’ thing, too – you can GET stroppy AFTER being polite, but once you’ve BEEN stroppy you can’t go back from it!

Reply
Tom Stronach February 24, 2014

In the defense of men, oh wait, can’t really think of a defense for arseholes who rail against another persons comments on any platform. Debate it, engage with the author of the piece and have a reasoned argument , but then I suppose it is easier for these tits to have their specific rant and feel good about themselves when they tell their mates they gave some crazy redhead what for on the Internet. Who the hell does she think she is, can’t find her way to the sink ….. Than to enter into a debate with you

Seen it heard it and ignored it, your right sweets, open a jar of Nutella and ignore the bastards

Ps, sorry I’ve been missing in action xxxxx

Reply
    Rachel Thompson February 24, 2014

    I love seeing you here, Tom! are you doing ok? how’s the better half :)?

    hugs to you both.

    Reply
Patty Blount February 27, 2014

One of the things I struggle with most is getting ignored. Social media is a lot like walking into a party where you know no one and seeing an acquaintance across the room. You make your way to him, say “hi” and then… he turns his back on you to keep talking to someone cooler.

I’ve had this happen more times than I care to count. I pop into a twitter conversation and I”m ignored, while others are picked up and included. I send well wishes to someone who’s ill and get ignored.

It’s so frustrating at times, I once tweeted CAN YOU GUYS EVEN HEAR ME? in frustration and a very kind agent sent me a DM, suggesting that you can never be certain what technology issues everyone is facing. Some might be using a phone, others might be following a thousand people — my particular tweet might not have been seen.

I try to think of it that way, instead of the more painful “Nobody likes you, Patty” thing I typically assign to such slights.

If you’re going to use social media, be social! Don’t ignore people who talk directly to you because it freakin’ hurts.

Reply
    Rachel Thompson February 28, 2014

    Thanks for sharing, Patty. When you first start on Twitter, it can feel like that — a social club you’re not part of. I GET it, totally. My advice is not to take anything personally. People follow, unfollow, talk, don’t talk. As the agent said, sometimes people are busy, have other things on their mind, etc. Yes, it’s important to interact with everyone who interacts with you, but if someone doesn’t, it’s okay. There’s no conspiracy to avoid anyone, I promise.

    I suggest doing things outside the norm: visit someone’s blog and leave a comment. Then tweet (or DM) that you’ve left a comment. Be kind, don’t expect anything in return. When it happens, and someone RTs you or interacts, it’s a wonderful surprise!

    Also review what you share. I’ve found that interesting quotes, color pix (food, art, etc) and blog posts get the most RTs. Unless you’re writing for a large, well-known publication, people have to be drawn into your blog or book — so interact, have your buy links on your bio, and relax about it. As you build (follow 25-50 people daily who have similar interests), more people will interact. I promise!

    Reply
Marci March 17, 2014

Thanks for the very well-written article – you bring up some great points. Similar to one reader above, I struggle with trying to find a balance to what I write – I don’t want to be too controversial and risk alienating readers, but at the same time, I don’t want to be too white bread and write about things that just aren’t interesting. I tend to err on the side of NOT writing about controversial topics, and like the reader above me said, I sometimes feel ignored on social media. I’m not sure if I’m just a boring writer with boring topics, or if people aren’t reading my stuff. My blog, twitter and facebook pages are growing in readership, which is slow-going but rewarding; this makes me think that I’m not a boring writer, but perhaps just not very exposed yet. I conclude this because there are people out there who will complain about anything – you could write about purring kittens frolicking in a field of rainbows and some curmudgeon will accuse you of being a racist or something. I guess when I start getting those types of comments I’ll know I’ve made the big time! 😀

Reply
    Rachel Thompson March 19, 2014

    Hi Marci and thanks for your comments — the kitten part made me laugh — so true!

    It’s really a combination of things: I’ve been on Twitter for over 5 years and am finally starting to feel like people are actually reading my stuff. It’s a matter of exposure — are you blogging regularly, sharing posts, generously sharing others’ information/articles/books, writing guest posts, actively growing your following by following others, etc…? it’s a lot and it doesn’t happen overnight.

    As for topics, I suggest finding five or so keywords that are of interest to you (for example, on my author account RachelintheOC, I share information on sexual abuse, love, loss, poetry, women’s topics, Nutella. I know.) Talk about what interests you and find followers (using those same keywords) to connect with like-minded folks. Remember, millions of people are on Twitter so if you come across as salesy or fake, people will move on. I’ve found that being authentic and sharing other-centric content helps more than anything.

    That said, add links to your site, book links, wherever you want folks to find you, to your bio. Make it as easy as possible for readers to find you!

    hope that helps and thanks again.

    Reply
Beth Caplin August 10, 2014

My first book is a memoir about religion, though…my second book deals with rape culture and my poetry book deals with feminism. So how do I not discuss these things on social media? I guess it’s how I go about the discussions? I try to be very open to all ideas instead of blatantly ranting.

Reply
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