There’s been yet another explosion in the Twittersphere over the actions of multiple wrong-minded individuals attacking authors, coming days (barely more than hours) after this fabulous interview with Cassie Clare and Maggie Stiefvater about the actions of splinter fractions in their fandoms growing increasingly belligerant and antagonistic. (If you have no idea what I’m talking about, good for you for having a life! Or read Maureen Johnson’s recent post for context.) When Joss Whedon left Twitter, I was sad, but understood. When you chase John Green off the internet? You’ve ruined it.
Like so many of my like-aged social media denizens, I grew into my use of Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and the rest as they themselves were created and grew. They weren’t always there. I was in college before I had my first email address, and online chatting, as we think of it now, didn’t exist. When I read and loved a book, I wrote the author a fan letter, tracked down an address (usually care of a publisher), mailed it, and moved on. I didn’t virtually stalk the author, show up to her house, threaten them with physical harm at a signing or event, or god forbid, accuse them of sexual crimes!
To me, that’s not the act of a true fan. That’s like Misery-level fandom, and nobody doubts Kathy Bates was the bad guy there, right?
But as I see this happening, and watch my friends and clients react, as I hear my own brother telling me to be cautious about what I post on social media, I realize that I have already, to an extent, made some conscious changes to my social media use.
For the first time in years, I see myself checking Facebook more than Twitter, because I know that I can be open there with a carefully cultivated list of actual, I’ve-met-them-in-person friends, and that only those people I have deemed friends can see what I post. I have begun using Twitter only to share good news, or to respond to those on a short, private list of close friends. To read the headlines, but not, heaven forbid, the comments.
I see it in this blog, which has morphed over the years from an advice blog and my daily musings on the business to pages of deal announcements, book birthdays, and great reviews.
I even see it in our query pile, where a response to a standard rejection on a query letter goes so far beyond acceptable public discourse as to have us seriously considering calling the police.
And I wish it weren’t so, but I think that’s the way social media is trending, at least for me. Hopefully, it’s a cyclical downturn in use that will pick back up again sometime in the future, but I worry that the vitrol being thrown at creators — and especially female creators, people of color, LGBTQ individuals, and anyone who doesn’t fall into the white male hetero normative bias — will drive those voices into silence. And I worry more that those it doesn’t drive into silence will receive an exponential increase in these type of social media attacks.
So I will support those that can and do continue to speak out, and I will support those that choose to go offline, and I will make my own choices going forward.
As Libba Bray posted on the subject, Choose love.