I’m fairly new to Twitter, at least in the sense of being a regular user. I’ve had a Twitter account for awhile but I didn’t really start using it until my first short story was published. It’s been a great way to network with other writers, learn from other professionals, and find inspiration from people that have ‘made it’. It’s also been a major learning experience when it comes to people, and how they really are. I guess, before I get to the lessons, I should put it into perspective with a bit of a story. I’m not going to use names, because that would make me just as bad so don’t ask.
I followed a couple of people, famous people, on the ol’ twittersphere because I was a fan of their work. As a new writer I was looking for inspiration and insight into the industry I am hoping to become a part of. I did learn something, but not exactly what I expected to learn. Both of them hold quite different philosophical, political, and religious views than I do but that didn’t matter much and still doesn’t. I don’t think people have to agree on these things to respect each other’s work, or enjoy the product of that work. Both of them were quite vocal about their views, which was also fine. It was something related to their views, and how they chose to handle opposition to said views that turned me off.
One of the people pushed the ideal that people shouldn’t be jerks, a very good ideal. She had T-shirts which espoused this ideal, logos, a website devoted to it, and spoke about it at major events. Don’t be a jerk, it’s the worst thing you can do so to speak. Despite this, if someone said something she didn’t like, or if someone responded to one of her posts with disagreement, she could turn into quite a major jerk herself. The other was prolific in his support of tolerance and diversity, also a great ideal, and something I heartily agreed with. Just as much as I agreed with the idea of not being a jerk. He was also prolific in support of his political beliefs which I generally ignored. It’s when his posts started to be rude, condescending and intolerant towards another person’s beliefs just because he didn’t agree with them, that I wanted to avoid anymore contact with him.
Needless to say, I unfollowed both of them. There are still things about their work that I like, and feel are important, but as people I really can’t stand either one of them. I’ve never been one of those people that think celebrities are more than human, or perfect or anything like that. I have always held that celebrities are just like us, except they do something that makes them more noticeable to the rest of us. What they sometimes forget is that they will have fans that don’t agree with their personal ideas, ideals, or beliefs and how they handle that disagreement can mean the difference between a respected public image and not.
Anyway, what did this old dog learn? I learned that if I get lucky enough to get published and become well known I need to remember exactly what I said above. If I post my personal beliefs, always be respectful, even if others aren’t. If I espouse an ideal then I should also live by it, don’t be a hypocrite. If someone disagrees with me, accept that it’s fine, it’s normal, and there’s no reason to go on the defensive or be a jerk about it. I’ve learned it’s probably best not to even bring up subjects like religion or politics in a venue like Twitter, there’s just not enough space to have a coherent discussion anyway. I’ve also learned that it’s pointless to argue with zealots of any stripe, as you won’t change their mind, or even get them to accept the validity of a different viewpoint.
So, that’s it really. I hope this didn’t bore you, and if it did and you read this far, I’m sorry and thank you for sticking it out. I don’t generally go into personal ramblings so hopefully someone out there will find it helpful in some way.