I saw a Tweet from a fellow writer asking his followers if the outrage culture affected how they write, and he admitted it did for him. I can empathize with this perspective. After all, social media plays a key role in the author platform.
I only use Twitter enough to share my blogs and interact with a few people. It isn’t something I am on more than a couple minutes. That said, abandoning it entirely wouldn’t be wise either. Like it or not, social media is necessary to grow our brands as authors.
The Twitter outrage machine can be intimidating, you type something thinking it is benign and common-sense and the next thing you know you are getting slammed by hundreds if not thousands of angry messages and Tweets.
Another scenario would be you write a book with a moderate level of success and suddenly someone discovers something mildly offensive and takes a screen shot. Out of nowhere your book is everywhere on Twitter, but not for the reasons you want, you fear your career as a writer is over.
Here’s the thing though, the vast majority of Twitter outrage is fake. I would bet that most of these people typing angry Tweets about something supposedly offensive don’t think much on the topic after they leave their computing device.
The internet gives people the ability to not see others as human. When we throw angry and disgusting words about, we aren’t seeing the objects of our wrath as humans, but instead words and pictures on a screen.
Despite the cliché “oh it’s just the internet it doesn’t count,” these are real people typing this stuff to other real people. So yes, it is real. Being on the internet doesn’t give one the excuse to be a jerk (or worse) just because of a perceived offense.
As for us writers changing how we write out of fear of the outrage mob, that is a horrifying thought to me. After all, even the most scandalous outrages only last a day or two and soon the people of Twitter move on to something else to rage about.
If something you write causes even a small outrage, there is one option few people talk about, turn off Twitter for a few days. When you come back it will be like the outrage never happened. Folks in our culture have short attention spans and hunger to be outraged for the sake of it. Bullies on Twitter aren’t like those in school or the workplace, you can turn off all lines of communication to them or block them. You aren’t forced to share the same space with them day in and day out.
Write your story, include whatever characters you will, and do not ever write out of fear.