Politics and Social Media: Should CBA Writers Get in the Water?

Photo by Stuart Miles

Note: This is a party-neutral post pertaining to writing and marketing, not specific political candidates and issues. Everyone is welcome to read and give their input, but slanderous commentary will not be tolerated.

I'm caught between a rock and a hard place this year, but it doesn't involve deciding which candidate to vote for come November. It has to do with the mini-skirmishes going on every day in online social media. When I see people lobbying for their favorite politician on Facebook or Twitter, I want to jump into the fray, too, but then I pause, still holding my chosen banner high.

Should I be doing this sort of thing as a fiction writer?

Photo by Stuart Miles

We hear all the time about using social media to market ourselves to potential readers and to support the writing community. But when we set foot in the political arena, are we essentially giving ourselves the thumbs down?

Politics is risky business when your goal is to gain a loyal following of readers. One wrong hit of the "Like" tab could find you short of 30 Facebook friends in 30 seconds. This is an especially difficult area for CBA writers to traverse, since we have the dual responsibility of bringing attention to our work while ensuring what we put out there glorifies God and doesn't instigate strife.

I remember reading one Christian author's blog posts last year. I loved her stories of adventure and romance, but she also used her fiction blog to discuss several political movements going on at the time. This author felt very strongly in her convictions, to the point where it seemed that if you didn't see things her way, you were on the wrong side of Christianity. I came away from that blog with an entirely different impression of the author. Even now, it's hard for me to read her books without thinking of how divisive her views are.

Perhaps that's a bit of spiritual immaturity on my part, but I don't think anyone wants to feel alienated by one of their favorite authors. As I continue to learn about the marketing side of writing and the use of social media, here are some things I've gathered to think about.

  • It's best never to engage in politics when using social media (This is a hard one, and I don't know too many people who have either wanted to avoid the subject or who have managed to go about it successfully, myself included).

  • If you do choose to engage, consider all who will be reading your political posts/tweets. Is this something you want your potential readers, future agents, or publishers to see?

  • Do most of your followers and friends share your views? If not, are you willing to risk alienating those who would have supported you otherwise?

  • Can you find a way to state your opinion without viciously attacking the opposing side? (Remember that you're talking about a fellow human being, even if their party's animal symbol is different from yours.)

  • If you're really passionate in your stance, is there another social media outlet you can use to voice your political leanings instead? (e.g., a separate blog, a political community forum)

  • Lastly, and the most important, are you still conducting yourself in a Christian manner? (Posting internet memes and caricatures of a political candidate that serve only to instill hatred, get a negative reaction, and discourage real, intelligent conversation are not hallmarks of our faith)

I'd love to hear from you. Can writers talk about tough subjects like politics while using social media? Do you think it's taboo? Again, this is a party-neutral post, so please be courteous in your comments.