You can't open Dramabook, without seeing someone mad about something. That's a bit of the price for freedom of speech. So, I try to Big Picture it. We've all heard that the best way to stay friendly with people is "don't talk about religion or politics or sex." Oops, well, the sex part doesn't always count with romance authors, right? (Please say right!) But what about the rest? Or maybe seemingly harmless topics?
An author I follow shared that she was donating some proceeds to an animal shelter. I thought that was great! The person who was upset that the shelter didn't include horses, didn't think it was so great. The author responded professionally that it was a shelter she was familiar with, and while it was unfortunate that it didn't include horses, that was where she wanted the money to go.
I couldn't fathom being unhappy that an animal shelter was getting help. But someone did.
It really got me thinking: is there ever a time when an author should take a side on a controversial topic? And no, I'm NOT talking about the everloving Oxford comma debate!
My basic assumption when I follow an author is to get information about her books, appearances, giveaways. Did I mention...her BOOKS! I love being in a circle of people who also follow an author because we share the love of her stories and characters. That's what an author wants too. And appreciates.
Some authors share information about their families or personal situations, to varying degrees. I've found myself praying for authors with health problems or difficult situations. But, I've also seen other people say to authors, "you shouldn't put your baby in that position so soon after eating" or "why is the dog bed so small when that dog has clearly outgrown it?" So, basically readers are putting in their two cents instead of just quickly scrolling by what is meant to be harmless sharing.
It's difficult to find that balance as an author. You want to be likeable and maybe even funny. You want people to smile when they see your post. You don't want to alienate readers because READERS ARE AWESOME!
Some authors support a certain side in politics or gun rights (or homeschooling or breastfeeding, etc.). I see heated discussions on those pages. I've seen readers claim they will never read the author again. With other artists, musicians for example, I just like what I like. I don't care about their personal beliefs (and admittedly rarely know what those beliefs are).
My current goal is to try to avoid controversy. I doubt the author who helped the animal shelter thought that there could possibly be any problem with it. I have strong beliefs and respect that others may too. But I've rarely seen social media garner any thoughtful discussion of significant topics. For me, that's something you do when you sit down with someone.
What about you? Is there a line where an author should speak up? Are some things universal?