I am (and have always been) a very opinionated person. I think this is one of the main reasons I have taken, like a duck to water, to social media. I love being able to express what I think via Facebook, twitter and my blog. As books are a massive part of my life this is what usually dominates my opinions and is the primary focus of my social media posts.
Social media is all one big experiment and I learn different things about how to use it every day, both positive and negative. I readily admit that I have posted things on twitter that weren’t right for that medium and have also got into trouble by posting comments out of context. And I have also posted comments knowing they were going to cause trouble. But the point is it gets people talking. I am a firm believer that communication needs to be upfront and honest and is better for any relationship in the long run.
I was recently elected President of the Australian Booksellers Association, which is a massive honour and a huge responsibility. This role also means my opinions now not only reflect what I personally think but will have an impact on the ABA and its members who I now represent. Some people have advised me that I should completely “pull my head in” now. I feel though that rather than moderating my opinions (which would not be true to myself) it is more about moderating my voice. Since being elected I have consciously tried to limit what might be perceived as negative comments about the industry and tried to put them across in more constructive ways. However I have still gotten myself into trouble…
One of the joys about social media is that it is one big experiment. I have tried a lot of different things on Facebook and twitter using a combination of video, blogs, competitions and fundraising and relish using the new medium. But I have recently learned that it is not all fun and games, compliments and backslaps. Although I have championed social media as being like a conversation it is still inherently a vehicle for broadcasting ideas whether they be smart, silly or stupid. Privacy on social media has been a big issue for people this year as Facebook tinkered with its settings and I learned the hard way that there is no such thing as privacy using Social Media, no matter what your settings. Comments or posts you make are only as private as the people who read them choose to make them.
I am now acutely aware of what can happen when I shoot my mouth off (or keyboard so to speak). I will certainly be taking a more measured approach to what I post on Facebook and twitter. That is not to say I am going to shy away from an issue I believe in or am passionate about, I would not be myself if I did that. However some things are best said over a beer or a meal (or both!) and not in a way you can’t ultimately control.