This week, I saw a cute meme on the internet. It stated “You can’t make everyone happy. You’re not chocolate ice cream.”
How true is that? This past week, I was definitely not chocolate ice cream. I not only did not make everyone happy, I actually made some people very angry.
All last week, the most prominent news story was the Syrian refugee crisis. You could not avoid reading about it, seeing it on television and the internet, hearing about it on the radio. And thanks to my Facebook newsfeed, I could not avoid seeing how people felt about it. To my amazement, most did not feel the way I felt.
I usually do not post about political issues on Facebook. I’m more the nature photos, occasional amusing memes, and cute cat video type, with a weekly link to my blog on writing. But I felt this was more than a political football, this was a humanitarian issue. I was passionate about this issue. So I got vocal. I posted on my timeline and I commented on other people’s posts when I saw them in my newsfeed.
I have been active on the internet long enough to know that one will never change another person’s mind in an internet argument. Still, my passion on the subject spurred me on. I tried to counter the fear-filled and hate-mongering posts I encountered with calm, rational comments, complete with links to accurate statistics and unbiased, fact-filled articles.
I received some “likes” and a few supportive comments. I received many more comments and private messages ripping into me, and calling me names. I was labeled “stupid,” “naive,” “uninformed,” “liar” and “dangerous.”
I was unfriended by a few people over this, and even blocked by one person who seemed to think she had the right to comment on my posts, but I had no right to comment on hers.
There was a time when this would not have bothered me in the least. If someone wants to call me names, unfriend me or block me because they can not accept anyone having an opinion that is not in lockstep with their own, I figure it’s no great loss.
But now, I am an aspiring author, attempting to grow a following on my writer’s platform. Should I be posting about issues? Can I afford to publicly espouse controversial opinions?
Authors in such fields as politics, economics, science, environment, religion, philosophy, human sexuality and the like, whose works are about intrinsically controversial subjects, may be able to get away with posting their opinions. Even long-established writers in non-controversial genres might be safe making controversial comments and posts without risking the loss of their readers. But should an aspiring young-adult fantasy writer, with a new and undeveloped following, risk alienating segments of a potential audience? Perhaps I should I just go back to posting my nature photos and an occasional amusing meme or cat video, and blog about my writing.
Naw. I know I can’t make everyone happy. I’m not chocolate ice cream. I’m a writer of young adult fantasy who is also a world citizen. I hold passionate opinions on issues facing the world in which I live and write. And I have never really learned how to hold my tongue.
So, if anyone wants to debate the Syrian refugee crisis…or climate change, or factory farming, or endangered species, or the minimum wage, or if only some lives matter…or if you just want to let me know if you think I am foolish for alienating my potential audience…feel free to stop back from time to time. I’ll keep the porch light on for you. And I’ll stock the freezer with chocolate ice cream.