Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Thoughts about the public's "right to know" and social media

I’ve been dodging my social media a lot lately, and it’s starting to be noticed by a lot of people who normally interact with me on a daily basis. “Why?” is the first question I’m asked, and for the most part, I merely tell friends I’m tired and want to concentrate on writing without the distraction of the internet. The truth is really even more simple, unfortunately. I’m just tired of the anti-socialness of social media, and the constant stream of negative posts and ignorance on many issues that really don’t even belong on social sites.

When I first began using Facebook years ago, it was pleasant, fun chatter with friends from all over the world. These days, more and more I find myself hitting “unfollow” and “hide this post” from my newsfeed. There are topics that are beat to death, resurrected, then battered into the ground again–repeatedly! People go nuts and report if a naked breast appears, or a butt curve, but it’s apparently social to post pictures of women, children, and animals beaten half to death. Post rants about wanting politicians lynched, hate mongering over whatever is the trending target of choice. Go for it, it’s your social media–but it’s also my social media, and I’m not feeling the love, believe me.

My inbox security is as tight as it can be made on Facebook, if I could shut it down to all but a handful of people, I’d do it. Recently, I have been asked the most amazing, intrusive, rude questions I’ve seen in a long time, and people are angry when I tell them I will not discuss the topics they wish to chat about. Frankly, the public does NOT have the right to know my personal business, or my personal views. If I choose to share them, you will see them, otherwise, don’t be surprised when I tell you politely that I won’t discuss my views and opinions. That IS my right, after all.

Public figures owe their audience the best their talent can produce, and their gratitude for those who invest their time and money into any artist’s talent, be it books, acting, singing, painting–or any other art form. What they do not owe their audience is their personal lives, and their personal thoughts. I see so many of my fellow authors popping off about subjects that are guaranteed to incite controversy and confrontational anger. They jump on the trending headlines, and everyone gets in on the act. The internet never forgets, and that is a phrase all public people need to remember. If you have aspirations, and goals you hope to meet, be circumspect at all times.

Ironically, this social issue is a laugh in many ways for me, because people close to me don’t know my views on many things. I am a private person, and I don’t generally voice my opinions on things I’ve been asked about recently. Why does it matter what I think about anything? Frankly, in many cases, I am a foreign entity who is not affected by US political decisions. My views on gun control, abortion, celebrities behaving badly… none of this matters. And, again, the public is not entitled to anything of this sort unless I choose to put my foot in my mouth–and it has been known to happen, rather too often in the past. In this age of entitlement, what you are entitled to is polite interaction on a social level. You are not entitled to anything else unless it’s volunteered. I recently had some idiot attempt to draw me into his childish snit because I asked him to remove a tag from a photo, when he was blocked, he took his crap to another social media site–why? I refused to engage, and that’s my choice, isn’t it?

I write. That is my public obligation to readers who choose to trust me to entertain them with a good story. Beyond that, why does anyone think they have the right to invade my privacy and then get pissed off when I won’t discuss their hot topics? You have the right to ask–but I have the right to say no. That simple, isn’t it? This is social media, not the halls of justice, or a debate.


  1. Oh, I definitely agree with this entire blog! Not only do I feel that everyone, regardless of their public position, has a right to their private position, I think there is a certain responsibility to keep some aspects of their lives private. Just because there are so many ways to display and reveal every detail about a person's life does not mean that everyone should be expected to do it. In fact, I tend to admire and respect those who are able to maintain that difficult balance between the two sides of their lives. I may be curious from time to time, but overall, I would rather not know absolutely everything.

    1. Thank you so much, Roberta. I know it's not always a popular stance, especially in this day and age of instant infamy over the craziest of things, but I'll still keep my private life out of the line of fire. Hugs, D

  2. STANDING O!!!! I almost got a little teary reading this. You have been pit through the mill, used, abused, and taken for granted. You just said what a lot of us are saying. I joined FB for all the same reasons and I am disheartened by a lot of it. It is a high school politics throwback environment. To the few of us who have genuine and innocent intentions are being stomped on. Zuckerberg never designed Facebook for us. He designed it to make him rich.


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