Monday, January 30, 2017

Using Your Author Platform to Encourage Others! (Be Positive!)

First of all, let me just say this: I am NOT going to get political! I'm all about being informed, but politics tends to put a knot in my stomach that I can't deal with. So what's the point of this article? Mainly, I've been seeing a lot of authors online - and by a lot, I mean a TON - using their social media platforms to give their own play-by-plays of the world's current events. This leads me to my second disclaimer: free speech rocks, so hang in there with me. This leads me to the entire point: HOW CAN WE, AS AUTHORS, USE OUR PUBLIC PLATFORM AND INFLUENCE FOR SOMETHING POSITIVE? 

The world we live in seems like a hectic place. I see a lot of unhappiness online, but there are a few things I like to remind myself of when I'm feeling blue: First, the Internet is, indeed, a "virtual reality." Removing myself from the online realm is a wonderful way to calm down and feel happier about your life. Second, there are way too many people out there who think it is their job to shove their political opinions in your face. I don't always want to hear about it. Yes, I know it's important to know what's going on. But no, I don't need to hear it ALL THE TIME. To be honest, I'm SICK OF IT. 

Which brings me to the big kahuna: It's my personal believe that we as authors, or any public figure, for that matter, falls prey to the tempting seduction of being a "keyboard warrior." It's easy to post our feelings or opinions online in a moment of passion, but it's important to stop and think about our readership! 

Let me put this in perspective: There are some authors I LOVE. And I mean, REALLY LOVE. I adore their books, I get sucked into the worlds they have built and I stand in awe of their literary brilliance. I have, in fact, emotionally connected so deeply with their stories that their books and their pen names are intertwined. They provide a beautiful escape from the gritty reality of life. Seriously - don't we all read to escape reality? I know that's what initially drove me into the open pages of books: the allure of fictionally engaging in amazing adventures around the world, and removing myself from any pain or discomfort by stimulating my imagination! But sometimes, the illusion of adventure and fiction is broken when the author chooses to use their platforms to discuss ideas or projects that could be controversial. I'm in no way saying that authors don't have a right to do this - I'm just saying, that sometimes I have been sorely rattled when I am hit with the sour reality that my author and the world that they have built are two entirely different things. It kind of kills their fiction for me, and that's a sad thing. A very sad thing indeed. 

It's my belief - and you will see this in the way I have always operated with the public - that those in the public eye, with any kind of platform at all, should use that platform for positivity, not division, and not for politics. I'm sorry if you're into politics - that's cool! Good for you. I personally think that my place as an author is to tell a story and provide an escape from reality for my readers, and that is all! I am an entertainer, to be honest. I entertain people with the words that I weave. I want to use my platform for something positive and cohesive. In this world, so many people are choosing to be divided, and I don't want to add to that tragedy. I want to bring people together with the power of beautiful storytelling, breathtaking adventure and amazing creativity! 

So how do I, Summer Lane, choose to use my platform? For one, I love to promote the creative endeavors of other artistic minds, such as writers, illustrators, editors and literary agents. Boo-yah! I also love to bring awareness to organizations that truly help people or animals, like World Wildlife Fund, my local SPCA or the no-kill cat shelter a few miles from my house, Cat House on the Kings. I love promoting Operation Christmas Child, knowing that impoverished children from other countries are receiving joy and medical care from Samaritan's Purse. I like to talk to kids about reading and help them find books that speak to them, so that they can cultivate a love for literature and learning. I love visiting the zoo and trying to bring awareness to conservation efforts through my social media platform, and being respectful of the incredible natural world around us by protecting forests and natural habitats for endangered animals...the list goes on and on! 

Why use your presence as an author to divide or fight? I see far too many authors, young or old, liberal or conservative, fighting with other people online about their opinions. Go for it if that's your thing, but arguing online isn't going to help anyone. And let's be honest, getting into a verbal argument as an author doesn't look professional: it looks juvenile. We should be above that! 

Let me take this a step further: Keep it classy. Cussing, vulgarity and unfiltered profanity online isn't cute, intelligent or witty. It's unprofessional, childish and offensive. If you're going to fight about something, do so in a respectful way. Yes, I'm talking about authors, here. Some will strongly disagree with me, and that's okay, but the truth is that nobody looks less credible than a potty-mouth. Ooh, did I just say that? Guess I did. Oopsies. 

Let's just be clear. I didn't write this article to rail on authors or celebrities or WHOEVER and shake my little finger at them and tell them to "play nice." I'm just pointing out that the old adage, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all," is a strong and applicable motto to live your life by. As tempting as it might be to think that you're a powerful keyboard warrior while logged into your Twitter account, the reality is that words hurt, they stick, and they are remembered. Don't sacrifice your dignity in the heat of the moment. Think about what you say before the words leave your mouth - er, keys. Be respectful. The Internet has given you a voice, but that doesn't give anyone the right to be a bully. 

With that in mind, I encourage you to go into this next week with a positive mindset, showing love to all. Use your platform to do GOOD, and to lift people UP. There is enough negativity in this world - let's not add to it, please. 

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