June 29, 2009

How to Make a Fool of Yourself on Twitter

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I love Twitter. It can be very entertaining, informative, lots of fun but it's not the place to record every thought that pops into your head. This is the internet. Everyone can see it. This is especially true if you are a famous author with lots of followers.

Yesterday I was Twittering away when a particular writer's tweets popped up. She was angry about a review in The Globe. I was curious so took a look at the review. It wasn't especially harsh. It wasn't totally positive but the reviewer balanced the bad points with the good. I didn't really get what the big deal was and did a bit of eye rolling.

Today the proverbial poo hit the fan. GalleyCat sniffed out the story and posted the nastiness for all the world to see. The author called on fans to start a flame war, posting a email address for the reviewer (for the record, I didn't see this until today). As you can see, that author is Alice Hoffman. Yep, Alice. Hoffman.

Twitter. It can be your best friend or your worst enemy. I'm not a huge Hoffman fan but I was following her tweets. I was disappointed to say the least by her reaction. As someone who has been in the business a long time, I think she should know how things work. Not everyone is going to think your stuff is the best thing since sliced bread. It's okay to grumble to your friends and family but to encourage negative rabid fan behaviour on a social networking site is not good. It's just makes the person doing the posting look bad.

It is too easy to sign onto Twitter and post something dumb. Everyone has at some point. It only takes a few clicks and you've publicly shown the not so flattering side of your personality. The thing is I'm not a celebrity and no one cares. For authors, it pays to do what authors do best and weigh their words carefully.

Update: Alice Hoffman apologizes.

18 comments :

  1. I'm disappointed too, and honestly a bit shocked that she'd do something like that. I actually really loved some of her books. Her behaviour is inexcusable, though. To post the contact details of the reviewer and to appeal to mass harassment (because however nicely it's put, that's what she did) is just...low.

    I was also seriously disappointed that she was complaining that these days "any idiot" can have an opinion on books, whereas before only other novelists reviewed her books. Which is ironic, since this reviewer actually is another author. Anyway, it makes me want to never write about her books on my blog again, since she would no doubt consider me one of the idiots who are responsible for the Downfall of Civilization.

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  2. I was sad to see that too. Youl really can't be too careful out there. I saw an article in our local business paper last week that interviewed people who are in charge of hiring for their companies--they're actively looking through Twitter for candidates, and if the candidate, shall we say, uses poor judgement about what they tweet, they get bumped to the bottom of the (huge) job applicant pile.

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  3. I learned this lesson kind of the hard way also (hence why my blog is on the DL). I didn't really say anything bad, but the person I was writing about got offended.

    It's a shame she didn't just take the honorable way out and say she shouldn't have over reacted.

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  4. I think Nymeth said really well what I thought. I've read only one of Hoffman's books and it is one of my favorites of the year, and I have almost all of her books on my TBR list.

    But such a behavior is immature and unacceptable! When you begin sharing your work with the world, whether you're an author or a singer or anything else, you have to accept that there will be good and bad reviews. It comes with the territory!

    And frankly, it doesn't make me want to write about the book I liked either. Hopefully she'll realize how dumb her move was and do some kind of apology.

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  5. I think Nymeth said really well what I thought. I've read only one of Hoffman's books and it is one of my favorites of the year, and I have almost all of her books on my TBR list.

    But such a behavior is immature and unacceptable! When you begin sharing your work with the world, whether you're an author or a singer or anything else, you have to accept that there will be good and bad reviews. It comes with the territory!

    And frankly, it doesn't make me want to write about the book I liked either. Hopefully she'll realize how dumb her move was and do some kind of apology.

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  6. Nymeth- It is shocking. I expected more from her. She seems to be quite bitter.

    Amy- I read about a guy who was interviewed for a job then complained about the company on Twitter. They told him not to come in to work. It was a online company too. Duh!

    Nik- I always try to be diplomatic online. You never know when it might bite you in the butt.

    Infiniteshelf- It is the first author to land on my Do Not Read list because of a similar situation. As for an apology, her Twitter account was taken down today.

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  7. This is why sometimes I have my husband read my e-mails before I send them out when I'm feeling a tad bit hot under the collar. He's saved me a few times, let me tell you.

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  8. I saw a bit of this unfold yesterday in real time and have to say that I'm surprised that she wen to the lengths she did. Sure, had she vented a little it likely would have been somewhat laughable but the inclusion of personal email and telephone numbers rmaped it up to a *whole* other level. That was when I started to wonder if she was seriously unhinged. I mean, she does realize what Twitter is doesn't she? Because private messaging it is not.

    These are the types of things that can break long-standing otherwise stellar careers. Certainly by the looks of the press she's gotten from *many* other upstanding and respected critics she's got some work to do to gain back some of the respect she's likely lost.

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  9. Lit Feline- She should have taken a long walk first...and maybe a little nap.

    Michelle- Yes, the parts I saw made me say Huh? Is she serious? The personal info and the egging on of fans went over the top.

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  10. I am shocked as well. You would think that authors would be used to constructive criticism...you know they must get it all of the time. I bet she was having an off day...maybe it just hit her the wrong way. I hope so...she is one of my fav authors.

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  11. Missy- I feel sorry for fans. No one wants to see their idols in that light.

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  12. Ouch. Badly played, AH. A serious author makes herself look silly. Although it's bringing more publicity to the book...

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  13. This is the fist place I heard about the whole Hoffman Twitter fiasco. I, like everyone else here, was very disappointed. I understand being angry over a review, but posting very publicly your anger over said review was not only not smart but very immature. I've been meaning to read one of Hoffman's books for years, but frankly now I'm not so sure if I want to. If I do, it'll have to be a very long time from now.

    Her behavior afterwards hasn't made me feel any better either. First, she deletes her Twitter account without bothering to apologize. Then she apologizes to "anyone she might have offended" via her publicist. It all seemed very ungracious and insincere to me.

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  14. I can't believe she started off her apology with saying she thought it had all been blown out of proportion. Like JS said, the apology seems insincere.

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  15. I love her books but that was unbelievably immature and irresponsible. Not adapting well to the true 24/7 surveillance nowadays.

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  16. So disappointing! I've loved so many of her books, partly because she's been so insightful about her characters. Maybe she had a bad day, and the review (which wasn't so terrible) just set her off - but as a public figure, she couldn't have thought it was a good thing to encourage people to harass/stalk another public figure.

    sheesh.

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  17. I keep hearing about this. Crazy stuff...

    Good morning by the way! :)

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  18. Ive read about this happening numerous times, not only on Twitter. it can really be disappointing to find out this way.

    Paul @ Halloween Costumes

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