We often hear the phrase Don't punch down, but I don't believe in punching at all.
Don't punch down, don't punch up, don't punch sideways. Don't punch bunnies or bears or sharks. Because-- big surprise-- no one likes being punched.
No one listens to you when you're punching them. They just think about how much they hate being punched and how hard they'll want to punch back.
That's right, folks-- I'm talking about social media.
If you tweet writing advice I disagree with?
That's your business. That's your megaphone. If I don't like it, I can unfollow you or offer different advice on my own feed. Everyone has a different path and a different process. What works for you, works for you, even if it doesn't work for me. If you wanted my thoughts, you'd ask me personally.
I won't correct you.
If you made a misspelling in your social media or blog post?
Well, he'll. Everybody makes mistakes, and English is an insanely ridiculous language. In between typing, fat thumbs, non-native speakers, and the perils of Autocorrect, we're all guilty. Every writer's first drafts are full of mistakes; that's what copyeditors are for. I just assume you know how to spell 'rebuttal' and go on with my life.
I won't correct you.
If you ask an offensive question or post a link that disgusts me?
BFD. It's insanely self-centered to think that my opinion is going to change yours or that you want my personal input on a topic about which you feel strongly. Being my friend doesn't mean we have to agree on everything. The last thing I would want to do is assume the worst of someone asking a question. And if your post offends me, I can click "I don't want to see this" and make it disappear without actively hurting your feelings. Enough of those, and I'll click Unfollow. It's not my business to tamper with or police your megaphone... but it is my business to stop listening if I don't like your message and to Unfriend or block you if I find your opinions actively damaging or toxic on a constant basis.
But I still won't correct you.
What's the point here?
Everyone wants to be right. Everyone wants to be valued. But constantly correcting each other with a gently admonishing ;-) isn't the way to do that.
Social media gives you a voice and a megaphone, and you get to use it as you see fit. Eventually, that megaphone will grow and allow you to spread the word of your books, your sales, your events far and wide. But if you start out using that megaphone to punch down or up or sideways, to punch bunnies or bears or sharks, your audience will dwindle, and no one will hear your voice. People will never say I REALLY LIKE THE WAY THAT GUY CONSTANTLY CORRECTS EVERYONE, AND I WANT TO READ ALL HIS BOOKS.
And if they did? They'd be vindictively hunting for mistakes to tear you down.
Don't punch down reminds you not to be a bully, but punching up can be just as damaging to your career and reputation. Constantly correcting, arguing with, or harassing someone with a bigger megaphone than you won't get their attention-- it will get you blocked.
Writers talk. Agents and editors talk. And we all have very long memories.
So are you ready for the bad news?
No one cares about your thoughts.
No one cares about your beliefs, your feelings about their beliefs, your thoughts on current events, your preference of dog breeds and breakfast sandwiches. Unless and until you're A Really Big Deal, no one cares. Your mom, maybe. No one else.
You start out with zero influence.
Your megaphone is a thimble.
But here's the good news:
You can make people care, one by one.
Every message you send out into the internet should reaffirm why they care. And you should make them care so much that they share what you say and tell others to listen to you. You tell them, every day, that what you say is more than punching, lashing out, correcting-- that it adds value to their day. That's how you build an audience. That's how you grow your megaphone.
Not by punching.
Building up other people, building up the community, building up your backlist, building up your own Fortress of Quality that beckons others with cheerful banners and a message of warmth and welcome, or at least knowledge and thoughtful contribution.
Correcting someone on the internet might make you feel superior momentarily, but it's punching. Use that energy to build your own castle instead of trying to poke holes in someone else's walls.
So here's my advice, and your mileage may vary:
Whenever you catch yourself thinking, SOMEONE IS WRONG ABOUT WRITING ON THE INTERNET, AND THEY REALLY NEED MY INPUT, close the window and go work on your book. That's how you can change the world.
And the only thing you have to punch is the keys of your laptop.