On Politics, Social Media, and where Authors Fit In

I gave an elderly woman the middle finger the other day.

I was stopped at a red light, at an intersection clearly marked “NO TURN ON RED.” So, I did not turn on red. The elderly woman behind me responded by leaning on her horn. So I gave her the finger.

What I’m saying, is, I often struggle with being a good person.

You might have no idea what the hell I’m getting at. Stay with me. I promise I have a point.

What I don’t have are any adequate words to express my reaction to the horrific events of last Friday in Newtown, Connecticut. I am especially not going to pretend I can possibly fathom the pain of those parents, those children, that community. I can’t. But this post is not about what happened in Newtown.

If you follow me on Twitter, you know I have been vocal about my support for stricter gun regulations, especially a ban on the manufacturing and selling of assault rifles. I have been vocal about these beliefs since 2007, when a shooter killed 33 people on the campus of Virginia Tech. I was seventeen at the time. I learned the news while sitting in my high school journalism class.

I don’t feel the need to explain why this a hot-button issue for me, just as much as I don’t think any human being needs a reason to feel appalled at the deaths of innocent people. I will say that I went to a school in a community where gun violence was normal. People being “capped” on the streets were the subject of jokes. A 12-year-old boy was shot in the face at his kitchen table a mile away from the school. A 6th grader casually brought a gun to school to show his friend. Needless to say, I was afraid to go to school for most of my secondary career.

But this post is not about my views on gun regulations (I avoid the word control). I’ve struggled over the past week about what to say and not to say on Twitter. To be political, or not to be political? That was the question. It’s a question I’ve had before, over various other hot-button issues. Speak up, or shut up and just talk about books? (I don’t judge anyone who just wants to talk about books. That’s fine! I’m talking about my personal decisions with what to post on Twitter.)

It’s a much debated topic, whether or not having a platform or dedicated fan base justifies speaking out on political issues. “SHUT UP LEO DICAPRIO, WE DON’T CARE HOW YOU FEEL ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENT AS LONG AS YOU DON’T MAKE ANOTHER MOVIE LIKE THE BEACH.” I don’t personally know any authors as famous as Leo DiCaprio. But I’ve seen many get criticized for using social networking to express their political views.

I think it’s important I acknowledge one irrefutable truth: I am no one. I have a couple hundred Twitter followers, I have a book coming out next year, but I am a nobody. I can preach all I want to about how fucking asinine the NRA’s press conference was this morning, but that doesn’t mean anyone is listening. The most it’s going to accomplish is that someone agrees with me. Follower gained. The worst, someone doesn’t agree with me. Follower lost. Womp, womp.

I’ve thought about whether or not the followers are worth it. Whether or not offending someone who might then decide to never, ever buy my book is worth being vocal about the things I believe in.

Then I thought, if I place selling a few copies of my book above all else, what does that say about me?

I struggle with being a good person. But what I’ve learned this week is that I just want to be a person. I don’t want to be “the author on a soapbox.” I don’t want to be an author this week. I don’t even know if I even qualify as an author yet, since you can’t read my book until July.

I just want to be me for a little while. I’m not perfect. I flip off rude drivers, regardless of age. I’ve done, and will continue to do a lot of things I’m not proud of. But I don’t want to regret keeping my mouth shut when there’s the smallest chance I could have prompted someone else to act. Because I care, a lot, about curbing gun violence.

So I might mention it a couple times on Twitter.

One thought on “On Politics, Social Media, and where Authors Fit In

  1. Kara – beautifully said. I never got around to writing a post on this this week and meant to. You have said it absolutely perfectly and I agree with every word. Hugs, friend. Let’s hope we see a difference soon.

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