Fantasy author Sam Sykes, in a thoughtful essay about crossing social boundaries, describes exactly some of my misgivings about social media these days:
For as much as I love social media, there’s times when it’s really wearing.
There’s times when I’ll write out a joke to my friends, stare at it, then delete it because I know someone else will read it, assume that because I’m joking about this to someone else, it is okay for them to joke about it with me.
There’s times when I’ll write out what I think is a pretty funny tweet, stare at it, then delete it because I know someone else will read it and make a painfully obvious joke that I was deliberately trying to avoid.
There’s when it’s very difficult to do social media.
And that’s because my fans are wonderful people. Not once has anyone ever made a joke that was intentionally malicious, hateful or savage in my direction. Not once has anyone said something that I would consider way over the line. And that’s what makes this so frustrating: it’s very rarely an intentional leap over the line, it’s usually just a toe or a step over the line.
And the line is hard to see sometimes.
Sykes’ final suggestions—-be mindful, ask yourself if your behavior is something you’d do with someone you knew well, that there’s no shame in apologizing for a joke gone wrong, and that you’ll be forgiven for an honest mistake—are ones all of us should keep in mind.
(Related: Delilah S. Dawson’s How to Approach Authors in the Wild.)
[Via Paul Weimer and John Scalzi]