Sunday, August 02, 2020

The Power of Words

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

I live near Denver, Colorado and watch some local news on Channel 9.  Countless times I've watched Marty Coniglio give his weather forecast. He has been with the station for 16 years. Like many in journalism, Coniglio is active on Twitter. Last week, he sent out a tweet comparing federal troops to Nazis. Here's the details in the Denver Post article. He is no longer employed at the station. As I read the story, it reminded me that our words have power.

The Danger of A Habit

As a reader, I have been reading and listening to books for years. Each time I write a short review (normally less than 150 words) and post my review on Amazon and Goodreads. I've written over 1,000 Amazon reviews and over 600 reviews on Goodreads (where I have 5,000 friends and my reviews get a lot of attention and reading). I read and listen to many different types of books. Recently I listened to part of a bestselling book—which was filled with hatred (in my view every sentence). As an editor, I often evaluate a book based on a short portion. In this case, I decided not to listen to the rest of the book and wrote that information into my short review. I followed my habit and posted the review on Amazon and Goodreads. There are hundreds of reviews for this book and my review joined those reviews.

The final portion of my habit is to post my review with the cover on social media. I have over 200,000 Twitter followers, over 18,900 connections on LinkedIn and over 4900 Facebook friends. I didn't think about my posting because it is a habit. The reaction surprised me but I should have known when I did it. I spent about 48 hours on Facebook monitoring, deleting and even blocking some people (when you have 4,900 “friends” it is no big personal loss to block some people). My short post was consuming way too much energy and time. I deleted the post on all of my social media platforms. In a few minutes, it was gone. Did lots of people see it? Yes and I learned even with a habit to think about each post.

I temporarily forgot some critical things about the Internet and social media. While you may be writing the material for yourself, other people read it. part of the social media process is other people are going to respond and react to whatever you said. Also these words are often out online forever. In this volatile, on-edge world, common sense reminds of the small talk advice: “avoid religion and politics.” It also applies to our social media. From this experience, I was reminded our words matter. In fact, our words have power and people read them. It's good to use caution and wisdom with what you put online.

As you write today, be aware your words have power to heal or to harm. Let me know your thoughts about this subject in the comments below.


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3 Comment:

At 5:30 AM, Blogger Lori Hatcher Left a note...

Thank you for sharing your insight, Terry. I always learn something valuable from each post. Sounds like your latest review hit a hot button, for sure. As I read through the post (twice), I have a question. You posted an honest review of a book. Your shared your opinion (which is what a review should be). Apparently others didn't agree with you and took to social media to disagree.

Why did you decide to take down the posts? I'm sure it wasn't the first negative review you've posted, and that you stand by your opinion. Was it because you didn't want nasty responses on your platforms? I can certainly understand that, especially because it seems that people can't simply disagree with an opinion anymore, they have to attack the person who holds the opinion, usually with foul language and derogatory terms.

If their responses hijacked your positive space on the web and you didn't want to subject your followers to their tirades, I can understand that reason as well. Another possible scenario I"m imagining is that because you're very active and responsive on your social media platforms, and if you felt like you had to respond to the firestorm it sounds like you started, that could be overwhelming from a time standpoint. Certainly NOT the best use of your time.

I still have a lot to learn about social media and platforms. There may come a time when I post something that creates an uproar. If I learn in advance from professionals like yourself, I'll know how to respond when the time comes. Thanks for all you do in the publishing world.

At 8:34 AM, Blogger Terry Whalin Left a note...


Thanks for your comment and the question. I took down my posts about my review--which was my opinion. I left my review on Amazon and Goodreads but removed it from three social media sites where I post about my review. Just monitoring it was a time zapper--one key reason. It wasn't that big of a deal to me--though apparently it was a big deal to others. I believe many people read my view before I deleted the posts. It's not like I post once a week on these platforms but I post 12-15 times a day. The removal was not that big a deal but I certainly learned to be aware of my posts before putting it out there. People read and respond to these things. Hope that helps.


At 1:34 PM, Blogger Lori Hatcher Left a note...

Thanks, Terry, for sharing your thoughts and experience. It is a good reminder to choose our words (and where we share them) carefully.


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