Look, I keep my private life private, but let's just put it this way: I am a city girl. I have lots of different kinds of friends, with lots of different kinds of private lives, and some of them are quite expressive about them. I am friends with people who are dancers and actors and drag queens and sex therapists and racy comedians and wild-eyed-probably-high college students, and all sorts of things in between. The content that they post on social networks reflects that, and that's just great.
I'm also friends with lots and lots of writers. Some of them are semi-insane ranting penmonkeys, or sassy romance or YA authors. Sometimes they post things that make me blush a bit... and THAT'S fine too. But writers or not, what do all these people have in common? The tone of their social media content reflects the tone of their work.
Now of course they might be MORE conservative in social media than they are in their work, but they are rarely more salacious. In other words... a YA novelist may choose to tweet about breakfast, or she may choose to tweet about pop culture or politics or any other dang thing that one talks about in public... but she probably won't start tweeting naked pics. An burlesque dancer might tweet about all of those things including burlesque-pics... but she probably won't start tweeting links to snuff films.
Personally, my blog is pretty much exactly how I would talk to my boss, or an editor, or a client, or my mom, mild cursing and all... nobody is going to get a big shock or be disturbed if they read the blog and then meet me, because the tone of my social media reflects the tone of my work.
So consider this a public service announcement.
If you are an author of children's books, could you please not post raunchy comments and explicit posts on your public social media sites? Come on now. This isn't your private living room. You've followed me, and maybe I like the looks of your book, or maybe I've already read and liked it. You've followed a host of other booksellers and librarians and teachers, editors and agents, readers and potential fans. Why did you follow those folks? So they'd get to know you and your book, right? So they'd help you promote it, bring it into their library, read it at storytime, put it in a kids hand? So that maybe they might want to buy or read (or rep! or publish!) the next one? Of course.
So you know very well that you are talking to not just your friends, but to a group of people who work with kids and/or kids books all day long. Do you seriously think I, or any one of those other professional children's book people, will want to bring you in for an event, or tell the marketing team about you, or otherwise promote your picture book when we know you are making comments about the looks of 16 year old "jailbait" on youtube, publicly bemoaning your erectile dysfunction on facebook, instagramming pictures of your rum-soaked bachelorette party, posting unfunny pedophilia jokes on your blog, or talking about MILFS at a school event on Twitter? Do you imagine a PARENT would see all this and give your book to their KID? Are you nuts?
Seriously. If you want a locked twitter or a private facebook for just you and your wild hockey team pals or fellow members of your Bad Medicine cover band or Mile High Ladies Fan Club or whatever, go for it, and god bless.
But if you have a public account on which you are promoting your work for children, and you are friending/following readers, teachers, librarians and publishing professionals, use your dang noodle. And not THAT noodle, mister.
"But Jennifer, that is CENSORSHIP!" -- nope, I think it's actually just common sense. "But we're all ADULTS! Little kids aren't reading my facebook posts!" -- sure, that's true. So if you're truly passionate about a topic, go for it. I would just suggest that if it is content that could not be printed in a newspaper, you're probably on the wrong track. I think of public social media like a cocktail party with colleagues and your boss... not a bachelor party with drinking buddies and a hooker.
What do you guys think? Am I hopelessly conservative and out of touch? I don't think so, but I am interested in other points of view.