Wednesday, November 03, 2010

How to Trash Your Professional Image on Facebook in One Easy Lesson

Some writers are much better at fiction than they are at real life.  I was reminded of that last night.
Thousands of professional writers and performers use a Facebook page to sell books and music, and most of them do an effective job in balancing what they display of their personal lives with the image they want to project to potential customers.  Others, though, manage to insult or offend so many potential buyers of their wares that their Facebook page does more harm than good.  That is particularly a problem around election day for those who get so caught up in the emotion of the moment they forget why they started a Facebook page, in the first place.
East Texas author Beth Fehlbaum fell into that trap last night, a trap she had come dangerously close to falling into several times over the last month or so.  Not long after it became obvious that Rick Perry had won another term as Texas governor, I noticed that Fehlbaum was not taking the news well, and that she found it hard to believe that so many people had voted for Perry rather than for former Houston mayor, Bill White.  I posted a brief comment on her page that my vote for Perry was actually more a vote against White than it was a vote for Perry because I was unhappy with the way that White, as mayor, had transformed Houston into a sanctuary city for illegal immigrants.
Her first response was this generic rant (not, I think, aimed specifically at me):
"What's sad is, I am related to a bunch of the people who voted this prick into office again.  I've changed the channel because I am in disbelief that JOHN F'ing BOEHNER, Captain Suntan, is going to be the *!?!@! SPEAKER OF THE #!?!@ HOUSE!!! He's an obnoxious twit. Alright, Republicans, you've done it now. Great job. Fan-f'ing-tastic. And I'm also disappointed that the Democrats couldn't pull their shit together.  Wave bye to Rick, y'all, cause he's headed off on his damned BOOK TOUR now to kick-start his presidential campaign. Maybe he and Palin will team up and all the sheep that voted him back into office will vote that team into office, then our country will truly be screwed. I will never, never, never, never, never understand how people can watch shit like Fox News and actually believe it. On that note, I am going to bed. Do me a favor, by the way. DON'T TELL ME IF YOU VOTED REPUBLICAN, because I don't think I will be able to scrape together enough self control to use symbols like *!?!@! to express my feelings."

This was almost immediately followed by one for me, personally:
"@ Sam: bullshit. That is all."
One minute later, there was this:
"Know what, Sam? Vote Green or Libertarian then. At least be able to look at yourself in the morning."

I responded something to the effect that I would be fine in the morning and would be able to shave with my eyes wide open.
Seven minutes later, Beth posted a link to an editorial in the Austin newspaper that defended Bill White from charges that he had made Houston into a sanctuary city.  The crux of the editorial was that since no city ordinance doing so had ever been considered, White was innocent of the accusation.  I responded that an official ordinance was not necessary for Houston to have been transformed into an effective sanctuary for illegals and that politicians were not suicidal when it came to protecting themselves from the voter- so, of course, no ordinance existed.  White was more subtle than that. I also indirectly quoted friends I have within the HPD who described a culture within the department during the White years that discouraged them from doing much to determine the legal status of anyone they came into contact with during the course of their duty.
Next up, was this reply from Beth:
"So your problem is with Mexicans living in the U.S., then? Is that it? I teach exclusively Mexican-American and Mexican children. My teaching partner and my compadres in the program I teach in are Mexican Americans and Mexican citizens. My brother is a police officer.  I don't have a problem with Sanctuary cities. I definitely have a problem with what Rick Perry stands for and the way he has consistently F'd over education."

At this point, I stated this was certainly not “my problem” and that she should not so loosely play the race card.  I suggested she stop while she was ahead because she was starting to embarrass herself.
Within seconds, I was blocked as one of the woman’s “friends.”  That’s no big loss since I have only communicated with her two or three times in the last two years, but I do believe that she did, in fact, embarrass herself.
Beth Fehlbaum wrote a novel two years ago that moved me, a novel I reviewed here on Book Chase as one that could help ease the pain of young victims of sexual abuse.  It is a sensitive novel that has now turned into a series, and it was being promoted on the author’s Facebook page in a very positive way.  Now, for me, and probably for more than a few others who have read the recent political rants on that same page, it has all been tainted by a display of foul language and hypocritical self-righteousness on the author’s part.  And I doubt that I will ever be tempted to read anything she writes in the future.
An aside: (Why do people who curse on forums like Facebook do it with a few real letters and a bunch of cute little comic strip symbols, anyway?  That reminds me of a 7-year-old trying to impress his teenage brother.  Either have the guts to spell the actual curse words or refrain from using them at all because you are only kidding yourself that this kind of self-censorship makes you less guilty of stooping to that immature level.)
I didn’t see this one coming and wish it had not happened but I do find it a bit humorous – in a sad kind of way, if that makes any sense.
It is not true that there is no such thing as bad publicity.  Facebook is dangerous in many ways and for many reasons.  This is just one example.

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