So, this is the second time I’m writing this post. I wrote the first one way back in November but I binned it because I just wasn’t happy with it (it got a little bitchy). So this is attempt number two! It’ll be a rambling mess but I’ll try my best to be coherent.
One of the last papers I wrote in undergrad focused on fandom in the modern age, in a time where connecting with others is almost instantaneous, whether it’s through a blog post or an email or a tweet. My focus was specifically on authors, and how they may use social media not only to communicate with their readers, but to also control ownership over their texts and their fictional characters. This paper was titled ‘The Liberation of the Twenty-First Century Reader as a Result of Social Media’ and it was pretentious as fuck. But the topic really interests me, and I want to see what you guys think on the subject.
When you first think about authors having social media platforms like Twitter, Tumblr, etc. it sounds amazing! You can interact with them whenever you like (if they reply, that is). As a reader, I love that the relationship between author and reader has seemingly grown closer over the past decade or so. I see interactions like this every day on Twitter and most of the time they’re adorable! I’m way too chicken to talk to my favourite authors over social media, but the option to do so is there, and I think that’s fantastic.
But maybe authors having social media goes beyond simple marketing and interaction with fans. You could say that authors have an online presence to also try and control how readers interpret their novels and/or characters. I’ve seen this numerous times on Goodreads and Twitter, where authors have tried to talk over or even ‘correct’ a reader’s interpretation of characters, as it goes against their vision or ‘intent’…
And that’s so wrong to me! It bugs me that some authors try to assert their views over their readers, and that the author’s intent is the sole ‘right’ one. ‘Oh, I see you think this character is gay but they’re not bcos I say so’ (as an example), and attempts such as this are just flat out wrong to me! If readers wanna headcanon characters as PoC or LGBT+ for instance, then that’s their choice. What’s more, think of why readers do this.
And it’s not only reader interpretation authors may battle with. Authors can and have lashed out online due to bad reviews left by readers. Personally, while I can absolutely understand being hurt over a negative review, using your social media account to attack your readers and reviewers is not a good look! It’s gotten to the point where I’m nervous about posting negative reviews in fear that the author will discover it and attack me for it – hasn’t happened yet, luckily!
I’m just a reviewer. I’m not a writer and I have zero desire to become one, so there’s probably a perspective I’m just not seeing, but I was wondering, what are your thoughts about authors online? Do you believe that some authors use their social media to try and control reader interpretations? Any examples where you’ve seen this happen? Would love to know what you all think.