This is a question I have asked myself time and time again, especially in the run up to the EU Referendum that took place just yesterday. It’s hard not to let your personal feelings show to your audience, especially when you are – as I am – a professional writer. It’s how we express ourselves after all. When something gets our back up, we attack with our keyboards.
It’s hard not to let rip. It’s hard not to tell people what you think, whether they are asking for your opinion or not. Acquaintances, friends and family know from my personal page that I have been quite vocal about this in the run up to the referendum. On my blog, and consequently my Facebook Author Page, I was very quiet aside from one blog post that I reposted several times. That was my article on Deconstructing Bad Arguments and I was generally (I feel) balanced in criticising both sides and all political angles. It got quite a few hits and some positive comments.
It’s not the first time I’ve posted something political and it probably won’t be the last. In late summer 2015, I posted an article vilifying the media and Labour for their attempted character assassination of Jeremy Corbyn. I am indifferent towards Corbyn, but can appreciate the sentiment that led to his election, and time will tell whether I even vote for him or his party in 2020. I am a Green Party Member after all and I feel my true affiliation is Lib-Dem. Nevertheless, I did punch the air in delight at his victory because of the atrocious hatchet job and crass muddying of his name during the Labour leadership contest. It was a victory of defiance. I also commented on the language of politics prior to the 2015 General Election. Going back further, I was equally critical of extreme right wing party UKIP and extreme left wing Respect in an article on the Language of Political Propaganda.
I have, despite my own personal views, tried to call it down the middle. That is my personal choice and here are my reasons.
I Want To Keep My Personal and Professional Lives Separate
My personal views are my own and when in my professional capacity, I don’t want to persuade anyone of anything – at least not politically. I want to inform, delight and entertain. Politics is vital, but it is not a particularly entertaining subject unless it is something like political satire. Even then, that can go down like a lead balloon with the wrong audience. Some people are delicate snowflakes, unable to laugh at their own politics while ridiculing those of others with impunity. Left and right are equally guilty of having a humour bypass in this respect.
It’s More Professional
I feel it is unprofessional to plough through political content, even when I agree with the person writing the politically motivated blog post. I want to read about their work and their professional experience. I don’t want to hear about who they are voting for and who they are supporting. It’s irrelevant and counterproductive. In the informal world of social media, we have lost some of that formality in our professional lives. However, I have a reputation to build and to keep and I am sure they are not really interested in my political views unless they happened to be morally reprehensible. I have clients who rely on me to do a good job and I would not feel comfortable spreading this sort of content, mixing it in with my professional work. When you blend personal with the professional, you risk one affecting the other.
Would I want My Clients To Share Their Political Views?
Similar to above, no. Even when I agree with them, I want to see their professional work. I want to see what they are up to in their working lives. It is off-putting to see any irrelevant content, especially so when I agree with them. This over-sharing culture we have on social media can be problematic. It is much better to stick with content that is professionally relevant. If I wanted to write a politically motivated blog post, I would write a political blog and keep it separate – just as I did with ILPPS.
I Want To Be More Creative With It
As writers, do we really want to produce the same sort of content everybody else is producing? Do you want to agree with everyone else? Not me, I think I would rather stand out from the crowd. That’s why I wrote about bad arguments in political debates. It’s why I criticised the media in the run up to the Jeremy Corbyn leadership contest. I’m sure that when the next political situation arises, I will look at it from a different angle again. I don’t want my blog or my page to become yet another social media echo chamber for either side. Besides, if we can offer a new perspective, why shouldn’t we?
So how do you feel about your professional self? No doubt your political or social views affect your work, but do you keep them apart or are you happy to post about such things in your professional capacity?