Are You Unintentionally Offending Your Readers?
I read your post all the way through. I cheered most of the way through it. I kept thinking I wanted to share it. Until I got to one sentence. And then I changed my mind.
Your post was not really about politics. It was about good communication. But you threw in one snide remark about the President of the United States. That one sentence told me you assumed most readers would agree with you. And maybe you’re right that many Medium members would feel the way you do. But I don’t. And many of my social media followers don’t. So I decided not to Tweet this post out after all.
Was that really necessary to throw this insult in? Of course, you had a right to express your opinion. And maybe you didn’t realize you could have picked a better example to make your point. The most selfish person in history, for example, would not be donating his entire salary back to the government that pays him. But perhaps it would have been wiser to leave that sentence out of this post. It would actually be difficult to prove that anyone is the most selfish person in history — especially someone you’ve never spent time with.
That one sentence contradicts much that you said elsewhere in your post. For example, you said your life experiences with conversations had made you less judgmental as you began to actually interact with people who seem to be narcissists. Can you also reserve judgment on public figures you’ve never had a conversation with?
Everyone Can Use Tips on Being More Successful at Something
Why throw in politics?
People look for and eagerly read articles that offer advice they can use. They come from all religions, ethnic groups, and political camps. None of them is happy to see someone or something they respect insulted as they pick up helpful hints. None of those insults will make your suggestions on how to be a better writer, conversationalist, tennis player, gardener, etc. more helpful. Instead, those insults may drive them away.
The photo at the very top was taken at the entrance of the military property. The gate was designed to keep unauthorized motor vehicles out. I was on foot and could have ignored it and gone on. I could have walked around that gate, but someone would have stopped me. It would have been stupid of me, an unauthorized person, to continue. I had no business going on that property.
In the same way, as writers, we can often try to go where we shouldn’t. But we don’t always have signs and gates to prevent us from doing it. We type away, the thoughts flow out of our fingers onto the keys, and we never notice that we may have crossed a boundary for that type of article. We tend to see the world through our own political and cultural lenses and it doesn't even occur to us how offensive our little political jibe might be to a reader with a different perspective. Do you really want to go there?
There’s Plenty of Room at Medium for Diverse Opinions
Whole publications are devoted to some of them. People interested in culture, politics, religion, and other things people disagree about can find plenty to read and plenty of places to publish here. I’m not against expressing opinions some may disagree with. Instead, I’m suggesting you not put them into unrelated posts where they may unnecessarily alienate your readers.
When you finish a post, imagine you are on the other side of the political fence. Would you be unhappy or feel insulted? What if you were a member of an ethnic or religious group you had just made a negative opinionated comment about?
If you see something questionable, even if you think it’s clever or funny, pause. Ask yourself what positive point it helps your article make. Will it contribute to making your readers feel they got the advice they were looking for? Is it important enough to include even though you know it might alienate part of your reading audience?
Note: I have not referenced the piece that inspired this article because I don’t want to be critical of the author. Everyone has an opinion. This was written as a cautionary tale for those who don’t want to unintentionally alienate readers who might be ready to help you promote your work — except for one unnecessary sentence.