I’ve written something, somewhere, intended for public exposure almost every day for the past 35 years. It started with the college newspaper then moved to electronic bulletin boards and early online class discussions. I was one of the first moderators for Financial Planning Online forum when peer-moderated professional groups thrived without spam. I wrote a number of newspaper columns in the 1990s and was able to gather significant online exposure to boost my career before the term “blog” was invented. It was natural that my writing about health care reform served as a lightening rod in the early 2000s for those with a political agenda or economic interest in the outcome. But by the time the term “social media” became popular, I was lost in the huge blast of voices and therefore insignificant.
So it comes as a surprise that lately I’ve been getting so much criticism for my writing from other CPAs. In this age of such volume of opinions expressed, I’m surprised that anyone really cares about just one more voice on the Web. Earlier this month one senior level professional basically told me to shut up and don’t contradict industry leaders with my unfounded opinions. Another said it was inappropriate to relay tax advice that was shared in an email with the public, even though it was generic advice. A third wrote that my online shared library of sample employee benefit plan documents might be a crime under New Jersey state law (practicing law without a license).
What do these complaints have in common? The only thing I can see is lack of tolerance for diverse opinions, approaches and personalities. Simply put, some professionals think they can characterize what is right, correct, legal or appropriate. I’m not so sure today’s issues worth writing about are as simple as that.