Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Wrongness of Public Shaming (Two Parts)

My post for this week was all but done when Alex pointed something out about the source of my post… What if it wasn't 100% true, or worse what if it were just a marketing ploy… So that started the research. What we found was that not everything in some recent blog posts were true, or it was half-truths, or that if it was true there was no proof… So now I have to revise my post and really I should have known better, always check the facts. Maybe that should be my post next time. But here it is, now broken into two parts: When Trolls Attack and Two Wrongs Don't Make A Right.
Bottom line is this: Public Shaming of anyone is wrong, we have become this culture of blood thirsty vipers who like to gather in masses to abuse, shame, and verbally attack one person or a group of people we feel like we are better than. It's disgusting and in this one instance it was from both sides. Both are wrong, and no one is a winner in this little internet war.

Part One: When Trolls Attack

Anyone who's been on any sort of social media this week (yes, it is only Wednesday but whatever) has seen the brouhaha over trolls attacking authors and their fans. Even if you've missed this week's installment of “When Trolls Attack” you know you've seen at least 10 previous episodes and next week I'm sure there will be a whole new line up for us all to sit back and shake our heads at as it unfolds in our social media newsfeeds.

Haters... They're a bitch. No, seriously, they are.

We waste so much time on them, they interrupt our lives, they distract from peoples hard work, they shame people for the things they enjoy. And let's be clear, this isn't about “bad reviews” this is about people who seek out to scare, hurt, and ruin author's based on a personal bias, a rumor they've heard, a misunderstanding, or simply no good reason at all. People who spread hateful speech, threaten bodily harm, threaten sexual attacks, and lash out at not only the author, but their family, their kids, and their fans... Bottom line, it's wrong.

In the effort of being professional we all know the drill... Don't feed the trolls. Don't engage them. And by all means, don't call them out because that is what they feed on. So most people quietly suffer in silence as strangers hide behind the guise of internet anonymity and spew their hate... I can guarantee you if those people had to put their real name, a picture of themselves, and a public listing where they could be reached, they would never, and I do mean NEVER, post the shit they post. That right there tells you how cowardly they are.

But the question is, how do you, or I, or we deal with this. Don't engage seems to be the choice most people go with, others go to launching a campaign against the haters, while others sadly feel like they have no choice but quit. And no, this isn't a rant about some authors giving up. Others might post that, but not me.

The choice to stop writing and not release their work because of haters is a personal choice and only that author can choose that. Whatever he/she is going through it is his/her choice on how to handle it and in this one case they did choose to not release her book and that is okay. That said, it is human nature to want to lash out and defend ourselves, but at the same time most of us know that ranting on social media makes us look defensive and petty. It's a fine line to walk in defending ourselves when people attack our character and our creativity.

Part Two: Two Wrongs Don't Make A Right

In the case of this weeks brouhaha, a troll, "reviewer" or whatever you want to call this person, rated a book low and then had some snide comments about the author and then took to jumping on another reviewers post to make some more snide comments. We all know the type, they are doing it to get attention… Unfortunately the author responded and that lit the flames. He lashed out, the author lashed out, others came to his defense, her fans came to her defense and LINES WERE CROSSED. Everyone was spouting TOS for Goodreads to "prove" that they were right while others were wrong and it was grossly out of hand.

The only thing I can say is this: Authors, please don't respond to negative remarks. Don't have your best friend, your husband, your neighbor, or your fans respond to negative comments because it makes you and your brand look bad.

That being said, this situation has quickly snowballed out of control. Authors are jumping ship, lashing out at any low reviewer. Anyone who isn't giving them 5 Stars and a glowing review runs the risk of being labeled a troll, hater, being from a fake account.

So let's clear up a few things:

What is the definition of a Troll?
In Internet slang is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a forum, chat room, or blog), either accidentally or with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.[1]

What is the definition of a Hater?
A person that simply cannot be happy for another person's success. So rather than be happy they make a point of exposing a flaw in that person.  Hating, the result of being a hater, is not exactly jealousy. The hater doesn't really want to be the person he or she hates, rather the hater wants to knock someone else down a notch. [2]

Where in lies the difference if there is any? Does it really matter, both are there solely for bring another person down. Ruining their day. Pissing in their Wheaties. And neither is acceptable behavior.

Regardless of who is being what the cold hard facts are this, as Alex just pointed out, this is the nature of the beast. Review sites are like this. People troll them looking to say hateful things. We all know this and not every low review is a fake review, sometimes a person just doesn't like a book. It is helpful when a low star review is accompanied by a written review to help the author know what the reviewer liked and didn't like, but we all know that 9 times out of 10 you aren't going to be given any feedback.

But the worst part of all of this is that both side started threatening violence, making violent suggestion and in a community where we have so little support from the mainstream world we should not be tearing ourselves into different factions. Seriously people, have a coke and a smile and shut the fuck up. Everyone knows the old saying: If you don't have something nice to say then, take to social media, gather your pitchforks and call for the head of someone you deem less than you, which will in turn cause them to build a Frankenstein's monster out of the heads, arms, and legs, of their fandom to unleash a fury of hellfire and brimstone on the authors behalf… *head desk* Oh wait, that isn't the old saying, the old saying is this: If you don't have something nice to say then don't say anything at all. Which doesn't mean don't leave a bad review if you feel a book calls for it, but there is no reason to shame a person, imply that they are stupid and there is never any reason to threaten physical violence or harm to one another no matter which side of the fence you sit on!

So where does this leave everyone? Some will delete their Goodreads accounts, some will take to Facebook, Twitter, etc.. and some will find a good friend to vent to in private. Others will quit writing all together. It is a personal choice on how you chose to handle it or if you choose to handle it at all. My stance, for myself is the same as it has always been in my previous posts about remaining professional and branding. I will quietly find my way to Alex's inbox and vent in private.

Authors, don't feed the trolls… And don't let your fan base or friends feed them either.

And in conclusion here are some wise words on the nature of Haters, thanks T.O.M. and Toonami:

"Well, I guess it is time to hate on… Haters
We’ve all got one.
It’s the person who says “That sucks.” No matter what you’re doing.
Now this isn’t the same as criticism. Criticism serves a healthy function.
Sometime it can even help you get better. That’s because it comes from a good place.
Hating, however, is when someone just wants to cut you down.
They wanna watch you fall. Toonami’s had a lot of criticism and a lot of haters in our time.
We welcome the criticism, because this is a work in progress.  And we wanna hear what you guys have to think because we love you.
But when it comes to haters, ol TOM learned his lesson a while ago. You can’t let them get to you. So keep your head up, keep doing what works for you.  And don’t be afraid to listen to your critics, but always, always ignore the haters. We all deserve better."

So there ya go: Don't be afraid to listen to your critics, but always, always ignore the haters. We all deserve better.

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