I’ve been posting some about bullying at the elementary through high school levels. There’s another kind of bullying going on, right now, probably as I write this, that I have to admit I haven’t delved into with the depth and resourcefulness I normally would. Mostly because the topic makes me shake my head in disbelief that people could be so petty, so immature, and so completely amoral. And I’m not talking about children, I’m talking about adults, the people who are supposed to be examples to these children.
I didn’t do a lot of research because I didn’t really think it was needed. I’ve seen the writing spray painted all over the walls of both sides of this repugnant war that’s taking place.
Has anyone read The Pushcart War, a children’s book about a battle between street merchants fought with pea shooters? How about Comfort and Joy, a Bill Forsythe film about rival ice cream companies fighting over a recipe for ice cream that, in the end, end up being members of the same huge family? Those are delightful, because they poke fun at the ridiculousness of how far some people go to win.
So what, then, am I talking about? I had heard and read about this on Goodreads in some of the forums, and was shocked. When Amazon bought Goodreads, I remember there was concern that some of the pathetic, infantile behavior of reviewers on Amazon would make its way over to Goodreads. I had no idea it wasn’t restricted simply to the reviewers, but some of the authors as well. I was on Amazon yesterday, looking at a very long thread of discussion about this, about how dissenting views on books mysteriously disappeared, as did those who didn’t particularly like the book or recommend it. Someone would write a post, recommend it to a friend, and by the time the friend got there to check it out, that short of an amount of time, the post would be gone. They would repost it. That one would disappear as well. What’s going on, Amazon? And Goodreads, I thought it was just sockpuppets and reviewers going through on their mad slap a one star rating on everything in the m/m romance section or against particular authors in that section, or any other author you happened to dislike. I didn’t realize they were pre-planned strategic assaults. And authors. Authors should know better. They should know not to engage. It’s not worth it. Breathe. Count to fifty before even thinking of reaching for that keyboard. When you engage with someone who wants to get involved in nothing but an insult war, you’re sinking to that level. Walk away. Be a duck and let their words just roll off of you. Easier said than done, but be a professional, be the person other authors will respect.
Because right now, anyone who has engaged in this behavior is right back in elementary school, it’s recess, and I have all the clothespins. What the heck? Clothespins? Yeah, that took me a while, too. See, I worked in a classroom that wasn’t fully involved with the rest of the school, and the school had assistants who worked as recess monitors. Kids would come up to me all the time, because I was a grown up, and ask if they could go to the bathroom, George was picking on them, Charlie hit Elizabeth, Arthur called Sandy a bad word, and I had no idea what to do with them. I worked with children who were nonverbal, and this barrage of requests was a shock to me. I finally asked one of the other assistants what they did. “Just tell them you don’t have any clothespins,” he said, “and they’ll go find someone who does.”
So, the ineffable power of the clothespins, and, as I said, I have them, just for this moment.
See, these behaviors, reviewers going after authors,
authors going after reviewers,
reviewers giving books that are a “threat” to “their” authors one star,
reviewers giving books that go against their belief system one star, say, because of sexual orientation,
reviews disappearing because they are unflattering, flagged as abuse by who knows how many of the author’s “allies,” or the authors themselves–I have no idea on this one,
reviewers not actually reading books and giving one star reviews simply for the hell of it, or saying, this really isn’t my type of book, and giving it one star,
writing reviews that are nothing but insults to the author and have nothing to do with the book,
and anything else I may have inadvertently left out, on behalf of either the reviewer or the author.
Look at these things. “Oh, they’re not that bad, they’re just reviewers being reviewers.” That’s what they always say, isn’t it? Excuse me? Did I give you a clothespin? No, you may not leave.
Now look at these things and ask yourself this question: Are these things I would do or say if the person were standing right in front of me?
I don’t want to hear the answers. You have to answer to yourselves. To your own moral codes. Because think about that question and then think about the following issue, that is also being committed by reviewers and some authors online.
In some cases, reviewers and some authors have searched and found data on all their intended “Targets,” including where they live, children’s names, where they work, phone numbers, etcetera. A frightening amount of information, in some cases. Excuse me, NSA? There might be some candidates for jobs for you over here. Because let me tell you something, those of you who have done this? You have gone TOO far. That is stalkerish, restraining order time far. Would you want people to have all that personal information on you? People who don’t like you and who know what they might be planning? Think on that. You are nothing but a terrorist literary group, which is nothing I ever thought I would say. Over what? Ratings on a book. Or a book written by someone whose beliefs you don’t like, which I believes pushes it into the land of a hate crime. If nothing else, this knowledge is intended to be used as a threat. No? Why did you look it up, then? Sending them Harry & David’s at Thanksgiving?
This is nothing more than bullying. Pick any search engine and look up “bullying” and “suicide.” Think about the example adults need to provide. Is this it? The anonymity of the computer that you use as your shield when making these attacks, you think those kids don’t know how to use that technology far more efficiently than you do? How much better is what you’re doing than what they’re doing? Driving children and teens to suicide?
What is wrong that there is such hatred getting thrown around on these book sites? I think part of it must be that people aren’t actually reading, because otherwise they wouldn’t have the time to waste acting in such a manner. So, all it really takes for people to lose their humanity is to stick them behind a computer so no one knows who they are. Boy, then they’re tough. It’s easy to be obscene when you’re unseen.
This won’t cause a drop of difference in the whole debacle. But I’ve had my clothespins for a few minutes. Now each of you take one and report to the Principal’s office.