A couple weeks ago, I posted a tongue-in-cheek article titled “Dark Faith–Four Tips to Woo the Editors.” I had several reasons for doing so…
First and foremost, I know the editors well… they are two of my best friends (Maurice Broaddus and Jerry Gordon), so any opportunity that allows me to take digs at them… I take it. I’m a good friend that way.
Second, it was an opportunity to bring up the submission guidelines in a semi-entertaining manner while reminding readers of some of the common tips I give when it comes to getting published.
Third, it was a shameless ploy to publicize the book couched in a tongue-in-cheek article.
Most people took it as it was.
I had one individual leave a rather asinine comment that I let sit in moderation while I figured out whether I should let it go public so that others could ridicule him, or just trash it as spam. I trashed it as spam. To paraphrase, the comment suggested I was racist, that I was a braggart, and that Apex was the epitome of mediocre fiction.
I get this type of shit all the time. Much of it is posted in comments that are moderated away (Here and on the Apex blog.). I also get it in emails… usually one or two a week. I stumbled across it on other blogs and on message boards, as well.
So… do you notice a trend about the location of all the hate? It occurs online. Behind the protection of a keyboard and a screen. Face to face, I’ve had a lot of people share opinions with me about decisions I’ve made, stuff I’ve published, jokes made… but this stuff has always been shared in a civilized and professional manner. Why is that? I’m not a puny pushover in person, but I’m far, far away from being an intimidating presence. So we can exclude physicality. It’s because when around others, most folks follow mature standards of behavior.
That falls away for some people when they have the protection of perceived anonymity. This anonymity allows dicks to be dicks without fear of being caught and having to deal with the consequences. These assholes play out their insecurities, their need to self-aggrandize and make themselves feel more important than they can ever hope to be.
Sadly, cyber-bullying is nothing new. In fact, it’s currently a hot topic in the country’s news media. My hope is that it’ll get enough airtime so that someone, somewhere, will figure out some way to deal with this nuisance in a legal and powerful manner.
John Scalzi currently has a great post about this sort of stuff… except that he’s way more eloquent talking about the social dynamics in play (hey, there *is* a reason he’s considered a world-class writer and I’m… an editor). It made me realize that the stuff I deal with he gets at least tenfold… maybe one hundredfold. And he points out that while he gets plenty of dumb shit, it is nothing like the abuse dealt to female bloggers by the anonymous bullies.
John links to this (scroll on down a bit past her trip details) rather disturbing post. Shawna James Ahern runs a nice cooking blog. Has been for the past five years. In the post that John links, Ms. Ahern shares some of the insanity she receives:
From those brief 25 hours, I received emails that said, “Don’t you know that processed food is killing Americans? How could you have posted a photo with Velveeta cheese?” or “What kind of a mother are you, leaving your child for another trip? Selfish bitch.” or “Sausage? Andouille sausage? You don’t think you’re fat enough already, you have to stuff more sausage in your mouth?” There were complaints about where I ate, how much I ate, how happy I was to be with the people I sat with, that I was bragging by listing the people with whom I had dinner. There were comments about my weight, comments about my parenting, comments about the way I spend money, comments about the farce of gluten-free, comments about my photographic skills, and comments about how often I posted on Twitter (for some, that answer was: too much). Nothing goes undiscussed as being disgusted in my online world.
Wow. What is wrong with people? This sort of stuff makes me want to become a bounty hunter, bring these people bound and gagged to Ms. Ahern, so that she can perform some type of appropriate retaliation to these jackholes. I’m thinking along the lines of habanero extract to the eyes.
I don’t even know Ms. Ahern and I would gladly offer my bounty hunting skills to her. But what happens when a personal friend of mine receives this sort of stuff? Well… it becomes machete time.
I read this upsetting post from Seanan McGuire today that still has me ready to call down a habanero extract rainstorm.
I make a controversial comment, I get death threats, comments about my weight, accusations of bitchiness, comments about my weight, offers to “fuck the stupid” out of me, comments about my weight, insults, comments about my weight, and, best of all, people swearing up, down, and sideways that I deserve whatever I get. It’s been a few years since I’ve had a really bad troll problem, but when I had one, it was…
It was bad. It was “Kate monitored my journal and deleted comments before I could see them” bad, with a side order of feeling sick every time I considered getting online. I didn’t sleep, I didn’t eat, and I was scared all the time. It’s invasive, and it’s scary. Cracks about my weight aside, I’m not that big, and if someone wanted to fuck me up, they could. Easily. (Is this a motivator for my large and oft-discussed machete collection? Possible! Anybody comes to my house with the intent of doing me a mischief in the woods, they will not be thrilled by the results.)
I do believe I will be buying the sharpest, finest machete I can find to present to Seanan for her next birthday. I’ll dedicate it to all the cowards making the threats, posting the insults, and generally being despicable human beings all because they feel safe behind the internet.