The other day I was witness to some unkind remarks on a social media writing-oriented website I frequent. While cattiness abounds on the internet, largely in part due to the anonymity of it all, we would all do well to remember a few things about the golden rule and all that other business we learned in kindergarten.
For one: mind your own d*mn business. Why is it that people can’t seem to mind their own business? If a writer chooses to share how many times their work had gone through the editing process, that’s their business. It’s not our business. If an author chooses to disclose their earnings, that’s their business. Say it with me folks: it’s not our business.
And bashing someone for not disclosing those things is just plain petty and wrong.
Further, it behooves everyone to know the difference between criticism and bashing. The guilty parties defended themselves claiming that publishing is a tough business and if an author can’t handle criticism, they should look to more gentle fields to work in.
Maybe I just lived in the South for too long, but the old “if you can’t hack it– leave” response doesn’t sit well with me. Anonymity, the nature of the industry, and the size of your “mean girl” pack do not excuse poor behavior.
I’ll give you one quick example of criticism vs bashing, because frankly, I think 99.9% of us know the difference and we just lower ourselves to that level and bash anyway.
So, there’s this book I really didn’t like. It was apparently pretty popular but used a few techniques that I object to based on not only principle but also because of skeez-factor. (No, I’m not talking about writing techniques, but techniques which made bigger bucks for the author.)
So, instead on going on to say:
“Author A is such a money-grubber. She totally put _____ in that book because she got paid for it. I’d never do that. It would ruin the creative process for me. Publishing is a business, but writing is an art. Doesn’t that stupid bitch know that?”
Right. Because I sound so mature and educated there, don’t I?
Rather, I’d say:
“Author A used her connections in _[fill in industry]_ to solicit revenue by featuring particular brands in her work. While it’s a tactic I don’t care for because I feel it inhibits the creative process, I don’t fault any writer for trying to further capitalize on their career. We work in a fast-paced industry which might find one in the spotlight on Monday and the shadows on Tuesday.”
You see, they both basically do the same thing but tell the reader different things about the writer– and the former is an awful lot like the tyrannosaurus rex taking the poor stegosaurus’s head off. But going with that same line of thought– the t-rex may have a killer bite but it also has a short reach. And that’s exactly what a flame has– a short reach.
While bashing (flaming, whatever) may be entertaining in the moment, it carries little weight in the long run. And well, maybe some people actually like the idea of being seen as a jerk. I don’t, but I also know that I’m prone to cattiness and while I might seriously struggle with this in my offline life, I have ultimate control over it in my online life. There’s this little thing to the right of the ‘p’ button which says “backspace.” When in doubt, use it.
I think most people know all of this already and choose to ignore it. Bashing only makes the one doing the bashing look immature and ridiculous. True criticism is a critical assessment of a work. Know the difference and remember that we must lead by example, it doesn’t work any other way.
Have a happy Sunday, folks and don’t forget to be kind!