I originally wanted to blog about how you decide what type of undergarments you have your character wear. Boxers, briefs or commando. While it seems like a silly question we often have to get our characters out of their clothing to get to the good stuff. But the topic of bullying has been on the forefront lately. Having been bullied in different ways, because of my orientation, anonymously from people I work with in education, to people on the streets, I thought about it for a long time. Then I watched as something happened in a yahoo group. I noticed that there is someone who bullies in the group using email.
Surprised? I'm not. I teach online and I have encountered behavior that would never fly in the classroom. Things are said from the comfort of our office chair that would never, ever be said face to face, and yet it is allowed under the guise of "free speech". Well it is destructive at best, demoralizing at worst and uncalled for. We have all seen them, the drive by email bully who doesn't single someone out, but bullies without naming names. He/she talks about the larger group and then singles out a few general people, authors, publishers or titles he/she has issues with. By bullying the collective group many don't think it is about them, because, "surely he/she isn't talking about me" or "I wonder who he/she means?".
Then there is the bully that is outright deliberate in their disdain for a book, author, website, or blog and makes no bones about pointing out their frustration with their work, their writing style or their story. Picking it apart like a vulture picks apart a carcass, leaving little behind but the broken author or publisher to defend themselves. If the author/publisher is lucky, someone will come to their aid, putting themselves in the line of fire of the bully. Then the bully moves on to another unknowing victim the next time he/she buys a book and it doesn't meet their expectations, or they felt as though they have wasted their money on what they perceive as a useless purchase.
While everyone is entitled to their opinion, why spread negitive energy around a group? If you don't like a book, ask for your money back, email the author or contact the publisher and discuss it with them. Let's be clear, bullying on a group isn't giving constructive feedback, or giving an "honest" review of a book. It is plain and simple bullying. We all want our work to matter, but sometimes a bully doesn't care about you, or your work, it is self serving and unfortunate.
Why do I write this? Has it happened to me? Not yet. I write about it because I witnessed a moderator of a group do exactly what I have discussed. Sadly, only one called them on it, and then a few disagreed with the moderator's position, but it only added fuel to an already out off control burn.
What happened before the internet and instance gratification? It takes time to sit down and write a letter, it takes no time to sit down and vent on your computer. What do you think? Am I way off here or have you experienced this yourself?