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The Internet is Horrible

6 March 2012

This is the second in a series of three linked posts.
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Neil DeGrasse Tyson -- truthsayer for the modern age.

About a week and a half ago, a friend posted a link to Seanan McGuire’s LiveJournal. If you don’t know who Seanan is, you owe it to herself to check out her stuff, especially if Urban Fantasy is in your wheelhouse. Long story short — she’s an immensely talented author, which is really all you need to know for the purpose of this story.

This is the post my friend linked to. Go ahead and read it, then come on back.

So, it goes without saying that a lot of the stuff she had to deal with — the threats, the name-calling — was beyond fucked up. People came out of the woodwork to threaten and crucify her for something she had absolutely no control over. And even if it was her evil plan to withhold the ebook release of her book for a few days, the reaction she got was extremely out of proportion to the perceived slight.

Thing is, this kind of shit happens on the Internet all the time. It’s not just writers who get this kind of crap hurled at them — anyone who puts anything out there will, at some point, draw the attention of people with nothing better to do than tear them down. Threaten them. Mock them. Generally make them feel like shit.

The Internet is built by people. Real people, with real thoughts and feelings. Many people have said “would you say that to this person’s face if you met them in real life?” when an attack like this happens. That’s a completely valid question. If you answered “Yes I would” after attacking someone online, you’re probably one of those people who tells everyone “yeah, I’m an asshole.” Of course, telling people you’re an asshole doesn’t excuse behaving like one, but congratulations on your self-awareness, I guess.

The semi-faceless nature of the Internet has allowed every mean, small-minded, horrible person to come out and say shit to whoever they feel like dumping on that day. It’s given voice to people who would rather destroy than create — who make themselves feel important not by doing anything important, but by tearing down anyone who tries to create. Anyone who tries to give other people a few minutes of entertainment.

Now, I’ve gone on record as saying I don’t care about what people say about my books, and that’s true. I hope people like them, or at least get some minor entertainment value out of them, but if not… that’s fine. Matter of personal taste, and I truly believe you can say whatever you want about a product you’ve purchased. Further than that, I don’t even really mind when people say horrible things about me as a person. They don’t know me, and I don’t know them. No one’s ever threatened me with physical violence because of something I wrote or put online, but if they did… well, I might find it funny, or I might get angry about it. I don’t know. But my relative apathy about the trolls doesn’t make what they do any less horrible. It doesn’t excuse the kind of behavior that runs rampant on the Web.

But, as we’ll see in tomorrow’s post… it’s not all doom and gloom out there.

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Hey! Wanna win some cool stuff for the release of Supercritical, the second 47 Echo book? Here’s how.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. 6 March 2012 0840

    When I wrote comic books and Internet Relay Chat (IRC) was the cool way to communicate, I hung out in a channel about comic books. One night, a woman told me that if she ever met me in real life, she’d shoot me. Why, I don’t know. They were talking about owning guns and I said I didn’t own one, but don’t care if others do, and she still took offense to it. For the following week, whenever I came into the channel, she threatened me and yelled (as much as one can yell online).

    Months later, I attended a comic book convention in Houston. This woman was there. When I saw her, I asked her if she was still going to shoot me. Her eyes went to the floor; she was shamed. Some of the people I chatted with online wanted to go get a bite to eat, and I thought that was cool. I invited the woman who threatened me. She turned down the offer because she was really that shamed. To add insult to injury, not only was I nice to her at the con, I was willing to invite her to a lunch with the rest of us.

    She later apologized and admitted that it’s so easy to have a bad day or time in a life and lash out at people online, which is exactly what she did. I’ve seen other friends threatened and experience hateful correspondence for things beyond their control. Look at the comments of any Yahoo news article or YouTube video and somehow something cute devolves into political rantings and threats of killing the other side.

    I’m relatively apathetic about trolls, too. I’ve had people try to get to me and I don’t bite, so they move on. I’ve even had some trolls email me to apologize and say they appreciated that I just didn’t care or take their bait. But at the same time, I’ve read about groups of people who, for no other reason than they’re angry, pick a writer they don’t like and slam their Amazon page with 1-star reviews. I’ve seen trolls flood email inboxes and things like that. That kind of thing would piss me off…to the point it’s probably a good thing they are in other states.

    I’m generally good with taking good with the bad. Not that I think it’s the way it should be…I think people should generally be decent and support the things they like instead of tearing at things they don’t like. But, like you, I’m generally apathetic about it all, and have seen that apathy serve me well.

  2. 6 March 2012 1043

    I find apathy to be a decent solution to most problems. Especially Internet problems.

    The thing that gets me is that some people think acknowledging their bad behavior excuses it — saying “yeah, I’m a troll” makes trolling acceptable. It doesn’t. Sure, anyone can have a bad day… but there are real people behind that thing you’re tearing into. And tear into the work all you like — criticism is fine. But when you start attacking the creator personally… well, that’s a bit over the line.

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