With so many blogs, Twitter feeds, etc., it seems like some people have decided to start using controversy to build readership.  The internet age is wonderful in that it allows us to disseminate information and alerts, but it also makes it far too easy to spread misinformation.  It allows for cyberbullying.  A hot button issue and much talked about (with good cause) in regard to teens and tweens, but something seldom applied to the rest of the blogosphere.

Generally I post about the writing/querying/negotiation process, but today I want to talk about cyberbullying, because I’ve seen too many good people caught up in bad flame wars.  All it takes is one person to take exception to a comment or to take something out of context and post it somewhere and for others to take an opinion as fact and run with it even in absence of first-hand knowledge.  It only takes one person to call another bigoted or sleazy or a one-eyed, one-horned flying purple people eater for many more to take up the cry.  Before you know it, there’s a flash mob outside someone’s virtual door.

Now, no one can possibly know everything, and it would be impossible to do first-hand research on all the alarmist information out there.  Not for the first time, I wish we had a Snopes for publishing.  However, we’ve all seen what’s happened in the past when people have jumped on burn-the-bastards bandwagons.  None of it pretty.  So I suppose that today’s blog is a plea to everyone out there not to tear others down to build yourselves up (pretty much the definition of bullying) and not to take any intentionally inflammatory writing as the unvarnished truth.  If you see a cause you want to get behind, do a little poking around for the truth before throwing in your lot.

Trust me, the world and you will be better for it.


11 comments to Cyberbullying

  • […] over at Magical Words today with a quick post about cyberbullying, flame wars and the importance of first-hand […]

  • Yea for Lucienne! I totally agree.

  • Tim True

    I’ve often wished that the tag, “You can’t believe everything you read on the internet!” would pop up on more websites than not. But of course the tag is rhetorical, for it’s either true–that is, you indeed cannot believe everything you read on the internet–or it’s false. But if it’s false, then you actually can’t believe everything you read on the internet, since here is a false statement that somehow made it on the internet. So I guess it would have to be a true statement after all. Anyway, such a statement, while not necessary, might remind people of their inherent obligation to respect persons. Then again, more likely it would serve no such purpose and thus simply be more traffic on the already overcrowded information superhighway. Nevertheless, your point is well taken.

  • Tim, I love it!

    Faith, Thanks so much. I had to post this. Some of the instances of flaming accusations are so ridiculous. A client of mine was lambasted on another author’s blog because one of her overseas publishers had used a cover similar to that of one of the author’s books. As you know, most authors don’t even see their foreign editions until they’re released and certainly don’t have anything to do with what covers a publisher chooses to put on a book. Plus with so many publishers using stock art these days, there’s a lot of duplication even domestically! Yet this author, published by a small press, accused my bestselling author of trying to capitalize on confusion between the two. These editions weren’t even available in the same countries or the same language! It was sad how many people, not knowing a thing about publishing or my client, jumped into the lynch-mob mentality.

  • That probably came across wrong about the author who bully-blogged being small press published. It came up in her arguments – that she worked closely with her publisher on covers and seemed to expect that my client had similar input even on her foreign editions and thus was to blame.

  • Lucienne, I think that is awful. Lemme guess. The accuser didn’t bother to write the other writer and talk privately. Just made it a huge mess for no good reason. Not real bright.

    Another good thing to remember (in addition to *not everything you read on the Internet is true) is *be nice*. It costs nothing and might keep you from looking like an idiot.

  • Yup, your guess is absolutely correct!

  • First, let me say that it sucks that we live in a world where this kind of post is even necessary. Second, since we do live in a world where it’s necessary, thanks for taking the time to write it and to share your client’s story. Awareness is the first step toward hopefully improving things. Hopefully…

  • Ah, flame wars. If there’s one thing that growing up on the Internet has done, it’s that it means I’ve been through all of those ridiculous flame wars and lived to tell the tale. (Not that being an adult necessarily means growing up. There is no horror like a bridal forum.)

    Lately the big incendiary that I’ve noticed has been the Write Agenda controversy. Word of its doings spread like wildfire, and writers left and right were saying, “I want on that list”. As I told one Twitter acquaintance, I don’t have time for that. I have writing to do. And I can’t stand being negative these days. There’s enough bad energy in the world as it is without adding to it.

  • One of the reasons you don’t see me posting much on FB (or anywhere else for that matter).
    Great post, Lucienne. I wish more people would think before they hit send.

  • […] spread misinformation, further an agenda or browbeat others. However, since I did an entire post on cyberbullying last month at the Magical Words blog, I’ll move right […]