I AM SO FUCKING SICK OF BULLIES!
There we go, that feels better now, although I fear I may have frightened the cat with that outburst.
Most of my regular readers already know what’s been going on, I’m sure, but for everyone else, let me fill you in:
Remember a while back when self-published author Melissa Douthit ‘outed’ reviewer Wendy Darling on her blog? You remember, I had a rant about how it was gross invasion of privacy etc etc (especially when the book in question hadn’t even been written by Douthit?) Well, more recently there have been similar spates of ‘outing’ which are not going down well with the writing community in general.
A website, ironically named StoptheGRbuillies has recently been set up, seemingly with the sole purpose of ‘outing’ GoodReads reviewers – basically, if you give a bad review of a book then you are fair game for this website, which has a staff who seemingly have nothing better to do with their time that Google reviewers, dig up personal details, photos, addresses and post them online.
I’m so not even done yet, so bear with me.
The things posted vary from merely mean to being downright dangerous and libelous – one victim of the site was described as being too busy getting drunk to look after her kids – I don’t have to tell you how those sort of lies can lead to a whole heap of stress and shit.
Another victim, a popular GroodReads reviewer, the lovely and charming Lucy, has actually received threatening phone calls to her HOME!
I’ll let you think about that for a second. But I’m by no means done.
You can read the whole story in Lucy’s own words here : http://www.goodreads.com/story/show/309224-what-it-s-like-to-be-stalked?chapter=428115
The STGRB website recently wrote a piece for the Huffington Post. I’ll admit that I lost a huge amount of respect for the HP after that – clearly they don’t bother to vet their pieces for accuracy or, let’s be honest, content that might land people in court. But Hey-ho, you can read the salacious little bit of shit right here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stop-the-gr-bullies/stop-goodreads-bullies_b_1689661.html
I think the fact that all of the comments on the piece are rallying against the STGRB website is pretty telling of the attitudes in the industry.
Following a mass anti-STGRB wave, the Huffington Post decided to post an ‘explanation’ about the piece, which is basically a hand-washing exercise. Honestly Huff, it’s not good enough. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/andrew-losowsky/stop-the-gr-bullies-an-ap_b_1690134.html
So, why is this such a big deal?
Well, it’s like this – imagine a world where you aren’t allowed to say anything negative, you are subject to some ‘rule’ where you can only voice a positive opinion or no opinion at all. Imagine a world where, when you broke that rule you were subjected to public humiliation, threats of violence, gross invasion of privacy. Imagine your personal information, including your address or phone number was put on the net for the whole world to see. Imagine that someone posted pictures of your house, or your kids, or your workplace. Imagine, just for one second, that you were put into a situation where you genuinely feared for not only yourself, but for your family too.
Now, let’s imagine that you are the one who is being called a bully.
It doesn’t quite tally, does it?
And do you want to know what those folks did to incur such wrath? They posted a negative review of a book.
Yup. That’s it.
Now, I’m not going to lie to you, some of those reviews were pretty snarky. But you know what, that still doesn’t excuse anything. People are entitled to their opinions. They are entitled to voice them. They are even entitled to be nasty. The difference is between being snarky about a book and being snarky about a writer.
I can’t condone anyone reviewing an author as a person – the work is what the review is for, it’s in the public domain now and, like it or not, it’s free game for folks to comment on.
So, someone doesn’t like your book. Boo-bloody-ho. Get over it. You can’t please all of the people all of the time. Not everyone is going to like what you write. Some of them are even going to be mean about it.
If you can’t handle that then you are in the wrong industry.
To set up a website – run by folks hiding behind screen names (no, the irony isn’t lost on any of us) – to ‘out’ those you think are ‘bullies’ is all kinds of crazy. I think it’s pretty telling that the STGRB site has been registered with a fake address, fake name and is run and populated by people hiding behind screen names.
You know what, I’m going to carry on saying whatever I like. I take responsibility for my own words, my own actions. They are NOT for someone else to police. If you don’t like my opinion, then ignore it. Easy.
It actually sickens me that someone would do this sort of thing. It’s hateful. Not to mention breaking all sorts of laws – stalking, harassment, intimidation, inciting hatred and violence – need I go on? No, I don’t think I do.
Now, when this site first appeared I immediately thought of who might be behind it. Seems I’m not alone in those thoughts – many others I have spoken to have shared the same thoughts, and on GR it’s been made pretty clear that those who have been targeted also know who it is.
Here’s the thing – PEOPLE KNOW WHO YOU ARE.
Folks involved have spoken to the police, which is a good thing, and hopefully this site will be shut down forever. However, I fear that this sort of shit is only the tip of the iceberg, and in which case I’m completely ashamed to work in the same industry as anyone who thinks the correct way to proceed is to bully reviewers into saying what you want them too.