Monday, August 12, 2013

Sticks and Stones . . . and Trolls

Wisdom from a children's nursery rhyme, right here:

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but whips and chains excite me.

Oh, wait, no, that's the pop song version.  Here's the nursery rhyme:

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never harm me.

Oh, wait.  Is that really wisdom?  It's wisdom in most aspects of our face-to-face lives, of course, but let's sit back and think about how and where many of us spend our social time these days.  Specifically: the Internet.  The World Wide Web.  Facebook.  Blogs (like this--and yay!).  E-mail.  Texting.  Faceb--er, I mentioned that one already, didn't I?  And now there are other versions of Facebook: Google+ for the groupically minded, Pinterest for the graphically minded, and so on.

Oh, and ebooks.

The old adage, which apparently first appeared in print in the U.S. in 1862 (labeled at the time as an old adage), is quite unerringly true, at least insofar as hurt is defined physically.

But should it be?

Should we merely dismiss the pain associated with emotional hurt?  Does it only count if we hurt because of a bruise or a broken bone?  Does it not also hurt to have an old friend refusing to accept friendship requests on online media because of words you had there?

Of course the answers to the above are all yes.  Unless I messed up and asked the question in a "no" sort of way, of course.  That said, I don't think you can disregard emotional pain as easily as the nursery rhyme suggests.

And then there's business.

The fact is that the Internet, and Facebook, and Pinterest, and so many other related sites, have made it possible for someone with a product or service to sell can rather efficiently bring a cottage industry to a customer base.  I'm evidence, personally, that you can bring a book to readers and make a little money in so doing.

Unless, of course, you piss somebody off.  That's where the "trolls" comment comes in.  No, I'm not talking of the under-the bridge monsters.  They moved en masse to the Internet and are all alive and well there, feasting on anyone unlucky enough to raise their attention.  I'm lucky, actually.  I've gone through a fairly controversial phase, on this blog and on other sites, with the end of my first attempt at being published, and nobody thought at the time to latch onto me and, through words rather than sticks or stones, drain my business's life blood dry.

Unfortunately that's all too easy these days, as some of my acquaintances have learned.  To post a "review" of a book you don't need to have ever bought or even actually read the book in question.  While readers may disregard the dumb reviews that are thus generated, the review and publicity sites don't; they expect a certain average review before they'll push your publicity, your sales, and your work out.

Again, it hasn't happened to me--*knocking on wood*--but I feel for those it has happened to, as I feel for the entire industry that is impacted by the cheapening of the review process.

And then there are the partisan screamers.  Today in the Facebook Indie Author group I frequent somebody linked an anonymous (of course) blog post titled "Why Indie Authors Still Suck."  No, I'm not going to grace it with the same link; the guy's already garnered a third as many visits as my blog has by posting incendiary crap.  Early on, he establishes his bias by saying "I work for a publishing house..." and then, rather than use that for credibility, he launches into a screed about how that's placed him in the position to see (non-Indie, by the way) authors being told to basically sit down and shut up and do as the publishing houses tell them.  He defines "publishing" in a way that only includes the traditional guys, and then when your method doesn't match his definition he says you're wrong.  And, of course, if you believe he's wrong, as he says at the end, then you must be stupid.

Gotta love ad hominem and pre-destined arguments like that.  Oh, and grammar errors.  For a normal blog post, I'm pretty lenient on grammar errors as long as they're not committed in my English class, but when it's written by a jerk who calls himself "Grammar Nazi Panzer General," I--well, heck, little ole' stupid me expects better than half-ass grade school grammar mistakes like run-on sentences. 

And what do the Indies do?  They say "well, he has a point.  Every Indie Author should make sure their work is edited."  Chickenshits.

Great stuff, that.  Scared of trolls, they are.

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but sometimes words can hurt me worse.


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