Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Right to Speak Up and Not Be Silenced

The past two weeks has had so much drama and controversy regarding Goodreads and the idea there's bullying going on from both authors and reviewers. This came to a head because of the Huffington Post article from the anonymous founder or founders of the Stop the Goodreads Bullies blog and then the very articulate post on Dear Author titled, Something is very wrong with us, and it’s not bad reviews. (The comments are about to hit 800 over there).

Over the weekend, a self publisher author, who I feel is either disturbed or enjoys getting a rise out of people left a lengthy post on Goodreads about going after so-called bad book bloggers who dared to ask for his book to review and then didn't review it. This author (I refuse to name him, but check out Not So Innocent and the Rex Files for details) felt these book bloggers, some of who were minors, (This author is in his 30's or his 40's, he likes to change his age when it suits him, and the book bloggers are teenagers) stole from him because they dared to not review his book after asking for it. The post (which he has now deleted) became a true WTFckery of massive proportions and was really frightening.

My head is spinning over this. In the ten years I've been reviewing and the five years I've been an active book blogger. I've never seen this amount of vitriol and scary, in some cases threatening behavior. It's gotten so bad that a reader who is very active on Goodreads and was highlighted and "outed" as a bully on the Stop the Goodreads Bullies blog received an anonymous threatening phone call. The post left on Goodreads as a word of caution titled, What It's Like to Be Stalked sent chills down my spine. Anyone of us, Goodreads reviewer or book blogger, could have been a victim.

As you all known, I can be very honest when it comes to certain topics and sometimes I don't have a filter when I guess I should. For the most part when I've gone off on a rant, left a comment on a blog, perhaps disagreeing with certain views or even with my book reviews I've written, I try to remain respectful. While I was growing up, I didn't speak up and lost my voice because I was told my voice didn't matter. For years I didn't speak up and I because of that, I feel everyone has a right to do so. But it all depends on how that voice is used and should be used in a respectful and considerate way.

Sometimes a person's right to speak their mind makes me wonder if in some cases silence is the best course of action. Last week I almost decide to silence my own voice as a blogger and for a second was ready to say goodbye to Goodreads because if this amount of attacking and in some cases bullying continues, I don't want to be any part of it. Now I'm fearful that not just myself, but others like me, those who speak their mind and review honestly could be attacked offline like receiving a threatening phone call or something worse that I don't even want to comprehend.

I interact a great deal on the internet and with certain people and certain groups because it's an escape for me away from the real life stress we all have in our lives in some form or another. But when the stress pops up here in my world of blogging and elsewhere because people's emotions are out of control and the idea that someone could get hurt because of those attacks by others, it makes me want to run and hide.

“If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” —Vincent Van Gogh

The quote by Van Gogh has give me some food for thought. It can be taken in many ways. It's saying, don;t be silenced, stand your ground and speak up. But I also see it as sometimes, staying silent is the best course. Instead of the arguing back and forth with some possible unstable people, why not take a step back and evaluate the situation and walk away before it gets even more out of control.

So this is where I ask. When is enough is enough? Should there come a point when silence is the best course of action or continue to fight regardless if there will be no justified outcome?

Perhaps I should take my own advice I left for Wendy Darling on her blog, The Midnight Garden and her latest post titled: Moving On... and Thank You and how she has struggled with keeping her voice because of this whole standing your ground when it comes to reviewing and not be bullied:

"I adore you, your reviews and your voice that you will not be silenced based on the ridiculous opinions of others. Come back to us. Myself and others welcome you back with open arms. We have so many great books to discuss and need an opinion like yours."



Blodeuedd said...

That guy was just so disturbing, I had to check quickly that I was not friends with him as I saw many of my friends were. Luckily not.

How did things get so nasty? I do silent, i do stay back, cos some comments and some authors just makes me want to bang my head against the wall. There is no reasoning with them

Mireya said...

Honestly, there is always a point in which the best course of action is to step back. That point is when it becomes obvious that the person either has mental issues or you suspect the person is under the influence. Both of these apply to the individual you are talking about. The person was obviously unhinged. That is something that any of us who has been online long enough can "perceive" rather quickly. I am of the school of thought that attempting to reason with someone impaired to that degree is (1) dangerous, and (2) an exercise in futility. It's best to stop, and not engage them any longer. I don't know if you read the thread at the watercooler. I saw it before they decided to "prune" it. This particular incident was far worse than anyone could have ever imagined, and I don't think it is the "norm", thankfully.

Regarding the attacks, it doesn't matter if we think that they were unwarranted, or that the reviewers could tone things down and whatnot. Our feelings are irrelevant. The lynching mob mentality is WRONG and CRIMINAL. Period. The lesson that all reviewers should take from all this is fairly obvious and simple now: scour the internet for those sites that offer your info for a fee and DEMAND that your info be removed. Check every single one of your email accounts, Twitter accounts, FB etc., and make sure that NOT EVEN YOUR "FRIENDS" have access to your personal info. In FB, friends of your friends can access your info, if you get what I mean.

Either way, deep breaths now. Protect yourself as best as you can. Continue doing what you enjoy doing. Life is too short.


Tasha B. said...

Actually, from what I understand GoodReads deleted that guy's post along with his account because he violated their author policy.

Mireya said...

Yes, he was pretty much banned from GR. He then brought it to his own blog, though, where he obtained little to no reaction (he even tried to drag Absolute Write into his stinking mess). He finally did the standard melodramatic exit posting again in his blog that he was dropping the whole thing.

As entertaining as it may have been, it was also extraordinarily disturbing on many levels.

KB/KT Grant said...

Blodeuedd: 2012 appears to be the year of the nasty :(

Mireya: It's scary because there are many unhinged people on the internet and they lash out and may even go as far to want to harm someone who disagrees with them. That's what I'm really afraid of.

Tasha: At least GRs is doing something! I wonder what they're thinking of this big old WTFckery against their site lately?

Miravlix said...

Someone said "Silence is Golden"

While that is a well known saying, I believe the philosophy is completely false.

In any community the behavior you can see sets the standard. If the standard of the community is good and loving, then new members will pick that up as their code of behavior.

If you let various bad behavior be the common post without any opposition your effectively poisoning the community by not voicing a different opinion.

A forum/chat can be absolutely toxic because so many good people choose to not stand up and show they disapprove.

I see so many cases where a small group is able to ruin communities, because of the silent majority.

Twimom227 said...

Between of the GR drama and now the photo/copyright scare, I'm feeling that blogging is becoming a hazardous job and no long a joyful hobby.

Good for you for speaking out and standing up. However, it's hard to do so without fanning the flames of the controversy. I am thankful for posts like yours that present the material without trying to further the controversy. But for me - I'll continue to hide in my quiet corner.

Mireya said...

I know I am bound to get slammed for saying this, but here's the deal, and I believe this basic principle: sometimes things happen for a reason. The ugly incident that has everyone still trying to come to terms with it brought forth one very important thing that many say they always knew/were aware of, but obviously not everyone has been careful about (and that includes me): safekeeping of your privacy online.

The situation with the pictures brings forth the lack of sufficient understanding of copyright/trademark/intellectual property laws. The poor author who is now paying the price has been nice enough to make it making it a point to warn everyone. Kudos to her for trying to help the author/reviewer/reader communities.

It has been a rather ugly wake-up call, but sadly, that is the nature of wake-up calls themselves most of the time: they are often loud and annoying, and usually bring in repercussions.