You ****! You Just Can’t Say That On The Internet

You ****! You Just Can't Say That On The Internet

I read your Tweet. You really shouldn’t have said that.

It’s the ILF Dublin this week (International Literature Festival Dublin – formerly known as the Dublin Writers’ Festival – related attempt at satire here) and the city is swimming in a lovely pool of gorgeous writerly types putting themselves out there for our ogling and listening pleasure.

On Tuesday I went to hear Jon Ronson, author of So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed. Interviewed by the Presentatron 2000™ himself, Anton Savage, Ronson spoke about some of the more high-profile public shamings on social media in recent years, most notably Justine Sacco, who you can read about here.

I spent most of the gig laughing at Ronson’s witty delivery of serious sentiment. For about 20% of it, however, my face was contorted into shock and disgust at what utterly daft human beings are doing to each other these days.

One point that Ronson made stuck in my head: that the people who are doing this sort of extremist public shaming are not trolls. They are fine upstanding members of the community such as you (think you are) or I (think I am). And you can’t legislate against people going apeshit on the internet over one perceived offence, or taking something literally which was meant to be either ironic, sarcastic, satirical, or a plain old bad joke.

You ****! You Just Can't Say That On The Internet

Excuse me, sir. I just saw you passing by, and thought to tell you how offensive you were.

Without going too heavily into relevant cases (although I also suggest you do read Sam Biddle’s reflections on his contribution to the Justine Sacco dissection) Ronson says that it’s all really about privilege. Public shaming is only for people who are perceived to be misusing privilege, whether it’s about being white, in Sacco’s case, or rich, or middle-class, or able-bodied, or educated, or beautiful, or western, or able to taste cucumber.

Hearing Ronson speak, it occurred to me that if I ever publish a book, I will be throwing myself out in the public domain for judgement in a way which doesn’t occur today.

Right now, I am an obscure Irish blogger who gets stumbled upon every now and then by the odd person wholly unconnected and unknown to me. I’m generally careful about what I say, despite appearances to the contrary. I only have one rule, and that is that I try not to say anything online that I wouldn’t say to somebody’s face. I don’t feel the need to make pronouncements about specific individuals or their behaviour on Twitter, which is probably just as well, as it would appear that nobody is allowed to be satirical, let alone sarcastic, in 140 characters.

Admittedly, I do have a few fail-safe punching bags: such as big, powerful people like James Patterson, who I often lampoon for lapsing into ghost-written laziness and thereby publishing 382 books a year. I think I’m safe there, you see, because he’s so famous and rich and successful that he’ll never take notice of a twerp like me.

Regular readers of this blog know that I generally write with my tongue firmly planted in my cheek. Irregular readers, or people on Twitter – where being taken literally is a full-time occupation – haven’t a clue who I am, and neither do they care. And why should they? But I would care, if somebody somewhere decided I was Public Enemy #1 for however many hours it takes to get through the Online Anger Cycle.

You ****! You Just Can't Say That On The Internet

I had a small taste of this once, when I used a deliberately provocative and click-baity headline on a post about book reviews. I wanted hits, you see. I’d only been blogging for a few months. But also I meant what I said in the body of the post. I make book-buying decisions based on online reviews. I wanted them to be more helpful.

A couple of months after I published the post, somebody somewhere across the water decided I was  a terribly offensive person altogether. I got site referrals from links that looked like they were unpleasant, so I ignored them. But I also got some comments directly which dealt variously with the audacity of someone like me telling book reviewers what to do, and my general cluelessness about anything to do with anything. My suggestion that anonymity was in itself an abuse of privilege, with the result that reviewers say unecessarily nasty and damaging things, was like a red rag to a bull. How dare I! they cried. Anonymity is the only protection for book reviewers who live in fear of their lives from dangerous authors! Was I trying to get them killed??

Regardless of the validity of either side of argument, I had unwittingly stumbled upon an all-out turf war which had been waging online for quite some time. Nasty tactics had already been employed on both sides. It was like I’d walked around a corner and found myself in the middle of a food fight, holding three bananas and a sponge cake, and with no idea what I was supposed to have thrown in the first place. I replied and tried to explain things for a while, and then I thought: well, that was interesting, but I’ve had enough. I wondered what angry internetters were like: now I know, and now I’m off.

But I have a big question. If I am ever to publish a book myself – do I delete that post (or indeed my entire blog, seeing as I spend most of my time giving out)? In this bonkers environment where one tweet can ruin a person’s life, how much damage could I be courting from angry internet people who are dying to take me literally?

I don’t know the answer. Unfortunately, I don’t think that Jon Ronson had the answer, either. But it is fighting food for thought.

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  77 comments for “You ****! You Just Can’t Say That On The Internet

  1. May 21, 2015 at 2:07 pm

    It’s a tough one and something I think we all wrestle with – sometimes the most well-meant comment can be taken the wrong way by one person and then the flame war begins! I agree with your rule of never saying something online that you wouldn’t say in person, though it seems there are not many who follow this train of thought. We live in an age where all our thoughts can be made public, if we choose – one where the amount of information available about any single person is mind-boggling. It’s a new landscape we are navigating, and one that seems to be full of traps for the unwary. I do think carefully about everything I post and share before doing so, and felt quite nervous about sending my book out into the world. But nothing ventured and all that. Like you say, there is no correct answer to the question.

    Liked by 1 person

    • May 21, 2015 at 2:26 pm

      It can be nerve-racking, all right, Helen. There is a theory that this kind of public shaming behaviour will reach its crisis point before people start to cop on. But until that happens, it’s just a theory. In the meantime I’m not sure caution even matters. The most prominent victims of this trend could never have seen what was coming.

      Liked by 1 person

      • May 21, 2015 at 2:29 pm

        That’s very true, and even though I consider everything so carefully, I know I’m still fair game, as are we all. Public shaming has gone on for centuries – this is just the latest version of it, I suppose.

        Liked by 1 person

        • May 21, 2015 at 2:42 pm

          That’s also something Ronson wrote about in his article – he did research on the history of traditional village-square public shaming, which had greatly decreased in popularity by the 19th century. Seems we are indeed in Round II…

          Liked by 2 people

          • May 21, 2015 at 2:45 pm

            Sadly, and the village square is so much larger these days…

            Liked by 1 person

            • May 21, 2015 at 3:23 pm

              Like Helen said, the village square is now indeed, worldwide… There’s the issue that sarcasm, satire, and somtimes plain naivety, just don’t come across in 140 characters. Being misunderstood by someone standing next to you is one thing, you can explain yourself immediately, and in a few more words, but misunderstood on the net and you’re open to vitriol before you can tap out an apology on the keyboard!
              I think you cover yourself to a degree by not writing anything you wouldn’t say to someone’s face. In the end there’s nothing you can do, but be true to yourself and able to defend your own beliefs/comments.

              Liked by 2 people

              • May 21, 2015 at 3:51 pm

                That’s so true, Lisa – it’s very difficult to convey tone in such a small format, and what may seem funny to you may be seen as completely offensive by other people. Nuance is very often lost when words go down in black and white.

                Liked by 3 people

                • May 21, 2015 at 4:04 pm

                  Except my main problem is still with these people wandering around the net getting offended all over the shop. I believe that people have a right to say anything they want. I do not believe I have a right not to be offended! If I see something I don’t like I move away from it. I’m fascinated by people who feel the need to stay and launch an attack: criticising, judging, sharing, shaming.

                  Liked by 3 people

  2. May 21, 2015 at 2:28 pm

    If you’re done with that sponge cake, I wouldn’t refuse it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. May 21, 2015 at 3:10 pm

    Authors need to have thick skins. It’s a cliche, but oh well. There’s a reason for it. If you write your blog with integrity, that needs to be good enough. There is always someone ready and waiting to be offended or critical. Fortunately, the vast majority of contacts I’ve encountered in blogland are kind, supportive, and genuinely fun people.

    Liked by 2 people

    • May 21, 2015 at 4:06 pm

      That’s true. The vast, vast majority. Those of us with a sense of humour need to learn to ignore the minority who don’t. (As long as they’re in the minority. The Sacco case was something else.)

      Liked by 1 person

    • May 21, 2015 at 5:19 pm

      You may remember an author feature I ran a few days ago, for someone who had written a YA book with an LGBT angle.

      Surprisingly enough, soon after it went live, I had four comments from supposedly different persons, all flaming the poor guy to a crisp (“he can’t write,” “he’s in it for the money” (!) etc). When I checked the IP, I realized they were all from the same person (someone in Australia, of all places). Naturally, I never approved them, and that was the end of it.

      I think that’s all we need to do; just ignore jerks and move on 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

      • May 21, 2015 at 5:23 pm

        That stinks that someone would go to all that trouble to bash someone else. I can’t imagine spending my day so angry and righteous and bitter. What misery. Ignoring and deleting is most excellent!

        Liked by 3 people

  4. May 21, 2015 at 4:46 pm

    Excellent post on a touchy topic. I was peripherally aware of the Justine Sacco story but went back and read the posts you linked. Wow. Unreal what we do in our judgment of those in the public eye! And yet anonymous commenters can persistently gut people with nary a consequence simply because they hide behind clever monikers and the distance of cyberspace. We can be a cruel species…

    As one who publishes about current events (and often of the more controversial), I have seen just the title of a piece (cuz you know most trolls don’t bother to read the whole article!) drive commenters to such heights of hate and vitriol, there were times I felt viscerally shaken. it’s a deeply unfortunate part of our 2.0 culture, that thing. The only factor that protects most of us is our being far enough below the radar of public awareness that no one gives a real hoot. Well, that and being careful to follow Justine Sacco’s ultimate mandate: “Just don’t engage.” Despite, say, Huff Post’s advice to its writers to “get into conversation” with commenters to “build readership,” I learned quickly, to my own survival, that Sacco has the better advice.

    As for your review post: dear God, I just read it and if someone took heated offense at what you had to say, your five points, then they seriously need to get a grip. Seriously. And NO, you must not remove it, or your blog, if you publish a book… you are a bold observer and commentarian (I know that’s not a word but it should be) on the bizarre vagaries of this publishing world and I, for one, look forward to your particular, and very funny, take on things. F**k ’em if they take offense. Plus, I can only imagine—given your particular voice— how sassy your book would be anyway so you’re bound to offend someone somewhere along the way. Just wear armor. And don’t engage. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • May 21, 2015 at 5:09 pm

      Thank you, Lorraine, for such a great comment (let alone the praise, which of course is always pathetically welcome!). I think you’re right. I need to leave up whatever offends, in order to show the ridiculous lengths the offended will go to in order to take offense these days.

      I just hope people get over this phase of internet adolescence, and soon. What are the chances, though, eh?

      Liked by 1 person

  5. May 21, 2015 at 5:08 pm

    It’s not just Twitter, anyplace where the average Joe & Jane can run wild and free with comments and actions is rife with these people. From Wikipedia (if you’ve ever tried to contribute to controversial articles and add reliably sourced, verifiable facts that happen to run counter to the propaganda that an interested party – often corporate – doesn’t want people to know, you will be censured) to Craigslist (just read the forums if you want a taste of how low some can go), nastiness is rampant on the net, and like you say, anonymity is its enabler. Though I do believe that anonymity has an important place too. Sometimes someone can contribute valuable information about a subject but doesn’t want to be targeted for doing so. So what to do?

    Liked by 1 person

    • May 21, 2015 at 5:26 pm

      Yes – the forums can be the worst. I can’t even read the comments on my favourite newspaper in this country, because they make me despair of humanity in general.

      Anonymity is the impossible question. I believe it’s a tool of free speech which must be defended at all costs. Having said that, I have yet to see a single decent reason for anonymous book reviews.

      Like

      • May 21, 2015 at 5:51 pm

        Having said that, I have yet to see a single decent reason for anonymous book reviews.

        I agree absolutely.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. May 21, 2015 at 5:14 pm

    Liked by 1 person

  7. May 21, 2015 at 5:17 pm

    Maybe some of this nastiness is due to our constant exposure to it at checkstands in supermarkets. I won’t name the particular tabloids but I am often revolted by the meanness. Find the worst, most insulting photo of said target and publish it along with a scurrilous article. I’ve grown up seeing these and can’t understand why they are routinely put front and center. I mean they got rid of or hid the sex mags, why not these?

    Liked by 1 person

    • May 21, 2015 at 5:35 pm

      There seems to be some consensus that once people are in the public eye, they’re liable for random character assassination. But it’s down to demand, sadly. Unless people stop buying that crap, they won’t stop selling it. Besides, I’d say they’ve worked out that the profit on selling false scandal will always exceed the cost of litigation from the tiny minority of celebrities who bother to sue…

      Like

      • May 21, 2015 at 7:06 pm

        You don’t mean to say, you think that your publishing a book will turn you into a celebrity who will merit the attention of trolls? Oh, fie. My dear, you have nothing to worry about. But if you want to give yourself bomb-proofs, then just write the kind of book that people are afraid to read (or are afraid to be seen reading). Works like a charm.

        Liked by 1 person

        • May 21, 2015 at 7:33 pm

          Ah, yes, Christine, but the point is that it’s nothing to do with celebrity! Sacco had just 170 Twitter followers when she sent that tweet – and infamy followed. The attacks are faceless on both sides until the victim is made notorious.

          Like

  8. annerallen
    May 21, 2015 at 6:34 pm

    Tara–This is something that happened to me early in my blogging career, when I had just got a publisher again after being out of print for several years. It was a nightmare. They sent death threats including pictures of my house and said they were armed and they’d “get” me. All for the crime of asking older folks to write reviews.

    It turns out there is a small but super-powerful group of sadistic bullies who dominate the Amazon fora who compete for “top reviewer” status and hate all authors and most other reviewers. They consider themselves vigilante “protectors” of the review community, but mostly they just terrorize authors, readers and other reviewers with impunity. They are often gamers who don’t review books at all–just videogames. They have a “#GamerGate, violent, “hate-everybody” mentality (and obviously serious mental health issues.).Many legitimate reviewers no longer post to Amazon because of them.

    Goodreads has kicked a lot of them off the site, but they still terrorize the Amazon fora and send those poison pen notes to any author who dares to mention the “third rail” subject of reviewing.

    When you publish, they will probably write you a bunch of one-star reviews without reading your book. But don’t delete your blogposts. If they have put you on their “Badly Behaving Author” list you will be there forever, so it doesn’t help. Besides, this is a fantastic blog and that’s a great piece. They still zoom by my pages with a one-star every so often.

    You have to live with the one-stars. But it’s amazing how often that will prompt a real reader to write a nice review to counter it.

    The best thing to do is what you’re doing now. Let in the light of day. Let readers know this is happening.

    In my newest funny mystery SO MUCH FOR BUCKINGHAM, due in July, I put my etiquette book author in this position and take things to the extremes these people are capable of. I hope it will help spread the word about these cretins that Amazon allows to terrorize their site.

    More about them in last Sunday’s blogpost on on paid reviews. http://annerallen.blogspot.com/2015/05/paid-reviews-why-authors-should-never.html

    Liked by 1 person

    • May 21, 2015 at 6:50 pm

      I saw your post on Sunday, Anne. It was excellent – people should go over and have a look. And that’s excellent advice too, thank you.

      I don’t think I’m afraid of 1-star reviews (As a reader I buy more books because I don’t like the tone of the moan in the 1-star reviews, than I do because I’m enticed by well-written 4- and 5-star reviews). I think we can all spot the review terrorists. I do wonder though about being in a position where you could technically be accused of inviting trouble (by those literal folks) when it could be avoided, but as you say, I’m probably on a list already anyway.

      I wouldn’t fear threats from these people. They don’t move from their screens. I do, however, wish that they’d grow the **** up.

      Like

  9. May 21, 2015 at 6:56 pm

    Sadly, you speak of this as if it is a rare occurrence. I would estimate after careful research and complicated mathematical calculations that approximately 100% of everyone who has ever shown their face on the internet has been the recipient of this sort of behavior. I was recently, and not for the first time, and I wound up cutting loose a long-time friend over it; actual friends don’t address each other in those tones. It all follows the ironclad rule laid down in Anonymous’s Axiom:

    “How to start a fight on the internet:
    1. Express an opinion.
    2. Wait.”

    The world is full of a$$holes, and probably always will be. You cannot modify who you are every time you run into one. The beauty is that it isn’t necessary to have a mud-wrestling match with every one that comes along. Just ignore them. It’s attention that they want, and if they don’t get it from you, it’s been my experience that they’ll soon move on to a more promising victim.

    Liked by 1 person

    • May 21, 2015 at 7:08 pm

      I love that axiom, Jack. It’s so bloody perfect. And my own case was so mild as to be mildly embarrassing that I brought it up here at all. But I do feel desperately sorry for people like Justine Sacco. To be subjected to that level of vitriol – to lose her job – to be threatened to that degree – all because of one tweet where she was trying to be funny: it’s BONKERS. And she didn’t even engage in the middle of the storm: ignoring it did her no good at all. I suppose this is the other side of free speech. Like the other side of capitalism is the 1%… oh, well. we may as well all stay in bed, really.

      Like

  10. May 21, 2015 at 8:48 pm

    I am more likely to be rude to someone’s face than to someone online!
    Quit Twitter. You’re too good for Twitter.
    Sx

    Liked by 1 person

  11. May 21, 2015 at 9:33 pm

    Tara,
    How come you are usually pretty pleasant to me when we interact online? You are so obnoxious to me each time we meet…

    Liked by 1 person

    • May 21, 2015 at 11:01 pm

      That’s such a relief, Conor! Here was me thinking you never noticed. I remember that time I threw a sack of spuds at you – while insulting your witty blogging patter – and you didn’t even flinch! By golly, I thought I was losing my touch. Phew! Thanks for that.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. May 21, 2015 at 10:03 pm

    Well, f*ck that. I just typed out a long reply and lost it. This isn’t Twitter y’know, wordpress.

    I’ll try to repeat what I said..

    Liked by 1 person

  13. May 21, 2015 at 10:42 pm

    Ah, Jon Ronson. Isn’t he just marvellous? Was itching to read this post all day but couldn’t get past the firewall at the end of the intro in work. An interesting angle on his reading of the take-down of The Offensive. They are the ones! Kill them! He tends to pose more questions than answers on all our crazy contradictory and self-sabotaging behaviour so retains a permanent seat at my fantasy dinner party. Well, pizza and beer sofa.
    The notion of privilege is a funny one. The net is a playground for the relatively privileged whatever we look at it, so it just goes to show they’re a mixed ability group in terms of ability to roll with the rough and tumble of chat, and their need to collectively sanction these shaming methods without any regard for the consequences.
    Have you read the book yet? I haven’t but had been following the story of Hank, the IT chap who was sacked after a shaming on Twitter by a woman who overheard his fooling about as he sat behind her at a conference. Articles defending her quickly appeared warning readers to take on board the context of her actions – a lifetime as an oppressed black woman provoked into action by this apparent last straw of casual sexism. The articles were compelling enough to undergo retweet times a million, and turned all wagging fingers on Ronson for failing to provide more comprehensive context to her actions. To me it was an example of the group turning in the most sincere, self-satisfied and right-on of ways, which is just as nauseating at times. Not only did Ronson come in for a roasting (he’s well able to take) but it swiftly shutdown criticism of the woman, and any valid questions about her behaviour. Who would take that task on and risk an avalanche of capital-letter righteousness with the charge of further discrimination? No-one yet from what I can see. G’luck to them. Anyway, I’m ranting. Sorry. All articles available through the usual Google channels.
    As someone neurotically private, I find myself struggling to give a bit of myself in exchange for banter and the camaraderie of others. In an age of unfettered on-line candour, I sense this is often suspiciously taken for anonymity, the new dirty word. There’s a subtle but significant difference between privacy and anonymity that requires careful treading. Your rule of checking the written word against its survival in real-life chat sounds like a reliable, if inexact, measure of fairness and self-preservation to me.
    Presentatron 2000™ – I am so robbing that one 

    Liked by 1 person

    • May 22, 2015 at 12:12 am

      Cracking comment, Tenderness. Just you wait til the Comment Of The Year Awards later in 2015 (now shouldn’t that be a real event?!). Haven’t read Ronson’s book yet (it was only in hardback so feck that for a game of soldiers – Kindle ahoy) but he did talk the other night about Hank and Adria. I can’t condone what she did in the first place, but he did point out that out of all of them, she was the only one still out of a job – and therefore the one who paid dearest.

      As for anonymity, I respect it, in blogging especially. The confessional nature of blogging means that some people have to be anonymous to protect the people they love. But that shield is for protection, not attack. And as for me – my name might be on the top of this page, but you’ll notice I rarely if ever say anything personal unless it’s got to do with books. It’s anonymity by another name, I suppose.

      Liked by 1 person

      • May 22, 2015 at 9:07 am

        That makes a lota sense to me, Tara. I was on a few forums and found the casual lack of privacy as mind-boggling as the mawk offence. Ireland’s such a small country; you might’ve read about it.
        It’s impossible not to feel sympathy for both Hank, Adria and the others. I just found it disturbing that valid grievances concerning privilege could be controverted into a shaky weapon to defend some questionable behaviour. There was fair discussion to be had on rights and responsibilities but it didn’t go that way. And the penalties some faced from their employers were over the top. See Ronson’s The Psychopath Test for more on some of the possible personalities involved in that side of the madness.
        Loved this post. Such a touchy subject to unpick. Fair play.

        Like

        • May 22, 2015 at 9:25 am

          These shaky weapons and questionable behaviours aren’t a million miles away from today’s referendum, are they Tenderness? But let’s not go there, lest we end up muddying already faecal waters. There are so many spurious arguments floating about this fair isle right now that my web browser permanently has the Aer Lingus page open.

          Like

          • May 22, 2015 at 9:30 am

            I’m just looking at the #hometovote photos. This is going to be one tortuously long day. Hope to catch you for a jig tomorrow.

            Liked by 1 person

            • May 22, 2015 at 9:34 am

              Absolutely. I know that if I didn’t care, I wouldn’t care so much. If you know what I mean. I just want all the shouting to stop (and the right result, obviously)

              Like

              • May 22, 2015 at 9:37 am

                Do surely, the louder the despair, the greater the stake. Hang in. Start with booking weekend in Edinburgh but don’t be rash 🙂

                Liked by 1 person

                • May 22, 2015 at 9:41 am

                  Great idea. Although to be fair, they can probably still hear the shouting in Scotland.

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • May 24, 2015 at 10:49 pm

                    Hope the credit card’s back in the wallet, Tara. Twas a great day. Begorrah.

                    Liked by 1 person

                    • May 24, 2015 at 10:57 pm

                      Begob and i’twas! I was never so proud to be a small island eejit on the periphery of anything… I have sworn off the airport for a few months at least. Seriously, Tenderness, there were tears in the eyes of this old hard-hearted and cynical lamenter of human failings yesterday morning when the story emerged… bless the numbers. And the majority. Yay us. Etc.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • May 24, 2015 at 11:02 pm

                      Fabliss altogether. Just watched Panti’s march of victory back to her bar from Dublin Castle. What I woulda given to be on that stomping behind in her statuesque shadow. For once letting Irish people think for themselves went the right way. Hooray.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • May 24, 2015 at 11:19 pm

                      I know – who’da thunk we had it in us? Now see what happens when people under the age of 50 vote? Would that we’d ever see it again. Cue deep sighs, theatrical heavings. Etc.

                      Like

  14. May 22, 2015 at 3:55 am

    About Twitter, see the movie Chef.

    Perhaps there should be a big warning at the top of user pages that informs people that their comments are public. I think a lot of people don’t realize that (including myself until I saw the movie a couple of weeks ago).

    Liked by 1 person

    • May 22, 2015 at 8:43 am

      Will check that out. Re Twitter, I know there should be a large measure of let’s call it Caveat Tweetor. But it still doesn’t excuse the lynching which goes on by rabid iremongers.

      Like

  15. May 23, 2015 at 10:31 pm

    “Presentatron 2000™” 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  16. May 24, 2015 at 2:11 pm

    Thought this was pretty appropriate. And funny.

    http://m.nydailynews.com/entertainment/chris-pratt-issues-advance-apology-article-1.2233193

    With the exception of the shooting of the baboon in the Justine Sacco article, which response I thought was correct (i.e. sometimes bad deeds need to be outed, obviously) the rest of the “outtings” were just busibodiness on the part of people with way too much time on their hands.

    Liked by 1 person

    • May 24, 2015 at 3:05 pm

      Very appropriate! We need more of this sort of stuff & then perhaps people might realise just how daft they’ve become.

      Perhaps. Not holding my breath here.

      Like

  17. May 24, 2015 at 10:24 pm

    That’s a good policy – to stick to what you could say face to face. Usually humour (and I would say particularly your kind) is very disarming, but the Internet does seem to be patrolled by those determined not to allow the lighter side room. As I am a big wuss about any sort of aggression (and I had a period at work as harassment officer so I met some of the people who go in for it), I find myself being super-cautious about posts and comments. I have failed to comment on subjects I care about for fear of attracting ‘the easily offended’. As a writer I have put myself out there in my own name with my own face and I wondered if a novel about suicide would land me in trouble, but reckoned that my online presence (and my appetite for marketing) was so slight that I was safe(ish) and of course poor(ish). A bit self-defeating really.

    Liked by 1 person

    • May 24, 2015 at 11:21 pm

      Ah, who’d invite aggression if they weren’t looking for it? I don’t think avoiding it makes us wusses, Hilary. In fact, I think it makes us an altogether more intelligent animal. In the same way that I don’t go walking through the wrong part of town in my business suit. We’ll all get Internet street smarts eventually. I reckon you’re doing just fine!

      Liked by 1 person

  18. May 24, 2015 at 11:39 pm

    I’m quite outspoken so maybe limiting myself to tweeting what I’d say to a person’s face might be going a bit too far!
    I noticed on twitter earlier than a well known Irish author was being lampooned for a nasty comment she made re the No voters in a certain county. It was going a bit too far as she lumped all the voters in the one not-so-flattering description plus it might have been nicer to say something positive about all the yes voters in that county who tried to push it through. But it was a good example of what not to say and the people who didn’t like it screenshot her tweet and shared it out. She did apologise and yes, some accepted the apology and some kept going on about it.
    It’s very true though, you really have to think before you speak and now, before you write too.

    Like

    • May 25, 2015 at 9:41 am

      Ah, I just looked that up and saw her apology. I know she said she was going for a ‘cheap laugh’, but the tweet wasn’t particularly witty – you’d expect more from her, it was a bit childish. Still, I suppose she’s learned her lesson now. Plus, there were far better targets for her comment – although given the rampant litigiousness of the public No figures, I wouldn’t blame anyone for passing over them!

      Like

      • May 25, 2015 at 10:28 am

        I’ve discovered that I’m much nastier to people in real life. If people annoy me on Twitter etc, there’s the mute button or one can just scroll past it so things never bug me to be honest, or very very rarely, whereas if I can’t get away from an annoying person ……

        Liked by 1 person

  19. May 25, 2015 at 12:41 am

    Reblogged this on theowlladyblog.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. June 8, 2015 at 6:23 am

    That’s my philosofy too: never say anything I wouldn’t say face to face. And honestly, I don’t understand people who are only online to get into other people ‘faces’ – and I mean metaphorically, since I’m pretty sure they would never have the guts to say the same things in person.
    I’m quite disgusted, really.

    I think a person’s (and especially and author’s) blog should be a image of the person’s self. It should be that person’s personality translated for the internet. So, I don’t think you should delate your blog when you get published. Of course there will be people who won’t like you. There are people who don’t like you now too, I suppose. You know what? Their problem and their loss.

    I’m often shocked by what people put online. I’m especially disgusted with forums, which I think are among the less democratic places in the world – on and off line. That’s why I normally avoid them.
    This is what I do in real life too: if I don’t like a place, I don’t go around trashing it. I just avoid it and let other people decide for themselves. If someone asks for my opinion, I’ll give it, knowing it’s just an opinion and as they say in my parts… ok, I’m not telling, it’s a bit vulgar 😉
    Once again, I think we should do online what we do in our real life.

    Liked by 2 people

    • June 8, 2015 at 10:54 am

      Oh, we should, Sarah – but the point is that so few people do! I don’t take it too seriously but at the same time I would rather not be open to attack, either. It’s time-consuming and annoying. Still, I know we can’t account in advance for the crazies.

      Liked by 1 person

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