While the internet has given a new voice to many otherwise unseen writing talents, it has also…well, done the same for people who just like to say hurtful things to other people. Marina Shifrin wrote on her blog about how the underbelly of this revolution in publishing has caused some of those unseen talents to fade back into the woodwork. She includes in her post this plea to show some love to the writers you like out in cyberspace:
Now you promise me this: if you read something you love, then write something nice in the comments section. Fight the internet trolls who use hatred as their form of entertainment. If you don’t feel comfortable writing a public note, then send the writer a private message, most writers are pretty accessible if you do a little digging. Many nice, smart readers are being muted by sexually frustrated teenage (let’s face it, they’re most likely teenagers) assholes. Even good writers still get the occasional tweet, message, or email containing language that shatters their confidence to the core. Why are there more angry comments than encouraging ones?
All of us who post on the web have (sadly) had to deal with trolls and spam attacks. Some hurt more than others. I joined a “healing community” once while going through a rough patch only to have my post greeted with a reply that started “What the F— is wrong with you?” I promptly burst into tears, after which I wrote a sarcastic reply and quit the (not so healing) community. A more fragile person could (as Ms. Shifrin notes, imagining a suicidal Sylvia Plath facing a hostile remark) be catastrophically affected by such thoughtlessness.
Constructive criticism is all very well and good, and any mature writer would welcome it as useful, but destructive declarations do nothing but feed twisted egos.
If you read the post, be sure to take in the comments by a horde of interesting readers who help put the dark side in context. We can’t stop people from being devils but we can choose to be angels ourselves.