Authors and Cyber-bullying

23057698_sFor some time, I’ve heard and seen authors complaining on my various writing e-mail loops about negative reviews being handed out at the Amazondotcom site. It appears this has become even more of a problem over time. The other day, in walks an e-mail to my inbox, asking me to sign a Petition at Changedotorg in an attempt to force the online retail giant to – at the least – enforce its own guidelines. Editor Todd Barselow is the person behind this appeal, seemingly feed up with Amazon, the bullying, and harassment of all authors. In my research, I read some not so friendly comments with regard to Mr. Barselow, and his campaign, but that is not what this post will be about. Whatever bones there are to pick, dislikes, or what have you, with and about Mr. Barselow I’ll leave to the discontented.

For those of you who do not know, there had also been a war of sorts going on with regard to bad reviews and bashing taking place over at the Goodreads site. If you take a spin by Changedotorg you will find a Petition there as well, with a request for signatures. In a look at this problem I would, of course, like to remain unbiased, but as you can imagine as a writer I have a very strong sentiment with regard to this issue, which would make neutrality very difficult. In searching, it doesn’t appear that either Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO, or Jon P. Fine, Director of Amazon has ever spent hours, days, weeks, months, or years pouring their blood, sweat and tears – bearing down through labor pains, giving birth to a work that’s then considered your baby. Yes, Mr. Bezos, as Founder, did suffer some type of adversity trying to get the business up and running; maybe. That being said, it should all make him even more sensitive to this new plight of the writer. I would hate to label it by saying, “He has his, why should he care” – but the facts are leaning in that direction. Goodreads, however, has made modifications to their user terms to prevent author bullying.

I think as a writer we may all have a story or two involving what is clearly – jealousy. But, you know, I’ve heard it said that if you’re not willing to put in the time, then one cannot complain, grumble, or criticize another’s success. I think, in this age of cyber-bullying, tighter rules must be set in place to protect us writers from the public-at-large. I mean, it’s bad enough to get a bad review from a professional reviewer, am I right? Most of us, the ones who have been in the business for any time, have developed a crusty exterior; we know what to take in as constructive and what to simply let go. But, how could someone develop a platform such as Amazon or Goodreads and not build that into the system – rules that do not allow any and everyone to leave whatever disparaging comment they like. Or, at least, put a team in place to enforce the codes. I may be coming up the rear with this story as it has been some time since this all began, but I too wanted to weigh in, and express my opinion.

If you talk to any writer they will most likely tell you, it is something they’ve done since childhood. Most of us have read, studied, took classes, joined organizations, went to meetings and spent an innumerable amount of hours in an attempt to perfect the craft. How then, can you produce a work – have it published, and then, get a portion of your backside chewed away by mere jealousy, or because someone has nothing better to do than upset a person’s life work. I do believe the simple remedy is – the bully has to turn the tide. Put themselves in the writer’s shoes. I believe our world is spinning faster and faster toward its end, which has ramped up many, many immoral and wicked acts. Even something as stupid as your twitter and/or facebook accounts getting hacked continually. I think we’ve moved way beyond breaking out the ruler and whacking someone on the knuckles. What do you think?

Information Goodreads, & STGRB (Stop The Goodreads Bullies)

Image courtesy


The Price of A Bullet

When I thought to write of this latest school shooting, I said to myself – do I really want to take on this topic?  But, the brain would not go another route.  So, here I am, out here in the dark, possibly headed in a bad direction.  But, here goes.  Another traumatic and sorrowful event in the halls of learning outside of Cleveland, Ohio has grabbed our attention.  Yet the latest fatalities to plague our already fragile children.  We are well aware, this is not the first such incident as this, however, I certainly hope it is the last.  My only child is done with her years of education, but I cannot imagine having this type of news given me, and I then, had to rush off, praying each mile I drove that all remained well with her.  If you are an older person reading this post, think back if you will.  It’s the ’60s or ’70s, and you have some type of run in with another student.  Maybe it’s something where a young woman/young man, someone you already disliked, talked to your boyfriend/girlfriend or some uninvited person took your seat at the cool table.  There may have been some inappropriate pushing and shoving, but the worst of it would have involved a promise to meet after, where one or the other would certainly have his or her butt kicked around a bit.  And, the most dreaded of this would surely mean it all would take place in front of a host of other students.  Excuse me, but what happened to those days?  Is it not fashionable to go home any longer with a black eye or a bleeding lip.  Can I simply ask, when it went to carrying guns.  I don’t know about you, but it outrages me to think of metal detectors in these corridors – what has happened to society?  Let me also add, I’m not condoning violence of any kind, I would simply have my child come home with a bloody nose, than not come home at all.  Am I right?

I remember my husband and I having a conversation about Hip Hop/Rap music.  We both came to the conclusion that in order to put us in the category of our parents, moving us into old age, times had to become drastically different.  But, I’m left asking, does that also include the sanctity of school.  We all know it’s already difficult being a teenager – so many changes going on, but shouldn’t this be a happy place.  And, yes I understand this is not happening because some deranged person came in from the street to inflict harm on our children – these occurrences have been due to students, someone already in attendance.  My next question would have to be, have times become so drastically changed that we’ve also lost touch with our young people?  I recognize in this age, things are certainly difficult with all the social networking, which has led to more out-and-out open assaults – one child to another, but would it seriously make you a bad parent or an old-fashioned one to tighten the screws. And who cares as long as it got the job done.  Yes, I also understand that’s not always the case.  Also, we cannot attach ourselves to our offspring ever hour they are awake.  But when, where and how did things get to this point?  When did the meaning of life become the same as the price of a bullet?  I guess my question is, what is the correct answer?

As adults we are aware how mean children are to each other – this is something a child won’t recognize.  But, are we not supposed to pass down the same learning we received from our parents?  Have we become so caught up in problems outside the home that we cannot catch sight of a predicament happening right under our nose?  I think morals has a lot to do with it; the ones going down the drain, taking our families with it, as well as this country.  Just imagine for a minute – how horrible would it be to have a belief system set in place for that son or daughter?  Okay, here and again, one of them slips under that wire as well.  But, for the most part, I think that is still the better way to go.  Last week, a sister writer, Jenn Nixon, wrote her blog on bullying, probably for the same reason I’m writing this.  She mentioned how she had been harassed in her young years.  For a short time, I myself came under this intimidation.  Bullying has been around since the stone ages.  In fact, I had tons of photos to search through on the topic, and I must say just perusing them caused me to become nauseous. Jenn, and I both understand now, the problem did not lie with us.  However, how does a young mind accept that the attacker has difficulty with jealousy or self-esteem, while in the throes of a provocation, even if it has been explained to the attackee over and over.

There have been groups formed to combat this problem, “No Bullying” signs put up, as well as other measures, I am sure.  But I must say these troubles begin at home.  Unfortunately, school is becoming, more and more, the place where these dysfunctions are exploding.  It is an awful thing for a stable child to suffer, and have to deal with the wrath of another person’s malfunction  – with their life or simply by coping with the mental stress on them, and their friends.  I’m leaving the floor open – what do you think the answer should be? I would love to hear your thoughts.

Picture courtesy of iStockPhoto