Tuesday, July 24, 2012

I Have a Soapbox, and I'm Not Afraid to Use It.

Recently, there was a big kerfluffle on Facebook regarding one person libeling another, or rather an entire group of others. Now, I am personally familiar with several of this person's victims, and none of them deserve the crap spewed in their direction. Indeed, the person in question crossed the line into libel (written defamation) by blogging some horrible lies and unwarranted, untrue accusations about an m/m writer I know.

Here's the thing: some people seek fame by working hard on their craft, doing the work, taking the risk, and so forth.

Others take another, far less noble road. They are  viciously hateful, tearing down others in their profession, vomiting lies, all for the sole purpose of  generating a buzz. It's not fame they seek, but infamy.

For all the wonders of the Internet, including the ease of reaching so many people so quickly, it is a platform perfectly designed for bullies to flourish. The built-in anonymity of blogs, and social networking sites like Facebook, frees bullies to be as vitriolic as they wish without much fear of reprisal, and  to spread their hate to far more people than otherwise possible, all with a few keystrokes and mouse-clicks.

Cyberbullying can be even more hurtful than ordinary bullying because it's done on a world-wide scale. Gossip at the watercooler will only embarrass someone in the immediate vacinity; blog the same lies and the victim can be shamed globally.

The permanence of the Internet also works for bullies. Back at the watercooler, when something more interesting comes along, gossip dies and is forgotten, but nothing is ever completely gone once it is put online. It can come back to haunt you years later, because even if the original post is deleted, it probably still exists somewhere in one form or another.

Something needs to be done about people who use social networks and blogs to bully and defame. As a writer, I'm all for free speech, but there is a difference between stating your opinion and tainting someone's reputation with malicious lies, and perhaps injuring their career.

Well, okay. I said what I needed to say. I'm going to pick up my soapbox before somebody trips on it, and call it a day.


  1. How very interesting the very theme of this thread. Cyber-bullying is dangerous indeed. Especially when authors that you've only contacted for a short time and only in order to reach their work faster, keep pm-ing you and threatening you of being blocked unless you unfriend a certain individual they dislike from your friend list. And how very fit that they react exactly as they were portrayed to react from this certain individual. Yes! I agree, cyber-bullying is a malicious threat.
    Great post.

  2. I agree that no one should be bullied, on the web or otherwise. It is unprofessional and unethical to try to dictate who you may be friends with, and not.

    That said, it is equally unprofessional to make claims about individuals, smearing their names across the Internet and challenging their ethics based on supposition and hearsay. I direct that statement across the board, to anyone who defames a colleague whether out of spite, jealously, or in the pursuit of fame.

  3. I am so glad you decided to not be afraid to use your soapbox. I've seen bits and pieces of the kerfuffle and I am aghast at what people will post on the internet. But what saddens me the most is that we can't take anyone on line at face value. We have to look for hidden motives and personal agendas.