Monday, March 19, 2012

Trolls in the Writing World... They're There.


What is it that makes some people so nice and others so… well, lame?

I’m floored by the kindness some people exude just… because. People who take the time to step outside of themselves and say something nice, spend hours on a crit, or even say “thank you.”

It’s such a difference from the people who… well, don’t. And I’m not speaking about people you randomly brush shoulders with and are busy in their lives, I’m talking about people who go out of their way to be rude. It’s interesting.

As a writer, you learn how to take criticism, absorb it, apply it to make you stronger.  But there are trolls out there whose sole purpose is to look for ways to put you down. 

I’m one of those people who like to give a person the benefit of the doubt. Maybe I’m too trusting. Maybe not. I can get feisty, and I can think of mean ways to retort, but do I do it? Do most of us? 

This is a business. And whether you’re friends, acquaintances, or “enemies,” there should always be a level of respect and professionalism. I’m shocked with how catty and competitive people can be. And it’s too bad.

And really, I’d say that 90% of the population is supportive and wonderful. It’s just that the negative seems to amplify, doesn’t it? It sucks you down, wants you to be miserable with them. It’s poison.

Which is why I think it’s so important to seize onto the good. Don’t let it go. Find those people that you know have your best interests at heart. They’re there. People who won’t backstab you and aren’t thinking solely of their own success.

So what’s the difference between a troll and a friend? What’s the key component? Is it fear? Jealousy? It’s not as if there’s only room for one person to be successful. Have you experienced this first hand?

Or what is it that makes people drop everything just to serve? (Thinks of all my awesome beta readers right now…) And is there a gray? From my view right now, it seems pretty black and white.

This is something that’s been on my mind for a while and I’d love to know your thoughts.

And on a side, "par-tay" note, last weekend I got to spend some time with some amazzzzing great people in this writing world. To see pics and get the low down, check out David Powers King and Leigh Covington’s sites. They do a fab job summing it all up!

Red. Head. Out. :D 

43 comments:

  1. I'm with you, Morgan. I read a bumper stick once that said, "Mean people suck." I totally agree. Unfortunately, I think it's a self-esteem issue. They either think too highly of themselves and look down on others. Or, they think too lowly of themselves and try to pull others down with them. I just do my best to stay away from them. :)

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  2. I know exactly what you mean. Like you I give everyone the benefit of the doubt but there are some people out there that are just downright rude and unappreciative. It's like being on the playground in elementary school all over again. They're the kid who is too insecure, they have to put others down in order to feel better and more confident about themselves. I do to them as I did to those back in elementary school. I stick my tongue out and turn my back to them :)

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  3. I saw all the photos - a lot of writer-bloggers in one place! If all of us in my state pulled together there would be... six of us. Maybe!
    I don't know why some people always feel compelled to say something negative. Maybe it is jealously. Maybe it's insecurity. Maybe they just feel crappy inside and they want everyone to feel that way.
    I always try to say something positive and support others. We face enough negative in life. I don't want to add to it.

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  4. I think you summed it up with "this is a business". This is our office. Yea, people may not be stopping by your cubicle for a chat but our job review will include our internet interactions and Publishers may not want to work with snarky people.

    I too tend to give people the benefit of the doubt. To the point when people are snarky I tell myself that it came across wrong, that they hadn't meant it in the tone of voice I read it. Sometimes though, there is no doubt.

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  5. I'm curious about what event(s) made you think about this. For my part though, I think there actually is a gray area. Sometimes I catch myself saying something "mean"(ish) in the hopes of helping someone. For example, someone who shall remain anonymous, sent me their work for a critique. I critiqued it ... rather harshly. I felt bad afterwards, because I could tell that what I had said hurt the writer. Looking back, I said some things in a somewhat mean light (not that they didn't need to be said, but I could have worded it differently). Apparently she wasn't really wanting a critique and was looking for more of a pat on the back. (Moral of the story, always see how in-depth the writer wants your critique to be!) Anyway, I felt like a kind of troll for coming down hard on her writing. As for when it's done online, well, the anonymity of the Internet makes it sooo easy for us to bear our claws!

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  6. I once heard that for every negative, hurful thing someone says to you, it takes seven positive, uplifiting things to counter it.
    I think it's so much easier for people to be ugly on the internet because they don't have to face the people they're bad-mouthing. Sad, huh?
    But you're right that the vast majority is AWESOME and supportive, thank God!!!

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  7. Ditto on what Wendy said. The bad can be harder to forget. I've skipped around on a few blog contests and I've found quite of few anonymous comments that are negative. The internet allows you to say what you want with no consequences. It also has allowed me to find the MOST supportive people EVER.

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  8. Wendy's got it right. Internet trolls, at their heart, are cowards. They'd never have the guts to say or do anything to someone's face, so they hide behind electronic anonymity like it's their mother's apron.

    On the other hand, there are some truly awesome friends and colleagues out there who offer support simply because they want to. Morgan, you in particular were one of the first to welcome me openly to the madness that is Twitter, and I've never forgotten that :)

    In the end, you learn to block out the negativity and focus on what's true and good, and the trolls end up with nothing except lonely hate. So, the good guys win.

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  9. Great post, Morgan. I try to be the friend, but sometimes I'm the troll. Not meaning to be, of course, but I still have my moments. = ( It's hard sometimes to find our way through these critting and blogging worlds. It took a real troll of a crit partner to make me see how comments come across to others. And, when it comes to the social networking part, I'm not naturally a happy, gushy person (meaning that in a kind way, not as an insult - I love happy, gushy people if they're genuine), but I've had to become one online because of how harsh the written word can come across without the benefit of facial expression and tone of voice to reveal the emotion behind it. It has been a real adjustment. Anyhow, you're one of the nice people. You inspire me to be a better person. = )

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  10. The trolls are often anon. Weird how that happens. Like, if you're gonna be mean, show your face! Haha! But I love that there are more friends than trolls. I'd take the smack talk any day of the week, as long as I get to cry about it to my real friends. :D

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  11. I feel like I haven't seen much of that, but I know I have... When I come across people who post negative things I tend to just de-friend or un-follow them so I don't have to see it. If I get a mean or rude comment on my blog, I delete it right away.

    Honestly, I don't have time for anyone who does things like that. I'm hard enough on myself! Why would I keep people in my life who bring me down further? I can take constructive criticism (LOVE IT in fact, makes me want to have Tiana crit my WIP :-) ...) but rude people have no place in my life, online or in person. I delete them and ignore them. Luckily, I've never had anyone hate me enough to still be mean to me past all that, thank goodness ;-)

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  12. A little bit ago I was stunned at the trolls rearing their ugly heads under the guise of anonymous commenter. That old adage of "If you don't have anything nice to say, say nothing at all" holds true even in the blogosphere. And to comment rudely under anonymous is so cowardly it makes me want to... I'll bite my tongue :) I would rather encourage someone, even if it's the tiniest bit I can offer, I hope to help someone feel better and maybe even smile :)
    Thanks for always commenting and making me smile! You're the most opposite of troll there is (that didn't sound so good, but believe me it is good and I appreciate it!)!

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  13. One person's troll can be another person's best friend. It's all a matter of circumstances. And there is someone behind the keyboard and the words. There are some people who are universally negative, and those are the ones you have to simply smile and let go of. I've had to let a few people I considered good 'friends' go because of their negativity. You're right, the negative and bad is toxic.

    Because I have a vlog and blog I am often greeted with harsh comments and emails. All I do is look at the people who call me names and slam what I do with understanding. And I let go with love. People who specifically set out to hurt you are riddled with hurt themselves. Friendly, happy, healthy people don't attack others for no reason. And it is with this knowledge that I let go and continue on my own path.

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  14. Trolls are indeed everywhere. I believe that rudeness stems from either a lack of security or a lack of peace in ones heart.

    Hope made a good point about anonymous people who comment on blogs.

    We are all together in this business and a modicum of professional courtesy is simple to extend to others, competitors or not.

    I don't see other writers as competitors, however.

    This is a good post about proper and improper behavior. By the way, you can stop anonymous comments.

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  15. Sorry you have been dealing with trolls! I'm always amazed by the negativity that some people put out into the universe. My only solution is, try to avoid these people and surround yourself with awesome friends instead.

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  16. Fortunately, I've never run into any of these trolls personally. I have heard of others encountering them, though. It's a shame that people feel the need to pull others down just to feel better about themselves.

    Great post, Morgan! :)

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  17. Shame on whoever was a troll to you! You are one of the nicest, most positive people I've had the pleasure of meeting in the blog world.
    For myself, I've found it shocking how nasty people can be, both on the internet and in person. They must just find some kind of sick pleasure in making others miserable. So sad.
    The hardest think for me is making my writing public. I want people to critic my work, but it hurts when they don't think it's awesome. But it's the growing pains I guess, and it will only make me a better writer, and I know I am not where I want to be yet!

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  18. Argh! Tons of spelling errors. I meant the hardest THING, and critique!

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  19. I've only had one horrible experience with trolls, and it was actually in one of the contests that Hope mentioned above. Someone slammed my work as a cheep knockoff of an already published book, though they couldn't possibly have known it from what was posted. And of course they were anonymous...

    I just don't get it. But the reason we don't get it is because we don't think the way they do.

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  20. I've never had problems with trolls. But I've seen them say nasty things on the MSFV secret agent contests. They think by saying bad things about the entry the agent will also think it's bad, and the entry won't win--and theirs will. :(

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  21. I can't get enough of you and your awesomeness! FOR REAL! And the picture of the "troll" behind the computer is killing me. Perfect visual.
    I don't understand mean people. I really don't. Especially - like you say - when we should be professional. I always try to find something good that they're doing and if I'm doing a crit I lay on the criticism nicely and try to be helpful. Plus, you can't forget to point out what you like.
    Lets picket about mean people and the Cheesecake Factory! We'll get it all over with at once. Keep making signs! :)

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  22. I guess the negative is out there, but I don't notice it much. Then again, I'm not looking for it either. I choose not to let it affect me. I'm sure when I have negative book reviews someday, I may feel differently. : )

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  23. Whose been mean to you???? Ooooh they better watch out...You tell me who it was and I swear I'll go rip off all their erasers from their pencils and switch up all their page numbers and poor honey all over their computer!!! Tell me! I got your back Morgs ;)

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  24. Ugh, trolls. They hate the world a little bit less than they hate themselves. It's sad, really.

    The best thing you can do is surround yourself with positive people who love and support you. :)

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  25. I've been lucky enough not to encounter anyone who was rude, but then I've only been blogging a few months. If it was a jealousy thing, I don't think I have anything to be jealous of, but if I ever do come across this, I think I would just ignore them rather than get down to their level and try to fight back. Negativity is pretty draining, in my experience.

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  26. My mother always told me "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." I tend to agree with this strongly. Even if you find fault in something you can give feedback on it in a positive manner. There is no call for being rude. Really, as others have said, it comes down to self esteem issues, and people being cowards. Oh and people suck sometimes.

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  27. a twist on the "if you cant say something nice..."

    pepole do need to know how to improve in writing. i know i do. but "if you cant say it nicely, you arent the one to say it."

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  28. Such fabulous comments every one... thank you. I myself don't have a problem with trolls---just one particular email that was beyond nasty to me, for no reason other than to be hurtful. It's sad, and too bad... because really, the person is only hurting themselves. :/

    But I love the layers this discussion has developed into. From writing, to criticism, to plain trolls, unnecessary negativity, etc... I find it fascinating and you all have brought up excellent points. :)

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  29. This is so true, Morg! Not just in writing--though you're absolutely right, it DOES happen!!--but life in general! I had a friend in high school who was ALWAYS happy no matter what and everyone loved her. I asked her about it once and she said there are always two ways to look at any situation, and she always tried to look at the good instead of the bad. I LOVE that. And I feel like that's basically what you're saying. Even if you do have critique or feedback to give, there's a better way to do it. Sorry to hear about your nasty email! :(

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  30. Yeah...you gotta learn to tune out the negative/toxic people. That's how I refer to them. The people that just want to poison your day and make you feel bad. Who knows what motivates them. I really don't care.

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  31. Been there. Granted to my friends/writers who /ask/ for like biting critique (and I actually have a couple who send me stuff with the comment - 'rip it to shreds for me') I can be pretty biting but I'd never act that way just to act that way. But I've experienced it - oddly it shows up more with those people who have known me and didn't realized I write than anything else. Although I had an odd moment at a horror con where I was talking to some writing peeps and was told that the only place for a girl in the horror genre was as a sex object. That was fun.

    I can never tell if people are being this way on purpose or just that clueless as to what comes out of their mouths and keyboards. With any artistic endeavor though a thick skin is a must (something I learn again and again....and again...). One of my favorite titles for creative people is called 'Ignore Everybody' or something like that and that's a sage piece of advice.

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  32. I'm jealous of all of yours party.

    Yes, there are trolls. It's amazing how catty some folks can be. Annoying because they usually put it down in print for the world to read. But these things, too, make us stronger. Yes? A supply of chocolate helps.

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  33. Some people just are mean. Grrr to them. But I've found some great writing friends...including YOU! No more trolls. Bring on super great friends who are genuinely nice. :D Again...like YOU!

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  34. I don't make a habit of reading reviews, but WOW - when you glance down at the one and two star reviews, there are a WAY more comments than when someone loved something. I think this speaks volumes . . .

    BUT - I have met some INCREDIBLE people. People I feel truly, really honored to know and to read for ;-D

    The writing community is (fortunately) almost always a happy, happy ,place...

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  35. I'm lucky I've never had to deal with trolls personally but I've read comments about other people. I just don't understand why people can waste all that energy being mean.

    On a happier note, your party looked fantastic, I would have loved to have been there!

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  36. I read your post going, "Totally!!!" Because it's so true--why do some people have to be so mean? I don't get it. There is almost (like 99%) a way to say something a nice way--even if it's just something that has to be said that isn't so pleasant. And it's a million times easier to get a point across in a nice way than a mean one. Ahh, I just don't get it. But, at least there are mostly other awesome people out there in the writing world!

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  37. You're so right here, Morgan. I'm glad I haven't met many trolls. You and the rest of the writing community I've interacted with are incredibly supportive.

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  38. I see this with book reviews. Everyone either seems to give it a 5/4 or a 1. There are very few scores in between.

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  39. Hey Morgan, I just tagged you in the new seventh meme challenge going around the campaign. Stop by to get the rules. Prernapickett.blogspot.com

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  40. I have always believed that doing nice things for others was just part of being a person. If the person was nice back, then great. If not, continue be nice anyway. Some day karma will work in your favor. It hasn't proved me wrong yet. Great post!

    By the way, I've tagged you in the Lucky 7 Meme :)

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  41. It's stupid how we'll focus on the ONE BAD THING and forget about all the awesome things people have said or done for us. Someone should tell us to stop being so dumb!

    I'm interested to know if there was something specific that prompted your thoughts on this topic...?

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  42. this is what i wrote about today! all because of ONE lousey comment..out of like 1,000!!
    so i looked for inspiration of how to let it roll and found it right under my nose...

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  43. lol, I just used the same troll picture on my blog today! Totally by accident, btw, but still funny. I just saw it in your feed on the right and thought, "Hey, that looks familiar." :)

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