A couple of weeks ago, I read, liked, and shared a blog post written by a publishing professional I follow. Since the topic was about getting published – a topic with which I have some experience – I posted a comment on the blog, offering my “opinion”. I tried to keep what I said as positive, but as realistic, as possible, because that’s the kind of person I am. Let them down gently, but offer hope, if they’re willing to follow the rules. Several people wrote to compliment me on what I had said. But several others took exception with my opinion (and it was just my opinion, after all), stating that I was completely wrong, that their attempts to get published had been an entirely different experience, so therefore I obviously didn’t know what I was talking about. Please note that none of these people ever mentioned that they themselves were publishing professionals; as far as I could tell, they were all writers who had been rejected over the years, and bitterly resented that rejection, but none said they had any further experience in the business.
The mistake I made was in feeding those trolls. I should never have made further comment to any of them, but I was trying to be helpful by explaining why I was indeed correct in my comments and backing up that authority by listing my credentials. One woman continued to berate me, saying I “obviously” didn’t know what I was talking about. Oh, and I see, she said, that you’re into e-pubbing, as though that were some sort of inferior writing experience compared to her current state of never having been published or having published anyone else at all.
I find it very sad there are people who believe just because they have the ability to make a comment and go public with their opinions that they also have the right to take down and denigrate the opinions of other people – people who they do not know at all. And that they can then hide behind the anonymity of the Internet. Do they realize what effect they have on the people they are attacking? And do they understand that, by doing so, they’re just making themselves look ignorant, not the intelligent beings they think they are?
I stopped replying to that thread the second time the same woman told me I obviously didn’t know what I was talking about. The effect on me, though, has been further reaching than just that I will now pause and consider before making any comments whatsoever on blog posts, Facebook, news articles, etc. There I was, after all, just trying to be helpful, and thinking I too had an opinion that might benefit others. Well, I guess it did benefit those three who complimented me. And, I hope any others who read the exchange but chose not to become involved also got something out of it.
Much worse than now censoring me, however, is that I have since been struggling with a writer’s block that has made it almost impossible even to post to this blog. I finally pushed myself today and decided that once I got this story out in the open and told my readers what had happened to me, then I’d be able to get on with things. And it has helped. I do feel better for having told more than just the one person I confided in after this happened.
And I’ve also learned my lesson – Do Not Feed the Trolls! It’s not productive and they will only come back to bite you. If we don’t respond to them, perhaps eventually they’ll stop offering us their opinions.