Welcome back to another #SensualSunday. Today’s post is based on something I saw in my feed on FB. I’m sure a couple other’s have seen it as well, especially if you’re an author and have friends or travel in our circle of the Romance world. The post in question isn’t from anyone I know, anyone I’ve read, and yet it struck a chord. Let’s get going…
The below word definitions (taken from Merriam-Webster on-line dictionary) are strictly the part(s) related/pertinent to the following post…
BULLY: a blustering browbeating person; especially: one habitually cruel to others who are weaker
BROWBEAT: to use threats or angry speech to make (someone) do or accept something
THREAT: an expression of intention to inflict evil, injury, or damage; someone or something that could cause trouble, harm, etc.
In our lives all people will either be the bully, or be the bullied. Not saying any/everyone is a bully in the classic sense, but then again there are different levels of bullying. But today’s post is specifically garnered to what happens on the Net, and Social Media.
Bullying isn’t just in schools any longer, it’s now on the World Wide Web. Because there is anonymity on the Internet, and bully’s prefer to remain faceless, “nameless”, assholes picking at you day in and day out. Now, I said “nameless” because while they might have a name they go by on social media, it doesn’t mean it is their legal/birth name. Authors are not the only ones who have pseudonyms after all. Nothing gives a bully more power than to be able to say what they want without any repercussions*.
While bullying is still highly considered to be a crime of the school yard, we all know that it hasn’t stayed there. Not with the Net as their new playground, and those bully’s from the school yards are now hidden bully’s on social media. Let’s start with the basics:
CYBERBULLYING (full list available on prevnet.ca):
- Sending mean and sometimes threatening emails or text messages.
- Spreading gossip, secrets or rumours about another person that will damage that person’s reputation.
- Engaging someone in instant messaging, tricking them into revealing personal information and then forwarding that information to others.
- Using someone else’s password in order to change their profile to reflect sexual, racist and other content that may offend others.
- Posting false or hurtful messages on online bulletin boards or in chat rooms.
- Deliberately excluding others from instant messaging and email contact lists.
Now, don’t let this bring you down or discourage you. There are ways to protect yourself, your brand, and your name. Because, as authors, we are some easy targets (not the only targets, but we’re here to help authors specifically). If you’ve ever heard/had someone post things like: “Oh, you write romance. Well that is just so cute!”, “You wrote a book? And someone actually published it?”, “Romance, really? Why not write a real book?” you know that sinking feeling anyone bullied has ever felt. Believe me, it does get easier but you need to find your own inner strength, grab hold, and figure out what will work best for you.
The author I referred to at the beginning had taken some time to figure out what would work best in her life. Her decision was to step back and be an author, to write the books she had to share, and worry only about that. An administrator was given the task of handling her online presence, and dealing with the bullying she’d previously had to take care of herself. An impartial party (I’m guessing) who has no investment in the author’s works who can look at everything objectively, pass along information as needed, and boot the aggressors from the page to keep it a welcoming, happy place where the fans can gather to talk about the authors works.
This is definitely one option, especially if you are the sort to become easily distracted by the negative Nelly’s out there. For myself I haven’t had to deal with many, beyond a couple reviews I rolled my eyes at and ignored, and the people in general who look down their noses on Romance as a “real” genre. But I’m the sort who will read what’s been written, delete it, and ban the negativity from my life. For the more in-person folks I try to educate them, give them the numbers, and if that doesn’t help then offer them a book to read. “Oh you haven’t read anything in the Romance genre, yet you’re going to put it down?” That one particularly irks me. If you aren’t going to research the subject in an effort to educate yourself then all you’re really doing is blowing hot, useless air. Stop polluting my space please.
Now, before I start onto a full blown rant, here’s what it all comes down to. You, yes you!, need to decide what will work, and be best for you. No one else, just you. Just remember, and I hate having to reiterate this repeatedly but obviously it needs to be said, everything posted on the Net stays on the Net. The Internet never, EVER forgets anything. And whatever you do, do not engage a bully. Don’t defend yourself, don’t argue with them (they’ve had years at their level of stupidity and therefore are a pro), and don’t get into a debate. If you wish to say your piece, do so. But remember that it’s always best to wash your hands from any negativity in your life as your creative side will be the first to suffer. Which, since that’s what your job requires as an author, is it really worth it?
No, no it’s not. Here are my final words of advice on this particular topic today. Report, delete, and ban. These three actions are your friends. For email there are filters that shuffle anything heinous directly to where it belongs, the garbage. So, as in all parts of your life be aware, watch for the signs, and be ready to take out the trash.
XO Moira Callahan
* Cyberbullying is a crime/illegal. It is a punishable** if reported. Most online bully’s have no idea that they too can be tracked down, even while using a false name, and information.
** Laws will vary depending on state, province, county and country. If you are a victim of cyberbullying contact your local authorities and find out your options in preventing someone else from being a victim of this same individual.