Monday, January 30, 2006

Three Things that Bug Me Online

I've been in the mood to rant today, and I don't think I've had one here since I started up again, so tonight you guys get to find out a little of what bugs me in the online world and blogosphere. I'm going to be circumspect and not actually use certain romance author's names because frankly I don't want them (or their friends or fangirls) googling themselves, finding my website, and giving me the same crap that some gave Keishon a little while ago. I could handle it if it came, but why bother?

1. This one comes mostly from reading discussions about the James Frey thing. I can't stand it when people say something like "You don't remember everything you ate a month ago, do you?" as a response to people complaining about Frey's fabrications/exagerations in his book. Whether you think Frey was lying or not, saying something like this is just stupid. This person can't come up with an actual thought or argument to back up their viewpoint (and there are plenty of valid ones they could use) so rather than be logical or reasonable, they go for trying to ridicule the other person. The sole purpose of a rhetorical question like that is to try to make the other person look ridiculous, to make it look like they have irrational expectations that no one could meet, and therefore Frey's isn't so bad. Major pet peeve for me. People, learn how to debate. Go read a book about actual debate -- not just arguing or trolling or steamrolling.

2. A certain author (whose books I sometimes like and sometimes don't) made a statement a couple of weeks ago about whether it is appropriate for readers to review books. The merits of that argument have been debated back and forth, and personally I think anyone who doesn't disagree with her is just an idiot with a chip on their shoulder, but that's just me. That's not what bugs me. What bothers me is how that comment was made and her behavior afterward. I was always taught that when you are having a discussion/debate/argument with someone, you do it in a polite manner. Cursing, insulting, demeaning language or behavior is inappropriate, especially with someone you don't even know (and who really knows anyone online?). So thinly-veiled insults and insinuations disguised as humor just piss me off. A lot of what was said around the blogosphere during that discussion was brushed off as attempts at humor by people making the comments and by some reading them. I don't buy that. There are some people who want to say their mean piece but not look bad for it, and pretending to be making a joke is the way they do it. They say their mean little comment that makes them feel better sitting at their computer at home in a way that looks humorous, and then when they're called on it, they say "I was just making a little joke, why are you taking it so seriously?" Stroking their sad little egos the whole time. And who's going to call them on it without looking like they can't handle a little ribbing? This is the epitome of passive-aggressive behavior -- from Wikipedia: "Someone who is passive-aggressive will typically not confront others directly about problems, but instead will attempt to undermine their confidence or their success through comments and actions which, if challenged, can be explained away innocently so as not to place blame on the passive-aggressive person." Sounds like little mean insults passed off as jokes to me.

3. There is a huge difference between speculating/talking about an idea/impression and slander or libel. If you don't understand the difference then you need more time socializing with real people. The whole thing about The Queen of Romance at the AAR Reviews Board just drives me nuts. Nobody said they'd heard she was screwing the pool boy, they said it seemed like the photo was a little too close to the character. I think it's pretty clear that the publisher was trying to use the photo as a part of the marketing of the book and the Queen herself even said that the photo was an attempt to establish the persona of her alter-ego as opposed to her normal one. If that's not saying it's tied to the series, and therefore the character, then what else does that mean? Ultimately, however, it's not this that bugs me so much as another aspect of the whole argument: that some readers just can't handle open discussion that might be critical of authors (and especially, horror of horrors, a top romance author) and that when faced with informed, rational opinions and discussion, they can't manage to respond in kind. If someone writes a thoughtful, four-paragraph post that you don't agree with, you don't respond with "what's wrong with you that you speculate like this, you must have personal issues that you can't handle, you should see a shrink instead of posting" or some other such crap. That's not discussion, that's insult and doesn't have any place in a reasonable forum.

The sad thing is that even though I have my own opinions about all of these situations, I am completely respectful of the opinions of people on the other side in each because they all have useful points to make. And the issues that don't can always spark discussion about other interesting issues, so it drives me nuts when good discussion is hijacked by idiots.

So what do you guys think about these situations? Do the things that bother me irritate others, or is this just a part of my own idiosyncracies?


Tara Marie said...

I need to get on AAR more often--LOL. I missed this one.

I'm always left puzzled by authors who 1. sic fangirls, and 2. then claim they don't do this.

I found the whole review flap rather entertaining--it did seem to show some people/authors in an interesting light?!?!!

Beverly said...

Well if you want to check it out, it's all still there for the world to read (at least it is today). On the Reviews Board, just scroll down to the post thread starting with "Memory in Death--excellent review" on 1/25 and "Photo" on 1/26.

And I find myself entertained with these flaps as well. It's just some of the behavior that arises out of the discussions that irritates me.

Alyssa said...

I'm with you on number 1. And you know what? If Frey's memoir had been about what he ate last month, I'd expect him to be fairly accurate, even if I can't remember what I ate two days ago. If I don't remember, I don't write a memoir.

It's one thing to forget about the time you ordered pizza; it's another to write that you ordered 100 pizzas when you really ordered one. Kinda like that hour-long jail stint . . .

I interpreted number 2 differently. The author in question stated it badly, but I read the "peer review" issue not as saying only writers should review. I read it as saying that anyone can write an Amazon review. You don't have to state whether you're the author's best friend (or enemy), you don't have to state whether you have a vendetta against the author (Keishon didn't; I'm just using this as an example). You don't even have to have read the book to write a review.

So, I interpreted this as more a statement that anybody can post a review at Amazon without needing to establish credibility. But that's just my perception, and I can see why people came to the same conclusion you did.

I did think she was funny, but I didn't follow her around the blog circuit and read all the discussions, so I can't say I would have felt that way about everything she said.

Number 3 . . . well, I'm about to be very vocal despite the fact that I haven't read the entire thread. But I have to say that I just don't get how a reader takes one look at a picture like that and jumps immediately to, "She's trying to look exactly like Eve, so she must think that she IS Eve." To me, that's a huge non sequitur.

So, you've got an author wearing an outfit that includes jeans, boots, and a black leather coat. To me, that doesn't say, "Gee, this author must want us to think she's the character" or "This author must think she embodies the character, and how dare she do that when I have my own image of how the character looks."

To me, that says, "Welcome to the world of marketing." It's a look reminiscent of the world in the book. Period.

Anyway, this is probably the longest comment I've ever made. Obviously I have strong feelings on the subject (especially #3).

Bev (BB) said...

Okay, I've eyed this one for long enough and just have to comment on the second and third issue. Why I don't know. (G)

On the second, I gave up on reviews discussions long ago, mostly, but usually do get hooked into whating the train wrecks when they happen. What always strikes me is that people invariably seem to be talking about two different audiences - readers & authors - and treating them as if the same "thing" meets both needs. And they don't. Period.

Then they complicate matters by calling everything that gets posted about a book a review, from simple offhand comments to long introspective analysis. And they're simply not all reviews.

So is it any wonder that there's never any agreement on the issue? What amazes me is that every time it comes up maybe one person will actually bring up either of those points with any clarity.

And so the march goes on. Give it a couple of months and the exact same points will be made all over again somewhere.

As to the third issue, I too was rather stumped when I actually had time to go check out the discussion that it had even been brought up as an issue in the first place. Even if the picture is simply a marketing tool, why wouldn't an author do it and conversely why would it bother an author, any author, if readers noticed it and commented on it? That one definitely struck me as a tempest in a teacup for no reason whatsoever on BOTH sides. Seriously, I kept going back and reading different posts trying to figure out what I'd missed and what was so bad either way and I still don't get it.

sybil said...

Number one I have no comment other than if it is fiction sell it as fiction. I would be pissed if I had bought the book.

number two - check out her blog, really it would be a stupid thing for her to say and to have meant. Since she herself would never be able to crit anything. Her snarky writing didn't transmit to mb well. Well I think ;)

number three just amused me...