Temper your words wisely… they can be a dangerous weapon


Most of us in the Indie writing community have heard about the recent drama on Facebook. There was an accusation made against someone, an Indie Designer, Lee Ching… that accusation (unsubstantiated as far as I know) led a group of 80+ people to attack the accused through messenger. The messages alledgedly ran the gambit from accusing her of being a theif, to encouraging her to take her own life. From what I understand, the attack was relentless, to the point that this talented individual tried to take her own life. Thankfully her cousin found her in time, and she is, I hope, recovering, which I’m sure will continue, at least emotionally, long after she is released from the hospital.
I don’t know Ms. Ching, but I do remember a time that someone, another Indie author, who is now one of my best friends, was attacked by several individuals on Goodreads. It occured because she had the audacity to express her opinion. I know about this first hand, becasue it occurred on my book’s review thread. A 1 star review was left, which isn’t the issue, the reviewer made mention of several incidents that didn’t occur in the book, which led several people to make the statement that if the reviewer couldn’t be bothered to pay attention, maybe he shouldn’t have left a review.
The bullies, under the guise they were defending the reviewer against bullies, attacked. But they didn’t attack everyone who had an opposing view to the reviewer, they only attacked my author friend, who only said she agreed with the assessment of a blogger that it appeared the reviewer hadn’t been paying attention. They targeted her.
These individuals attacked her facebook, her twitter, her blog, whatever they could find. They left vitrol everywhere, it was relentless. She’s a fighter,and fought back which only fueled their attack. I advised her to walk away. I’m not sure that was the best advice, but it was taking a toll on her well being. They eventually relented, and kudos to the reviewer, who actually asked them to stop. But God forbid, someone come back to the original thread and support this author. Like true trolls, they lurk in the shadows, waiting for an oppurtunity to strike, and they will.
They didn’t know this writer. What they felt they did know was that because of her profession, she shouldn’t have an opinion about another book. They felt that she couldn’t possibly be unbiased. They felt she shouldn’t have a voice. When I researched who they were, I discovered they felt it was their right to target Indie Authors, yes, target them. they wanted to take them down. Why? I could never figure it out. Eventually theses 3 individuals (yes, 3) moved on to bigger game. But in their wake, they left destruction and while I don’t dwell on it, I’m reminded of it everytime something happens in the wake of bullying. This incident with Ms. Ching is such an event.
There is no evidence that she stole anything. It’s my understanding that she used a stock photo, which most designers use, especially Indie. Quite often if the photo isn’t manipulated enough, some covers will look the same, it doesn’t mean anyone stole the cover of another individual, it just means the designer did what they were asked, or liked the image as it was. but let’s play Devil’s Advocate, what if she did steal it? Then you send a cease and desist letter, you report her to the publishing companies. You don’t go on the assault.
Street Teams are few and far between now because of the bullying tactics employed by more than one author out there, encouraging their “fans” to go after other authors.  And even if the authors didn’t encourage bad behavior, they did nothing to stop it.
Accusations are everywhere. I saw on the other day where one author accused another of publishing her book. It wasn’t true. The Publishing platform had made an error as both books had the same title. When the accused author contacted the platform, they agreed to fix immediately and apologized and when she explained to her accuser what happened, the accusing author would not relent, still accusing her of stealing the book.  To my knowledge, she still has yet to apologize.
I have thought long and hard about writing this post. We live in a society of innocent until proven guilty, yet many people have forgotten this. The pitchfork mentality is running rampant and Social media has led many people in the world to believe that because its the internet, it’s okay to do whatever you want. Those people think that the anonymity of being “invisible” gives you the right to say whatever you want, whenever you want… it’s not.
If someone has committed a crime, then report them to the authorities. If someone’s behavior is blantantly unacceptable, let your friends and family now, so they are aware. If someone posts something you don’t like, feel free to tell them in a “grown-up”, respectable way, then walk away. Everyone has an opinion, and chances are you aren’t going to agree with a lot of them. Freedom of speech is Freedom of speech, even when it’s hateful and ugly, but that doesn’t mean you get to attack and harrass someone because you don’t agree, or you feel they did something wrong. Again, if they did something crimnal, report them to the appropriate entity.
I have been a part of the Indie Author community for 8 years now. In that time, I have seen my fair share of ugliness, but mostly, I have seen the comraderie and beauty in our community. We need to get back to be professional adults. We are writers. We tell our stories. We are not in competition with each other, even though some will say we are, but we aren’t. We all have our own style. That goes for all the other professions in this community as well. Editors, Proofreaders, Marketers, Bloggers, Swag and Cover Designers. We are a family, and while we fight, and disagree, there should always be respect, admiration and love for one another.
From this day forward, temper your words wisely. Don’t fly off the handle, and say something that you might regret. Stop making assumtions about things until you have the facts… the facts, not someone’s opinion about what may or may not have happened.
And remember, words are powerful weapons, and as easliy as they can build you up, they can tear you down. They can rip out your heart, and crush your soul.
Use them wisely.
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Listening


Some may not appreciate this post, but I felt I needed to say something, just for my peace of mind.  It’s the season of politicians and sound bites, the candidates have been chosen and we the people are being inundated with conventions and platforms.  The candidates are not my issue here, but rather the constant barrage of opinions being thrust at anyone who opposes that individuals stance.  Not one candidate is really what I want.  If I agree with their fiscal plan, I disagree with their social plans.  If I agree with their social agenda, I disagree with their economics.  I don’t trust any of them, although I don’t believe any of them want to harm our country.  They are all planning to do what they think is right for the American people.

My problem is I see people talking and no one listening.  The candidates and their campaigns are there to win, so they go after the other team’s weaknesses.  Something said in a speech that gets taken out of context, etc.  But that’s typical and to be expected, as sad as that is.  Where I have an issue is with the American people themselves.  All of us have to choose (should we decide to vote, and if you don’t, that’s your right and prerogative) what topic of each platform is best for us as individuals.  Yet, that doesn’t give you the right to condemn someone else for selecting the opposing candidate.  We as Americans have the right to choose our leaders and representatives and we all have ideas and beliefs as to what is important to ourselves.  That doesn’t make those who believe the opposite necessarily wrong, just that they have different priorities and although we may feel those priorities are not “right”, those people still have the right to have them.

Some people will choose a candidate based on the economy, some on religious (or lack thereof) preference, some will choose based on some personal issues (abortion, gay rights, etc.) and I’m sure many will disagree, as we tend to do.  But we can all do this in a mature and respectful way.  Take the time to really listen to what people are saying and the context in which they say it.  Sometimes actively listening can be difficult when you’re passionate about something, but other people are passionate too.  This all comes down to tolerance and agreeing to disagree.  To embrace the beauty in our culture.  That is the right to disagree.  To disagree with your government, your family, your friends… the freedom to have your own opinion and express it as you wish.  What we all seem to forget is that with great power comes great responsibility and the freedom to say what we wish when we wish is a luxury many people in the world do not possess.

This is not to say that I want to hear hateful, awful things, I do not, but even hateful, awful people have the right to free speech.  They can say what they want as well.  But I choose to remember something my father once told me while watching the news.  They were reporting that the KKK had one of their speeches on the steps of the town hall.  They preached their hatred and bile and the crowds came to yell and oppose them.  There is something wonderful about watching people oppose hate.  When I turned to look at my dad, he was shaking his head, not because he agreed with the Klan, I knew that.  So I asked him why and he said, “That’s why they do it, because the crowds come and stand there.  What would happen if no one showed up to listen?”  That made me think.  He was right.  Without an audience, would these people show up?  I don’t think so.  The whole reason is to get on the news or appeal to the small minded followers looking to join, but without an audience, you lose power.  This seems contradictory to my previous statement, but sometimes the best way to deal with a hateful issue is to walk away.  Now, I don’t mean to tell people not educate themselves about all the issues and organizations out there, we all should pay more attention to those out there that mean us harm.

There will be many people we speak to about the upcoming election.  Some don’t want to talk about it at all and some do nothing but talk about it.  Some will be small minded and fearful and some will be venomous and intolerant, but we can only make decisions for ourselves and how we deal with those things and people around us.  In some cases listen and in others walk away… all I can do is respectfully ask that we all remember that we can agree to disagree and that our differences are what make us wonderful and unique.