Thoughts on Stop The GR Bullies

So if you’ve lived in a cave the last few weeks, you may have missed the latest dust up in the so called authors vs reviewer wars. If you’ve been paying attention in romancelandia in general, over the last few years (and yes you can google all of this), there have been dustups between authors who get angry over negative reviews.

I’m still relatively new to the writing scene but when I went back and looked up some of the prior attacks, I was horrified to say the least. With the dawn of Goodreads and the explosion of so called social reading, readers and authors are significantly closer than they ever were before.

It appears that the general consensus among authors is that you should never respond to negative reviews. Even the trolling horrific ones that attack your gene pool and the caliber of your parenting because of the terrible book review are best ignored. By commenting on said negative reviews, authors invite the feeding frenzy that an episode of authors behaving badly tend to generate.

But the last few weeks have brought about a new twist in the reviewer vs author dustups only this time, allegedly there are no authors involved. Instead a group of four anonymous readers are outing the good reads bullies. Posting personal information, names, addresses as well as ad hominem attacks. You can google the website if you want but honestly, it’s not worth your time unless you’re interested in a train wreck.

Here’s the irony of the stop the goodreads bully’s behavior: in outing so called anonymous reviewers, they themselves have chose to remain marginally anonymous. Mind you, they’ve done this without hiding the domain name registration of their website, which begs the question of just how technically savvy they really are. Perhaps they don’t wish to truly remain the mask vigilantes they are claiming to be. But a bigger question here is what legal responsibility they have. Can they be held responsible for inciting violence? For someone losing their job?

But a bigger question is this: what exactly are they hoping to accomplish? What is their goal in posting someone’s home address? Photos of their families. Are they hoping that by exposing the so called bullies personal information that it will somehow change the nature of the feeding frenzy that pops up every time an author has an episode of online insanity?

Because the law of unintended consequences is at play here, folks. Even if 99% of the people who read the stop the GR bullies website are completely normal, well adjusted folks, there is the probability that someone wearing a foil hat is also reading that website. It only takes a brief break with reality for someone to think that this type of vigilante behavior is good and then extend it beyond a cyber outing to actually showing up at someone’s house.

And I’m sorry but there are enough crazies in the world that people posting addresses and phone numbers *should* consider the second and third order effects of their actions. Because let’s say something bad does happen to one of the people who have been outed. Let’s say that someone is violently angry over a negative review or a personal attack by one of the so called gr bullies actions and does decide to confront them personally. What then has the stop the gr bullies campaign accomplished?

They’ve helped turn a cyber argument into a real world incident.

Folks our online actions have real world consequences. Just because we can find out who people are doesn’t mean we should out them for the entire world to see. Just because we don’t like what someone says about our books or our friends books doesn’t give us the right to expose their families, their homes and their persons threats. I suggest the stop the gr bullies folks talk to a lawyer about their potential legal culpability if something happens to one of the people they’ve outed.

If you don’t like what someone has to say about you, walk away. Close the web browser. But adding to the negative feeding frenzy that occurs every time someone types/tweets/posts angry isn’t worth it. It turns out that our moms were right about one thing: if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

And honestly, I have enough regrets in my life. Aiding in the harm of another individual over a bad book review isn’t on the list of things I want added to the black marks on my soul.