By Kyle Perkins.
I’m not here to talk about what went down at a recent signing, or the new book that was released to shame an author. I’m here to talk about the cancer invading every aspect of the indie community that seems to be growing by the day. A product of attention-seeking drama posts and narcissistic abuse of friends and fans alike:
Every single day there is some new “cause” or reason to rile up the indie community, and indie authors have learned that by putting some righteous facade at the forefront of their attack on another person, it can gain traction, causing other people with emotional instability to step in and take up arms.
You see, we now live in 2016, better known as the “PC Era,” which is a code phrase for “As long as I think I am justified, I can attack anyone without consequence or guilt.”
We see it all the time. Someone says or does something regrettable and the entire community jumps down their throat, ready and willing to end a person’s career over a momentary lapse in judgment – or for simply holding an opinion that is different than their own. Tragically, their attackers feel justified because, “They said a thing that I didn’t like.” If you are a keen observer, you’ll notice that there is nothing righteous about their attacks – it’s all attention-seeking publicity.
These people are the worst kind of people. They are willing to step over other legitimate authors – You know, people that may support their family with writing – and ruin their careers just to gain a few more fans. It’s completely disgusting, and sociopathic.
Where does this all come from?
Honestly, I think most of it is as simple as boredom and overactive imaginations. See, authors are always living in constant drama in their minds because drama in books makes for good stories and sales. The problem is, a lot of indie authors don’t know how to turn it off. They turn their entire personal and “professional” (I use the term loosely) life into a shit-show of drama. Why wouldn’t they? Other authors will help them spread the cancer, as well as readers just wanting to get in on the action. Many people in the community stay at home for a large portion of the day and this is a bit of excitement, so I can’t blame them for jumping in with both feet – it’s entertaining, if nothing else. The only people I can blame are the sources of this cancer, and they are easy to spot.
There are certain authors that are regularly in the middle of drama, always picking sides or telling readers they have to choose sides. Those are the people to be wary of.
When someone has no problem dragging other authors through the mud, what do you think they will do with you? If they can’t have a little compassion for someone in the same industry as them – one where they have to be acutely aware of just how hard it is to bare your soul to the world and take the inevitable criticism with grace – do you think they give even the slightest shit about you?
Of course not. They only care about themselves and their agenda.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I am no saint, though I do try to avoid drama where I can. There are just some things I can’t ignore – like people abusing others in the community. I have made my opinions on the matter very public. This, of course, brought a little drama my way and gave me a perspective on the receiving end of an angry e-mob. It’s not a fun place to be, by any means, but I can take it. Any time you express an opinion online, you’re opening yourself up to the opinions of those who might disagree. That’s expected. What was troublesome about the whole thing was when fans and colleagues began to receive backlash from other authors for refusing to take up with the opposing side. It was then that I started to understand the detrimental effects of the internet rage horde, and the disturbing lengths people will go in order to insert themselves into a situation and manipulate the emotions of others, simply to win a pointless “It’s them or me,” contest. It’s concerning, and my situation is not unique – Sadly, I’ve watched it happen time and time again within the last few months.
Despite expressing controversial opinions on occasion that might result in dramatic responses, I honestly don’t seek it. I wish we could all come together as a community and stop the constant judgment, betrayal, bullying, etc. It doesn’t help anyone, and makes the community as a whole seem like a toxic place to be. I’ve spoken with a number of readers and authors who left the indie community entirely because of this very thing. We already have to fight for a place at the table alongside traditionally published books, must we fight amongst ourselves as well? Who is that helping?
How do we fix it? How do we fix a nastiness that is pushing some authors ahead, while burying others and driving quality readers away?
For one, we would all have to stop participating in it, and I do realize that by writing this very post, I am contributing. So, how do we stop something that has spread so far, and is so invasive, that it occurs on a daily basis? It has become common-place – so much so that when I hear it, my first thought is, “What is it today?”
It should have never gotten to this point. We, as a community, should be lifting each other up – helping one another get ahead. Don’t get me wrong, those authors and readers are out there. The problem is, the honest authors who are already helping people and doing their part to make this community a better place are never heard. They constantly live in the shadows of drama giants that dwarf any honest attempt at doing something good.
Even worse, if an author does start to make it, but doesn’t share the ideals of the “it crowd,” they are weeded out pretty quickly by some “cause” that is totally justified because the person with the most fans said it. Then the person that did the attacking will gain a shit-ton more fans in the process just by, once again, being the center of attention.
So, why would they ever stop? Why would anyone ever stop bullying, stop attacking other people?
They won’t, so long as they keep getting the reactions, attention, and outrage that they crave.
We, as a community, enable and encourage this type of behavior. We reward it by feeding it attention. So at the end of the day, I think I honestly am just wasting my breath, because in a society of bored people living in anonymity online, everyone wants to be a part of “something bigger,” or something “meaningful.”
The worst part is that the people constantly pointing fingers have their own skeletons – because everyone does – yet, they are willing to destroy someone over misspeaking.
Everyone puts their best face forward online, and only shows the best possible version of themselves. So you never really know the people you’re attacking or supporting, you just know what they want you to see, and the people constantly stirring up drama are manipulating you into seeing a person in another light for their own personal gain.
If you think this behavior is harmless, look at any terrorist attack, or any evil dictator in history. They used their beliefs to manipulate people and justify any actions they took against other human beings.
Please don’t give these people the power they are seeking in our community. We need to be cleansed of them. When it comes to drama mongering, attention – both positive, and negative – gives power to the conversation and the drama stirrer. It promotes them, gets their name in front of more people and increases the visibility of their brand, even if all the comments are arguing against them.
Do not feed the drama machine. Feed the authors, PAs, artists and bloggers who are doing good for the community. Engage THOSE posts, and ignore those who attempt to abuse your loyalty and manipulate your emotions for their own personal gain.
It’s tragic to see a community I looked up to so much fall so far from grace. We need to fix it, and fast.