Tuesday, July 07, 2009

What is the problem ...

... with these people? Author offers apologies over Twitter'd review backlash. (Hat tip, Vikram Johri.)

No one is obligated to like what you write or agree with it. They may well express their dislike or disagreement in harsh terms. That is one of the risks you take in publishing anything. How the hell can a published author not learn to live with this? And why make an ass out of yourself by saying things you then have to apologize for. And, if that's what you felt like saying and went ahead and said it, why apologize? Either don't say it in the first place or stand by it.


  1. This incident suggests something else that is significant but perhaps overlooked. There is an impulsiveness and carelessness in a great deal of what is being "published" and "said" in the new media (Web, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, etc.). Not only are comments often too hastily "posted," frequently without regard for the accuracy, impact, or civility of the comments, but there is often a strange distancing (for lack of a better phrase) that encourages bizarre incivility and rudeness (i.e., when a "speaker" is not face-to-face with the "listener," the "speaker" seems to be willing to say almost anything, but a face-to-face conversation tends to be more measured and restrained, at least among educated and disciplined people). My overarching concern that is suggested in all of this is simple: the art of communication (both written and oral) is facing an evolutionary crisis, and the decency of thoughtful engagement is becoming more and more obsolete. The incident you've highlighted tends to support my thesis.

  2. R.T. is exactly right.

    It is way too easy to way too quickly respond to anything, with these New Media technologies. There is no time for thought, for writing down one's responses carefully, for mustering a devastating rebuttal, etc. Sure, it's easy and fast to respond instantaneously. But I think that actually promotes "hot" responses, thoughtless responses, and emotional responses. Instantaneous communications can lead to multiplied misunderstanding and heated ad hominem attacks.

    One can look to McLuhan's ideas for some understanding of why this is, and how it came to be this way. (We could use him right now, more than ever, in my opinion.) But one of McLuhan's fundamental points, that the nature of a medium itself affects the messages the medium is conveying only goes to highlight R.T.'s points. Faster communication does tend to lead to knee-jerk reaction, rather than thoughtful dialogue.

    So when a writer is a hothead, and thin-skinned, Twitter is no service to them. Better they read none of the reviews or comments, especially online, better they shut off their internet access for a week, and get back to their real work, for which they need not apologize, which is writing.

  3. I would endorse Art's comments and go a step further by pointing out something based on my past (though terminated) life as an active blogger with a site of my own: Too frequently people have nothing useful to say, yet they persist on saying it on blogs (perhaps because they have no other outlet for saying such things). Well, with that having been said, I hope I am not being unintentionally ironic. Now there is something to think about. At any rate, in wrapping this up, I would modify an old bit of wisdom which ought to be the guiding principle for all communications: "If you can't say something nice [or at least useful, coherent, civil, and relevant], don't say anything at all." Gosh, I hope I'm not being ironic again.

  4. The parallel problem in the poetry world is that there are ever more poets who can say things very well, but really have nothing to say.