Thursday, January 16, 2014

Entitlement on the Menu

Okay, I don't follow a ton of sites, but I have a feedly "feed," and in addition to those celebrity gossip sites that I'm too embarrassed to mention (but follow diligently, my bad), everything else is sort of a mishmash of interests. And in the past two days a couple of the sites that I follow (on very different subjects) have experienced what is increasingly common: a verbal scorching of earth toward the person writing the blog. One was a REALLY rude attack in the comments section of this blog, and the second was mentioned in the blog itself, as a "Wow, am I doing something wrong because someone just reamed me another one for what I'm doing lately?" She was looking for confirmation that her latest sets of posts were okay. Mob mentality, hello, you are vile.

As much as I love the Internet, I do not like that really fantastic sense of entitlement that has erupted. The smug assurance that being anonymous allows you to say hateful things. That the idea that anyone on the Internet is there to feed YOU. Amuse YOU. And if the YOU isn't fed exactly the way they want to be fed, then YOU are outraged. It's entitlement on steroids.

There are so many things that are wrong with this attitude, but the one that just twists my knickers into knots is the idea that no one else matters, not even the writer. That other people who are part of this experience as well (not even taking into account the validity of someone posting whatever in the damn hell they want to post) is thoroughly ignored. There is no idea that, hey, this didn't appeal, or this blogger is getting stale, or this really isn't my cup of tea any more, why don't we quietly just NOT FOLLOW THAT BLOGGER. No, it's all in service of the reader--the one reader. It's their playground, they want to pull the strings, the writer and followers do not have any agency in this dynamic. The writer must amuse ME. Cater to ME. FEEEEEEDDDD MMMMEEEEEEEE!

I ran across this on amazon when I posted Pen and Prejudice. Someone wrote a one-star review that chastised me for not writing an extension of the original. I had the nerve to set the novel in the present day. This is clearly spelled out in the description of the novel, and if this person had bothered to take 30 seconds to read the description, then they wouldn't find themselves in a world they didn't want to inhabit for three hours.

I have no problem with someone not liking my writing for legitimate reasons. That's fair. But to diss me because you didn't take the time to read the description and then complain that it didn't fill your jones (because, ahem, you didn't take time to read the description), then I have no sympathy for you. Even worse, I have no respect for you, because, really, that wasn't smart. And it's not fair that I get a one-star review because you were lazy. What IS fair is that I get a one-star review because you think the writing is crap. Another reviewer gave me a poor rating because she thought it was too wordy. That's harsh but legitimate in the sense that this is my voice, and if you don't like that particular style, then you won't like my writing. Plain and simple. That poor rating hurt, but at least I understood it.

But there seems to be this weird disconnect between a writer's words and a reader's words. That the free-for-all that has made the Internet such an exciting place has also turned it into a Christians versus the lions arena where we are all allowed to spew our anger and our discontent. We're entitled. We deserve it. We have earned our right to be assholes. Like we went to Asshole College and graduated summa cum laude!

This is a symbiotic relationship. I'll try to respect you if you try to respect me.

My son writes for a blog that deals with local sports. Sports fans can be, um, rather passionate about their teams, and he wrote an article that wasn't well received by a contingent of fans who disagreed with his opinion. He received hate email. He showed me some of the comments and was, naïve thing that he is, shocked at what people would write to a complete stranger.

I shrugged and said, "Get used to it. It's the Internet."

No comments: