The Matter of Manners

A few years ago, before I started making real progress on my own writing career, I was an enthusiastic reviewer of other people’s fiction. I had enjoyed some pleasant exchanges with authors via email and social media after posting positive reviews of books I’d enjoyed. Who knew that authors could be so gracious and so interested in their fans? I was delighted (truly, I was) to hear from writers who appreciated my support. And then, something went wrong.

One morning I reached out to an author through social media, praising their most recent work. I hoped (at best) for a friendly reaction but expected I was likely to get no reaction at all. Either would have been fine. What happened, though, was this: about half an hour later, that author posted a rather nasty comment about being irritated by people through social media. I went through the recent chatter hoping to find that someone (besides myself) had done something to warrant the vitriol. Only one other person in that half-hour stretch had made any attempt at contacting this author, and neither that comment nor mine seemed particularly provoking. And yet.

I don’t know if I was the offending party. All I knew for sure was that an author I had liked had made an unfriendly comment towards someone and…well. Even if wasn’t meant for me, I couldn’t ignore the fact that that author wasn’t always nice to other people. Put off by the bad manners, I quit following them on social media and lost interest in their books. I’m a little dismayed (for my own sake, as a writer) to learn that I just don’t want to support the careers of ungracious people.

I’m not sure if there’s any one correct way to conduct yourself on the internet but I’m willing to bet that erring on the side of courtesy is probably a good idea.

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