Cyberbullying is everywhere. Not just with teenagers in chatrooms but in all areas of cyberspace. In the UK, the woman who campaigned for Jane Austen’s portrait to be put on the ten pound note was bullied – severely and it even went to court. The poor woman was scared for her very life!
Last year there were an awful lot of news stories about authors being bullied by other authors and reviewers. One poor author, I heard of, gave up her dream career forever after a really nasty spate of bullying on Goodreads.
It seems to me, from reading the news and posts in different groups on Facebook, Amazon and Goodreads, that this issue hasn’t been resolved at all, it’s on-going and authors are still being harassed.
A friend of mine, an author-in-the-making, commented recently that all this nastiness is making her think twice about finishing and publishing her novel sometime this year. My advice to her is; ignore the bullies. Finish your book and let the readers be the judge. (And I’m speaking from experience. I’ve come out of the other side of bullying a stronger person.)
Bullying is nasty behaviour. I will not ever agree with people who try to excuse it as some sort of disorder – it’s nasty and behaviours like that can be stopped and people can change for the better. Bullying stems from some bitterness and anger deep down in the bully themselves. These people are actually to be pitied and prayed for. They need help. However, in the meantime, their behaviour is destructive to not only themselves, but to their victims and to the writing industry too.
Some consider bullying to be deliberate attempts to control another person through verbal abuse – which can be in tone of voice or in content such as teasing or threats – exclusion, or physical bullying or violence, which the victim does not want. Bullying occurs in all walks of life and at all ages.
- Bullies have a strong need to be in control and to exert their dominance over others. People who bully others are often driven by the desire for power. They can be impulsive, hot-headed, and dominant. They seem to enjoy being able to subdue others.
- Bullies are often rewarded for their behaviour. It may seems counter-intuitive but it’s true. A bully often receives positive reinforcement when they bully others, which only makes them continue their behaviour. They either end up with your lunch money or can often become more popular – even if that is only because everyone is wary of them. They also command a lot of attention for their behaviour.
- Bullies lack empathy and may even gain pleasure from other people’s pain. Studies shown that bullies score low on tests of empathic reactivity, and have also found that bullies can be more likely to develop anti-social personality disorder. They ignore the rights and feelings of those around them. This is no excuse, empathy and compassion can be developed.
- Bullies lack the ability to control their emotions. Bullies simply don’t seem to know how to control their anger and frustration, which may result in severe overreactions to small provocations. Again, this can be learned.
- Bullies are heavily influenced by their family backgrounds. Bullies tend to come from families that are characterized as having little warmth or affection. These families aren’t close to each other. Parents of bullies also tend to use inconsistent discipline and little monitoring of where their children are throughout the day. Sometimes parents of bullies have very rigid discipline styles, with physical punishment being very common.
I do not condone bullying and I do not think there ever can be an excuse for bullying. All those points above aside, we as adults have a responsibility to be the best people we can be. We cannot continue at the age of 35, 50, or even 75 to continue in behaviours that are destructive to ourselves and others around us, and that are, let’s face it, down-right childish and selfish in an adult.
The rise of bullying in the writing sphere is distressing. I myself have been bullied. It caused me to think twice about my career. I have six novels and I actually thought of quitting – seriously. I felt useless and really downtrodden. No matter what I did, no matter how hard I tried, the bully made me feel lower than the lowest.
I backed off from my Facebook ‘author’ account, where I networked with writers and readers, and created a private one for friends only. I am still wary of what I do on that ‘author’ account. The bullies are still there in the groups I am part of etc. No matter what you do to cut them from your life, if the bullying is in your career, somewhere, somehow you will come up against them again. For me, this has been a path to realise my true worth and my true potential – my faith in my Saviour has been invaluable in this fight.
Even the well-known and respected Anne Rice – author of Interview with the Vampire and many more – has noticed the bullying of authors. “They’ve worked their way into the Amazon system as parasites, posting largely under pseudonyms, lecturing, bullying, seeking to discipline authors whom they see as their special prey,” Rice told the newspaper the Guardian. “They’re all about power. They clearly organise, use multiple identities and brag about their ability to down vote an author’s works if the author doesn’t ‘behave’ as they dictate.” You can read all of the interview HERE.
She herself has been victim of bullying on Amazon… yes, Anne Rice was bullied.
Never give up! What does not destroy you, will make you stronger!
God bless you all.