I have decided to weigh in regarding an incident that happened last week involving a literary agent, a writer whose query she rejected, blog "followers," and Twitter. I won't be as eloquently verbose as the few authors who were brave enough to express outrage in entries at their blogs. I will just write in my own style and try to present my perspective without extreme drama.
It is just plain not right for a literary agent to use the power of her position to instigate her blog "followers" to go to Twitter and demean (in a childish contest) a man whose query she rejected. He replied to the rejection in all the wrong and angry ways, but he was not a bully. He sent an insulting E-mail in which he made no threats. I am sure he was not the first rejected writer who was transparently hurt and hit back. But, if the agent felt attacked she should have handled it differently.
Well, the agent published at her blog the rejected writer's communications and did not omit his name. Then, she went to Twitter and in a Tweet described a "haiku contest" titled in honor of the man whose query she rejected. Good grief! And... the "followers" gleefully jumped on the bandwagon and complied. In Tweets, he was subjected to organized horrifying sarcastic ridicule and nasty humiliation. It was not pretty.
Some of the participants have offered up excuses for the activity and say, "He asked for it." "He deserved it." "He had it coming." Wow! Way to go to teach that guy a good lesson! Eleanor Parker, as Marie Allen in "Caged," said it well: "For that forty bucks I heisted I sure got myself an education." For his faux pas, he sure got himself one hell of an internet beat down!
He deserved to be the target du jour in a roast for a titillated Twitter audience that was an internet mob? (It looked like the call to action inspired perhaps 100 Tweets) He deserved to have his work, his website, and his photo publically insulted? He deserved to be vilified in Twitter harassment that was relentless? Get real. He asked for nothing. He communicated privately with an agent and if he made a mistake and crossed a line by replying improperly to a rejection, the correct and professional thing would have been to delete the communications and go on with the work day. The agent should have taken a page from the book of Max Reger when he responded to a savage reviewer: "I am sitting in the smallest room of my house. I have your review before me. In a moment it will be behind me." In my opinion, the rejected author deserved no further response. However, I think the agent felt insulted, so she used the power of her position to "win." How dare he! She would show him what happens to such a disrespectful querier! The agent should be ashamed of herself. It reminded me of a playground bully who cannot fight her own battles, so after school she brings a posse in full force to beat up her adversary.
They all entertained themselves and had huge great fun and laughs, but in my opinion they were tuchas lekkers on a massive scale. It was all sadly clear to me. They thought they would perhaps further their own chances of getting published by supporting the agent. They tried to impress her with some charientisms in their silly and puerile haikus. I think they looked like a bunch of fools. They all claimed to be enjoying the great hilarity, but there was not one creative and talented stand-up comic among them. I would love to see them at a comedy club on an open mic night. I speculate they would all get on stage and develop lockjaw. Can we all say "Gong Show?" They demonstrated what "computer courage" is all about. I do not think the mother of the bride of Chucky, or Scut Farkas, or Biff Tannen could be so cruel. It was like a Twitter frenzy that must have reached a feverish pitch. These people are Twitter friends? I would rather join Lucy's "Friends of the Friendless." I wonder if any of them had to see a doctor for carpal tunnel syndrome. I read those Tweets and got so mad I almost detached a retina. Which proves the whole mess was darn unhealthy and way too toxic.
People love to fight on the internet. All the participants argue like Don Quxiotes. Didn't the terms "Godwin's Law" and "Internet Fuckwad Theory" develop because of this new sport? I do it, too. I put on my "Shield of Gardol" and I fight internet bullies with my own brand of self-effacing tongue-in-cheek wit and humor... all the time never knowing who my attackers are because they post under anonymous user names at forums. The snaps should have little impact because there is no real fodder. I could be fighting with my aunt Sadie who is typing from the community room at her assisted living center. Who knows? But, it crosses a line for so many people to gleefully target a named and seemingly identifiable person on Twitter. Do they know how the rejected writer reacted to all the abusive insults? Do they care?
I speculate that these very same people who took to Twitter like obedient followers are great champions of human rights. They are two-faced hypocrites. I hate it. And one last thing. I followed suit and in this entry I redacted the names of the literary agent and the rejected query writer. However... if the literary agent finds nothing wrong with what she did, why can't her name be published in blogs? Why all the protection? It was all over Twitter with names attached to the Tweets.
If this was a "hot topic" on "The View," whose side do you think Barbara Walters would be on? I think most people would be appalled. I think the agent should apologize. It's the right thing to do. And hopefully, a resolution would bring closure and would be an excellent teaching moment regarding "bullying." Because it is out of hand.
I needed to vent. I closed comments because I have read all the opinions and I am not interested in feedback. You want to go after ME? Bring.it.on. I am retired. The only thing I fear these days is a diagnosis.
(I would love to send all the participants a gift: mittens)