The past couple days I have had the strangest experience on Goodreads. Over the weekend, I was browsing reviews on a particular book to get an idea about it when I stumbled upon a review that was not just disrespectful of the author, but was downright hateful, crass, and nasty. The language in it was so offensive and distasteful, when I got to the end, I placed a comment on it that said: “Yikes, harsh review.” Little did I know the bomb that would set off.
One of the commenters on the thread responded with: “So what?” So, I began to explain that the review itself was not helpful in the least because it was a hate review. It didn’t tell me anything constructive about the book, it didn’t tell me whether or not the book was a good or bad read, and it certainly didn’t help the author, nor did it even make the reviewer look like a decent mature human being. All it told me was that the reviewer hated the author and would say anything to get that point across. The only redeeming value (if you can say redeeming) it could have had was that it allowed the reviewer to spew venom all over a hated author. As I read, I sat there shaking my head, thinking: What is the point of this review? It was a review that I immediately dismissed as being hate trash.
Well, once I explained this, a multitude of commenters began slinging a whole slew of attacks against me, calling me all kinds of names, telling me how wrong I was, that I was evil, mean, that I didn’t know what I was talking about, etc. etc. I was really blown away by the anger and hatred from the readers that I even mentioned it several times, in vain of course, because they didn’t pay attention. Hatred seemed to emanate from every word that came from them, even in their reviews which I checked out on Goodreads in the interims. Not all were hateful though. A couple mentioned the anger they saw in the thread. One of the commenters, I actually had a private conversation with in which I learned that these commenters were all teenage girls. I was shocked. Girls! (Edit 1/16/2014: I have since learned through STGRB that this group of people are not just teenage girls. The group is comprised of women and men of all ages.)
When did teenage girls grow to be so disrespectful and hateful? When I learned this, I immediately thought: Where are their parents and what are they teaching them? I was never like this as a teenager and it’s a sign of the times that these girls exist. Anyhow, I learned further from the girl who was actually a decent human being, about a blog post by Becca Fitspatrick called Be Nice. As I read it, I found myself agreeing with her. The general message of the post was that it is never a good idea to write a hate review because it can come back to bite you. Very true! Negative reviews are fine, they are actually necessary many times when writing reviews, but there is a big difference between a hate review, like the one I stumbled upon, and a negative review that is fair, balanced, and professional.
I tried explaining this to the girls and even the decent ones didn’t agree. They seem to want to be able to say whatever they want about people, be as rude and hateful as they want, and experience no negative impact on their private or professional lives because of it. All I have to say to that is: Good luck! These girls have a lot to learn and a lot of growing up to do.
This is why this blog post is called Unacceptable Behavior. Because that kind of behavior should never be tolerated from neither teenagers nor adults. And it has nothing to do with censoring reviews or oppressing others’ opinions. It has to do with common decency and respect that should be shown to everyone.
Parents, if you have teenagers like this at home, ground them! Please do not turn kids like this out into the world to be a menace to society. Readers, watch out for these types. They are haters and they don’t know it. They think they are right about everything. They think they are justified in whatever they do and say about anyone. Authors, definitely steer clear of them if you can, it’s not always possible, but do it if you can. But if you do encounter someone like this, remember that this kind of unacceptable behavior should never be tolerated. Let them know that.