We first got the internet when I was sixteen years old which means I've been online all my adult life. Prior to writing fiction I ran a beauty blog/website and an accompanying YouTube channel. I've dabbled with fashion and food blogging, as well. I've had A LOT of nasty things said to me online over the years. (Fun fact: this is precisely what inspired my Bad Bachelors series) The relative anonymity of being online means people often say things to people they would never dream of saying in person. And while the internet is an awesome tool for so many things, it's also a place where a lot of nastiness comes to the surface.
When I entered the romance writing community it was like I'd finally found my people. Here was this creative, supportive, encouraging, knowledgable, welcoming, diverse, intelligent, passionate group of people who treated me like I belonged from day one. I was embraced with open arms.
Although the rose coloured glasses have to come off at some point, my honeymoon period with the romance community was long. The Lovecats approached me (Rachel Bailey asked me at my second ever writer's conference, and to this day I am still so grateful!) to be part of their pride when I only had a single book out. By the end of this year I will have 20 books published. So this community has been a big part of my life.
But publishing is a tough gig. Despite what ill-informed journalists might tell you, many of us work crazy hours to see this dream through. We battle with uncertainty of income and having our work publicly criticized on a daily basis. We deal with nasty emails, snide remarks about our genre, and face on-going rejection in some form or another. It sounds dire, but even on my worst day as a writer I am still so grateful to have this job. It's my calling, and I'm here to stay.
But one thing that I find very hard to swallow is watching authors in our community tear one another down. I am a big believer that there is space for us all, and that success of one does not mean less chance for someone else. I know many disagree, and I'm fine with that. This belief keeps me going on tough days and it allows me to genuinely celebrate the success of my writer friends.
Not all people in our community work this way. Lately, I've seen an uptick in dog-pile situations, open and public tearing down of writer's work from their peers, and several other forms of unacceptable, unprofessional behaviour. Now, I could speculate on what the cause might be (professional jealousy? Scarcity of publishing contracts? Diminishing visibility on retailer platforms?) But whatever the reason, it makes me sick. Our job is tough enough without us turning on one another.
So, in the spirit of making 2018 a year of kindness, here are some suggestions for how you can be kinder online both to yourself and to others:
- Unfollow/unfriend people or accounts who don't make you feel good about yourself. Got that one person in your life who's always spewing negativity and stirring up trouble? Unfriend or unfollow. Seriously, you don't need that crap.
- Send a DM/email/comment to someone who's having a hard time to let them know you're thinking of them.
- Go offline for a while if social media is stressing you out. It's perfectly okay to disengage and revel in some "offline" time. In fact, try to schedule this in at regular intervals.
- Curate the images you see. Follow diverse accounts that showcase all kinds of cultures, bodies, content and opinions. The world has a lot of different people, but often only a select few are heralded as worthy of our pixels.
- Remember that social media is everyone's highlight reel. We all have crappy days, most just choose not the share it online for fear of shattering the illusion. But that's exactly what it is...an illusion.
- If you're feeling down/worries/confused/scared/uncertain, ask for help. You'd be shocked at how many people are willing to chip in with advice or a kind word if you need it. There's nothing wrong with reaching out to people.
Want some book community specific examples? Here a list of things to do that make the romance community a better place to be:
- Take a picture of your Keeper Shelf or one of your all-time favourite reads, and share it online
- Re-read a favourite book
- Have you read a book that you loved recently? Let the author know.
- While you're at it, pop a review on Amazon.
- Has one of your author or reader buddies shared some good news? Let them know how proud you are of their achievements.
- Found a blogger whose reviews are really insightful or fun? Share the link!
Which kind things are you going to do today?
All of this!ReplyDelete
So totally hear you Stefanie. I already do all of the suggestions you made. In fact, I actually unfriended my grandmother on Facebook as I got sick and tired of her making judgemental comments on posts that I'd commented on - primarily romance related ones. Yeah, it sucked to do but she could seem to take a hint.ReplyDelete
Those things to make the romance community a better place are things that I'm going to note down as things to remember. Maybe I should share a picture of my bookshelf for why a photo of my Keeper shelf isn't happening right now. Tidying/decluttering/organising the bookshelf is on my to do list but it is a task that takes a little at a time.
It's not an easy thing to do, for sure! I've had a few of those really tough decisions to make too, so I feel your pain. But it's worth it in the end not to have the negativity shoved in your face all the time :)Delete
This is such a fabulous post Stefanie and I always try to be positive and support people the romance community has made such a difference to my life so I love to give back what you all give meReplyDelete
Hugs to you all
You do, Helen!! You're such a wonderful support to our community :)Delete
Love this post Stefanie. I agree wholeheartedly!ReplyDelete
Glad you enjoyed it, Lisa! :)Delete
I too totally agree. My Word of the Year a couple of years ago was Cleanse. Not only did I unsubscribe from author newsletters (who inundated me with promotions on sometimes a more-than-once-daily basis), but I threw out clutter and "deleted" negative people in my life.ReplyDelete
My husband had/has had a friend since they were 16 together, 50+ years at the time. This "friend" increasingly became negative and rude (never having been married nor held onto a girlfriend for very long), especially to waitresses and unknown females to him. He got mad at me and my husband because we refused to help him up from our couch one day, both of us telling him he needed to do it himself, as if you don't use it, you lose it. (He was morbidly obese and had no health issues - that we knew - other than that to cause him to have trouble.) I emailed him later that day and said that from now on, we will sit at the dining room table so that it is easier for him to stand up (as you can place your elbow on it for leverage, as I have been doing for over 20 years now). Well, he sent us three vindictive, rude, and crude emails - all in the middle of the night - after that and swore he'd never talk with us again. It's been over 3 years now and we are SO MUCH HAPPIER without him in our lives on a several-times-per-month basis. It's sad that it was a friendship of over 50 years, but my husband recognized that it was the "friend" who "unfriended" us and we chose not to follow it up and instead let it be. It was one Cleanse that we both have enjoyed. So much less stress in our lives just from this one change.
BTW, I am not on FB, Instagram, Twitter, etc. I blog with authors. That takes up enough time in my life....
That is a shame to lose a longtime friend, but I can absolutely see how your life would be better without that negative influence! It's hard to lose people, but sometimes it's so worth it. I love the idea of a life cleanse!Delete
Such a beautiful, positive post. Thank you!ReplyDelete