After The Fire
Posted by lbdarling
Just before I went to bed last night I checked the petition on Change.org to see that it was 929 signatures! When I signed yesterday morning it was around 500 and by early afternoon it was up over 600. Sometime over night it reached its’ goal and hit over 1,000. As of this writing it stands at 1,021 signatures. WOW! I can’t express to you just how happy I am about that. So “WOW” will have to suffice.
Not that GoodReads will do anything about it or even consider changing its’ policies on what does and does not constitute “hate speech” or “bullying”. The important thing is that so many people not only took notice but they did something constructive about it. They blogged, they tweeted, they Facebooked, and posted in forums all over the web. That alone is awesome. That alone shows that we are strong and we are not alone and we do not have to be afraid of the bullies. We out number them.
We always have and with the blessings of the Gods, we always will. “We” being the Good Guys in damn near any situation. Since “they” are so damn loud, obnoxious, and downright annoying, sometimes “we” feel as though we are alone out here. We lose sight of the people standing with us almost as though we have blinders on. That’s what “they” want. “They” want to separate us from the pack so they can take us down and feast upon our bones. Like most animals of prey they usually single out the oldest, the youngest, or what appears to be the sickest in the group so they can get an easy kill. No fuss. No muss.
Not this time.
I hope that Lauren changes her mind and releases her book although I will completely understand if she doesn’t. I hope that Lauren can see that she’s not alone. She does have support. She does have friends, people she’s never met and probably never will meet are standing by her side to say things like; “This is wrong” and, sadly, “It happened to me too.”
If you’ve ever been to my site you know there’s a quote from Jon Stewart on every page; They will find out what is unique about you and they will destroy you for it. He was speaking about the mob mentality and how he was picked on, for being Jewish, when he was a kid.
This is the story of how that quote came to be on my site. Most you long-timers know it. I want to put it here in the hopes that it may help others who are struggling with being bullied.
Being the victim of an Internet Bully or a pack of them is terrifying mostly because they’re all anonymous. We feel as though we’ve been attacked by ghosts or something because we can’t really fight back and when we try it only seems to send them into a feeding frenzy. But that’s because most of us try to stand up to them alone and we get beat down for our troubles. For our principles. Our convictions. Our Art.
Most of you long-timers here remember when I used to write “Stargate SG-1” fan fiction and the mob that hounded me for it. I mean HOUNDED me. They posted the meanest vilest shit you ever saw ALL over the Internet about me and my stories.
Why did they do that?
Let’s face it, I was “Fifty Shades of Gray” before EL James knew what a dildo was! They hated what I’d done to their beloved ‘Daniel Jackson’. They also hated the fact that I made them contact me to read the end of the stories. At that time, being a fan fiction writer, feedback was the only type of payment I received for my efforts. I didn’t see anything wrong with making them at least walk up and say ‘hi’ to me in order to get the link/password to the rest of the story. I still don’t. The big problem was I knew when they were lying to me. I knew when they hadn’t read any of the stories and were just trying to get the last few chapters. I knew because I have one awesome statistics program. I still know exactly who is on my site or my blog, what they’re doing, how they got there, at any given point in time. If they lied to me they didn’t get shit from me, in fact, I put their ISP info on the site and showed them for the liars they were in the now defunct “Hall of Shame”.
Oooooo…..they didn’t like that. The Internet is supposed to ‘anonymous’ and the fact that anyone could ‘see’ them and what they were doing from their troll holes did not sit well with them.
They lobbed grenades.
I lobbed grenades.
It turned into All Out Warfare pretty darn quick. With something like fan fiction there’s always a clique, always an ‘in crowd’ that thinks they are the bomb-diggety-yo. But they’re not. In fact, they are far from it.
They stole my stories, ripped them off, and trashed them.
I encoded the HTML so it was unbreakable; no print, no copy/paste, no save file. Read it online or don’t read it all you POS.
They MOBBED….SWARMED…2 of my websites from a post on JournalFen.com (a post, almost 10 years later) people STILL hit my site from every now and then. Still! The traffic was so phenomenal it closed down both sites because I was over WAY the hell over my allotted ‘transfer rate’ for a GeoCities site. (Anybody remember them?)
When they did it to the second site, which I had to build basically from scratch, I almost gave up. I was alone in the house, at my wit’s end, bawling, crying my eyes out and doing my Nancy Keregan impression; Why? Why? Why me? As best I could. I mean really, ALL that fuss over some fan fiction stories???? What the hell?
But that’s what you get when you have strong Principles, Morals, and Scruples and because you have them you expect those around you to have them as well. It’s a sad sad eye opener when you realize that is just not the case.
As I sat in my office crying like a baby, behind me the TV erupted! Just BLASTED! People were CHEERING like MAD! I didn’t know what happened. I turned around and saw the Boston Red Sox swarming the field. They won the World Series! The BOSTON RED SOX WON THE WORLD SERIES. That’s my favorite team, I root for them every year, every year they let me down. I saw them whooping and hollering and celebrating as they broke The Curse of the Bambino. My heart swelled. I felt happy too in spite of the other stuff, I knew that was one amazing moment in time. I saw the full moon lunar eclipse over the field of ecstatic players and fans. I thought; Me too. Fuck this shit, me too. If Red Sox can do it, I can fuckin’ do it.
I turned back to my computer I bought my own domain name, bought my own web space with a huge transfer allotment. I didn’t know what the site would look like or how well I would do designing and building it without an idiot editor but I knew I’d try and I’d do my best to make it presentable. As I sat on ‘the throne’ the next day with Rolling Stone in my hand, I read an interview with Jon Stewart and that quote popped out at me, it inspires me to this day.
Because the Red Sox, the World Series, a full lunar eclipse, and Jon Stewart all converged at the exact moment in time I needed them too….I proceeded to build a site that those sons of bitches couldn’t break. Then I shoved it in their faces.
They bitched, they hollered, they whined, they stomped their fat little feet, and kept up their campaign of bullying me.
I ignored them. There wasn’t anything they could do to me except what they were doing. My site was safe. My work was safe. They could bite my ass. They still can.
It took them quite a while before they realized I trumped them, that not only the battle but the whole war was over and I was victorious but eventually they went away. Like after two years! No joke. A small pack of them would hound my site for TWO YEARS before they finally died or got a life or whatever. Every time I saw their hits I’d feel a little anger but then I’d laugh knowing they were pathetic creatures and I shouldn’t be angry with them, I shouldn’t pay them any mind at all, because in the Grand Scheme of Life they are meaningless and they know it. That’s why they act so badly. To this day, whenever someone comes in from those posts on JournalFen I laugh knowing I have outlasted them.
The left nasty ‘reviews’ for my fan fiction and my first original novels when they came out. Oh yeah, “Dream Weaver” has some truly horrible ‘reviews’ out there. It’s not the best story in the world but, for a first serious effort at all original fiction, it ain’t half bad no matter what those jerks posted or how they tried to get it out of me FREE and they did, Precious, they did. I cried a few times wondering how people can be so petty and mean, I picked myself up and dusted myself off. I went Forward Ever Forward.
Today, the fan fiction is mostly gone although you can still get the first two stories in the “Daughter of the Gods” series on my site free, so now when they come in and they see BOOKS…all original BOOKS…and not fan fiction (which I am not knocking in the slightest) I wonder what they think. I wonder if they know they ARE the reason I am still here, still standing, and still strong. In fact, stronger than ever before. I wonder if they know “Dream Weaver” is about them. I wonder if they know they are the fan-addicts I wrote about. THEY ARE “Eddie” the serial killer in the story, he’s a conglomeration of them; big, brooding, lumbering, self-righteous, selfish, self-entitled, and most of all cowardly.
Probably not, I’m pretty darn certain that none of them bothered to pay for that ride although they felt entitled to review it anyway.
I grew a lot from that wicked experience. It hardened an already thick skin and provided me with an asbestos suit for those moments when flame retardant is necessary. It taught me to stick to my guns no matter what comes down the road. It taught me there’s no such thing as bad publicity too. Out of that wild hoard came several wonderful people, readers and friends who are still with me to this day. It showed me that I had friends who would listen and support me, even though we didn’t have Change.org back in the Dark Ages and we really had no way to fight back or defend ourselves at all against the onslaught of rabid vulgarity.
Whenever little vocal mobs like that have reared their ugly heads again, and they have and they always will because that’s their nature, I do my best to laugh at them. Pity them. Toss one or two grenades in their direction if called for then walk away or just walk away leaving them pounding sand behind me.
I hope Lauren, and indeed all creative types, all people for that matter, learn the same lesson. You Are Stronger Than You Think You Are and You Are NOT Alone. It’s up to you to make your own voice heard and to say, quite simply;
Trial by Fire always hurts but if you walk through the flames with your head held high I think you’ll find there’s something completely wonderful waiting for you on the other side. You don’t need a huge sign like I did, your favorite baseball team doesn’t have to win the World Series under a lunar eclipse while you’re sitting around crying and feeling sorry for yourself. I did. But you probably don’t. LOL