They are everywhere, but people fail to see them. The internet is not a tool that makes you invisible, even if it seems that way, and even if there weren’t ‘Spybots’.
What does this mean for writers?
I found a person online who was making sure she made every single error there is only while posting on a certain platform. “Aren’t you trying to be a writer?” I asked, and she replied, “Yes, but if I post my real stuff, I get trolls attacking me. A label sticks, and soon I am that label and not myself.”
How then, can this person use that same platform to build her brand?
Unless, that person already has a well-established platform elsewhere, and is here on some sort of a secret mission to get trolls by spreading nasty rumors about herself, this kind of ‘self-sabotage’ is useless. What makes a person believe that he or she is impervious to public opinion, while on a platform that is potentially viewable by everyone in the world? I wouldn’t do that, and I wouldn’t get into this at all, judging this behavior, unless it was given to me as a ‘tip’. (It is true that good advice is never free)
No matter how many ‘little birdies’ fly by, whispering into the annals of your hard work about ways to keep it all safe, you must examine each tip thoroughly. This particular attempt to sabotage someone’s work appalls me. Yet, the justification coming from the other side is, “Hey it is not your job to ‘get’ label stickers.” And there are many such traps.
Can the noise that accompanies online opinion ever be filtered effectively?
Social traps work because we are all flawed. These traps are usually set by people with a superior attitude, people who view themselves as belonging to a higher moral plane. Let me walk you through a bunch of such traps. I found these running online, this past year that I was out of a job and focusing seriously on building an author platform
- The “Pay me for Reviews” Platform – This one comes in all shapes and sizes, from bloggers with a more than normal-size following to professional looking platforms like Netgalley. The minute you click that button, you have been judged as a bad writer who is unable to garner respect in the writing world on the basis of your work alone. That is why many reviews from this and similar platforms are nasty. This is not a professional critique service that comes from leading national dailies; do not confuse it as such. This is a ‘let us destroy those who feel the need to pay for reviews’ effort. And they are taking your money to do that to you.
- The Peer Attack – “That was my idea, and now it is her book!” This is the most annoying. It happens to everyone, get over it. A professional takes it in his stride and keeps trying. Apparently, Author and Journalist Tom Perrotta had to trash several full-length novels before he could get one out that wasn’t already being made into a movie. This fact is in his bio. Yes, unscrupulous people will try to write you off, but you must push through that. No one should tell you this is easy. If you fall into that ‘trap’ labelled “You have nothing original”, you are being cruel to yourself.
- The One With all the Corrupt Power – Do you see any group suddenly focused on making it all about you? This is a very common trick these days and you could almost miss it, if you just ‘go with it’ without asking questions. This scam works this way – you have something good, you know you are good, and you know you deserve success. Even so, you see one group focusing solely on you like you are the VIP, and you begin to wonder. You wonder if you are the only person in the world who has found that special pocket where competition is non-existent. Right around that time, emerges a challenger. Remember, you have done nothing so far, you are just sitting back and enjoying the attention or perhaps wondering… This challenger is now thrown many rockets of opportunity by the same group. Suddenly, you are the evil one who tried to run away with everything when it should have rightfully belonged to her/him. She begins winning big and you are now an evil manipulator they nearly fell for, only to be saved by this challenger. If you cannot see through this racket, you could be shamed into something without having done anything wrong. Is it clear now? You are the decoy for the real power that is going into the next person. You are there so he/she does not look corrupt. This online scam can kill a person who has nothing but his/her talents.
- The “This cannot be your story” Attack – This can come from anywhere. You think you have penned the next great novel, but then you hear this. “Where is this story coming from? If it did not happen to you, you cannot be writing this.” – Is this a law? I haven’t heard this anywhere but in New York. What happened to the right to imagine things, observe things? That is the definition of creativity. Writing about something that has happened, word for word, is called ‘documenting’ or ‘reporting’. That is not fiction. This accusation I define as ‘envy’.
- The People Who Pretend ‘English’ has been Patented by a Certain Race/Races – This is a problem minorities face, especially in New York. The upholders of this law belong to all races, believe it or not. No minority is breaking a law by writing in perfect English, but delusion persists. A minority writing in perfect English is not the main cause of ‘brain tumor’ in a stranger. People suffer, and they attach the wrong reasons for their suffering, pointing the finger at innocents who are only doing what they’ve always been doing. People like this, may have a condition where they are ‘quick to judge’ races they know nothing about, while being criminally delusional. This is a very difficult trap to avoid if you are a minority. Who knew wanting to be a writer could be this dangerous? The groups that employ mechanisms to affect ‘social change’ in you so you speak like they think you should, and sound like they think you should, could end up destroying everything.
- “Your Pen-Name Belongs to Me” – “Your pen-name is my real name ergo your work is mine!” This predator is unique. Need I say more? I will add, that the day I signed up for a twitter account using my pen-name I got this DM from a person with the same name – “I will destroy you!” The person went away after a while, deleting her tweet, but then this happened, again, in New York.
Being aware is not enough, but it is a start. I am aware, and yet, I have terrible days dealing with all of the above, or worse.