Thursday 14 March 2013

And thus begins the censorship phase ...

I knew this day would come.

The day I would realize that I cannot truly be myself online anymore. It is a sad day for me, because I really do my best to be totally open an honest about who I am:
  • I am opinionated.
  • I am blunt.
  • Do I come across as rude sometimes? Maybe I do, but it's not intentional.
  • I stand up for what I believe in.
  • I try to make a positive difference wherever possible.
  • I try to help Indie authors get their name out there.
  • I run a reputable literary magazine so that writers can see their work in print. I want writers to succeed.
  • I organize a writer's retreat in Greece and bring in reputable instructors from abroad.
  • I do everything I possibly can to be active in the writing community, to support others' efforts, and offer advice.

I believe I am a good person.

But I am also human. With human reactions. And feelings that get hurt.

Yesterday, I was verbally abused online. Actually, I've never experienced such a thing in my life. Such heavy anger, such a lashing out, that I believe, was not called for at all.

I said something that someone didn't like. I'm not ashamed of what I said. At all. It wasn't an insult, it was a statement of joy, which as it turns out, wasn't worded properly. Because this person seemed to be offended by it. As a result they totally violated my privacy and publicly announced what I'd said. And to put it nicely, they didn't use very nice words when doing so. :-)

What did I learn?

Everybody reads things differently depending on their own situation. I've also learned, that now that I'm actually getting fans, real fans, not just online friendships, I'm going to need to second think ... every ... single ... thing ... I say.

It makes me sad. Really sad. That it has come to this point.

I no longer feel free here. I feel trapped.

But this is what it is now.
Everything I do and say will be judged.
And I suppose I'm going to have to accept that.

We live and learn, right?


  1. I've always admired you for your blunt honesty, Jessica.
    You can't please all the people all the time, as they say. Pleasing everyone just means you aren't effective.
    Sometimes we do have to stop and think before typing the words. But it shouldn't compromise who we are. Right?

  2. You are moving into the public eye a little more, and it is time to consider your options. Maybe have a blog related to writing, and a selective Facebook account, connected to folk you want to see your hurt, and writing related opinions. I made the change last year, and have a FB page for the public side of me. Not that I am anyone but one day ... LOL x

  3. I sometimes read something back to myself before I press send, and realise that my default sarcasm hasn't translated well. But it's hard to censor yourself all the time. I think sometimes - and I'm not saying this is the same as your situation - people want an argument or to be offended as an excuse to rant. I hope you find a middle ground that you're happy with - I don't think you should stop being yourself!

  4. Everything you said was already being judged. I only read the start of the conversation—Carrie told me about the rest this morning—and it’s a shame but life goes on. I’ve fallen out with a couple of people online. It saddens me that that happened but a couple of people in six years isn’t so bad. In both cases I tried to mend the relationship but neither was interested and so we move on. As Alex says, you can’t please all the people all of the time. I’m happy if I please any of the people any of the time. There are those who like and appreciate you for being you. That doesn’t mean we agree with you on everything but grownup relationships can cope with those differences.

  5. I remember when you first called me out for never visiting your blog, and I was like "man, what a bitch!"

    Haha! Just kidding. You know I love you, Jess. We've already talked about this, but what happened to you yesterday was really infuriating to me. It was a blatant violation of your right to privacy. I was livid.

    But your underlying point, sad as it is, is a valid one. We cannot truly be ourselves and have a public persona and not expect some of the a-holes out there not to hate us. Sigh.

  6. I censor myself a lot already. Partly because I know some of my beliefs will offend "someone" whether I like it or not. I'm sure I'll mess up someplace along the line. Yes, you just live and learn.

  7. Because I know you so well, and love you, I understand how yesterday's incident affected you in so many ways. Like Matt, I was livid - and hurt for you. The incident was out of control, and your privacy absolutely was invaded, and you were abused.

    But yes, your "author" star is beginning to shine brighter, and with that, comes unfortunate change. While sad, the upside is that you're gaining an even bigger fan base. With YOUR level of talent - brilliance - you can only expect that fan group to grow. And just like life, not everyone is going to be looking out for your best interests. Lean on those of us who are.


  8. Hi Jess - that's really terrible ... my thoughts are with you - having read the comments and knowing you for a couple of years .. that's life and nothing you would have said would have been intentionally hurtful - but people react without thinking ... and they don't think of the repercussions ... I am just very sorry for you .... and hope time will heal. We're here and I'm absolutely certain the multitude of us bloggers will be supportive of you ... and for you ... you do amazing work for us all ..

    To hell with it - strike them out ... and stay with us ... big hugs Hilary

  9. Sending you hugs. I totally got what you said. You were pleased for the reviewer who stuck up for you and stated it. The person who got mad got on a high horse. I hate the idea of censoring, too. I really do. And I suspect this day is coming for me, though I think the biggest snare of quicksand is reviews, and I've made a conscious decision to NOT RESPOND. If someone does a nice review via blog, I will share that, but I am not commenting or liking about ANY review on Goodreads or Amazon. I've just seen too many people get cornered, even with well meaning stuff.

    I don't think it's good to not be able to be ourselves, but maybe there are just places we shouldn't go... or something.

  10. I know I can be blunt sometimes and I'm sure I've offended others. Once we're in the public eye, we do have to watch what we say. Regardless, there will always be overly-sensitive and negative people who will take offense. Just goes with the territory. Forget that person and boogie on!

  11. Sorry you're having to go through this. It just sucks. But the thing about social media is, as quickly as the fire starts, it goes out just as fast. Just hang in there and try not to give this one person that much power over your feelings. Instead, focus on your fans and the people who love and care about you. (:

  12. Not everyone is broad-minded, there are many who have never left their little corner of the world, thus they feel safe to attack. I don't think a public forum allows us to be as honest as we would like to be. The public eye can be vicious. Fandom does mean more people will assume they can judge you.

    It's a sad day when writers can't express themselves, yet politicians and elected officials can fleece the public and not go to jail. What's wrong with this picture?

    Hope you feel better soon.

  13. I'm really sorry that happened to you. I hope you won't censor yourself TOO much, because I really enjoy your online presence.

  14. Sorry you had to deal with that Jess. I love your honesty. But I agree that once we publish, blogging and social media changes a little bit.

  15. I have no clue what happened but I do know that it's easy to take written words the wrong way when there is no voice or face to accompany it. That said, I have read my share of what I found offensive but which I knew the author didn't think of in the same way and so I kept my fingers OFF the keyboard and said/typed nothing. Because whatever I'd like to say probably wouldn't be helpful or kind. I have also deleted many a post after realizing it just might not be taken in the joking manner in which I intend it, however clever I thought I was in writing it.

    I am sorry you were treated so horribly and I hope you won't censor yourself too much.

  16. I go away for a little while and look what happens - you go and get yourself into trouble. j/k - really that is a joke and not meant to offend. (Are you smiling?)

    It's so easy in the online world to misinterpret people intentions. We can't hear the tone of voice or see their facial/body expression. I'm sorry something you meant to be happy turned out sad.

  17. I agree with Southpaw, it is easy to misunderstand online musings. We can't see the body language, hear the tone, etc.

    We all are open to get bashed! It has never happened-you had good intent-don't let this beat you down~


  18. Sometimes I forget just how many people could potentially see what I write online. Although it sucks to not always be able to just SAY EXACTLY WHAT WE WANT, I think we do need to be careful ... I'm so sorry your privacy was violated and someone verbally abused you. You seem to be writing quite "sanely" about it now, so well done!

  19. I think this has been one of the hardest things I've had to figure out/deal with as a published author.

  20. That person had something else going on in her life and unfortunately it got directed at you. I understood what you meant, and possibly it was a language-use issue. You're a European English speaker, and your words sometimes have different connotations--which you and I laugh about all the time! :D

    I'm sorry that happened. I'm sorry the gatekeepers let us down. But I do agree w/Hart 100 percent. The best thing to do is just not engage. Let it go, because at that point, often, it's already gone. :P ((hugs)) <3


“I'm using my art to comment on what I see. You don't have to agree with it.” ~John Mellencamp

“Allowing an unimportant mistake to pass without comment is a wonderful social grace” ~Judith S. Marin

“I don't ever try to make a serious social comment.” ~Paul McCartney

“I'd make a comment at a meeting and nobody would even acknowledge me. Then some man would say the same thing and they'd all nod.” ~Charlotte Bunch

“Probably what my comment meant was that I don't care about the circumstances if I can tell the truth.” ~Sally Kirkland

“We're not going to pay attention to the silliness and the petty comments. And quite frankly, women have joined me in this effort, and so it's not about appearances. It's about effectiveness.” ~Katherine Harris