Friday, 9 December 2011

If You Can’t Say Something Nice, Don’t Say Anything At All


That’s what my mother taught me and for the most part I stick to it. 

Unless you cross me. If you piss me off, I’m like a bear with a sore tooth. And maybe a hangover to boot. Who is nevertheless extremely articulate. In this frame of mind, my husband describes me as ‘dangerous’. I’m relentless. I cannot be stopped. At least, it hasn’t happened yet. 

When my husband is the unfortunate object of such ire, he says he’s left with the feeling that he definitely lost the battle, but in a dazed and bewildered way, he’s not precisely sure how. I don’t swear when I’m angry. I use a lot of big words. That, he says, is the scariest thing about it. He knows I’m angry but he doesn’t understand a damn word I’ve just said. 

If you have read my Twitter profile, you already know this a little bit. If you haven’t read my Twitter profile, you probably should…

I’m not currently that pissed off. I’m just a little…irked, if you will. 

I had a blog post all planned for today. And this isn’t it. Because someone…irked me. 

Two days ago I posted Worldbuilding 101 as Taught by Robert Jordan. One of my Triberr tribemates tweeted it out and one of his followers sent this tweet. 

Duh.

Well. That was articulate. 

I wasn’t entirely sure how to take that tweet. Was he saying my entire post was ‘Duh’? If so, clearly I didn’t agree or I wouldn’t have posted it. Was he saying a particular part of my post was ‘Duh’, in which case, more information please. Or was there something else I had completely missed? 

So I asked. 

The response I got was something along the lines of ‘The details will vary depending on the impression you are trying to convey’. 

Well I would have thought that went without saying. For those of you who read the post on worldbuilding, you’ll know that I did not dictate what details should be used in worldbuilding, only what details you might consider determining in order to fully realise the world. I gave examples. I suggested sources of inspiration. But how you build your world is ultimately up to you. I don’t want to build it for you. Frankly, you couldn’t pay me to build it for you. I have enough of my own that need building. 

I said something to the effect that I had not purported to tell people what details to use in their worlds.
Before even receiving that response, this person then tweeted some actions which were clearly recognisable as the angry habits of Nynaeve from Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time. If you’re a fan, you’ll know them; the smoothing of skirts, the yanking of the braid. I was even more confused. This seemed to be an example of characterisation and I didn’t see the connection with worldbuilding. I said as much. 

To which the reply was ‘Believe me, I sincerely regret ever saying anything. It was a good post but it’s sad that it needs to be said’. 

It is? Really? So… writers should spring from the womb fully cognisant of the finer points of worldbuilding? I really must make my 18-month old daughter do all the worldbuilding in future so I can get on with the actual writing. 

I, politely I thought, said that it would have been helpful had he given that response in the first instance instead of ‘Duh’ (as obviously it is far more informative) and that I didn’t consider it to be sad that it had to be said. New writers don’t know everything. In fact, now that I think of it, no one knows everything. 

Recently I took a workshop on worldbuilding which covered the finer points of slang, profanity and other invented words. This despite twenty years of writing. It taught me things that perhaps I subconsciously knew but consciously studying it helped me to use it more effectively.

Before receiving my polite response, this person then tweeted to me ‘I understand you’re boring, you’re a lawyer, but why bother writing?’

Whoa. You’ve spoken to me for maybe 5 minutes or a total of 1400 characters (assuming you used all your allotted 140 characters per tweet, which you didn’t) and out of that you:
  • Presume to know me well enough to make a judgement call about who I am;
  • Presume that this entitles you to insult me to my face; and
  • Stereotype lawyers (and possibly I’m the only one you’ve ever met socially).
Just wow. 

To be honest, I was more offended by the fact this person felt they had a right to insult me than by the actual insult. I’ve been called boring plenty of times before, usually by people who didn’t know me very well and whom, once they got to know me, fervently wished they still thought I was boring. These are the people who describe me as ‘Interesting’. There’s a pregnant pause before that word and a certain inflection when spoken. Visually I can best represent it like this ‘She’s….in-ter-resting.’ This broadly translates as ‘stark raving mad’ or ‘totally crackers’. So yeah, I’m not really insulted by boring. It’s probably safer for his sanity to think that. 

If you think all this is bad enough – but wait, there’s more!

Not only did I discover that this person attacked another Twitter friend of mine last week (for unacceptable religious and racial reasons, notwithstanding his assumption was completely erroneous) but when several of my loyal Twitter friends leaped to my defence, he insulted one of them too. My Tweep declared ‘You may have been gifted with the knowledge at birth, but others have not. These blogs are for them.’ To which this person replied ‘No, it’s called having a functioning brain cell, you freak.’

Really? At this point in time I’m inclined to believe this person doesn’t have any functioning brain cells. 

My husband suggested it was penis envy. You know, where guys behave like dicks to compensate for *ahem*. Except it’s not that his penis is smaller than mine (obviously, I don’t have one) but his following. He has 26 followers. I have, as of this week, around 5000 (and I am grateful to every single one of you! *mwah!*). My husband might be right. Or, you know, the guy might not have any functioning brain cells. 
 
What is even more hilarious is his Twitter profile, which reads ‘Enlightened Being’ and his website which reads 'profoundly insightful, infinitely wise and painfully humble'. Really? Did I blink cause I seem to have missed that.

I am embarrassed that this person touts themselves as an epic fantasy writer. Mortified that I share any kind of category with such an intolerant, bigoted, entitled, patronising, egotistical maniac. I'm not sure if this behaviour technically meets the online slang definition of 'troll', but the behaviour was about as uncivilised as that of trolls who populate fantasy worlds.

I don’t understand why people feel the need to behave like this. If you don’t like the post, don’t read it. If you don’t like me, don’t talk to me. You can avoid so much angst by just ignoring the things that bug you. It’s not like he thought I was misleading writers or distributing false information! There is no reason to start a pointless, baseless argument and insult someone over something so minor. This kind of behaviour probably accounts for why he only has 26 followers instead of, say, 500 (based on his ratio of tweets to mine – 2000 tweets, he’s not new to Twitter by any means).

As my mother said, if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all. It’s called manners, people. Courtesy. It exists for a reason. It’s the grease in the gears of society. 

I terminated the conversation after I was insulted. I had a lot of things I wanted to say, but I am here to market myself and my books and it’s very easy for a 140 character tweet to be taken out of context or misunderstood and damage one’s reputation. Really he just wasn’t worth it. 

So I’m saying it here, where I have plenty of room to say it how it is. 
 
Cause, you know – somebody has to say it! 

26 comments:

Tom Stronach said...

WoW, keep reminding me NOT to get on your wrong side. Funnily enough I thought i was being humorous today and got a tweet back to say @I was thinking of following you but I'm not going to bother now' so I just said, "thanks for informing me that you are not going to follow me"

Sirra said...

Yes, he is a ridiculous being. It's amazing that he has any followers at all. I never understood the mindset of some of these blog trolls. Why read blogs they don't like? And why rant about it? Do they not realize they have the right not to read? It's like they come on other people's blog for the sake of arguing and disagreeing. To them, I want to say. Get a life.

Ciara Ballintyne said...

The pen is mightier than the sword! ESPECIALLY in the hands of a lawyer. ;-)

I had someone tell me they were going to unfollow me if I didn't follow them. To start with, I'm about a week behind checking all my new followers to decide if I'm going to follow them. I don't auto-followback. And I felt it was just tantamount to blackmail anyway. I don't want followers who have only followed me for a followback. I want followers who want to engage - NICELY!

Lynn Hallbrooks said...

Ciara, I think you have more patience on that matter than I would have had. On the other hand, he may have wanted you to mention his name several times. Who knows. I've had misunderstandings on twitter and usually resolve them without too much conflict.

Ciara Ballintyne said...

I have patience but not much tolerance. It became clear about halfway through that this person was being argumentative for argument's sake, but of course 'halfway through' was when he suddenly started bombarding me with insulting tweets. The last half of the conversation happened much quicker.

But I am definitely not letting a person like this ruin the brand I have worked so hard to establish.

Michael Tate said...

OMG I really really really have to say it...I'm sorry but here we go...

Duh

Alright, now that that's out of my system, nice post!

Ciara Ballintyne said...

I really would have classified this as something that didn't need to be said. It IS sad it needs to be said but evidently after yesterday it DOES need to be said.

Otherwise I'd completely agree.

Duh.

KellySGamble said...

This is the reason you and I must live on different continents. We would be extremely dangerous together.

Christina Fifield-Winn said...

Good for you: for saying your piece to this douche and getting out gracefully
: for letting it out in a blog that we can all see and have something to talk about behind his back (jk)
:giving us clues to his identity, so that we can not only have fun figuring out who he is, but then arranging for his 26 followers to UNFOLLOW him (again JK)
:for trying to bring manners back...I am so with you sister friend!
:and for showing us all that you are far from boring. I think you are polite, classy, compassionate (and so is your mom),articulate, and loyal.
Stay cool, and remember the other thing Mom taught us, "Sticks and stones may break my bones..."
CHEERS to you my friend! *clink* Don't let the douches get you down!

Ciara Ballintyne said...

Implacable rage squared? Too funny!

Ciara Ballintyne said...

Thank you! I'm having a rough afternoon (totally unrelated to the douche) and your supportive comment has made me smile :-)

Dionne Lister said...

Yes, somebody had to say it and aren't you glad it was you! Hope I don't follow him.

Jen said...

I love that fact he said "why bother writing" Well why bother writing "duh", probably the most immature non-descriptive dickheady and childish thing to write. he might as well have stuck his tongue under his bottom lips to make it look fat and tapped it while shouting duh, like an actual child. Wanker. xx

Amberr Meadows said...

Because the enlightened and humble always use "Duh" when explaining something, right? What a dickhead. What he calls boring is ridiculous. This is my honest assessment of you, Ciara:

1. Excellent writer, full of wit and beautiful language
2. I'd imagine you're a fine lawyer considering your proclivity to consider the details (makes you also good at worldbuilding)
3. A no-nonsense chick who has no problems saying what's on her mind (admirable)
4. Adventurer (Who else can say they've ventured to play in puddles in Scotland or dared to explore Cape Tribulation while pregnant? Nobody I know.)

If that's boring, I'd hate to see you in full-out interesting mode. We couldn't keep up. So I guess, in a nutshell, f*ck his little retarded ass. He sounds like a troll and has 20 followers, because nobody enjoys his flavor of enlightenment.

Daniel Swensen said...

I sought out your antagonist on Twitter from the context given in your post, and... wow. He seems very bitter and sad. Everything he tweets is about how much better he is than the people around him.

Unfortunately, people who can only feel good by tearing others down are pretty common. Fortunately, they're easily ignored and rarely give any reason to take them seriously.

FWIW, I enjoyed your post on world-building, even though I -had- read others like it before.

Daniel Swensen said...

As of this morning, he's down to 7. People can't handle all that humility.

Jeff Edwards said...

After reading this post, I looked this guy up on Twitter. As of a few minutes ago, he was down to 6 followers. If you follow his threads, he lives in a car; insults women at every opportunity; and can't understand why he doesn't get dates.

Derek Flynn said...

Ciara, you never fail to crack me up. My favourite phrase that someone used about you a while back (and I'm sure I told you at the time) was "She's a pistol!" Sums you up to a tee. But then there's a lot of similarities between the Irish and the Australian temperaments. (As I also said to you before, the Brits sent half of ye down there from here anyway!) :)

Ciara Ballintyne said...

I've had a few people ask me who he was or look him up because they didn't want to be following him either. Apparently he's down to 6 followers. Whoops!

Ciara Ballintyne said...

An excellent point! I also meant to mention that I write because I enjoy it. I mean, is there some reason I shouldn't? I'm not sure if he was implying that I'm too boring or make a lucrative enough living as a lawyer to need to write.

Ciara Ballintyne said...

If this is enlightenment, I think I can do without it! Apparently he's lost another follower since this.

Ciara Ballintyne said...

Thanks so much Amberr! I'm so flattered and a little embarrassed :-) Thank you so much for stopping by and taking the time to share your thoughts. I really appreciate it. You're awesome, you know?

Ciara Ballintyne said...

I didn't really take his comments about me personnaly. My self-esteem is pretty robust (maybe too much so ;-)) and it would take more than this to dent it, but it sure annoyed me that he felt he had the RIGHT to make such remarks.

Glad you enjoyed the worldbuilding post

Ciara Ballintyne said...

I am here to entertain *takes a bow*. Thanks for commenting Derek, you always make me smile! You did mention the pistol comment before but I don't mind you repeating it!

Ciara Ballintyne said...

Wow, imagine what I could achieve if I tried ;-)

Might be time to rexamine my plans to take over the world!

readwriteluv said...

Good post. I, too, had the honor of being called a freak by this nutcase. You handled it well with #stabbylove. Woof! ;)

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