I’m a little cranky today.
I shouldn’t be. I’m on vacation, just back from a family trip to Florida that included building sand castles with a four year old and watching a young couple I love very much get married. And tomorrow? Tomorrow I fly out for a long weekend with some of my favorite women on the planet.
But earlier today, I learned that Bones fanfic writers are being harassed on ff.net, not for the first time, by the same person who’s periodically sent me (and several others of us at Bonesology) private messages full of hate. While I found the messages directed at me to be more entertaining than anything, others being targeted, particularly in fanfic reviews, simply pisses me off.
So if you’ve ever been a victim of hate, on any platform, or received a review that was startling in its viciousness, this is for you.
I was going to be very specific here, by the way. I was going to name the troll. I certainly could do so, to prove it’s the same user name. I could include screenshots. But she’s no doubt got multiple handles, so what would be the point? Plus? She (or he, as the case may be) is legion. There are an endless number of cowards sitting behind keyboards, wanting nothing more than to make others miserable.
And that’s also the reason I decided to make this post non-fandom-specific. Obviously, I’m talking about Bones, but I know of people who’ve been stalked and harassed in a number of other fandoms, including Arrow and Supernatural.
Trolls are everywhere, and their sole goal is to steal our joy in something we enjoy.
It takes different forms. In her private messages to me, this particular individual ranted about male characters, hoping they’d die, while praising the female lead and saying she’d like to see her on the show as a single mother; in one of the fanfic reviews of a different writer, she said the same female character’s “always been a whore.”
I suppose it’s possible that what she really wants is to watch a show about a woman she considers a whore being a single mother, but what’s more likely is that she just wants attention, and so tries to upset people however she can in order to get it…because mean.
And later? In a different message to me, she attacked us for discussing Bones over at the forum, saying it was pathetic to analyze the episodes the way we do. Why yes, because, clearly, seeking out people who love something and stalking them with messages of hate is reasonable, sane, admirable behavior.
Let’s be clear about a few things:
First, no matter what the troll says, this isn’t about the quality of your writing, it’s not about your story, and no, it’s not ‘constructive criticism.’
If you enjoy writing fanfic, know it’s solely for fun, and aren’t bothered with whether you improve or not, you know what? That’s okay. Don’t let anyone ruin that for you.
And if you’d like to get better? Fanfic is a great place to do so. I know three people – I’m sure there are more – who learned to write with fanfiction and are now published authors. Writing is one of those things that no one is born knowing how to do, no matter how much native talent they have. You learn to do it by doing it; you get better at it by doing it more, and you shouldn’t be put off by someone attacking something you’ve written without offering you a way to make it better. If a review seems to be about making you feel bad rather than helping you improve…that’s exactly what it is.
Second, this kind of crap also isn’t about a disagreement over the show. It’s not about liking vs. disliking a character or a plot. It’s not even about people who still love a show vs. those who’ve lost interest in it. It’s possible to disagree in a sane, civil fashion; it’s possible to state your dislike of something and then move on.
That get-together this weekend? One of the women and I so often disagree about Bones that it’s a source of amusement to both us and others when we discuss it. Meanwhile, I’ve got several other good friends who lost interest in the show, but because they’re sane, mature people, they don’t spend time hating on it, or suggesting that there’s something wrong with those who still enjoy it.
Trolls? Just the opposite. They’re driven by a hatred of seeing others happy and enjoying something, and will do everything in their power to spoil that.
Don’t let them.
Hobbies – and that’s what my show is to me – are healthy. Something fun, that’s not work, which engages our creative side while allowing for interaction with other like-minded people? All good. I have all kinds of activities I enjoy, from collecting cookbooks, to reading a variety of authors, to photography, to writing fiction, to, yes, watching, discussing and writing about Bones. Why would I let someone put a damper on any of it?
My shows have given me hours of pleasure and some wonderful friendships, so, no. I will not let a nasty, spiteful person spoil that for me, not for one second.
Don’t let them do it to you, either.
Enjoy your fandom. Wallow in the pleasure you take in whatever it is. And when the haters and trolls come out, unable to bear watching someone else be happy, flick them off. If you can’t block them, ignore them, and focus on finding like-minded people who enjoy the same things you do, for the same reasons.
Don’t let anyone steal your joy.