Thursday, December 20, 2007

Dear Mr. Anonymous

Dear Mr. Anonymous,

It has recently come to my attention that you have built an unmistakable presence in blogging and cyber communities. Of course, it must be said that your voracious wit and charm is not to be believed! Where once you contented yourself with poison pen letters and nervously scrawled notes to the principal while hiding in nearby lockers, now you’ve bloomed to the open stage of literary viewers both large and small.

In recent weeks I’ve seen your, oh so unique, comments on agent blogs and author’s sites... Oh, and how I applaud your forthright diatribes, smearing of the commenters and blog authors alike, knowing full well that signing your name as you have may lead to irreparable damage to your reputation. We all know that these criticisms are sincere and not inspired by some secret rejection or cynical alienation from the community to which you condemn... Of course not. And your prose are so very prolific... the deigning of all agent blog readers as grovelers, the verbal abuse of all (insert faith here), the carefully chosen cuss words for widows and orphans... and, let us not forget, your intellectually stimulating additions to all chat boards discussing Britney Spears and Paris Hilton... yes, yes, all you, my dear anonymous... we can tell that no one has taken your identity fraudulently, for your voice has about it the same characteristic intelligence in each of your signed entries....

I admire your zest for words and never was a writer so prolific. In political discussions, you are there! To skewer each side with illogical reasoning and never cower from the light of day; not you, brave anonymous... a hero among men... In professional arenas you wound with wit and occasional bloodthirsty threats... how invigorating. Though some believe your moniker to be the assumed name of a snot nosed band geek at home on Friday night... I know better. For you are the judgment to which we all should aspire and your carefully placed comments, so strategic in forcing actual participants to weed through your views before being allowed to continue the discussion... well, sheer genius as we all know and of course your opinion has far more weight in our meandering minds than those whose credentials claim expertise.

Wherever there is gratuitous profanity and skillfully wielded slander for no apparent reason, you’ll be there. And for that I salute you... I shall leave you to guess with which finger.

Sincerely,

Yor N. Ass

Well, can you tell I'm feeling a bit grinchy tonight? I've been annoyed a few too many times by anonymous posters at really fantastic discussions and decided to have some fun with it in writing... Consider this a sarcastic little gift from me. Feel free to copy any and all parts of this letter for your own blog, or in answer to anonymous trolls what annoy you... Merry Christmas!

30 comments:

ORION said...

Hey they bug you too??? I thought i was the only one. LOL
Seriously though I find it cowardly. Blog accounts are free and you don't even have to blog...

Mary Witzl said...

Ooh, I enjoyed this, Merry!

I pride myself on the fact that all of my posts, no matter how lame or dumb they may be, have my own name, or its phoenetic equivalent, on them. A few months ago an anonymous poster took a potshot at me on someone else's blog. It was like being back in kindergarten again! Still, Mr or Ms Anonymous was the kindergartner -- not me. I may be a clueless jackass at times, but at least I'm upfront about it.

Merry Jelinek said...

Hi Patricia,

I think they bug everyone at one point or another... for the most part you just ignore them, but it really does irritate me when I see it on agent or editor blogs because 1)most of the readers are there to learn, find out more about the agents for submission, or generally build their writing network.. and 2) agent blogs are pretty specific, I don't think most non-writers would even find them let alone care to look, which leads me to believe these anonymous rabble rousers are either actual writers or people who want to be writers...

Why I hold writers to a higher standard, I couldn't tell you, maybe because we're supposed to know the power of words and wield them accordingly.

Hi Mary,

You know, at the blogging community I started at almost everyone had usernames, which in some people's cases can serve as the equivalent of 'anon'... mine was merryone, but I still pretty much thought of it as my name...

I did see a lot more flaming there than I've seen on blogger posts, though maybe I'm not looking at the right posts. I had one user who got so annoyed with me that she followed me from post to post to make snide comments wherever I was - oddly enough her ire with me started over the fact that I started a character blog and then announced that it had, in fact, been a character... it was not a mean character, she never waged any sort of attack or flamewar or said anything harmful or nasty. I found it ironic because this particular user had a screen name and refused to allow any personal information about herself under her right to online privacy and anonymity... but obviously using a blog to flesh out characters is out of line because it's deceptive.

The anonymous sort I've been finding lately are really annoying because they say such catty nasty little things, taking pot shots at real people, too. And of course, they don't use their real name because it would damage their chances of publishing or future success to post those things online. I don't know, my rule of thumb is, if I couldn't sign my name to it I shouldn't say it. Period. There's a way to criticize without being offensive. These people use anonymous because they don't want to be polite or accountable.

Thanks for stopping in.

Mary Witzl said...

I think I've just seen the posts of the offenders you are talking about, and I agree with you: this is petty and spiteful and really serves no purpose at all.

I too expect more of writers. I like to imagine that writers are largely compassionate, though I know we are not. I also want to think that the process of writing builds character. I know for certain that it has helped me with humility. Perhaps these anonymous posters are just very young?

Merry Jelinek said...

Hi Mary,

If you're talking about BookEnds' post from yesterday about author blogs, then, yes, those are the ones that set me off on this little ditty.

But really, this post has been coming for quite a while - these people just irked me because they are obviously writers - likely oft rejected or haven't yet tried writers.. a lot of times the anon nasties tend to be younger people, but in this case I wonder if they're old enough to be a bit jaded with the business...

I love the way they compliment the blog they're on, while skewering other agents, writers, and readers - I wonder if you have to put in your email addy to post anon on blogger, I've never tried it...

ORION said...

merry- OK you made me look! LOL

Merry Jelinek said...

Hi Pat and Mary,

I went back and saw both of your comments at BookEnds, and I loved both of them...

Pat, I added one of my own at the exact same time you were posting yours... we seem to keep doing that...

jjdebenedictis said...

Oh, this is brilliant! I got a great chuckle out of this; thank you. :-D

Merry Jelinek said...

You're very welcome, JJ,

I prefer to use the energy for fun and fodder than getting into a flame war.

Glad you liked it. How goes the querying?

Travis Erwin said...

Ouch, That rock hit me square in the forehead.

No, I don't post as anonymous, but i did much to my everlasting shame blog about the Spears clan and I even mentioned Paris's name though I still prefer to call her Omaha Super-8

Josephine Damian said...

Travis, I'm paranoid too thinking I was the flamer since I also mentioned Paris Hilton on the BookEnds post on blogging.

Considering how many times Nathan has deleted my posts for being offensive, I wonder why other bloggers aren't more vigilant about policing comments - free speech, I guess.

Don't let the bastards get you down, that's my motto. And you think the trolls are running rampant here? You should see myspace.

Merry Jelinek said...

Hi Travis,

Believe me when I tell you, I was not taking aim at you, Travis... unless you're anonymously espousing a lot of insulting slurs that I don't know about.

Seriously, I don't mind someone saying something I don't agree with, but I mind it very much when they're insulting and demeaning but hiding behind an 'anon' moniker... heck, if you're going to take stabs at other people they should at least know who you are.

Josephine,

Sorry, didn't mean you either... I don't care how offensive you are if you sign your name. That way, if I disagree I can say so.

btw, Nathan actually banned your comments? what the heck did you say?

I have a myspace page, too, but I don't blog there and really don't use it much except to toss baseball smack back and forth with some real world friends.

WordVixen said...

OMG- Merry, that is absolutely, freaking hilarious! Brilliant! :) I do have one question... what's the cuss word for a widow?

BTW- I've been seeing gift bags with the words "Celebrate The Day With Merry!". Everytime I see them, I think of you.

Ello said...

That was way cool! Let's pass it around all the blogs so the anonymice can finally realize how stupid they really are!

Merry Jelinek said...

Wordvixen,

I could tell you about the widow and orphan profanity but I don't allow such language on my blog :-)

I like the sign in a bar and grill my friend works at on weekends - 'Eat, drink, and be merry' Cause, hell, I'm halfway there without trying.

Hi Ello,

You have my permission to post this wherever and whenever you please. Heck, put it in a comment as a response to an anonymous nitwit... personally, I'd find that highly entertaining...

Stephen Parrish said...

The phenomenon is simple: anonymous trolls are people who want to sling but not be slung at, i.e., cowards. They should be ignored rather than engaged.

Great letter!

Merry Jelinek said...

Hi Stephen,

I agree with you in theory. Though it gets hard not to respond in some cases. Like when a number of anon posters belittle writer's work in an open critique forum (great if the group of writers is honest and constructive, not so great if they're just slinging). Or when a group of these anon's slander writers, agents, and commenters turning an otherwise good discussion away from the topic..

Really, that's why I posted the letter here, to vent a little, while hopefully entertaining... without engaging anyone in a yelling match.

Glad you liked it, and thanks for stopping in.

I likely won't be on very much as Christmas crunchtime approaches, so Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone... I'll catch up on all of your blogs after the holiday.

JaxPop said...

Hi Merry - First time visitor. What a great post - you're right on the money! I get annoyed as well with these brave souls that spew their poison annonymously. I often wonder what motivates them in the 1st place. The BookEnds query critique has been such an eye opener. My "pitch" was literally thrown together in minutes trying to beat whatever deadline I thought had been established - it wasn't pulled from a pitch effort that had been underway. I've still not begun work on my query (though I plan to this week) as I've been totally wrapped up with editing & making my book as tight & crisp as possible - that & also coming up with a title. In the middle of the editing process, I was hit with idea for another story & cranked out about 7 draft chapters to build that book around. Being totally swamped, I didn't get to see the critique of my rather poor pitch until late last night. Your attempt at defending my feable effort was really appreciated & I did take the positives from Jessica's comments as well as yours - which is really the point of it all. Trying to compress a 65,000 word YA ms for a story that has so many twists into a single paragraph is going to be really tough - but, I'm not the type to be easily discouraged. Have a wonderful Christmas & thanks again for being so kind.
JP / St Augustine - Florida

Merry Jelinek said...

Hi Jaxpop,

Thanks for stopping in! I was in the same predicament with my pitch - my revisions will be done at the end of January, so I wrote the pitch specifically for BookEnds... mine's middle grade, so they don't even rep my genre, but I love their blog and I figured it was a good opportunity to have it looked at by an agent.

The whole series has been great for learning how to pitch, and every writer I know cringes at the dreaded query letter. JJdebenedictis did a great query crit post called the Goblin's Crucible a while back (she's linked in my blogroll and you can probably find the post by scrolling through) And Kristen at Pubrants did a few great posts explaining the best ways to write queries...

I'll stop over and repay the visit after the holidays, but thanks again for stopping in. Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays to you and yours and best of luck with your submissions.

jjdebenedictis said...

The phenomenon is simple: anonymous trolls are people who want to sling but not be slung at, i.e., cowards. They should be ignored rather than engaged.

I have used anonymity to argue a point I knew would be unpopular, although I hope I wouldn't be classified as a troll, since I did have something intelligent to say.

The anonymity allows you to have an utterly toxic fight with someone, then come back on another day and have a pleasant and civil discussion with them. Being anonymous means you aren't making a permanent enemy just by disagreeing with someone over a hot-button topic.

Sun Singer said...

And so much of the time, those unawanted comments are selling viagra or used silos.

These, and Mr. Anonymous, are all deleted and sent to what we used to call "Alphabet Heaven."

Merry Christmas,

Malcolm

ORION said...

Malcolm! Alphabet heaven!!! I'm SO stealing that! LOL
JJ I beg to respectfully disagree re: anonymous comments.
Toxic fights breed toxins and bad feelings for everyone involved. I would rather have someone bring me cogent intelligent points and contribute rationally than be allowed to spew vitriol.
Example: on bookends a commenter used a word in a context I felt was offensive. Instead of going on a rant I contacted him through his blog/email and we let each other know how we felt- he actually posted later on the blog to apologize and I was really impressed with his reasoning and response. That would never have happened if we both "had at it" as anonymous posters...
I enjoy the interchange.
I welcome questions about publishing on my blog and emailed to me- I don't welcome anonymous sniping which I, too, have gotten. Thanks so much Merry for making this discussion happen!
Happy Holidays...I have to go out and shovel snow now...wait...no...I don't have any snow.
my mistake.

jjdebenedictis said...

I like to think I'm not the one being toxic in these exchanges. :-/ When it gets that way anyway, however, I'm glad to be anonymous.

Merry Jelinek said...

Hi JJ,

I understand your position, though I don't necessarily agree with it. But let me first clarify by saying, so long as you were not personally denegrating someone or being needlessly nasty (which doesn't sound like you at all) then you're not the anonymous I'm talking about here... I can see using 'anon' for a number of reasons, it only bothers me when it's obvious that the person doesn't want the statement to come back to bite them... and if you're going to make a statement that might hurt you professionally or personally, well how important is it that you make the statement?

I've seen anonymous comments that were quite intelligent, and I never questioned why they were using 'anon'. But in a conflict or debate, I don't know...

Here's my for instance:

I actually did get into an argument some months back with a blogger who I respect a great deal. It was a religious discussion and, at the time, I was very irate about the turn in comments. Has it changed the way I think about the blogger? No. Not in the least. I don't particularly want to revisit that topic, but I still like and respect him the same as I did before that discussion. I said my piece and he said his... that's it. Neither of us called the other any nasty names, though, and I'm guessing that changes things... but you wouldn't call someone a name in person without suffering a repercussion either.

I didn't sign in under a different username to argue the point. I didn't even think about it, really. But now that you bring it up I think, if you can't have a civil, thoughtful disagreement with someone and still be friendly after, maybe they are not a person you really need to be around. I know this is all online, so it's not like dealing with a flesh and blood person... except that it is - on the other end of the keyboard is a person who will be just as emotional about these exchanges as you are about the ones leveled at you.

The bottom line is, if being anonymous in certain situations works for you, then that's your choice.

I think, though, the people you're in discussions with would weight your opinion as much more important if they knew it was you who said it... if it's just a 'getting it out there' thing, great. But if you're actually trying to make the other person see a side or expand their perception... it's less likely when the speaker is nameless and without credentials.

That's just my take on it.

This, by the way, was only a little sarcastic piece meant to amuse... but I seem to have caused a lot of people to wonder if I was talking about them... for the record, I wasn't.

I was talking exclusively about people who troll, in all senses of the word - who turn conversations and slander people without any cause that we can tell. It's all of the stuff that I'm sure has annoyed you at one time or another on line... that's all this was, a little rant with a bit of humor. I wasn't pointing fingers at anyone... unless one of you was the anon at bookends the other day, because they're the ones who set this off... or if you've ripped apart another writer's pitch, first line, query letter, etc at an open forum... and I don't me crit, I mean needlessly cruel and non constructive...

I think that needs repeating, because I'm all for blatantly honest criticism... Josephine has said multiple times that people think she's too hard in her crits... but I really like them, because they are intense and honest and they give you something to work with... I don't mind that at all and I don't take offense to seeing it given to other writers... I'm all for thick skins...

Okay, lengthy disclaimer, but I hadn't intended for anyone to think I was attacking them here... I think it's fair to say we've all said some things online that were harsh or wrong... I definitely have...

Merry Jelinek said...

Hi Malcolm,

Merry Christmas to you and yours, and congratulations again on completing the novel!!!

Hi Pat,

I don't mind shoveling, that's what husbands are for... actually, I'm hoping we get some new snow, ours is melting with the rain today, and the kids have only gotten to go sledding once so far... plus I really like a white Christmas...

Much Aloha to you - and Merry Christmas.

debra said...

Anonymous posts things that the person with a name wouldn't have the courage to say. To bad. It's much more fun being responsible for what I say :-)
Happy Merry Ho Ho Ho. Wishing you the magic of believing.

Stephen Parrish said...

I don't mind shoveling, that's what husbands are for.

Aw, thanks. I knew I was good for something.

Merry Christmas, Merry!

The Anti-Wife said...

Excellent post Merry!

Happy Holidays and a very prosperous new year to you!

Mary Witzl said...

Hello, Merry. Come over to my blog when you have a chance and collect an award!

sexy said...
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