WHO’S THE BULLY NOW?

WHO’S THE BULLY NOW?

A Story by Elise Anton
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I have been musing on an issue...

"


The word bully did not exist when I was growing up. The concept was around I’m sure; anywhere there are kids (or adults for that matter) there’s bound to be a hierarchy forming, and a top-dog rising… Part of human nature, one would assume.


I’ve been a victim of many things but bullied as a youngster - no. Sure there were the usual cliques; the ‘in’ girls, the ‘bad’ boys, the ‘nerds’ and so forth. Then again those were the days when as a girl you kept away from certain areas, such as the boy’s lockers on the ground floor outside the cookery room - a gauntlet you ran through, risking any amount of teenage-boy hand groping…


Today, all those young boys would probably be in therapy or on some mind-altering medication or kicked around schools were they to attempt similar behaviors. Back then we just got on with it. It was part of school-life. Some of those boys went on to become great people, sportsmen, academics, business executives. The girls - none of us suffered any permanent psychological ‘damage’. Today we’d probably be in therapy too I guess…


I was bullied as an adult. By other adults. Social Media has its benefits but has also given rise to the ‘keyboard-warriors’. I quit all Social Media several years ago and it has been a blissful time since.


I also taught my boys to use words; use language to overcome the new ‘bullying’ trend, on and off-line. I showed them the magical power of the word “And?” as a response to any insult flung their way. There is no come-back to this single word. One can say it as a response over and over and the ‘bully’ sooner or later runs out of insults. Quite fun to watch actually.


When I arrived on here about a month ago, I noticed a couple of things: Everyone was so nice! All the reviews - however ‘bad’ the piece of writing was - were positive, feel-good accolades. There were moments when I wondered if I’d somehow found my way into a Mutual Admiration Society disguised as a writer’s hang-out.


Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for positivity and not tearing people down. But there was a level of discomfort; I was sensing that this mutual admiration was destructive rather than constructive, especially for the young and those of all ages just embarking on the great writing journey. I wrote a piece on mediocrity a while back, and yeah, I was feeling as though all this niceness everywhere was promoting and supporting this mediocrity.


How is a new writer to explore, expand, perfect, if their every offering is accompanied by gushing admiration from the readers? One learns any craft through correcting mistakes. We call ‘Masters’ those few who have perfected their craft; over a long period of time and after undergoing any amount of ‘botched’ and ‘butchered’ attempts. Usually the public never sees those, they see the perfected craft, the ‘Masterpieces’.


In this new world of computers and internet and instant connectivity, sites such as these have emerged. On the surface, they seem great - you are afforded the freedom to share your work, to expose it to the world by a mere click of a button. Everyone is a writer; everyone suddenly has the ability and the opportunity to ‘get out there’, mix with like-minded people, exchange offerings.


Problem is, these offerings are often the botched and butchered first attempts, the ones the world once never saw. None of us here are ‘Masters’, else we’d be sitting comfy in some place like L.A., sipping a martini poolside, watching the royalties pour in.


I have come across example after example of extremely poor work, cringe-worthy work. I have scrolled down and read bullshit after bullshit review, others seeing greatness where there is none, lauding a creativity that is non-existent. I have seen the creators of these botched pieces respond with “Awww…” and “:)” and any amount of feel good acronyms.


Everyone gets rewarded for encouraging this mediocrity. The writers, given time are awarded a little gold star, like in school. The reviewers in turn, given time, are awarded their own little thingy.


I’ve got a little gold star. Here’s the problem: Is it real? Am I to believe from this that my work merits it? In an environment where EVERYONE is lauded and where reviews have to be over a certain percentage (95% or higher!) to earn the top reviewer thingy, how good is my work REALLY?


Not everyone belongs to this society. I’ve met a few in my brief time here who dare to openly criticize and offer genuine feedback. Some do it nicely, some are quite brash and ‘in your face’ and some like me, work with new writers behind the scenes, when we spy raw talent and a willingness to work, to evolve.


What I am finding interesting is how people react to outright criticism, to the brashness of a few who say it as they see it. If it is crap, they call it crap. If it needs work, they say it needs work. Somehow, these people are perceived as ‘bullies’; and are hounded down, crushed, bullied so much that this dissuades others from openly speaking their mind. In the end they get banned from the site. The status-quo of mediocrity and feel-good brotherhood is thus maintained.


I have to question here, who the real bullies are. Are they the people who believe in truth and in honest opinion and in their right to voice this opinion on the premise that they are helping? Or are they the emergent warriors, quickly rising to defend the ‘hapless victims’ of this honesty? Their excuse sits on the premise that a bad review i.e. a negative review is unwelcome here, as this is a nurturing, supportive environment.


My argument is that these warriors who spew out bullish and despicable words in defense of mediocrity ought not to emerge. Life is tough. Young people and new writers need to learn how to defend themselves, how to take in criticism in whatever form it arrives and learn from it. On their own. This builds resilience and generates the need/desire to improve, perfect their craft. 


It is partly the fault of this site, the giving out of all these little thingies on your profile others see and aspire to gain. I have three now, and I don’t ‘trust’ any of them. I’m getting a fourth one soon, that of ‘top reviewer’. Honestly? I only review work I feel merits my positive review. The botched and butchered pieces I leave alone, as I cannot award them low points or speak sincerely. (More on this later.) So this new thingy coming my way soon is probably the only one I merit, but it too sits on falsity, because I have been selective in the work I review.


The past few days, my news-feed has been full of a mix of mutual-admiration and atrocious bullying. Quite innocently, I stumbled into a situation where the warriors were on the attack. Defending ‘hapless’ women (including myself) and others who have fallen prey to ‘honesty’. I’m far from hapless and certainly not in need of any male(s) coming to my rescue.


I took the criticism aimed my way and turned it into word-play, a glib banter. I rather enjoyed it. Then again I am older and perhaps significantly more resilient than some of the budding writers on here. Regardless, what I was reading - I can only say it took a great amount of self-control not to engage.


In hind-sight, I should have engaged, thus this piece. See, I was surrounded by all this admiration I almost fell victim to the mediocrity. I almost joined the ‘Society’, fearing a back-lash, fearing my being banned from this place which despite its issues, still attracts me, still inspires me.


I fear for the new generation overall. I fear for young/new writers the most. I say to you now, openly ask for criticism. Never accept praise or feel-good accolades on face-value. Fight. Get out of the cocoon of niceness and political correctness and see your work for what it is. Early, botched attempts at a craft many spend a lifetime perfecting and even then, find they have run out of time.


To reviewers and seasoned writers, I say cut the bullshit. Forget that little thingy pushing you to reward where reward is not merited. Help young talent openly or behind the scenes but HELP them. Don’t fear speaking the truth. Truth is good. Criticism is good. Praise is good, when it is merited.


Do any of you honestly KNOW how good your craft is? Do you believe the false niceties and accolades? Is there a part of you- like there is in me - which questions the validity of every ‘review’ you receive? There should be.


Here’s the thing: I had a very early poem sitting unnoticed under the title ‘Spring 2012’. Uninspiring title, right - but that was how I headed all my work on notebooks when I was writing out and about.


What did I do? I changed the title. Suddenly it became the best thing since sliced bread. It got more reviews than any of my other pieces - some of which are far superior. It became a wagon everyone jumped on and gloriously lauded, trying to outdo each other in praise. My somewhat cynical mind watched with amusement. A background in Sales and Marketing comes in handy sometimes…


I played the game, responding with profuse thanks and appreciation in turn. It’s a game. Give nice, receive nice. Do it often enough and you start to believe it’s real. Your work is that good! Is it? Your review is honest and free from the pressure to conform and speak within the PC guidelines! Is it?


© 2016 Elise Anton



Author's Note

Elise Anton
I am really not looking for reviews here. I am looking for honest and open discussion. Am I wrong? Prove it. Am I right? Prove it.

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Reviews

Reading this piece raised many questions in my mind. You have pointed out the right thing.. I joined this site 3 months back, uncertain of whether I could write or not. Maybe I can write.. But not good enough.. But the only reviews I mostly get are nice and gushing with appreciation.. I don't believe one of them as I know what I'm worth of writing... Most of the writers know that too, they aren't just ready to accept it.. At first when I reviewed other's writings, I used to give constructive criticism. That either didn't get a response or else the writer said thank you and went along, not changing the pointed out mistakes.. I changed the strategy.. Only reviewing pieces I liked or else to return a favour.. I'm not saying I'm a great reviewer.. But its a bit disconcerting to lead on a writer into believing they are the best.. This site is a good medium for amateur writers like me to post their work to see if its worth publishing but unfortunately people aren't ready to give constructive criticism. I have actually seen writings with an author's note of "please give nice reviews"
What's the point of posting if you don't want to really know its worth! so I would say you are right, absolutely right in saying all these things..

Posted 11 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

To be honest, i think you are both wrong a right. And i say this mostl pretaining to the site its self.
I mean, im a writer, tbough not published. Nor do i havr a degree in english or even writng or editing for that matter.
However, i see writing for the feel, thr flow, and i try and understsnd what brought someone to write said peice. I could care less for reciews or rewards. This is something that is done by any site out there. Its a matter of prospective. Tbis site isnt about populatiry so mucb as it is about having a place to express ones self.
Now i agree about todays generation amd i share your concerns. But dare i say that is for a different paper all together. The arguemrnt for bullying to me, only strung so far on this peice.
And where i admire your feelings and your honesty i hope to stste. Thsy opinions are opinions. And what gives thrm merit is tbe response

Posted 11 Months Ago


I have joined the site recently and have been biding my time, sussing things out. I broadly agree with what you have said here. I think most of us do suffer from a degree of insecurity about our writing and getting the teachers gold star makes you feel good - until you realise all the rest are getting it too! Some of us might think our writing is OK or great or crap but we don't really 'know' and anyway there is no formula to figure out the quality of poetry or art or any creative enterprise.
One thing does worry me a bit though and that is that for every good writer there are undoubtedly many less talented writers. Who would we be left with if we started giving out realistic reviews of the type 'stick with crochet' - the answer might be not the best writers but those that are most opinionated! My own approach is to try to assess the goals of the writer and tailor my revue to match.
eg A wants an honest opinion - give it!
You have done well to bring up this very relevant discussion point. Hopefully something positive will come out!
Alan
Now - I tremble to ask - will you give me an honest review of my story 'A tale of two cafes'

Posted 1 Year Ago


Elise Anton

1 Year Ago

Apologies for the delay in responding. This particular piece raised many an argument and some very v.. read more
I didn't grope the girls or play bully in school. I've always been thoughtful. I try to behave politely. It makes life easier.
This is a networking site. We display and discuss writing. You want to discuss the discussion. Great :)
For the most part, I leave comments on writing that I like. I give suggestions.
I often find writing that I don't want to get involved with. I don't work here. I don't feel bad about anything I do here.
Its funny that the knights rode in to rescue you. Could you link that for me?
Good job changing that title from 'spring 2012'!
When I read the reviews that I receive, I do not switch into moron mode.
I have the top reviewer title... took two years of site activity...
I'm polite when I give reviews, but some people block me anyway.

Posted 1 Year Ago


0 of 1 people found this review constructive.

mattavelli

1 Year Ago

Lots of HUGs for you. You are a very special person. I'm guessing you misunderstand the majority of .. read more
Elise Anton

1 Year Ago

I "misunderstand?" Speak plainly man, I don't do 'wave of the hand' statements. I am nothing special.. read more
mattavelli

1 Year Ago

Glad I could help :)
Sometimes people get stuck in their heads, no big deal.
I had to read this a couple of times before my brain could think of a way to reply. I was dumbstruck by the honesty in this piece. I've seen a couple of writings and the reviews are all butterflies and roses, no negative feed backs. I think what the people(like me) do is to review the nice writings and skip those which needs to be hammered, chiseled, pressed, smoothend and ironed. No one wants to give a negative(but honest) review. The truth is always shielded behind a pile of fluffy pillows, which doesn't always help. The reviews should be balanced, be commended in the part where you did well, and be corrected in the part where you need to work on. I think there are three kinds of people, those who are dishonest, those who are honest and those who use honesty like a spear. I think I know just which group you're in.

Posted 1 Year Ago


2 of 2 people found this review constructive.

Dead Alive Dave

1 Year Ago

Not a damn thing... like a dinosaur in Jurassic Park, probably not real. But very possible my dear. .. read more
Dead Alive Dave

1 Year Ago

I bet my 3 dollar bill looks better than your 3 dollar bill though. High five if you know what I me.. read more
Elise Anton

1 Year Ago

I can only offer up a 5 dollar bill. The rest is coins. They took away our paper versions. Not much .. read more
I've come back to this a couple times, trying to decide how to respond. You've stated many things other people have experienced or thought about on this website & it also pertains to other writers websites. You've stirred up some good discussion, which I believe is your primary goal in writing this. But most of all, I just don't feel this approach is very productive for me. We can only control our own actions. In this way, we can try to offer an example of what we would prefer this website to be. It's an energy drain to rant about those who do not try to get some true value from this experience, so I'll just leave them to their own devices. I know you are trying to be the change you want to see . . . that's what really matters.

Posted 1 Year Ago


Elise Anton

1 Year Ago

I don't know what it is but despite my age, young people feel they can approach me. Real life too. I.. read more
barleygirl

1 Year Ago

That's really beautiful, the last line of your latest message! Yes, I tend to take life too seriousl.. read more
Elise Anton

1 Year Ago

Hey that's not a bad thing that you don't have time lol! I'm stuck in a house pretty much 24/7 atm, .. read more
I do agree with this. Im new here and have had very few reviews yet and to be to be honest the ones i had were fair, they said what they liked and where could he improved and that is exactly what im after. I normally show my family the stuff i write so of course its all excellent according to them ..but obviously it isnt at all.Hence being here to try and get a more unbiased view. I would never tell someone their work is 'crap' however lol, I would hope to put it just as honestly in a kinder fashion, but i get your point and agree totally.

Posted 1 Year Ago


hcarson

1 Year Ago

Yea definitely intersted in that, I'm just trying to find my way around here and see how it all work.. read more
Elise Anton

1 Year Ago

Just look at my friends and check out their work. Become a friend to me or anyone else who inspires .. read more
hcarson

1 Year Ago

Will do, thank you so much :)
Well, I've personally never gotten above 95%. That said, I do believe that honest and constructive criticism is vital to improving as a writer, be it as a hobby or aspiration.

But you're right, a lot of comments are just praise and circle jerking. In a way this site is kind of like a massive hugbox. While I do enjoy such comments (its nice to have your ego stroked), I personally prefer comments on what can be improved.

Posted 1 Year Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Elise Anton

1 Year Ago

Really? Like my sons say, "Mum, you need to get out more."

Disappointed that the wor.. read more
Dead Alive Dave

1 Year Ago

"....kind of like a massive hugbox" that's outstanding. Ha..
Elise Anton

1 Year Ago

Isn't it just? Never heard the phrase before, but yeah, outstanding!

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Added on February 24, 2016
Last Updated on February 24, 2016
Tags: writing, thoughts, people, self, sharing, fans, followers, bullies, reviews, criticism

Author

Elise Anton
Elise Anton

Australia



About
Hello from downunder! I am one of those people who can just sit and write. It's like breathing for me. I've never shared and never published. It was my thing, my escape, my therapy... I have two so.. more..

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