A Story by Elise Anton

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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Featured Review


Over a hundred views in a couple of hours and only two people commenting? No I'm not surprised.

Posted 5 Years Ago

Well, I hated it. Obviously.

I'm a tyrant against bad writing and cliché ideas. Even a petty tyrant sometimes.... I despise the weakness of mal formed poetry. Not simply bad poetry though, because even bad poetry can be good or at least show promise. I mean the dishonest BS that is a waste of everyone's time - especially the authors time.

I don't want to see bad poetry... and if the author is truly an author one of two things will happen if I think I see it and identify it 1 - the author will tell me to f**k off, ignore me and continue to write however they see fit; nothing wrong with that, or... 2 - Attempt to understand why I say the things that I say and maybe even make me look like a f*****g moron (if you can), whatever happens - positive growth is what the writer takes away. A certain empowerment is cultivated over interactions like this.

But most people here are not here to be writers. They are here for something else, could be they don't even know. But I do, I know why they are here. They are here to fill a void through a fantasy involving the use of other people, they come to take, not to give. When they do give it is only with the intention of taking even more in the future. It could be the simplicity of craving a nice comment every now and again, it could be sucking the emotion out someone over months worth of time. To throw that person away and start again on someone new... I am a tyrant to those "authors", I am here to bully them, I am here to show them what they are and that not everyone is afraid of gossip or angry comments.... I want to be an example that shows individuality, self confidence, and intelligence can be more valuable and more empowering than any anti bullying campaign or insidious censorship demand.

Posted 5 Years Ago


5 Years Ago

So, are you going to sit for it now? What are you trying to say?
Elise Anton

5 Years Ago

Um sorry to interrupt this but name-calling is just that. You call someone a name. It's not like you.. read more

5 Years Ago

I like sand... respectfully.
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If you look at my reviews you'll see I always give an honest opinion. The problem is, the young writers don't want to hear that they're doing something wrong and as a result, they'll delete your review, block you, or worse yet, start false rumors about you. I've seen it. I know first-hand.

Those keyboard warriors you mention are called trolls. You may not agree but be aware, it is literally an industry now. They throw out there bait and wait for a catch. If you research it you'll see.

I'm curious to see the comments on this one and who they're from.

Posted 5 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Elise Anton

5 Years Ago

You heard of Pale Ale? We have it downunder. Quite refreshing :)

5 Years Ago

Never heard of it. I'm sure its tasty with lots of bubbles.
Elise Anton

5 Years Ago

Pale beer... light gold... very mild taste and perfect on a summer's day.

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33 Reviews
Shelved in 4 Libraries
Added on February 24, 2016
Last Updated on February 24, 2016
Tags: writing, thoughts, people, self, sharing, fans, followers, bullies, reviews, criticism


Elise Anton
Elise Anton


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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