Okay, well, I was going to say it wasn't actually a forum, but, technically, it is. Well, it's supposed to be, because the definition of forum includes "place for open discussion" (stress is mine), but this was clearly not such a place. It was just supposed to be.
And what happened definitely wasn't funny. Except, well, it kind of is; it just also made me really angry. Who says there's not humor in anger?
Let me explain. All back story is so that you will understand the surrealism of the actual event.
Several months ago, I was invited to join an authors' group on facebook. Against my will. Let me re-phrase that: I was added to an authors' group after I told the person that added me that I did not want him to. The group was the Author's Think Tank. I didn't want to be added, because he just wanted me in there so that he could flame me as he had already done in that forum once before and on his page once before and who knows where else. All of this was over a bad review. This incident where he added me was many, many weeks after the initial review, but I had posted about reviews, and, for whatever reason, he took my post about my view on reviews as a personal attack and added me to the authors' group so that I could see the "discussion" that was going on about reviews.
Mostly, that discussion included a lot of people calling me names, the most popular of which was "douche bag," because only a douche bag would leave someone a bad review. Or something like that. [If you want to go back and read the posts about reviews, they are here and here.] I want to point out that at no time during this thread of calling me names did anyone ever say anything about it. No said that the Think Tank was not a place for being negative; no told anyone to stop behaving in the manner they were behaving; no one took the thread down. It was, you know, "all good." And, honestly, everyone is entitled to their opinion. I have mine regarding the leaving of reviews, and that's that being honest about the review is the way to go. [But, then, really, if you want to know more, you should go back and read those two posts.]
Just to be clear, I did not get involved in that "discussion." In fact, I didn't say anything at all in there for a couple of weeks. I almost removed myself from the group, but I didn't. I mean, it was a group of 500 other authors, so I figured it might be worthwhile to stay. It really wasn't, not for me. Mostly, it was a bunch of people asking things like, "What's the difference between 'lay' and 'lie'? I can't figure it out," and watching people argue over it and coming to no conclusion. That's why you look things up.
Needless to say, I didn't say a whole lot in the group other than, occasionally, answering someone's question about something or pointing them at a source if no one else had responded. That and posting links to what I felt were applicable blog posts and links for when my Shadow Spinner pieces were available. In that sense, I did get a benefit from being in the group, because I know there were some people downloading my pieces.
All of that changed last week when I was unceremoniously kicked out of the group. Not just kicked out but not even notified. I just hopped onto facebook, and the link to the group was missing from my groups. I thought it was a facebook problem. At first. But, wait! Let's go back...
Here's what happened:
Someone posted something about how Stephanie Meyer had written Twilight with a screaming toddler in her lap while watching Barney, so, maybe, that was the way to go, because look at how awesome Twilight is. [I'm paraphrasing, but that is the gist of what she posted.]
I couldn't resist, so I responded with, "I don't know. I think Twilight screams Barney."
1. It was a joke.
2. I haven't read Twilight (and I don't intend to), so it was just a joke.
3. People thought it was funny and said things like, "I like Twilight, but I thought the Barney comment was funny."
4. I stated after several other comments that the comment had been meant just to be funny.
But here's where the problem started, I guess:
Some other guy stated that he didn't like Twilight and gave legitimate reasons as to why he does not.
[I want to add that this is what it means to be a forum: having an open discussion about something.]
A can of worms ensued and there was a huge back and forth between this guy and, well, I lost count, a lot of women about the merits of Twilight. Evidently, he was a bad person for saying he didn't like Twilight.
He and I were kicked out of the group for being "negative," and the thread was taken down. Neither of us was informed of what was going on. In fact, as I said, I thought there was some problem with facebook for about half a day, then I asked in another group that has some overlapping members if anyone knew what was wrong with the Think Tank. It was fine for everyone else, and that's when I started asking around about what was going on.
Finally, there was an admission that I had been kicked out of the group, but the admins wouldn't say why. And, then, finally, someone who is friends with one of the admins was able to find out that it was because I was being "negative" and that <other guy> had also been kicked out for the same reason. So much for the idea of an open forum. Instead, what we have is a group of Meyer fascists where it's okay to call someone that's basically in the room lots of degrading and mean names, but it's not okay to say, "I don't like Twilight."
I find the whole thing just wrong. The whole situation makes me angry, because it is just wrong. It's screwed up. And the thing that angers me most is that everyone else was just okay with it. Not that it was advertised, but there was a thread brought up about it in the group as one person was trying to find out what happened. The response was definitely a "ah, well, tough luck for you" response. If I had been in the group and this had happened to someone else, I would have raised all kinds of hell over it and probably been kicked out to. BECAUSE IT'S WRONG BEHAVIOR. If one of my kids had behaved like this, there would be consequences and forced apologies, long discussions and reparations. Seriously, I'm not entitled to my own opinion? (Although it's perfectly okay for me to call someone IN THE GROUP a douche bag.)
And, as Bryan from A Beer for the Shower said to me about all of this, "If they can't take someone not liking their favorite book, imagine how they'll take it when they get a bad review for one of their own works." [paraphrase] No kidding.
Which brings us to our two hands:
On the one hand, I'm not upset about not being in a group that's run like this. If I had known, I wouldn't have participated in their little Meyercult to begin with. I would have left all on my own if this had happened to someone else and nothing was done about it.
On the other hand, it cuts off an avenue I had been using to promote my work, especially my Shadow Spinner serialization. Probably, it won't have any discernible impact, but I won't really know for a while. That part kind of sucks.
But the main thing about all of this is that the behavior is too indicative of a screwed up cultural mind set we have right now. A mind set that says it's not okay to express any opinion that says "I don't like that" or "That's not good." A mind set that says that is okay to actually be mean to someone that says something isn't good, but that's the only time it's okay to be "negative," because, for some screwed up reason, that's not being negative. And I'm not saying we should go out of our way to leave bad reviews or anything, but I do believe we shouldn't say something is great or awesome or whatever if it's not true, and I do think it ought to be okay to say "I don't like that" if we don't, especially if we actually have reasons for why we don't like it. And <other guy> had solid reasons why he doesn't like Twilight.
So that's my rant. I see the funny in it, but I'm too busy being outraged to laugh.