Respect My Authority!

The internet is a treasure trove of information. It’s a great place to come together and share ideals, but too often it seems there are people who are only concerned with their own. Their ideals are the right ideals and if you don’t agree you’re an idiot. Basically, there are a lot of Eric Cartmans out there screaming “respect my authority!” while banging on their keyboards.

I bring this up because I recently stumbled upon an old review about my publisher, Virtual Bookworm. The author of the post received an email from someone asking about the company. While the author did have many of the facts straight (VB is a Print on Demand publisher and they generally don’t distribute to stores or do much promotion of the book), there were things that were a little off base. He says that you will have difficulty getting the book reviewed, taken seriously or selling copies. The author goes on to say that this was all found during a quick Google search, condescendingly asking if the writer of the email did any research. At the end, he suggested on using another self publisher.

The comments spanned 8 years, some praising Virtual Bookworm and some offering criticisms, which is a normal occurrence. Everyone has different experiences and opinions.  The author didn’t join in much with the discussions, which is also understandable. It can be hard to keep track and respond to comments, especially if you’re running a popular website. Plus, the post was old. It was written in 2005 so there may not have been too much of a point following up with it.

What struck me the most was his response to the latest comment on the post which was last year. The commentor was snarky, criticizing the author’s lack of follow up and the usefulness of his site. In turn, the author  responded with a bit of sarcasm, referencing the fact that this post was written 8 years ago so there shouldn’t be any doubts as to why he doesn’t bother to keep up with the comments. He defended his position of dislike for Virtual Bookworm when there is information about them being a rip off and that there are free publishing options for those who want to self publish. He went on to say that anyone who did business with Virtual Bookworm or their ilk are complete idiots.

In all fairness to the author of the post, it was written in 2005. At the time, POD was fairly new as well. I browsed some other posts similar in subject and he wasn’t as snarky, but there is a little bite to him. That’s not necessarily a bad thing,but that could be a turn off for some.

It’s also not a problem exclusive to the author. There are thousands of people out there that get defensive when people question them or present opposing points of view. Check out any forum or social networking site. Any difference of opinion can spark a heated debate.

I’m right and you’re wrong!

All too often there is a I’m-right-you’re-wrong mentality on the internet. People will claim free speech or that they’re entitled to their opinions, but when faced with opinions different from theirs it becomes  a matter of having the right opinion and wrong opinion.

As much as we like to think of right and wrong in terms of black and white, it isn’t that simple. There are shades of grey. What might be right for one person, may be wrong for another. For the majority of things in life, right and wrong, like the truth, is objective.

Free speech is for everyone

Oh, the free speech card. Yes, you are entitled to free speech. So is the guy you disagree with.

Everyone wants to talk but no one wants to listen

When faced with opposing viewpoints, most people don’t give the other side a chance. The conversation becomes a power struggle. If I keep talking, surely the other side will see that I’m right.  Unfortunately, it never works out that way. In the end we end up with everyone talking over each other and no one understanding or paying attention to another point of view.

Anyone who disagrees with me is a moron

There are a lot of idiots out there, but insulting someone’s intelligence because they don’t agree with you doesn’t make sense. There’s no correlation. A different point of view is just that. It’s got nothing to do with how smart someone is.

But people are listening to me in a public forum. I MUST have SOME authority.

Sure. As George Carlin once said, “I have as much authority as the pope. I just don’t have as many people who believe it.”  However, just because you have an audience doesn’t mean that they are going to hang on your every word and agree.

Instead of constantly trying to talk over each other and belittle each other, we should focus on learning from each other. I’m not going to agree with everything anyone says in real life or on the internet.That doesn’t mean I have to fly off the handle or be snarky and aggressive. The air of superiority a lot of people carry on the internet is bullshit. When it comes to arguing on the internet, no one wins.

Talk to me!

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