Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Dark Side of Twitter

When the Amazonfail incident happened, I remember thinking two things. 1) It was cool the consumers had a voice like Twitter to express their dismay. 2) Twitter was a bit dangerous as it fed a mob mentality that bred hatred.

Most of the time I love Twitter. I love the way it connects us, makes the world a little smaller, is around when I want to procrastinate and be in tune with what's going on.

But there are, I'm sad to say, drawbacks. One is the very fast nature of Twitter. When the Amazonfail story broke, for instance, people made up their minds quickly. Without giving it any time at all, they decided it was an intentional act of hatred on Amazon's part. They fed each other's opinions, trying to one-up each other with cruel humor. It was ugly. And maybe Amazon deserved it a little bit, since they are, after all, a company out to make money. I don't know. I do know that my opinion of certain people changed that day, as well as a new awareness of just how dangerous Twitter can be.

This weekend, I had my own experience with this. Someone tweeted something that completely blindsided me. It was something I hadn't even considered nor prepared for and they wanted an immediate answer. They told me what I should do. I felt panicky. I saw retweets going out. I had no plan for this but I can assure you there was never any malicious intent on my part. I consulted with other people who were involved and their reactions were mixed which just added to the pressure I felt. I honestly believe that I could not make a right decision in this case, either decision I made would be unethical. I would take heat and grief for both. I felt a lot of responsibility because it affected a number of people who spent a good many hours of their free time on a project that was my vision. I gave it a day. I listened to the opinions of people who support me and who I trust. I did my best to deal with the situation.

Today, I saw the first significant fall-out for that decision. I wish I could say I proudly stood my ground, but I admit to feeling crushed. I have, however, learned something in this situation.

1) I regret that I let the immediate nature of Twitter and the internet make me feel rushed into a decision. If I had waited 12 hours more, the situation would have resolved itself. Needless to say, one of the parties in this situation acted with a lot more class and genuine concern than the other. In the future, I will give situations like this more time and refuse to feel pressured by Twitter.

2) In the future, if I have a grievance with how something is done, I will attempt to deal with it privately. If I had received an email, I would have felt like I had time to properly consider the situation. The way it was handled, I felt like I was forced into something that I was ill-prepared for and sadly the accuser in question is not someone I think has my best interests or that of the book blogging community at heart. Creating drama and getting attention seemed much more important to said individual. By handling things privately, I feel you convey respect to the person in question.

I am not Amazon. I didn't have money on the line, only my reputation. Sadly, I know that I have lost this with some people I respect. I do know also that I have the support of people who really care about me. For that I am thankful.




Amy

51 comments:

Krista said...

Wow, what happened? I've been off twitter for months - just because my husband hates it in the corner!

Natasha @ Maw Books said...

I'm sorry Amy. Twitter does divide just easily as it brings people together. And what's worse, like you mentioned, it's all out in the public for everybody to see. I know you feel crushed. The myriad of projects that you have going on is what makes you so special. Take a deep breath, rant and rave (privately of course) to those who will listen and hopefully, it will soon become a distant past.

Debbie's World of Books said...

Wow, I don't know what happened since I cannot always keep up with Twitter since it does move so fast. I agree though that nowadays it's so easy to put things out there whether it be on Twitter, blogging, Facebook, etc that there is that pressure to respond quickly. I often times find myself doing that and regretting it once I had a chance to regain my cool and think it through.

I hope things got resolved and whatever it was about I can't imagine the people who have been following you for awhile would lose respect for you over one thing. I also think if someone has a grievance about an issue it's only common courtesy to privately approach the person or group privately first to try and get it resolved.

trish said...

I'm glad you wrote this post, and next time something like this happens on Twitter, I'm going to call people out on their behavior right away. While THEY were calling YOU out, WE should have been chastising them for the way THEY were handling things. GAH!

Book Chick City said...

I think I have an idea of what you are referring to in your post and I think that BBAW is a great idea. Of course it will need tweaking but it's only in its second year. I also thought that the BBAW awards were a bit of fun and celebrated the book blogging community, I certainly am not taking them too seriously and I don't think you should feel that you have to justify yourself in any way. I think that some people have nothing better to do than stir up trouble and twitter is a great medium to do this. I just think it's absolutely crazy that other people are making you feel this way. Blogging is meant to be fun and we do it because we love books. This is why I do it anyway.

Jackie (Farm Lane Books) said...

I think you handled all the Twitter responses I saw very well. I hadn't realised the full extent of what had been going on when I tweeted and was sorry to have started the arguement all over again. You changed my initial opinion by explaining everything very clearly.

I have great respect for all the hard work you have done with BBAW. I am so sorry that things like this had to happen. Please don't take it personally. It would have happened whoever was running it.

Thank you very much for everything you have done for the blogging community - you are a star!

Julie P. said...

Very well sad. I geniunely sorry that it has come to this and people's feelings were hurt!

Marie said...

I don't know what happened with you over the weekend, but I agree and disagree with you on Amazonfail. Yes, there was a "mob mentality" in which people jumped to conclusions. But the incident also highlighted the power of pure democracy in a way- if enough people speak up about something they think is wrong, they can at least get heard and maybe even get an answer. Without the kerfuffle, Amazon might have kept its (highly questionable) practices up for longer and it might have taken longer for anyone to notice, much less be able to raise enough of a fuss to make them do something about it. With the decline of indie bookstores Amazon has more and more power over us as consumers and it's only right that they be called out when they abuse it.

Nymeth said...

I don't know what happened, but whatever it was, I'm so sorry it made you feel so bad, Amy. I agree that the immediacy of Twitter can be a dangerous thing. And certain things should most definitely be handled privately. I sometimes think that people tend to forget just how public twitter is. It can be easy to give in to the temptation to vent when you're annoyed, but people should stop to think before they denigrate others in public.

Meghan said...

This is the problem with the internet, and twitter has only exacerbated it. We are people and we need time to think; demands only stress us out and make us do things that we'll regret, which are then preserved indefinitely. I am sad that people treated you that way and you definitely didn't deserve it. You can never please everyone, not even mostly everyone; all you can do is what you think is right. To be honest I think all the accusations flying around are truly ridiculous. You are doing a great thing that brings us together the best way that you can. If people have complaints, you can take them on board next time, but Amy, this is your amazing brainchild and there has been so much love for it and it really does bring us together. It's not perfect, but what is?

Lenore said...

I do know what you are talking about, and I think it is a shame that some bad drama seeking apples have to spoil things.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

You do just great. No cool lost in my opinion. Reclassify to "organization and management." BBAW wouldn't happen without you, and you do a terrific job.

booklineandsinker said...

Yikes...I'm late to the Twitter party and am now questioning joining at all if it causes such havoc! All I know is this: Amy, you are working like crazy to create a sense if book blogging community and I applaud your efforts and am really looking forward to BBAW. I already picked my gown for the ceremony--halston, of course--and have been working on my acceptance speech--'you really LIKE me!!!'. Haha! Keep your chin up--we appreciate you!!!!

Amy @ My Friend Amy said...

Krista, lol. I'll email you.

Thanks Natasha! Truly. I know I'll feel better, I just need to process through it all.

Thanks for your support Debbie.

Trish..I know. I regret that I let myself feel pushed in a corner. I'm always learning.

Book Chick City..thanks and you know, I think you've said something valuable. I think the awards ended up feeling much too serious this year and it is meant to be fun.

Thanks Jackie, it really means a lot! I thought your question was valid. And it shows that different people have different perspectives on this.

Julie...me too. :(

Marie...I did say I thought it was cool it gave consumers a voice. But I bet if it was a different issue...say the opposite you might feel differently. It showed me the power and the danger of Twitter.

Thanks Ana! Like I said, I learned something. At least I have that and will hopefully treat others more respectfully.

Thanks Meghan. I just hope that most everyone still feels like it's worthwhile. I very much admit that in life I'm still learning.

Lenore...well ultimately I hope they haven't. Just my day.

Thanks Jill!

Nat..most of the time it really is wonderful. I think I might be taking a few days away from it though!

Katiebabs a.k.a KB said...

Amy, don't worry and don't stress. You have done something amazing. Of course there may be some things that needs to be fixed. Look at other awards such as The Oscars and Emmyy's. After decades there are still problems with them.
And don't get me started on RWA's RITA awards. That is one groupd of awards that fails in so many ways.
Give yourself a pat on the back and don't concern yourself with the criticism.

lilly said...

I don't know what exactly the situation was but I honestly don't even want to know because I am 100% that whatever happened was not your fault because you are probably one of the most amicable and friendly people out there. Like everyone before me had said, don't let anything bring you down. You are always doing a superb job and besides, blogging is supposed to be fun, don't let it turn into a job you dread. Cheers! and Hugs!

Sandy Nawrot said...

You are a first-class person Amy, and everyone should know by now that you would never do anything with malicious intent. I have no idea what happened but whatever it was, I am sorry that it happened. I am not on Twitter for a number of well-thought out reasons, and have always felt a little alienated for this decision, but I'm sticking with it.

Mari said...

There is always drama going on that I am completely oblivious to. Once again, I have no clue but I do feel for you. Confrontations and bad behaviour is never something you want anyone to be on the other side of. I hope it all works out for the best, and thanks for all you do Amy.

Sheila (bookjourney) said...

Amy, the time you put into BBAW is amazing and the organizational skills it must take working with a wonderful team of helpers that I am guessing are probably all over the world (which is really cool yet probably adds another degree of communication "opportunities" - there is no, lets meet over at ________ for lunch and discuss BBAW". :)

This being said, I am amazed how long it takes me sometimes just to put things together to post a review.... BBAW has to be a whole other level and I as well as so many others are so appreciative and excited for this event.

I am saying thank you for all you do. BBAW just adds to my excitement of being a part of this book blogging community.

bermudaonion said...

I'm sorry you've had to go through this Amy. Anyone who really knows you knows what a big heart and sweet nature you have.

Jen - Devourer of Books said...

Okay, well most of what I wanted to say was already said, so let me just say that you rock, and we all love you and appreciate how hard you work for us.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Someone was bashing BBAW? How sad! Some people have nothing better to do with their time.
Don't know what was said, but you've obviously put a lot of time & effort into the project and I think BBAW is a great idea. I'm looking forward to the nominations list and I've already exchanged interview questions with my book blogger partner. I think it will be a 'smashing' week!

L. Diane Wolfe “Spunk On A Stick”
www.circleoffriendsbooks.blogspot.com

Melissa (Betty and Boo's Mommy) said...

I'll echo all of this ... I don't know what exactly happened, but I'm sorry you had to go through this, especially now, when you are working so very hard and giving so much of yourself to BBAW on our behalf.

Seems like you have many friends in your corner - myself included. It will be OK, Amy. One of the things I always try to ask myself in these sorts of situations is if this will matter in 10 years. Will it? Will Twitter even be around in 10 years? :) Maybe, maybe not ... but we will still be here for you. (((hugs)))

Ti said...

Just consider it all feedback and then re-assess things for next year. It's all feedback. Nothing more. BBAW is only in its second year. I can see why you'd take the comments personally, but at the end of the day, you know what matters.

Anna said...

I know a little bit about what happened, and I'm sorry it wasn't handled differently. I feel bad that your feelings were hurt, but remember you have a lot of supporters! ((HUGS))

--Anna
Diary of an Eccentric

Chris said...

I think I kinda, sorta know what it's about but I wasn't on Twitter much this weekend (psst, you can email me!). Is that why you were blue this am?

Sometimes even when you have the best of intentions, things can backfire on you. I try not to be cynical but... yeah, it happens.

Melody said...

I've no idea what happened, Amy, and I'm sorry you've to go through this. You've put in a lot of time and hard work into BBAW and you definitely help a lot in building this bookblogging community together.

Well, we can't please everybody, so try not to take it too hard onto yourself. {{Hugs}}

Lezlie said...

When you create something as big and popular as BBAW is becoming/has become, there are always going to be people who feel the need to rain on the parade. Hang in there, Amy! You do fabulous things, and remember: If it weren't so successful, no one would care enough to tear it down. You go, girl!

Lezlie

Bibliolatrist said...

Amy, what I have to say has been better said by earlier commenters, but please know that your reputation remains unblemished in everyone's eyes. You didn't have to start BBAW, and you don't have to continually dedicate hours upon hours and hours of your personal time for something that isn't paying the bills.

You're right that Twitter can be a powerful tool, both for good and bad, but you'll never please everyone no matter what you do.

You're doing good work, and we all thank you for it. Don't let a few Debbie Downers bring you down with them :)

Literate Housewife said...

I'm very sorry. I wish I had something wise to say, but I don't. The BBAW can't be expected to think of every possible situation and make a decision on it in advance. I don't like to feel as though I have to make an immediate decision about things such as that. Anyone can vote for the BBAW nominations. Disqualifying a nominee just because some don't like how they operate their blog is disrespectful to those who voted for that blog. So, you think about it and adjust next year - if necessary.

Again, I'm sorry. This is a labor of love for you and all who play a role in it. Know that I appreciate you very much.

bookmagic said...

I think BBAW is a great idea and I look forward to my first year of it. Thanks for all of your work!

S. Krishna said...

I'm late to this post, and pretty much everything that I have to say has been said, so I'll just say this:

You really amaze me with your continued dedication and hard work to this community. You've given so much of yourself to us, so I completely understand why you'd be hurt and upset by what happened, especially because I feel like they were trying to throw it in your face. I completely agree with your post, and I'm just sorry that others felt they have to stir up trouble publicly. Just remember that no matter what happens, we love you!

Edward Champion said...

I'm sorry that people were hurt or disappointed by the decision. There was, as you point out, no way to make a decision without someone objecting to the results. That's what a decision ultimately is: it may be the necessary step forward to hold the operation together, but it's not going to be something that everybody will agree on.

Lessons we can learn here: (a) Let us all try to respect our various viewpoints, even when we disagree. Let us also try and understand that an ethical stance is not necessarily personal. (b) A framework or a set of guidelines in advance may very well prevent fracas in the future. (c) There isn't a timetable on how to respond, although it does help to respond quicker. Having said that, the person in charge is the person who makes the decision and thereby controls the timetable. (d) The downside of dark sides and regret is that differing perspectives can be better understood in the future. This isn't the end of the road. It's a learning experience. And while I may personally disagree with the decision, I remain confident that Amy (and others) learned from it. And I, for one, take no personal offense to Amy at how things played out. (If disagreeing with one position is grounds for severing a view of somebody, then that fails to take into account the totality of human character.)

drey said...

I completely missed the drama (thankfully), but I am positive that whoever dissed you about BBAW needs to take a breath. You have spent so much time organizing & opening it up to all of us, and I for one am grateful. Yes, it's an honor to be nominated. But, it's all for fun. I'm not going to cry bucketloads if I don't win anything. I'm happy to have met the bloggers that I have, and I thank you for facilitating the introductions and the camaraderie.

Sabrina said...

Amy I think the BBAW is a wonderful thing and thank you so much for taking it on!

I only caught the tail end of part of the stuff on twitter and I did respond that I personally didn't feel that a paid reviewer really kept to what seemed to be the purpose of BBAW - to celebrate book bloggers who generously give their time to create a place for everyone to discuss books. In my experience, readers are very against reviwers who aren't biased or "bought."

Having said that, I didn't feel that had any reflection on you whatsoever. BBAW is still growing and as with anything there will be growing pains. You make guidelines as you go. AND - you'll never make everyone happy.


Even if I don't agree with the paid reviews, I still think BBAW is fantastic and will support it fully. Don't worry about it too much, people know what a great thing you've created and how much you are doing for our community.

softdrink said...

I missed the drama, too, but I have to say I am AMAZED by the amount of time (and love) you put into BBAW. Be proud of what you have done, regardless of how certain things may play out.

Alipet813 said...

Sorry you had a tough weekend. When I was in social work school an important thing we learned is that it is impossible to please 100% of the people 100% of the time. It just won't ever happen. You do the best you can do and remain true to you and it will fall into place.

Chris said...

I haven't read anyone else's comments here Amy, but please know that you'll never lose your AWESOME! reputation with me :) I know how hard you work with this project and I know the good natured spirit that is behind it and I have nothing but mad respect for you. There are always going to be people who want to put their nose in other people's business and cause drama in certain situations and the best thing you can do is not feed into it. You're only human Amy and you can't control everything. You're amazing for what you've done. Please don't give yourself a hard time!! If anything, give yourself a pat on the back!

Nicole said...

I missed the drama, it seems, so I have no idea really what this was about. But here's what I know: 1. You put in a TON of personal time and effort to do something that benefits a LOT of people. 2. No matter what a person does, and no matter how good it is, SOMEONE will find a reason to be unhappy about it. 3. You're conscientious enough to examine yourself and your decisions, and learn from the experience, and that's all you can and need to do. 4. Eat the creamy lesson in the middle and throw the unpleasant hard cookie outsides in the trash where they belong!

J.C. Montgomery said...

I didn't miss the drama entirely, only some pieces of it. I do support the initial concern, but not in how it was handled after you made your decision and it wasn't what this person had expected.

As others have stated here, and as I stated in a comment on this person's post regarding this matter, I have faith in BBAW and its panel. I will leave it to them and see what happens when the shortlist is announced.

Regardless of the results, I know this experience will lead to a better understanding of what BBAW wants to accomplish and how.

Even though I do not agree with anyone 100% of the time, that doesn't mean my respect is any less. It takes a lot more to lose it than something like this. From what I see in the comments above, many do not feel this with you. You are well respected and trusted and do the best you can at all times.

Unfortunately, meaningful discourse and respectful debate are not part of everybody's repretoire, especially in this case, and I'm sorry it's hurt you that this is not what occurred.

Twitter does have its dark side. But it has a good one too. Think of what others like Neil Gaiman can do with the following they have. There are those that do good, and when the darkness falls, we should turn ourselves to the light these good ones put forth and warm our hearts by their shining example.

Geez, sounds like one of those motivational posters, but, well, it's how I see things sometimes. Hang in there Amy, and if you ever doubt yourself, come back to this post and read all these supportive comments.

Beth F said...

I have nothing new to add but I wanted to reassure you of my support and respect. Twitter or no Twitter, the stopping to count 10 maxim can be applied to any situation. Sometimes we escalate a situation without even realizing it.

Lori L said...

Amy I wanted to tell you that you are appreciated by many people beyond those who use twitter.
I don't tweet or facebook or anything beyond email and blogging. But, in spite of my behind-the-times existence, I thoroughly and totally enjoy your blog and appreciate everything you are doing with BBAW. I have no idea what went on, but I "know" you through your blog and would take a stand at your side every time. Always know that there are many of us out there who are supporting you!(((hugs)))

heidenkind said...

I missed the drama, but I read about the gist of it from Sarah at Monkey Bear Reviews. I think you handled it the only way you could have, and I think you made a good decision. There are certainly some things about BBAW that need to be ironed out, but I think nearly everyone understands it's a work in progress and appreciates everything you're doing for it and the book blogging community in general. Please don't let a few people's negative reactions ruin the feeling of accomplishment that you should have at building up BBAW from scratch.

Trish said...

Amy--your last statement about respect makes me incredibly sad. I've been completely off the blogosphere for about a week due to personal reasons, so I've missed much of the conversation and controversy (gladly!). So--without REALLY knowing what happened and what was said, I can tell you that you ARE well-respected and shouldn't question that. And I certainly know that I am not alone in my sentiments. You have done a great thing with BBAW and yes, I do think that things could be tighter next year, but please please don't beat yourself up about it. Truth is, there are some people who, know matter what you do, will always be difficult to please. In the end, though, there are more people who are tickled pink just to know you, Amy (like me!). Don't forget that.

The Book Resort said...

I just want to give you a hug & say thank you for everything you do.

You are a remarkable spirit & unfortunately, Amy, misery loves company. Keep your head up & listen to your inner voice & follow your heart.

Kick back w/ the Winchester brothers & everything else will fade away.

Bluestocking said...

The internet takes bullying to a new level. It's sad. This too will pass. Don't worry about it.

xalwaysdreamx said...

I didn't know BBAW was your brainchild! How cool is that? I'm new to the bookblog community and I can see that, thanks to the efforts of so many people, there's a really friendly book blogging community out there! I'm not on Twitter, nor will I ever be on it, sounds like this drama will be something to laugh about at it's silliness later on.

--Sharry

Alyce said...

I'm just catching up on posts in my reader when I came upon this. I'm sorry to hear that you were given such a hard time, and I hope that it's all resolved now.

I think BBAW is awesome, and I've been looking forward to it all summer! Thank you for all of the hard work that you do!

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks said...

Apparently I've had my head in the sand for the past week - I didn't know of any negative tweets or back-and-forth that went on.

I'm so sorry for whatever you've been thru, Amy. I hope you won't let that sour your ongoing excitement and enthusiasm for BBAW. We wouldn't have this celebration at all if it weren't for your wonderful spirit!

Ryan G said...

I'm really sorry you had to deal with all the negative attitude. This is your "baby" and you set the rules. The rest of us owe you a humungous debt of gratitude for taking the time to do this for us. So Amy I just want to say thank you and don't worry about what other's have to say.

Wendy said...

Amy, I have been WAY out of the loop of late (I'm over 1000 blog posts behind on my Google Reader and do not see myself catching up in the next two weeks)...so I don't know the details of this incident. But, even without knowing the details, I can imagine them because it always seems like there is some drama somewhere...and Twitter, as you note, is immediate and fast acting. I just wanted to let you know that your reputation with ME is solid...in every way you come across as ethical, honest, and wanting to do the right thing. Not everyone will agree with every decision you make - but the people who have come to know you, will trust you. You take a big risk with putting on an event as huge as the BBAW, and I just want you to know you have my support always.

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