Monday, July 18, 2016

Public criticism

As an author I have of course learned to deal with criticism. Usually, it's fair and it's someone's opinion, love it or hate it. Occasionally, it's ridiculous and full of ad hominem attacks (like one Amazon review I got where the reviewer goes on about how he looked at my websites and thinks I'm a narcissist and is appalled that the asexual community couldn't do better than this for its representative). Or it's in direct opposition to the facts (like one website review where the reviewer stated he did not read the whole book but claimed I do not address X and never explain Y, even though both of those things are in there; a commenter told him what page to find the "missing" information on). I don't mind that people post untrue or harsh things sometimes. It's kind of part of the experience.

It's maybe a little different when the criticism is not about my book but about me personally.

And even then, I just . . . don't really care?

I think it's healthy for people to be able to criticize me publicly. I'm a pretty public person. If it's very silly or misleading, other people can probably see that just like I can. If it's legitimate, I might learn something, for cheese's sake.

Speaking of cheese.

The latest example of the above is someone who made a video about me on their own channel and devoted part of the ten-minute run time to a discussion of being disappointed that I am not vegan.


The rest of the video is about liking my asexuality videos, liking my singing, and thinking I'm pretty cool. And then there's the bit about veganism and how it sucks that I'm not vegan and some stuff about how being vegan is better. The person who made the video sent me a message telling me that it existed, linking it, so they certainly expected me to see it. And when I responded with basic acknowledgment and one side comment (because he went on for a while about how hens are abused and tortured in cages for us to have eggs and I pointed out that I only buy cage-free veg eggs), he was surprised I wasn't upset at being criticized. He said every person he's criticized to this effect so far has shouted back at him.

Maybe I've just been around the block a few too many times for this to matter, but . . . my primary thought is just "why should I care?" This guy has made a video that is about  how I am not vegan and, well, I'm not. I don't mind that someone has said so, and I'm well aware of what vegans' position is so it doesn't surprise me to see a vegan activist saying the same things vegan activists say. I don't feel that this is a call to defend myself or to argue with him. I'm not here to debate veganism. I don't debate vegetarianism against people who are meat-eaters either. I guess that's just not my thread of activism.

And that's fine. He can be disappointed that it isn't, and can be disappointed that I'm not vegan, and can say so.

I've had a few other people make videos about me. There was one time when a self-published author made a bunch of videos and websites about how she's a huge star/youngest novelist in the world/bestseller/internationally famous/film star/screenwriter/singing sensation/model/inspirational speaker, and I made some public statements about the outright lies in her campaign (mostly about how she claims you can't find her self-published book anywhere because it's so in demand that no one can keep it in stock anywhere tee hee and I was like no, that is not why, that's not how self-publishing works), so she made a music video about haters being jealous of her and she had my image edited into the video. (It was pretty funny.) People kept expecting me to do something about it and I was like . . . no? She's made herself look way more ridiculous than I ever could by doing that.

I had one guy make a video about my book with a video review, and that was nice.

I had someone make a video mentioning how great my book was, and that was cool too.

I had someone make a nearly twenty-minute video ranting about me censoring her because I blocked her from posting comments on my videos. (She was saying a lot of really awful stuff about how feminism is a hate movement and it's all about hurting men, and she wouldn't stop trying to goad me into arguing with her about this thing my video wasn't about, so I blocked her, and she had to have her ramble on YouTube about how this is omg censorship and all she was doing was saying feminism is bullshit you know.) I didn't even listen to the whole thing. (If I was actually able to "censor" her, though, she wouldn't have had the freedom of speech to post that. Obviously I do not have the power to "censor" her.)

I had some guy make a six-part video featuring a good hour and a half of circular rambling about a correspondence he had with me. For some reason he'd elected to post a bunch of transphobic garbage on my comments and expected me to receive it politely, and somehow believed I was obligated to watch a bunch of his videos before responding to him. The video series was primarily about me while pretending to not be about me, self-righteously ranting about how to be polite in correspondence and what he expects from correspondents, with some digs in there about how I am probably lying about my age. Eh. It was bizarre, but I guess it was only a matter of time before someone latched onto me for material like this. Long "deconstructions" of other popular YouTubers happen all the time.

Someone made a video documenting their painting process of one of my characters and that was pretty sweet.

I think there are a few others that I can't remember right now? But anyway.

The point is that when I see people complaining about me on the Internet, I primarily just leave them alone. I don't have to engage people or argue with them when they don't like me or think I'm wrong. I do plenty of that already, so when it's something like this where I think someone's criticism or commentary doesn't really matter, I just ignore it or let it be. I want to be able to criticize other people without getting confronted by them too. It's fine.

The only time I'm NOT fine with it is if someone is inciting violence or making comments that are deliberately untrue. I did once go after someone--a real lawyer and everything--for publicly stating that they thought my asexuality was a cover for "liking little boys," with further accusations of molestation of children. And they attached that statement to my full legal name (which I publish under), encouraging other readers to track me down and harass me. I took care of the situation very quietly and did not talk about it publicly until years later. Some people really are out to get you.

But most of them just want to say stuff, and they're allowed to say stuff. Someone's allowed to make videos about how they think I'm rude, or that they think my legitimate callout of explicit lies on her part just means I'm jealous, or that they're disappointed because I eat cheese. That doesn't affect me negatively in really any way.

Say whatever you want. You shouldn't have to be afraid to speak.

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