Yesterday evening, a good friend was leafing through my collection of poems, “Lost in the Labyrinth of My Mind”. As she leafed through, she read aloud several of the poems, including the below piece, which is entitled “Labyrinth”,
In my experience internet trolls are rarely (if ever) interested in promoting genuine debate whether about books or other topics. They are frequently people with a variety of problems who rather than confronting their own inadequacies choose rather to spew bile on the internet while hiding behind false identities. In the article linked to above the writer contends that different rules apply in the virtual as opposed to the real world. I can’t agree. Good manners should not cease merely because one is hiding behind the anonymity of a keyboard.
Many trolls exhibit behaviour which if demonstrated by children would result in those concerned being reprimanded. Indeed we expect children to exhibit childish traits but it is profoundly sad when grown men and women behave like kids in the playground.
Fools rush in where angels fear to tread. The old saying seems particularly apt when discussing the issue of trolling and, more specifically it’s relationship to book reviews. For anyone unfamiliar with the term, a troll is an individual who makes comments in order to provoke conflict. Here we are not talking about a reader who provides a 1 or 2 star review and furnishes a reasoned explanation for his/her perspective on the work. Authors may not like such reviews (although one can learn from constructive criticism), however they can not be considered as constituting trolling. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and the taking of offence at the expression of opinions with which authors (or anyone else) may disagree is not a valid reason for labelling such expressions as trolling.
Genuine trolling is, however sadly alive and well on the internet. Take, for example the following review and the comments generated by it, https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/499148682. The reviewer takes a positive delight in ripping the author’s work apart. It is, to the reviewer a source of considerable hilarity to point out grammatical errors (real or imagined). He appears to revel in making his followers laugh and laugh they do in response to the reviewer’s tearing apart of the author’s work. What should be a serious forum for discussing literature degenerates into an arena in which the reviewer and his/her followers rip their quarry apart. Blood sports are banned or curtailed in many countries but they remain alive and well on the internet.
As a libertarian (with a small l) I am wary of banning activities. There is a thin line between a person expressing their strong objection to a book and an individual deliberately looking to stir up conflict for the sake of so doing. However it strikes me that forums such as Goodreads need to look at whether they have strong enough measures in place to prevent, so far as is possible, unproductive and often vicious attacks on authors.
(Disclaimer: I have not read the book in question nor am I acquainted with it’s author).
Yesterday’s (12 July) Daily Mail contains an article regarding the books which people most frequently fail to finish. The survey was carried out by the Goodreads website and shows E L Jame’s Fifty Shades of Grey and J K Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy as being the books which readers most often fail to finish. I must confess to having read neither book so I am not in a position to impart words of wisdom on either work. I have, however read War and Peace in the original Russian and I must admit to having derived great pleasure from the experience. It was hard going in places but I felt a real sense of achievement once I read those final words, “the end”. OK I’d better come clean. I have indeed read War and Peace from cover to cover but it was in translation rather than the original Russian! I did, however plough through 20 odd braille volumes which took up some considerable space on my book shelves!
Whats in a name? Well quite a lot actually. I published my book, The First Time under my full name (Kevin Morris) and it duly appears on my Goodread’s Author Profile under that name. However I’ve just (24 February) published my book, Samantha using the initial K followed by my surname, Morris. No problem I thought. Sadly this is not so as I’m now unable to add Samantha to my Author Profile on Goodreads (http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6879063.Kevin_Morris). That will teach me to use different conbinations of my name when publishing books! I’ve e-mailed Goodreads about finding a solution to this issue and I await their reply.
Off now to lie down in a darkened room with a wet towel over my head.