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Are You A Writer or a Bully?

Online Writing Platforms, Social Media and Scribblin’ Bullies

By Misty RaePublished about a month ago 6 min read
Don't even try, you will lose: Photo is mine

I’m a lover, not a fighter.

No, seriously. I don’t go around looking for fights most of the time. I want to write my little words and let people read them and maybe read some great stuff by other writers. That's all I come here for.

But I get way more than that. And I don't want it.

I don;t need drama. I don't want drama. I'm a fully functioning adult writer. I'm not 12.

However, if you come for me, you will get a fight, and it’ll be a fight you lose.

If you come for my friends, people I respect and hold dear, just don't. If you assault the character of folks I have come to respect and admire as not just writers, but humans, we gonna have beef.

I think people have that sense about me. They know that I’m not the person to be toyed with because most of this mean-girl, middle-school crap isn’t directed at me. And the few times it was, well... I shut it down pretty quickly and brutally.

A while ago, maybe 18 months or so, a writer in a Facebook group accused me of plagiarism. She didn’t come out and say it, she danced around, thinking she was being clever and coy in her passive-aggressive cowardice.

Honey, I don’t do passive-aggressive. I do aggressive-aggressive. And when you come at me with a charge as serious as plagiarism, baby girl, it’s on like freakin’ Donkey Kong!

Me, plagiarize? HA! Me, winner of how many challenges? Me, whose writing style is, if I do say so myself, quite distinctive? When you read my stuff, you know it’s me.

Jealous much, Sweetpea?

Why am I telling you this? Because although I may not be the subject of most of the drama, I am aware of it. It swirls around me. Sometimes it involves people I care about. And I’m sick and tired of it.

I’ve watched as very good writers have been lied about, accused without basis of all sorts, bullying, plagiarism, you name it. Word begins to spread and suddenly, every writing group on social media (you know what I mean) is rife with endless discussion, usually thinly veiled, on the matter with more and more people joining the mob.

For what?

For the pennies we make on these sites? Is that it? Jealousy because someone might have gotten more attention, more Top Stories, more boosts, more followers?

I think maybe. I’ll tell you why. First, have you ever noticed it’s usually the people who can actually write, who actually have achieved some measure of success that these bullies come for?

Often we as writers are attracted to online platforms like Medium and Vocal for the earning potential. We want to share our work, but we also want to make money. There’s no shame in that. We have to eat. I really like to eat.

We want thousands of people hanging on our every word. I know I do. I don't want to have to go back out into the world and get one of those nasty 9–5 deals again.

But we all can’t do that.

Not everyone who pays their fee is going to earn 3 or 4 figures per month. And honestly, not everyone is worth it. It’s easy to call yourself a writer. It’s not so easy to write something someone wants to read.

The truly good writers are few and far between. Everyone’s not going to make a fortune writing online and everyone’s not getting a book deal.

Hell, I've won and placed in like, 7 or 8 challenges and made a whopping 40 bucks in reads. If I were over here waiting on reads, I'd be dead from starvation.

We start out and we join all the Facebook groups. It’s an easy way to begin getting reads. We meet people and it all seems cool. Except, it isn’t. There always ends up being a clique, a few cliques, actually.

There are the cool kids, the ones who drop the names of the various platform owners as if they’re personal friends and who seem to run everything. Their stores get the most comments.

Then there are the group of writers adjacent to the cool kids. Not quite cool but striving so hard to be. They post endlessly and comment on everything the cold kids do, gushing with praise over their never-ending brilliance.

Then there are the regular kids. That was me. Never cool, never trying too hard to be, just writing my words, hoping someone sees them and maybe getting a prize here or there.

The cool kids don’t like to be challenged. They also don’t like it when someone not in the club gets more attention than them. That’s when the bullying starts.

And yes, that’s what it is, bullying, from adults. It’s just like being in middle school again with a bunch of angry 13-year-old girls. And for me, that was a long time ago, so long ago that they didn’t even have middle school. We had an ancient thing called Junior High.

It’s sad because as writers, if that’s what we call ourselves, we should be lifting each other up, not tearing each other down. We should be helping each other out and learning from each other.

And some of us are. It’s funny because, in every instance in which I know who the scribblin’ bully happens to be, it’s never someone who writes well. Anytime I’ve been targeted, it’s always by someone who sorry, not sorry (as the kids say), can’t hold a candle to my pen. Yet I’ve gotten nothing but support from some really awesome writers.

Funny how it works, isn’t it? Those of us who are secure in our work, even though we may still have much to learn, don’t go around bullying other writers.

For the most part, I don’t bother with the Facebook groups anymore. The truth is, I don’t need them. I gain nothing from them aside from maybe some drama, and that’s not a gain at all.

Seriously, and I do mean this, it’s natural to feel envious of a creator who may be getting more attention, winning more prizes or making more money than you. I’ve felt it myself. It’s okay to have a case of the “not fairs.”

But we’re not in middle school and that other creator isn’t some other child who you fear might look sideways at your favourite cheerleader.

If your first thought when you feel those twinges of green is to go on the offensive, stop. If your first move is to build a little army and attack rather than taking a good long look at yourself and your work and where both may warrant improvement, stop.

Because if those things are your go-to, you, my friend, are not a writer. You’re a scribblin’ bully. You need to knock it off.

It's time to shut this shit down. Writing online is becoming the proverbial playground that sent me running for home.

It's time to grow up. Not every story, not every comment, not every disagreement on social media is a fatal assault worthy of attack.

We're all human. We write stuff. We won't all get along. We won't all be fans of each other.

There’s an old saying about watching who you step over to get to the top because they’re the same folks you’ll see on the way down. Think about that because they say Karma’s a bigger bitch than I am. That’s pretty big. Time to put the big kid pants on and just write.

And Vocal powers that be, it's time for you to run the platform, not the playground. I don't care what groups you're in or which writer might be your neighbour or pal. We're all professionals trying to do the best we can.

How about we act like it?

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About the Creator

Misty Rae

Retired legal eagle, nature love, wife, mother of boys and cats, chef, and trying to learn to play the guitar. I play with paint and words. Living my "middle years" like a teenager and loving every second of it!

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Comments (14)

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  • Cathy holmes25 days ago

    Excellent article. You're right. It's time to run the platform, not the playground.

  • Awesome article and if you’re one of the bullies knock it off people

  • Hannah Moore30 days ago

    Perhaps it's my general lack of engagement in the off-vocal vocal world, but this has largely passed me by. I can't claim never to have seen some bad feelings floating about, but I'm been thankfully unenmeshed. Feeling run high, we put our vulnerability out there, I can understand that, but I hope we can all behave respectfully.

  • Dana Crandellabout a month ago

    Well said, Misty. I've missed reading your work. I've been very fortunate in falling into a comapratively small group of very supportive creators on Vocal. I can only imagine what my reaction to an accusation like that would be. No doubt it was spurred by jealousy, as you said. You keep writing and I'll keep reading.

  • Vicki Lawana Trusselli about a month ago

    That's so sad to belittle other authors. I would rather bring someone up not kick them down

  • Rachel Deemingabout a month ago

    What the heck? I am completely blown away by this, Misty and appalled really that there are people taking swipes at other writers. Can't be doing with it. I love lifting people up! Who are these people?

  • Davina Zinn McKeeabout a month ago

    Misty, I don’t know you, but I love you for writing this. Unfortunately, this problem will never go away. I’ve seen it on various writing platforms, like you. But I also see it in academia. And I have friends who work in the entertainment industry. It is rampant there, and trickles down to social media. Everyone has a go at the most accomplished artists. You’re absolutely right that it’s never talented people doing it. Their work is never as captivating as their lies, and they can’t even come up with that on their own. The hate is a group project aimed at one person. I saw this recommended by Rick, and I’m eager to read more of your work.

  • The Dani Writerabout a month ago

    DAMN! I loved this soooo much! Loved it like, as much as we both HATE drama. *Feel ya gurl* *This story will be read multiple times*

  • Rick Henry Christopher about a month ago

    Love it Misty!!!

  • Dharrsheena Raja Segarranabout a month ago

    Who in their right mind would even accuse you of plagiarism?! Lol, they obviously have not read your stuff before. Also, I had no idea about the cool kids bullying the ones who get more attention than them. That's so stupid!

  • Lana V Lynxabout a month ago

    I've been on Vocal since June 2021 but am not really active in any social media groups because I have a demanding first job of a college professor. Occasionally, I see stories like this, Misty, and it makes me think of how far on the periphery of the Vocal action I must be as don't see any bullying. But again, most of my interaction is here on Vocal, not SM groups.

  • Randy Bakerabout a month ago

    Nice rant! Many valid points here, particularly about the cliques. It didn't take me long here to get afoul of some of these bullies in one of the Facebook groups. They're not even subtle about it, really, which I suppose is indicative of a sense of entitlement. They should put that same energy into polishing their writing skills.

  • Babs Iversonabout a month ago

    Brilliantly written and love your lines, "we should be lifting each other up, not tearing each other down. We should be helping each other out and learning from each other."

  • Mariann Carrollabout a month ago

    I learn to ignore such comments. I know, I am not everyone’s cup of tea. I do appreciate people who make encouraging comments. It helps me to keeping on writing . I do wish I can afford a proofreader.

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