The response to my writing has been extremely encouraging. Really, 99% of the feedback people have emailed me is overwhelmingly positive. My thoughts here in this post are not a reaction to any criticism I've ever received. It's more about something I've noticed that bothers me more & more lately.
Before I point out my concern, let me add this. Whenever I get the occasional email from someone who has an issue with my writing, I always respond. I'll write back thanking that person for taking the time to read whatever it was I wrote. I'll say something like, "You've given me something to think about." Or, "You have done me a favor, reminding me how I need to be clearer in communicating my thoughts." What I never do is try to defend myself. I never claim they are wrong and I am right -- neither do I try to convince them of my point. I simply thank them, and tell them honestly, I'll try to do better communicating the next time around.
So, what triggered this post? There's an online magazine I enjoy reading and am thrilled to contribute to that has attracted a cyber-bully. He periodically posts random comments under other people's articles that usually have nothing to do with the article he's commenting on. He says off the wall things that are so disconnected, I shake my head in disbelief.
What can be done? Really, not much. Engaging negative people usually energizes them and reaffirms in their mind, their crusade for "The" truth is valid. And, it can't be one person to stand up to the bully -- the "community" of readership needs to respond as well. I think moderators have the right to block or delete offensive responses, but we know people find ways around that by simply posting under an anonymous, bogus ID.
If you've ever written anything, you know it's easier to bulldoze over a house than it is to swing a hammer and build the house from the ground up. And, you know it doesn't take much courage at all to sit in front of your monitor and snipe a writer across cyberspace. I do think we can challenge critics to find publications that are more in line with their perspectives, or challenge them to submit an article they've written, if they have the courage.