Elbert Hubbard once said “To avoid all criticism, say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.” Humanity is so diverse, literally anything you write will offend some percentage of people. Even Dick and Jane stories probably have some poor reviews one somebody’s Tumblr for reinforcing heteronormative gender roles or something.
My first experience with haters resulted from criticizing somebody’s drawing. Little did I know it was an attractive girl who was very well liked on that forum. It resulted in a dogpile as her admirers dredged up my own drawings to mock me with. Only that proved difficult, since they were all much better than the piece I’d criticized.
So they chose the weirdest ones, the illustrations of a hypothetical beetle I’d done for a biomechanics class. Out of context, those drawings are pretty odd and inexplicable. Naturally they did not post any of the others. This is what distinguishes a hater from someone who has legitimate reasons to criticize you. They are selective and do whatever they can to magnify your faults, while omitting your talents.
Any normal person could have told me that would happen, but being autistic it came as a shock to me. Much about human behavior is still a baffling mystery to me, but over the years I’ve been able to recognize patterns in what behaviors elicit negative reactions. As a result, since then I am more judicious about criticizing the work of others, as well as less blunt.
I next experienced this phenomenon after posting a review that was mostly positive, but with some constructive criticism, on a fellow writer’s story over at Inkitt.com. Shortly after that, a one star review(!) appeared on one of my stories. My only one star review on the site, written by a brand new user with no posted work of his own. The following is our exchange:
Only, when I clicked on his profile it (at the time) included the claim that he was an English professor at Hampton University School of Liberal Arts. When I checked the website of that university, under the section for their English department, I found nobody by that name in their faculty.
I then called the English department at the university in question, just to confirm that nobody by the name of Alexander Peer works for them. The woman on the other end told me they have no faculty by that name.
A number of his posts have been deleted since then, in which he claimed that his little brother got on his account and made these posts. The profile of the author whose story I originally posted the critical review of vanished, regrettably. It was never my intent to discourage a fellow writer, but some people do not receive criticism maturely.
This was not my last experience with one star “revenge reviews”, however. Upon publishing my first full length novel to Amazon, I was dismayed to see that it received a one star review urging others to avoid it. Given the unanimous glowing praise it received back when it was on Inkitt (and when I shared it on Reddit before that), I naturally became suspicious.
So, who is this “Star33”? Perhaps we can find out by investigating her purchase history.
What’s this? “Spiritual feeling”? Those look like prayer beads. Are they?
Indeed they are. Based on this, it is not difficult to guess why Star33 posted a revenge review on Little Robot. It contains a scene wherein the sexual politics of Abrahamic religions are described at length, from an irreligious perspective.
It is argued that the gender roles prescribed by the Torah, Bible, Qur’an and Book of Mormon all conspicuously favor males, and infantilize women, constraining their sexuality in such a way as to assuage the insecurities of men.
Color me shocked…SHOCKED that Star33 didn’t like it. Unfortunately I fear the one star review will have the intended effect, turning away anybody else who might potentially buy Little Robot. That’s a shame as they will be missing out on some of my finest work.
I suppose the take away here is not to be discouraged by revenge reviews. Nothing you ever create will be appreciated by everybody. There will always be people who feel offended by it, and who take it upon themselves to sabotage you.
Do not let this have the intended chilling effect. If your passion is to write controversial stories which challenge the reader, keep on doing it. You will attract some enemy fire, but also an ever-increasing tribe of like-minded readers who love your work all the more because it’s challenging and controversial.
Follow me for more like this! And why not read one of my stories?