Monday, October 20, 2014

Open Letter to the Guardian

Dear Guardian,
I am a long time reader of your online content.  I generally appreciate your approach to global news and to sports and book news. I understand that sometimes a news outlet will make the choice to run or post something that is a little controversial in order to spark additional clicks and lots of online conversation.  So, I can only hope that's the root of your decision to post Kathleen Hale's documentation of the steps she took in order to stalk an online blogger who had written a negative review.  The idea that some people on the internet are not quite what they say is certainly an issue today.  But there is a huge difference between me engaging in a direct relationship with a person that we are perhaps both under the impression will move offline one day and a the relationship between an author and a blogger/reviewer. 
Authors and bloggers both often use different names online, whether to create separation from their day jobs, to enhance privacy for themselves and their family members, and in some cases to prevent stalking or to protect themselves from stalkers that have already targeted them.  An author who misused personal information provided to her, in order to better "unmask" and arrive on the doorstep of a reviewer is not creating a teachable moment, unless that moment is you never know what author will take things too far, that somehow by reviewing books on the internet you open up your life for anyone.  In a day and age when doxxing, harassing behavior is becoming common for some women who use the internet, condoning stalking because the stalker in question just wanted to talk seems naive at best. I certainly have seen a lot of reviewers grow much more concerned that by giving mailing information to publishers and authors in order to get review copies of books, they are now putting themselves potentially in harm's way. 
So, I hope that's the discussion you hoped to spark running this post.  Because the idea that the Guardian condones such behavior, from authors or most others really, that the Guardian thought it was fair because the reviewer started it and therefore deserved for someone to use her address, stalk her online presence, contact her friends, and again, her co-workers, and again, show up on her doorstep in order to - what - to prove that no one is safe, I guess, is quite horrifying. 

-to Smart Bitches wonderful post about authors and reviews.
-to Dear Author's post about psuedonyms which also includes links to a Storify of some of the Twitter reactions.
-to Glenda Larke's excellent suggestions for why an author should let reviews alone.