Temper Tantrums and the Social Media Vortex

2013-06-24 23.26.00

I remember the first time I realized a classmate hadn’t invited me to her party. My mother pointed out that no one was obligated to invite me. My real friends would invite me to their parties, but that the best thing I could do was like being with myself. She told me the guest list had nothing to do with me.

Have you heard the kerfuffle going on around author Ayelet Waldman? Her book didn’t make a notable book list. Waldman was unhappy about it. Well, sure. Fair enough. My book is largely ignored. Oh well. Nobody likes being left off the list.

Waldman vented a lot on social media, and people have opinions about that. Some folks understand her frustration. Some folks point out the futility of expecting to be on a list.

I feel both sympathy and annoyance with the woman.

But whatever. The thing that’s really stayed with me are comments I’ve read about this. In a writer’s group on Facebook, Waldman’s reaction to the list got a lot of comments. There were the people who figured since they’d never heard of her, she wasn’t anybody. This is silly. There are lots of worthwhile, talented people whose work you should know. Just because you haven’t heard of someone, doesn’t mean they’re “nobodies.” Maybe you haven’t heard of everybody you should have heard of.

This doesn’t mean you need to read any of Waldman. But that’s a different argument.

Lots of people decided Waldman’s comments were part of a ploy to sell books.

Obviously, she wants to sell books, but really? Maybe this is some ploy, or maybe this is just somebody whining in public. Sometimes people just screw up. It isn’t a ploy. it isn’t a strategy. It’s just a screw up. Of course, she could sell more books because of it, but benefiting from a screw up doesn’t make the skew up a plot. Also, she’s probably lost as many readers as gained (people don’t like poor losers!), so what kind of ploy is that?

Waldman has publicly stated she’s bipolar, and many people speculate her behavior over the list indicates a manic phase. Possibly. I wouldn’t be surprised.

When some people heard she was bipolar, they conceded that maybe her whining wasn’t a ploy. It was her mental illness.

Okay. But why can’t non-mentally ill people just make a mistake? It doesn’t have to be manipulating vs manic.

Then again, so what if it is a ploy? I find a bunch of writers complaining that this is a ploy to sell books kind of weird. Writers are all trying to sell books. Writers have marketing campaigns. Many authors come up with gimmicks, give-aways, and I don’t know what else to sell books. Which ones are okay and which ones aren’t?

Dishonest ones aren’t. We can probably agree on that. But is Waldman being dishonest when she complains about not making the list? No.


Oh, writers. We are silly.

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