This morning, it was announced that Roger Ailes died. Over the last year or so, Ailes has been in the news, not for his contribution to the industry but because of allegations lodged against him that he had sexually harassed (and more) certain female employees over the years. This isn’t a post about Ailes and whether or not he was guilty of the allegations against him. That is for another day.
No, this post is about what is happening right now on social media and how that same sort of behavior is being played out in the real world.
Go onto Facebook or Twitter and you will find numerous posts praising the fact that Ailes is dead. Unfortunately, the posts don’t end there. Those hitting the enter button are spewing invective and more at Ailes and all but dancing on his grave. Why? Because he was accused of behavior in the media that is abhorrent. But it is more than that. He is being vilified for being white and rich. He is being called a sexual predator — which he probably was. But mainly, it is because he was rich, white and of a certain age and, therefore, inherently evil.
Oh, and let’s not forget male.
When anyone tries to comment that it is a bit unseemly to act this way when someone has just died, those people are attacked. There is no concern for what Ailes’ family or friends might see. There is no compassion for those who cared for the man. Because this group of people decided he was evil, we must all agree — or at least hold our tongues and nod as they pillory him at the time of his death. Yet, if the deceased had been one of their favorites and the other side was acting as they are, they’d be outraged. Why do they get to act in one way and insist everyone acts in another? It’s that sense of entitlement and the knowledge that they are right and the rest of the world is wrong.
Not that this behavior is surprising. Something has happened with this country over the last decade or three. We have become a country where there is an increasing number of those who think they are entitled to do or say whatever they want without fear of consequence. Common courtesy is something of the past with them. Don’t believe me, go sit for a few hours in a restaurant or coffee shop. Or go to the mall or simply watch what happens in your own office.
Here’s an example.
Yesterday I was sitting in the local Panera’s, trying to get some work done. Music was playing overhead. There were at least another dozen or so people in the dining area, all talking or typing away on their laptops. In other words, it wasn’t quiet. Also, I was not sitting anywhere close to the cash registers. So, when I hear a woman raising hell, it caught my attention.
It seems this woman didn’t like what she had gotten as her order when she went through the drive-through and, by God, she was going to get satisfaction. There was no carefully explaining what she ordered and what was wrong. Oh no. What there was was a woman who just knew she was right and she wanted everyone, including those two buildings over, to know.
I slid my chair back so I could get a look at what was going on. Hey, I’m a writer. It’s what I do to get inspiration. Anyway, from where I sat, I couldn’t get a clear view. There were others in my way as well as part of the partition separating the dining area from the order area. Not that I needed to see. I could hear every word she said.
When the assistant manager tried to help her, she didn’t want to deal with him. You see, he wasn’t bending and scraping and kissing her feet. He wanted to know what she had ordered and if he could see her receipt. That’s pretty standard, especially if you claim to have gone through the drive-through. Oh, how her tone and voice level went up. How dare he question her!
Long story short. When he didn’t immediately do as she wanted, she demanded to see the manager. When he came forward, she proceeded to rip the assistant manager a new one. While she didn’t call him every name in the book, it was implied. She did say he had been unprofessional, etc., and that he should not have a job there.
Because she had gotten the right order. She had been the one to make the mistake. She ordered something without reading the description and got bread she didn’t want. But did she apologize? Oh hell no. Because, I guess, they should have read her mind. Instead, she once again voiced her negative opinion of the assistant manager and the restaurant and stormed out, swearing to never darken their doors again.
This woman was in the wrong and yet she still had to have the last work and she still expected them to bow to her will. Even when the manager offered to make her a new sandwich with the bread she wanted, she wasn’t satisfied. They’d had their one chance — a chance she screwed up — and would get no other.
Not enough proof? Look at Ethan Couch and his family. Look at our schools where teachers aren’t allowed to grade homework — or, in some districts — even assign it. Or where students are allowed to take tests over and over again instead of having to do something radical like study.
No consequences have, well, negative consequences.
Hell’s bells, even in writing they have them. I know there will be some folks who are not going to agree with me, especially when it comes to what I wrote at the beginning of the article. I recognize that fact and hope they understand I am not commenting one way or the other on whether or not Ailes was guilty of the allegations against him. I am talking solely about the behavior now being displayed by people online.
There are other ways what we do as authors can have a negative impact on not only ourselves but others we might work with. If you become an ass about just about anything, you can and probably will drive off readers. It doesn’t matter if you didn’t mean it or not. If you troll other sites and social media accounts because you think it’s fun, there will be push back. If you spam with promo posts your mailing lists or other people’s social media accounts, there will be push back. What you have to think about is that it will impact your sales but it can also impact any project you are a part of.
How many of us have seen people not only say they won’t read or watch something because so-and-so is in it but that they will do all they can to keep others from doing so as well? Well, they do and it does work. I found myself this morning looking at an anthology I have been waiting for and hesitating. Why? Because of at least one of the authors involved. No, I won’t name the antho, nor will I say when it was published or by whom. It isn’t the first time it has happened nor will it be the last. The question I have to answer is whether I will reward the author(s) I swore I wouldn’t buy or penalize the other authors in the antho. So, the actions of a small number of those involved in the antho may have a negative impact on the majority.
So, even as I consider the possible consequences of my pushing the publish button for this post, I urge each and every one of you to think about the consequences of that email you’re writing or the Tweet you are about to send or how you are about to deal with the guy who just shoved past you in line at the grocery.
And now, because I am an author and have a new story out, check out Battle Wounds, the third short story set in the Honor and Duty universe. The stories all take place before the events of the first book, Vengeance from Ashes. The short stories came about because some of you wanted to know what happened to make Ashlyn Shaw into the women we meet in Vengeance. They’ve been fun to write and there is at least one more planned.