Join the MacSoldiers-Announce mailing list and you'll always know when we've published new content!
Against Mac Writers, A Call For Respect 101
After a few months of observation on the Mac Web - which we can describe as the multiple Macintosh related Web sites present on the Internet - I have to settle some scores about the mood that reigns among its publications.
It seems that arrogance and hate rule this little world. There are writers out there who seems to disagree with everything, shoot on anybody who moves and adopt the principle of condemning anyone different from themselves and any opinion different from their own.
When they do, these people fight an undeclared - sometimes professionally disguised - perpetual personal war to try to monopolize what is true, what is real and what is right. The goal?
A debate raged about how we handle journalism as Mac writers on the Internet. I got in the middle of it though I am not sure if I wanted to. During that time, I was in touch with several other writers interested in the issue and besides the official debate, I had the occasion to write and read more about the subject. A few comments let me know that I am not the only one to think that some writers camouflage their intentions behind official demonstrations of faithfulness to their profession and ethics.
Here is an intelligent comment from Tim Hillman's recent editorial, who is a colleague at The Mac Observer:
"Writers for other publications are attacked in a direct or indirect fashion, they take each other to task for their own writing, and finally end up going so far as to discuss their own writing instead of addressing the actual subject they were hired (or volunteered) to write about."
Indeed, and I saw this closely. I actually discussed my writing when under attack. Which is a shame, you will agree. Going away from your main interest to discuss existential questions is a pain when not necessary and uncalled for.
The Macintosh online "neighborhood" is made of people who have a lot in common, sometimes more than they think. Yet, instead of taking care of their day-to-day business to produce the best material they can, they like to cross the line - sometimes in roundabout ways - as if it was necessary.
This repulsive lack of respect pushes writers to: make fun of spelling and grammar repeatedly instead of publishing more fresh material; to call writers who do not share their philosophies "mindless"; to compare other technology writers to beer hall debaters.
[Note: if you see people's typing/grammar or fact research mistakes through articles, why not just point them out coldly? It works and does not generate resistance since you expose facts without anything to turn attention away from them. Just like reporting that a link is broken and saying "have a good day". There is nothing to do but realize the blunder and fix it.]
How do they do it? Some will print names. Some will disguise their attacks by hiding the name but simply giving out all the facts you need to identify them. Some will be subtler with only general statements so that reactions would sound unjustified to the ears of those who stick to the written word. Some will simply hint enough elements so that the target writer will know that he is the one on the receiving end.
It is sad to see all of this since the people who take on their peers really know how to write. They just make the mistake of arrogant display instead of standing above everybody in a respectful way. Who are they? I know that, generally, writers read articles that could potentially touch them and I feel that a few of you are actually staring at my words.
You can breathe now, I will not mention names and I want to make it clear that there is not only one person singled out here. I have a few people in mind - which means more than one - but still a few since there are not many. These few people have a tendency to try to make other people look or feel ridiculous. They know who they are... or maybe not.
Here come the questions. Why do we need to attack each other constantly? What is it going to achieve? Who will win? When will it end? Alternatively, like Tim Hillman asked: Can't we just get along?
Just as I observed privately when I saw MacCentral writers making fun of MacWEEK twice in 1998, I find this stupid and worse than immature. On a side note, it is interesting to see that MacWEEK and MacCentral share owners and links today!
Here are principles that we should be obey to:Lesson one
If you want to vent your steam about other people, be a professional and do it privately. I prefer to abide by this rule. This is the least you can do. Even if it is annoying for the person under attack, this is actually more respectful. If you insist to reply to another writer, you can always stick to the ideas and say why you disagree with the school of thought and why you think that you are right. Civilized discussion is always welcome in public.Lesson two
Suddenly adopting the other person's idea after attacking it never looks good. I saw that happening.Lesson three
In the real world, this kind of ugly climate is not reality. Real world journalists are on friendly terms. I realized that when being an intern (no cigars!) for a while at the very end of my journalistic training.
When they cover the same field, writers are in each other's face often, they talk together and they even lunch together. They do not sleep with each other, but you can grasp the fact that they normally (there are exceptions) are almost as close to the competition than to their co-workers. This is reality. Publications send people to the same scenes. If you are to spend time with each other, you had better make the most of it instead of constant fighting...
Reality tells you that other reporters are not the enemy. Owners, editorial heads and managing editors are in positions to compete with each other. Journalists themselves are rather in positions of neighbours. While they do not do their work in collaboration, they develop a pragmatic comradeship. Anybody who denies this has never had the experience of real practical daily journalism and takes idealism further than real world journalists do.
I hear from contacts in the local (Montreal) area that when public relations folks mishandle journalists, others covering the same field could have a tendency to ignore the person who insulted the representatives of the profession.Lesson four
The best way to look good is to stick to your work and keep it as good as you can, free of cheap hypocritical and or half-hidden attacks against what is different than you. The public will judge by itself, unless you feel that it cannot, which would be another display of supremely useless arrogance.
Leave quarrels to kids. This is one (if somewhat dubious) way to let their emotions out and this channels their energy. They will kiss and make up later, their fights usually without serious consequences.
When it comes to us, let me remind you that we, writers, are all in the same boat AND in the adult world. While fighting each other as kids is a part of growing up, battling publicly as adults is an unarticulated manifestation of bad spirit.
If a writer thinks that he knows better than everybody else does, to the point of trying to show that nobody but himself knows what is right, we have a serious issue.
When the ego gets too big, the head starts spinning and it falls off. It is too bad that this happens since the people who do that have the power to publish their rants.
They also have the rhetorical power. They manipulate words and make their ideas look good, masking their intent behind the image of a saint who never does wrong.
I give more credibility to writers who:
It is one thing to manipulate words in order to look good, it is another to use them in order to build something fruitful and helpful.
Writers get jobs to create, not to emulate and vociferate. Good writers use others people's material to back themselves up and prosper, great writers start from scratch. Good writers use quotes, great writers are quoted.
If they try showing other people wrong, the columnists who abide by these rules will deserve the credit for meeting a few criteria of originality and more productivity rather than being the confined fruitless reactionary flame thrower.
In conclusion, what we have to understand is that attempts to take others down publicly are bound to fail. Editorializing against other people impresses only those who will swallow the one-way speech. It will not go beyond that boundary and may backlash. Bad publicity is great publicity. If you fail on your mission, people may pay attention to the target of your attack and actually like the writer in question. This could actually increase the person's audience and exposure instead of taking her down.
Note that the behavior mentioned here could be found in the writings of some (not all) people with who I have been in very positive contact with. It may not be the case for 100% of them, but there are people that I respect that could be listed as guilty of attacking others. It is the attitude and what ensues that disgusts me, not the people. We can do so much together as a community without combat.
Let us go beyond cheap declared and undeclared writer wars to get on with our lives, for hell's sake.
Recently @ MacSoldiers:
© 1998-2000 Jon Bonner. All rights reserved.