The Internet is a new space. It’s new territory. More often than not, there are no official “rules” and the space is patrolled less than the streets by our house. I understand it’s hard. It’s hard to have your work discussed on the Internet. It’s hard to have it out there for people to comment on and judge.
- It’s harder still when you do something wrong, particularly when you don’t understand it yourself.
This is the situation many authors seem to find themselves in. They don’t understand what they’ve done wrong. They don’t understand why people are offended. They did their best to represent well or inoffensively. To give good representation. To help their readers. To give their readers a voice. But for whatever reason(s), they failed.
- Note: this also happens with children. Often a child will do something an adult immediately knows is wrong, but the child has not been taught it’s rude or unacceptable.
- e.g. stealing. When I was a small child, I wanted a gum ball from the bulk bin at the grocery store. My mom told me I couldn’t have one. But I still wanted one anyway. So I took it. By taking it, I didn’t know I was stealing. But just because I didn’t understand stealing was wrong, doesn’t mean I was exempt from it being explained to me and need to apologize.
Lately we’ve seen a severe lack of apologies. Lack of sincere apologies. Lack of the right kind of apologies. Lack of apologies to the right people. And it’s really disappointing.
- I think it boils down to “Do you care more about someone’s feelings, or do you care more about your own feelings?”
Unfortunately, it seems like people care more about being right and shouting, than people’s feelings and listening.
- We are better than this. We READ for fun. We empathize for fun. And for whatever reason, some people can’t translate empathizing with a character to empathizing in real life.
If someone requests an apology from you, it means you hurt them. But does it really matter whether you think you hurt them or not? No. Whether you understand why, you hurt them, and you should want to make amends and understand.
- If you hurt your mother’s feelings, but didn’t understand why, you would still apologize wouldn’t you? Hopefully the answer to that question is “yes”. As it should be for fellow book media people, authors and anyone else engaging with others on the internet.
If you hurt someone, now is the time to put aside your pride and apologize. It’s good to apologize because you hurt someone. It’s better to apologize because of what you did. And it’s best to apologize for both. Remember, apologizing is an act of humility, and if you can do that, you fans, readers and fellow book people will love you more for it.