It happens so often. More than I’d like to admit. An opportunity arises: a chance for a person to show the world that they are intelligent, mature, a person of sound judgment. A person with a calm, reasonable mind, not plagued by insecurities, not easily won by fear or anger, but someone rational, professional, gracious. And, like the fool that I am, I always expect that person (whoever it may be) to take the high road. When will I learn?
It happens most often at work, where a few co-workers and my lovely boss consistently set the example of how an imbecile operates in society. But the most recent example has come to me by way of the internet, an all-powerful, all-encompassing vehicle made, it seems, to showcase the very worst human beings are capable of. Case in point: the recent demise of an aspiring author. Here’s the story: this woman called Jacqueline Howett wrote a book named The Greek Seaman and self-published it as an ebook. Then, some guy who has his own blog read it and wrote a review of it (as is the purpose of his blog). I’ve read worse reviews, but I’ve read much nicer ones, too. And the author backfired in the comments section! First, she tried to say he’d read an unfinished copy, to which he replied he’d read the only copy given to him (by her), then she called him a liar and on and on it went until, finally, she told him to “fuck off” in a childish tantrum! (You can read it yourself here.)
To make matters worse, the blog and its comments went kind of viral (since misery does, indeed, love company) and the world at large lashed out at her for her unprofessional remarks. The worst part – something like 70 or 80 people went to Amazon.com, wrote horrible reviews of her book, dropped her rating to 1.5 stars and most of them hadn’t even read it. And this is when I scolded myself for being surprised, yet again, at how eager most people are to kick a person when she’s down. It seems I constantly expect people to be decent. Sadly, I’m usually wrong.
Don’t misunderstand me: in no way am I defending Ms. Howett’s bad behavior. Her comments were unprofessional, rude and entirely unnecessary. That being said, she really only hurt herself. But the speed with which dozens of complete strangers leaped at the opportunity to make her situation worse shocked me, proving (for the millionth time) that I am hopelessly naive.