“Before John Green, his general category of realistic (non-fantasy) YA was rife with teen angst and “issues” fiction that you might have associated with the legendary Judy Blume, or with newer writers like Sarah Dessen or Laurie Halse Anderson. Anderson’s classic 1999 novel Speak, about a high schooler struggling to deal with the aftermath of sexual assault, was so influential that three years later Penguin launched an entire imprint named after it. One of the books launched under the behest of Speak was Green’s Looking for Alaska. But it’s Green whose name you’re more likely to know today, not Anderson’s, although Anderson has won more awards and written more books.On Twitter, Green has 2 million followers. Compared to the rest of the leaders in Young Adult fiction, that number is staggering. To approach even half the Twitter influence of John Green all by himself, you need an entire army of YA women. Anderson, Blume, Dessen, Veronica Roth, Cassandra Clare, Richelle Mead, Margaret Stohl, Kami Garcia, Rainbow Rowell, Maureen Johnson, Malinda Lo, Holly Black, LJ Smith, Ellen Hopkins, Shannon Hale, Lauren Myracle, Libba Bray, Melissa Marr, and Leigh Bardugo: As a group these women only have about 1.2 million followers on Twitter. That’s the voice of one man outweighing several decades of women who have had major successes, critical acclaim, and cultural influence.”
When a man succeeds in a devalued (because of its association with women) field, he legitimizes it in popular opinion.
The moment you know you’ve made a mistake is when there’s a weird feeling in the pit of your stomach, and you suddenly feel the need to get extremely defensive, even if you’re not sure why.
That happened earlier today when I made a tweet, which has since been deleted. The gist is that I pointed people towards what my reporting suggested was the creator of the rather shameless 2048 app on iOS and Android.
The tweet raised the idea of potential harassment by loyal followers of mine in a way that I’ve long since advocated against. A random person who made that tweet does not have to worry about it, but a random person with nearly 53,000 followers has to think long and hard about a tweet like that.
It is often easy to forget you have that kind of megaphone.
The tweet came about because of a discussion on our morning show, in which Alex and I broke down some reflections on the Threes story from earlier this week. I mentioned how much time I’d spent trying to track down this particular designer: Facebook, Twitter, email, phone. I tried everything, and nothing ever came back. It frustrated the hell out of me, and it’s not like I could jump on a flight and knock on his door. But I’d done my due diligence.
Still, it bothered me that I didn’t hear from him. I wanted his side of the story in my piece. It would have made it a better article, and would have rounded out my desire to hear from all sides of this complicated issue.
It kept clawing away at me. But I wrote my story, and that should have been it. If anyone wanted to get up in arms, the evidence was presented to them in the story for them to make their argument. I didn’t need to encourage a little army to do it for me. What this designer did was (in my eyes) unethical but not illegal. I really didn’t need to be banging down the digital door to better make my point. I’d done that with a story that’s been read by more than nearly 50,000 people. A journalist presents his evidence and leaves.
This is all the more important because it’s about Threes, a game that was developed in the same office that I sometimes find myself in. (The game was done when I started working out of there.) Of course, working in that office means I’m never going to write a review of Threes, Samurai Gunn, or anything else that’s produced out of that office. I had no desire to write about Threes, since it seemed like plenty of people were doing that already. But when I realized I could talk to some of the faces behind the “clones,” when I realized the designer was sitting next to me and we could have a long chat about his game, it seemed like a story worth pursuing, even if I’d have to try even harder to make sure my story came across as truth seeking.
The article pulls that off, I think. But the tweet doesn’t—it sounds like someone bitter trying to take advantage of an army.
I’m not just a journalist. Sometimes I’m an advocate. In this case, though, I was trying to be a journalist, and the size of my audience, the tone of my tweet, crossed that line. That’s going to happen, and it probably won’t be the last time. I realize that, and that’s why my stomach felt weird. You tend to feel that way when you make a mistake, since owning up to a mistake is hard. I try to make sure I’m always doing that. Though it can sometimes feel like people have it out for you, sometimes they have a point, too.
I try to listen. Even when we disagree, I always try to listen.
Enjoy your weekend everyone. See you at PAX East.
I think there are a lot of “internet famous” people who could learn a lot from this. One of the many reasons why I hugely value Patrick’s opinion.
Hey, osheamobile, a net celeb that gets that you’re not just Peter Parker anymore thing we’ve been repeatedly discussing lately (as it’s been happening over and over again recently).
Taking responsibility for having crossed the line and making an effort to not do it again is the best way to handle it.
I’m really glad people are opening up and talking now, because the degree to which people think shit like this is acceptable is ridiculous. Industry professionals need to make huge changes, but so do consumers and fans. We just all need to be better than this. Jesus Christ.
Adding these last tweets too because it illustrates perfectly how this stuff goes even beyond “internet harassment” to creating a culture where women don’t feel safe doing their day to day lives because of the way that men get away with this shit ( and without being challenged or silenced!).
My biggest hope from all these conversations is that they will not just go away, like so many previous ones, and that things will start to change, because. I mean how many other ways are there to say this? Unacceptable and abhorrent in every way.