New media commentator Chris Garrett blogs about the “particularly nasty herd of trolls” that hang out on Digg, the popular website where people submit URLs of online content that interests them and wait to see if it catches on with the masses. “There are a bunch of folks on there who write stuff purely intended to knock, diminish or otherwise upset,” he writes, and “it is making a sour smell around the site for people who would otherwise enjoy it… The worst part though is they often do not leave their nastiness on Digg but actually follow the link to leave more garbage on the blogs comment area.”
Garrett keeps things in perspective, though: “Do you really care what some random angry and frustrated teenager ranting from their parents basement thinks?” he asks. “Unless they are your most wanted audience I think it is safe to discount any or all of their opinions, don’t you?” And that’s why, even though his post doesn’t seem at first glance to be connected to the book publishing industry, I mention it here. As publishers and authors venture online, particularly into forums that allow for interaction and direct feedback from consumers, they’re going to get their share of negativity. And the thing to remember is this: Nearly all of it is just psychic garbage, and though it sucks that this is the cost of putting yourself out there so you’re readily visible when your ideal reader comes looking for you, even if she doesn’t know you’re the one she’s looking for yet, that is the way it is, and you can’t let it keep you offline, any more than you did when Amazon.com started letting customers shoot their mouths off about your books.