Pavlovian Outrage

Yesterday I launched Salon Futura #6 on the world. Like any publisher, I watched keenly for online reaction to my new baby, and a few people were very kind about it. Thank you, folks. But honestly I didn’t expect much reaction. You see, I hadn’t set out to offend anyone.

What did get a lot of reaction from teh intrawebs yesterday? Well, some ignorant prat wrote a long blog post about nihilism in modern fantasy, which served mainly to demonstrate his lack of knowledge of fantasy’s history, his lack of breadth of reading in modern fantasy (I suspect he’s never read a book by a woman in his life) and probably his lack of understanding of nihilism (though I’ll leave that to people with philosophy degrees to deal with). As journalism it was, to put it bluntly, a foetid heap of steaming dingo’s kidneys. So of course my little corner of teh intrawebs went apeshit over it.

(I’m not going to link directly to it because it doesn’t deserve the traffic, but if you really must read it please go there via Joe Abercrombie’s extremely funny rebuttal.)

Also yesterday evening a fair amount of my bandwidth was eaten up by people talking about Martin Amis. Because, you know, Martin Amis has behaved like a dickhead. Again. Just like he has been doing on a very regular basis for as long as I can remember. He does it because it allows him to indulge his passion for looking down his nose at the rest of humanity, and because it gets him an awful lot of attention.

Earlier today Jonathan McCalmont described the Internet as “home to the pornography of rage.” He has a point. Not only do we monkeys seem incapable of resisting it, but also, just as with other forms of pornography, some people profit massively from it.

Now of course there are things that are worthy of the Internet getting worked up about. For example, when some idiot Rethuglican politician tries to pass a law making it legal to kill people he disapproves of, I can see people getting justifiably upset, especially if they happen to live in a part of the world affected by the proposed law.

But this Pavlovian reaction to online idiocy seems self-defeating to me. The initial reaction to the fantasy article appeared to come from PR people in the publishing business. I can understand that. They want their authors to be talked about, and there’s nothing like a good flame war to get people talking. But ultimately the result of this passion for controversy is more eyeballs for bad journalism, more fame and fortune for people like Martin Amis, more advertising revenue for hate rags like the Daily Malice, and less attention for anything that might possibly be worth reading.

The best way to deal with people who are behaving like idiots is to ignore them, because that denies them the oxygen of publicity that they crave.

Do not feed the trolls.

3 thoughts on “Pavlovian Outrage

  1. Aw, geez. As soon as I saw that it was from Andrew Breitbart’s crappy web empire, I could have pretty much written the whole trollish article myself.

  2. Let’s face it, though, Amis has been out of the news for a while. He was about due to say something controversial to remind people he still existed.

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