Elitists, Haters, Negativity and Anger—Oh My!

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on March 5, 2010 in Freelance Writing Business
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WARNING: This post is very negative because I was an angry elitist when I wrote it so I fully expect a bunch of haters to come out of the woodwork and say negative things about me, thereby showing what negative, angry elitists they are themselves.

Did the warning above sound kinda circular in its logic when you first read it? Okay, good—it should. If you make your rounds in the freelance blogging community, chances are you’ve seen the words: Elitist, Hater, Negative and Angry come up time and time again on blog posts and in blog comments. They generally come up in two instances:

  1. One blogger said something that another blogger or reader does not agree with.
  2. Oh, wait, that’s the only time these words seem to come up. Huh. Interesting.

The Problem

So what is the real problem here? Is it the fact that everyone in the freelance writing community doesn’t agree with each other all the time like we live in a freakin’ hippie commune or the fact that it's difficult for some people to just stand by their convictions using logic and reason alone and not resort to disparaging labels that make them feel safer?

The Example

In my experience, if a blogger thinks that---

  • writing for content mills full time is a lousy career choice for a writer,
  • working for a residual income by using Associated Content or Hubpages is a fool’s errand,
  • print writing is more "legitimate" than web writing,
  • the marketing tactics of some content mills are shameful,
  • writing for pennies is not sustainable and is unnecessary,
  • self-publishing is worthless,
  • writing on spec is a huge mistake

—then suddenly they are a negative hater or an angry elitist.

How in the world could someone come to that conclusion? If I absolutely despise the thought of eating ham and you like it—does that make either of us elitists, haters, negative or angry? If I love cats and don’t like dogs and you love dogs and don’t like cats, does that make either of us elitists, haters, negative or angry? Of course not.


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And guess what? If a blogger writes a general post that happens to disparage the way you decide to run your career, before you tweet about how negative they are or write a comment or email about how they're such a negative hater who must be angry, you should stop to consider the fact that the post is not about you. It’s about the author and their opinion. You make it about you when you get all weepy and defensive while reading it.

The Solution

So go forth writers and remember—disagreeing with someone, voicing a negative opinion about a gig or process, and standing up for freelancers in whatever way you see fit does not make you negative, hate-filled, angry or elitist—no matter how often you do it or who agrees with you.

And readers, you don’t have to like any of the things that bloggers “say” to you with their posts—but you should remember that if you take it personally or have a strong emotional reaction to it, it’s no one’s fault but your own. Own your feelings and either move on or do your cause or belief a favor and construct a vehement argument that doesn’t attempt to debase the blogger you disagree with because when you do, you’re the one who is a negative and angry hater.

The Disclaimer

Oh, and before you read this post and think it was about you, let me tell you that it wasn't. Now, I'm not going to go all Carly Simon on you and never tell you who this post was about--well, actually, I am--because it's not about any one blogger. These words are everywhere. The straw that broke the camel's back, however, was this.

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Yo Prinzel
Yolander Prinzel is the profit monster behind the Profitable Freelancer website. She has written for a number of publications and websites such as American Express, Covestor.com, Advisor Today, Money Smart Radio and the International Travel Insurance Journal (ITIJ). Her book, Specialty Ghostwriting: A New Way to Look at an Old Career, is currently available on Amazon.

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54 Comments

  1. Jennifer Mattern March 5, 2010 Reply

    You know… if you’re going to use the “oh my” thing, you really need to stop at 3. Throws off the whole flow with 4. :P

    And didn’t you realize that blogging’s supposed to be all rainbows and hugs? How dare you have strong opinions or call out bullshit when you see it! You’re supposed to tell me whatever I want to hear, be super duper sweet on the surface and keep the attacks subtle so most readers miss them. Oh, and don’t forget… you’re supposed to hold my hand while we sing Kumbaya around the little bloggy campfire. As of now you’re just another malcontent who’s never ever happy. Just be accepting of all the crap gigs and bad information thrown at new writers you try to help, and then the whole world will have a rosy little glow. If you can’t handle that, well, then I just don’t think I can read you anymore, you great big meanie. Hmph!

  2. Wendy Sullivan March 5, 2010 Reply

    Gah! I had this happen yesterday, with a top social networking blogger. I disagreed with him in comments. I wasn’t rude. But I was called a “hater”. When I replied – still not rude – my comment was deleted. How can someone so established and powerful in his niche be such a pussy? I don’t have to agree with you to read you, like you or respect you.

    Wendy

  3. Lori March 5, 2010 Reply

    Yo, have I told you lately that I love you? (key the Lionel Ritchie track) As someone who’s apparently elistist and angry – or so they tell me – I’m glad to see someone else who doesn’t quite make the leap from disagreement to “elitist.”

    I want to hug your knees when you said “YOU make it about you…” Having experienced the “wrath of the career disadvantaged” firsthand, I totally agree. How one translates “I think this sucks” to “You’re a stupid, fatheaded, pig-snouted idiot” speaks more to the insecurities of the reactionist, not the person with a separate opinion.

  4. Allena March 5, 2010 Reply

    Fun! Especially the part about ham!
    And “lying in a pool”? Holy sh!t that’s some craziness.

  5. Carson Brackney March 5, 2010 Reply

    Every day, groups of mean little kids call other little kids nasty names.

    At least one of the berated kids comes home after school and tells his or her mommy about how mean those other kids were.

    “Mommy, they called me a poopy head.”

    “Well,” mommy says, “they’re just jealous of how cute/smart you are.” Or she might say, “They’re just trying to get attention.” She might make her kid feel better by claiming that the other kids are the one with a problem, that they’re poorly raised or that they just wish they had clothes that were so pretty and nice.

    Sometimes, mommy is right.

    However, there is also a pretty good chance that the kid really is a poopy head and that he or she is on the receiving end of the insults because of it.

    One of the reasons people get called out as angry, hateful elitists is because they are angry, hateful elitists.

    I don’t disagree with your post. There are way too many freelance writing kids who are quick to pull the trigger on those labels. We can debate whether those kneejerk reactions are cognitive dissonance in action, a byproduct of insecurity, an effort at attracting attention or flat-out stupidity, but there’s no doubt that a lot of the labeling is weak and unnecessary.

    I’m not really interested in sitting around the campfire making s’mores with all the world’s freelance writers as we sing in perfect harmony. I don’t believe that thinking people need to play some intellectually dishonest game of argumentative relativism in which we pretend all positions have equal merit.

    However, there are many occasions in which the criticisms you point out are wholly deserved. There are angry, hateful elitists out there who are dismissive of any idea or business model that doesn’t comport with their assessment of the right way and who do NOT supply any cogent argument to back up their positions.

    Their logic and reason is lacking and they don’t defend their arguments worth a hoot. They’re more than happy to insult and to look down upon those who don’t do things the right way, simply *assuming* a monopoly on the truth. Those people invite the labeling.

    No, this song isn’t about you, either.

    And it isn’t a justification for being an overly obnoxious, pompous name-caller.

    I’m just noting that this road runs in both directions. For every whiner out there, there’s a big jerk coming the other way.

    It would be nice if we lived in a world in which all of those who wanted to have these discussions had the capability to construct quality arguments, were willing to explore multiple options and could take the heat of a constructive debate without feeling hurt or acting out.

    Unfortunately, we don’t. And that observation applies to all sides of most of arguments.

    Even more unfortunately, it sometimes applies to those of us who do make an honest effort to engage in the debate. I’ve been a snarky smart-ass upon occasion. I’m sure you’ve done it, too. You don’t have to comb my blog, many others or this site for hours to find examples of smartassery.

    It’s not something to cry about, but it is obnoxious. And it doesn’t really add much to sorting things out. A little emotion and attitude isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it tends to obscure good arguments.

    Boom. World’s longest comment!

    Take care.

  6. Yo Author
    Yo March 5, 2010 Reply

    Carson, I fell asleep while reading your comment. Luckily, I had some toothpicks handy and used them to keep my eyelids open the second time around.

    1. Of COURSE there are those who are angry, negative, elitist, etc. But can you really know that from reading someone’s blog posts? Even if they seem consistently that way to you? And, how do you know you are being objective about that judgment and you aren’t being influenced by your own disagreement? Either way, I can’t think of a situation where it behooves the reactionary reader to call the writer of the offending blog post that–even if they secretly think it.

    2. In my experience, most children are poopy heads but never want to think of themselves as such. In the same vein, most people who have an opinion are shaded by certain events within their own life/career–which means their OPINION may not be completely RIGHT. But blogging isn’t like creating a math handbook. There isn’t a right or wrong–there are opinions that are right or wrong for each individual reader.

    3. If someone isn’t supplying a cogent argument, then you have to keep battling them on that. But calling them angry, elitist, negative or a hater is completely useless. It achieves nothing. If I disagree with a certain political party and make the basis of all my arguments that they are negative, elitist, haters or just plain angry instead of continually attacking their platform with what I see as valid points, then I’m not going to win the election.

    3. Yes, yes I have been a smart-ass. In fact, I am continually a smart-ass. As a matter of fact, I’ve even been angry and mean in the past and had to apologize for it. Chances are good that this will happen again… and again… and again…

    4. I am going to take a stab that the reality behind your argument is that the writer of the post that broke this camel’s back doesn’t create solid arguments to back up her POV. Well Carson, I agree with you there. And I wish she would respond more directly when her logic is challenged. But that doesn’t mean she’s wrong (some readers think she is right and others think she is wrong… so?), it also doesn’t mean she is angry, elitist, negative or a hater. It could just mean that she dislikes the concept of something rather than the details. So what? If you don’t agree, don’t read her.

    5. If my guess is wrong, please don’t call me a negative hater elitist angry b!tch. Or do, I don’t mind ;->

  7. Carson Brackney March 5, 2010 Reply

    Your guess was wrong. I wasn’t really thinking about her when I wrote my extended response (glad you had toothpicks available).

    You’re right, my psychic powers don’t extend to determinations of poopy-headedness based on the content of blog posts. I can, however, recognize a shitty argument quite quickly and when one of those is married to a holier-than-thou, brimming with attitude, it’s tempting to apply the labels. Likewise, it’s easy to call out those whining pussies when they fail to present a decent argument while lambasting those with whom they disagree.

    I’m just saying that

    1. There’s plenty of dirt under plenty of fingernails… For every post criticizing an “elitist” there’s one that references the “misguided”, “uninformed”, or ignorant…

    2. We should probably try not to engage name-calling and smartassery with more of the same, no matter how damn tempting it is. And when we do (because we will often fail on the second point), we should probably stop short of calling for a vendetta or dropping the hammer of obnoxious insult upon those with whom we disagree…

    I doubt we disagree that much. Do we?

  8. Yo Author
    Yo March 5, 2010 Reply

    @Jenn–OMG I could go for a S’more right now.

    @Wendy–That is sad–it makes me wonder how good that person is if he or she isn’t even open to the thoughts of others.

    @Lori–so that’s what the warm feeling in my knees was earlier! And here I’d thought I just urinated on myself. Good to know :)But it’s not just the career disadvantaged either. I’ve seen successful web writers get their panties in a wad and start name calling over people who don’t think much of web writing. I say, WhoTF cares? Debate their reasoning if it’s fun for you, and move on if it ain’t.

    @Allena–I do, seriously hate ham. It makes me think of just taking a bite right out of the spongy stomach of a live pig. Blerg, gross.

  9. Carson Brackney March 5, 2010 Reply

    Note re: ham…

    I know we agree here. There are only three things in the world I really, really hate.

    *The sound of barking dogs.
    *Movies with Ernest Borgnine.
    *Ham.

  10. Jennifer Mattern March 5, 2010 Reply

    Okay. Something is seriously screwed up in WordPress. I’m supposed to be notified every time one of your lovely little comments comes through, even w/o needing moderation (like with new commenters). But it isn’t doing that, and I keep missing out of these things until I find the discussions manually. Oh WordPress, why can’t you just be good?

    Anyway…

    @Wendy – “How can someone so established and powerful in his niche be such a pussy?” LOL Does that mean the niceties have since worn off? ;)

    @Lori – “speaks more to the insecurities of the reactionist, not the person with a separate opinion” Right on!

    @Carson – Wow sir. And I thought I wrote long comments. Some valid points. Some I disagree with a bit. And that’s ok. ;)

    And *gasp* – I’m a ham-hater too! Is this a writer thing?? lol

  11. Wendy Sullivan March 5, 2010 Reply

    Ham haters. I should never read this site again!

    Wendy

  12. Jennifer Mattern March 5, 2010 Reply

    Oh no! An elitist pig-eater! Get your pitchforks!

    So I guess it’s not a writer thing then, huh Wendy? lol It’s okay. We still love ya anyway.

  13. Yo Prinzel Author
    Yo Prinzel March 5, 2010 Reply

    @Carson Dammit, I hate being wrong. I do sort of agree with you, but sort of don’t (how’s that for commitment?).

    1. A shitty argument as far as your concerned could be airtight as far as the other person and those who think like them. I’ll bring up politics again–no matter what side of the fence you are on, think of all the weak arguments you’ve heard from the other side that they really think are good and that actually serve as “proof” for them.

    As far as a holier-than-thou attitude, when someone feels that they are completely and totally right, they are going to be that way. I’m an atheist. I’m not a rabid atheist, I don’t go around trying to make other people atheists, and I know enough about religions to be able to be respectful of the beliefs of others. Countless Christians have tried to “convert” me and get me to believe in God. When they do, they use what I feel are the weakest possible arguments ever and they seem holier-than-thou because they believe so completely while using such weak arguments. The thing is, I may seem the same to them. We are both so certain of our own rightness. That doesn’t mean that they think they are better than me or deserving of some special treatment (which is, after all, the crux of elitism)–it just means they are confident.

    2. The problem with equating elitist, negativity, anger, etc. with the words misinformed, uninformed or ignorant is that the latter three are about a lack of information or knowledge and the former three are about an emotional status or attitude. Attacking an argument that you think stems from a lack of knowledge is completely different to me than attacking a perceived attitude or emotional status.

    3. If you are name calling for the purpose of dismissing someone’s argument, yeah, you probably shouldn’t. But then, everyone has a different idea of what name calling is, don’t they? Using your example above, if I said that someone was “uninformed” about something and then proceeded to give evidence of where their lack of knowledge was showing itself in the argument, you might call that name calling–but I wouldn’t.

    I also wouldn’t take being a smart-ass off the table completely. Again, this is like politics or religion. How many people from the other side of your political or religious fence are you going to ever “convert” with your argument? Uh, probably none, that’s how many. So if you know that going in, and you are both adults, you can be smart asses without being mean… but then mean is subjective too. If I don;t write a frickin’ smiley face after every sentence, someone could read this entire exchange as mean.
    :)

  14. Yo Prinzel Author
    Yo Prinzel March 5, 2010 Reply

    @Carson, Poseidon Adventure would be my exception to your Ernest Borgnine rule.

    @Wendy and let me guess, you also wipe standing up ;->

    @Jenn… I love dogs… but I would never want one as a pet. The barking, the smelling, the drooling… but they are cute.

  15. Jennifer Mattern March 5, 2010 Reply

    Yeah, I’d agree that being a smart-ass is definitely different than being “mean.” I like a good smart-ass, even if they’re speaking out against my own views. I can respect that person. On the other hand, I have no respect for people who play the perpetual victim to win sympathy, people who I’ve caught flat-out lying and changing their story when it suits them, and people who pretend to know what they’re talking about when they don’t.

    The third can really be key. For me to call someone out on something or be “mean” to them, I have to know for a fact that they’re spouting bullshit. That’s usually because of some private exchange, having a record of things they’ve since deleted, etc. — not always things all readers are privy to. Here’s an example:

    In a community I’m active in, a guy was spouting a lot of nonsense about press release writing (basically encouraging spam that could actually hurt the readers who took him seriously). I had no problem putting that guy in his place, and here’s why: I knew he was full of shit. Publicly he was billing himself as an expert, saying he had years of experience in PR and that companies flew him all over the country just to write their press releases. First of all, I knew damn well companies don’t fly someone around the country just to write a press release. That’s not how it works. More importantly though, I knew some things the other community members did not. That same guy had contacted me privately admitting he was a 17 year old kid, living at home with mommy and daddy, and he was asking me for advice on how to get started in press release writing because he’d never done it before. Hmmmm. My advice certainly didn’t include “lie your little head off.” So yes, I’ll call someone out on blatant stupidity and ignorance (“ignorant” being a fact in that he didn’t know what he was talking about; not an insult — “stupid” yeah, that’s mean, but I stand by it).

    For me to be “mean” to someone, they have to deserve it. Readers might not always know exactly why, but there’s always a reason.

    There’s one particular blogger in this niche who I consider to be the worst thing to happen to new writers. I’ve seen BS spewed where they pretend to be an expert on things they not long ago had to ask me for advice on because they were clueless. I see bad info spouted when comparing business models, when they’ve admitted outright they’ve never really experienced one to be able to compare them (as opposed to quite a few of us who indeed have). I’ve seen admitted hobby writers giving ridiculous business advice about how to be a successful full-timer when they’ve never done it themselves. I’ve seen people claim they do X for their readers one day in an attempt to win some adoration, and then suddenly change it to Y (within a week) when they’re not getting the praise they think they deserve.

    When it comes to people who do things like that, no, I’m not going to be nice about it. Not publishing all of the old posts they’ve deleted, contradictions out there, emails, and dragging their name through the mud they created when they pissed all over basic logic and reality is far “nicer” than they deserve as far as I’m concerned.

    So I think it’s important for 3rd parties to understand that there’s probably a lot more to that supposed anger than they probably see. And unfortunately that’s because the moment you call someone out by name and point out all of their hypocrisies these days, you get trampled by their little reader mobs being accused of sharing that information solely to ride on the coattails of the other blogger (especially if they run a higher-traffic blog). I’d rather stick to the issues and let the “woe is me” crowd did their own graves, thanks.

    Then again, it also comes down to personality. I’m a blunt person. I can be sweet as pie (including to some folks I rarely agree with), but when someone says something stupid that’s going to potentially affect some of my readers, I have no problem calling it out. I’m ok being the bad guy from time to time. In fact I consider it a privilege.

    If people didn’t come to me later thanking me for knocking them over the head with some of these things, I probably wouldn’t do it. But when it gives someone the wakeup call they need to leave low pay behind and seriously grow their careers (what this blog is dedicated to), then it’s going to keep on happening. I’m ok with not having the most-read blog. Rather than having a hundred readers who say “thanks for helping me land my first freelance writing gig,” I’m thrilled to have that one or two who come back and say “thanks, because of your advice I’m now earning 10 times what I was before.” That’s what makes this worthwhile, and if that makes me “negative” or a hater, so be it. Considering how often the “positive” bloggers take shots of their own, I’d much rather be transparent about it and not feel like there’s something to hide.

  16. Jennifer Mattern March 5, 2010 Reply

    @Yo – I’m a cat person, but still love dogs. I like big dogs though, so until I decide to go out an buy a house (which I’d rather not do until I’m ready to settle down) I’ll probably stick to cats. I wouldn’t feel right cooping up a big dog in an apartment

  17. Wendy Sullivan March 5, 2010 Reply

    @Yo, please stop watching me while I’m in the bathroom.

    @Jennifer, I am, indeed, an elitist pig eater. As is my dog, who is now in a huff because you’re a cat person.

    Geez, this blogging thing is dangerous terrain!

    Wendy

  18. Lorraine March 5, 2010 Reply

    Yo, I love you, too.

    Lately, I’ve been thinking that’s it’s silly to get upset about writers who work for pennies.

    They create a certain kind of product–very different from the content written by experienced, highly-skilled and independent-minded writers.

    You may argue that commodified writers’ low fees drive pricing down for all of us. (On a bad day, I admit I indulge myself in this kind of negative thinking.)

    But the truth? We’re not competing for the same jobs.

    As Seth Godin notes in Linchpin “If you build a business…designed to allow you to hire cheap people, you will have to produce a product without humanity or personalization or connection. Which means you’ll have to lower your price to compete. Which leads to a race to the bottom.”

    “Indispensable businesses race to the top instead.”

    I’d much rather try to build an indispensable business.

    Now about the name-callers. Methinks they protest too much. If they are so sublimely happy churning out cheap content, why bother to stop work and come over to your place to lob vitriolic comments and emails?

    On a related side note: I’m dismayed with the trend of conformity ubiquitous on many marketing and copywriting blogs. Most comments chirrup along in agreement with an influential blogger, fearful of truly “adding to the conversation” with polite, informed dissent.

    This Kool-aid-drinking conformity only confirms criticism that the blogosphere is an echo chamber with few unique voices.

    So I say brava to you for bucking the crowd.

  19. Yo Prinzel Author
    Yo Prinzel March 5, 2010 Reply

    @Lorraine That’s the thing, I don’t give a rat’s ass how much someone charges for their work. It’s not my business and it doesn’t affect my business. What I DON’T like and have NEVER liked are people who present the content mill working model as a GREAT idea. I saw one person Tweet that making $31k while writing full time for a content mill is a great idea for a SAHM. Say what? When that kind of information is out there, I have to speak out. If informed people make the decision that something is good for them and I don’t agree, well, that’s another story entirely.

    As far as agreement because someone is influential… well, that’s just silly. It’s not like they are going to read the agreeing comment and say, “Yes I now want to work with this person who agrees with me.” Agree if you agree and don’t if you don’t.

  20. Yo Prinzel Author
    Yo Prinzel March 5, 2010 Reply

    @Wendy–I KNEW IT!!!

  21. Jennifer Mattern March 5, 2010 Reply

    @Wendy – LOL Awwww. Tell your pup I love doggies too! They’re much more fun to go walking and hiking with. You wouldn’t believe the fits my cats throw when I try to get them in a harness and leash! ;)

    @Lorraine – I’m sure there are people who do think content mills drive rates down for all of us. I agree with you that that’s not exactly correct. They’re in an entirely different market than those of us charging quite a bit more, and the two models can co-exist.

    As Yo mentioned though, that’s not always why people get upset about it. Many people who are “anti-mill” have said over and over again that they might be fine places for some folks (like hobby writers), yet we get labeled as haters who are out to get all content mill writers. Not true.

    The problem is when we regularly come across writers who DON’T want to write for these low wages, but they see so many so-called “professionals” spouting garbage about how “this is just the way it works now” and other such nonsense that they settle. They think it’s the only option. then they struggle trying to dig their way out of the rut where they have to churn out article after article just to get by, and it leaves them no time to market their services to the target markets they should have been looking at in the first place. So those of us who are out there trying to help people build the better careers they want do get rather pissed off when people like paid mouthpieces go around promoting mills as a great thing for writers, and writers line up to believe it only to come crying to the rest of us later when so-and-so’s advice has them feeling trapped in an unsustainable career. For those who are happy with it, good for them. The issue is in the way these mills and their supporters market them to suck in writers who really do want something more.

    Agree with you on the protesting. The way I see it is that if they didn’t have something to feel guilty about, they wouldn’t take every comment they disagree with personally in the first place. And even if comments ARE directed at them, they wouldn’t go on a tangent every time (which to be quite frank just makes it more amusing from the other side of the table).

    As for the Kool-aid crowd, I have to say I’m pleasantly surprised by freelance writing bloggers. It’s rare here that you see just one person willing to speak up about something. When I blogged predominantly in the PR niche, it was a constant echochamber, and frankly kind of disgusting. Everyone was so worried about pissing off someone else that they kept their mouths shut… well, until someone with some nerve would say something first (then they had no problem piling on saying how much they agreed). The heated discussions that get around this niche are far more productive imo. At least there’s a greater chance of people seeing two sides of a story these days (I’d say even moreso than just a year or so ago).

  22. Carson Brackney March 5, 2010 Reply

    I just realized something after reading over the newer comments here…

    I’m a negative, angry elitist.

    Seriously.

    Some of you might be, too.

    Negative? Absolutely. I often see what I feel are half-assed arguments that are laughably weak. I think they’re short sighted recitations of crappy talking points that aren’t nearly as universally applicable as their authors think they are. I see positions that lack creativity, that are intellectually dishonest and that are logically questionable. That’s negativity!

    Angry? Of course. Some of it’s a matter of principle. I’m an opinionated person who doesn’t like to see misinformation distributed to anyone who might actually believe it. Some of it is the way people I know are treated by others when they disagree. Some of it is reactionary, “I’ll see your rage and raise you”. There’s legitimate concern involved, too. Occasionally, it’s even personal–like when someone decides to call me out and to insult me.

    Elitist? Sure. Why not? I don’t consider myself an elitist in the traditional political sense, but I suppose the term fits with respect to how it’s commonly used. I think my arguments are better than those of others sometimes, and I can be more than a little condescending in those situations. That’s really the attitude to which people are responding when they drop the “E” bomb, whether it matches up with Webster or not.

    The interesting thing is that I’m a negative, angry elitist on a variety of issues about which most of us gathered here would agree. We could have a little elitist party with s’mores and everything when discussing those issues.

    I’m also a negative, angry elitist on a host of matters about which many of us would disagree. Some of you might take occasion to lob snobby, holier-than-thou insults in my direction at times like those.

    Either way, I’m a negative, angry elitist and I think some of you are, too.

    Right now, I’m just gonna own up to it.

    If you don’t think you at least occasionally *sound* angry, negative and elitist, so be it. But you probably have your moments, like it or not.

    If thinking of yourself as a negative, angry elitist is uncomfortable for you… Well, maybe that means some changes are in order. I’m considering a few.

    But for the moment, I’m a negative, angry elitist.

  23. Jennifer Mattern March 5, 2010 Reply

    I don’t think anyone’s said they’re never angry, negative, etc. (although I haven’t read every word here, so maybe they did). The whole point is that it’s humorous, hypocritical, and half-assed at best when people toss those terms around every time they don’t like something someone says (while they pretend to be peachy and positive all the time, which is utter bullshit). Do people like that make me angry? Absolutely! Do I post things that disagree with them just because I’m an angry, negative elitist rather than because the ideas have merit? That’s the real question and issue.

    Here’s a novel idea for those who like to throw those words around… if you don’t like people always being angry with you, stop doing and saying stupid shit. Otherwise grow up and own your opinions (as I believe Yo put it earlier) and stop taking every little thing so personally. All you do in that case is make it personal. And then, frankly, you’ll get exactly what you’re asking for (which is what you seem to want the least).

  24. Yo Prinzel Author
    Yo Prinzel March 5, 2010 Reply

    @Carson, I think you are still missing the point. You can think (or know) that YOU are a negative, angry, hater, elitist. The point is that no one can definitively know that about you but YOU. And if I call you all of those things because that is how I perceive you, it isn’t going to help me win this argument and it isn’t going to help me win friends and influence people. And, because I don’t know you outside of these conversations, I don’t actually know that you are any of those things.

    Now, if you read some of my comments (or anyone else’s) and in reading them you INFER that I or others are negative, angry, elitist, haters or anything else, that is an inference and not something to base an argument on. In fact, it could be completely false.

    The other thing is that, again, there is nothing wrong with getting angry. Hell yeah I get angry (I’m not right now, but it sure does happen). The problem (as I see it) is when you attempt to disregard someone else’s point of view or comments because they are “angry, elitist, haters or negative.”

    Lastly, there are many different ways you can read comments. If I read your comments with a British accent, you sound like a pompous douche. If I read your comments with a regular, eager, passionate voice, you sound like someone who cares. So the way that I read your comments is MY PROBLEM. It’s not your responsibility to put a bunch of hearts and flowers around them to help me know that you are smiling as you type. It’s up to me to try my best to take the comments at face value and not develop an emotional reaction to them. It’s not always easy to do (I sure have failed in the past) but it can be done.

  25. Jennifer Mattern March 5, 2010 Reply

    Yeah, really. If everyone judged Yo based on this post alone they might think she’s a complete bitch. Knowing her, I can tell you she’s more like a big cuddly teddy bear who has giggle fits when you press her tummy. :P

    It all comes down to this: is what’s being said deserved? If so, acknowledge it. If not, well, then stop reading the blog if it gets your panties in a twist so often. (“You” not meaning any commenter in particular.)

  26. Yo Prinzel Author
    Yo Prinzel March 5, 2010 Reply

    I should mention that everyone sounds like a pompous douche when I use my British accent head voice, so don’t take that personally ;-)

  27. Carol Tice March 5, 2010 Reply

    @Yo, thanks for a much-needed laugh of the day. Now I must get right back to being an elitist who wants writers to earn good money and get to go on cruises!

    Because this week I’m all about time management I can’t write a long blog like Carson Brackney….also need to go blog for $100 a post and up for my clients.

    Writers of the world unite! You have nothing to lose but your crappy pay and virtual chains…

    And yes Yo, that letter to Angela Hoy really did suck. Keep up the good work!

    Carol Tice
    Make a Living Writing Blog: 9 Time Management Tips for Busy Writers

  28. Yo Prinzel Author
    Yo Prinzel March 5, 2010 Reply

    @Jenn–and the funny thing about that Jenn is that I think people should see me as a female Gilbert Gottfried based on this post. That’s how it sounds when I read it in my head.

    Maybe I need to get some new voices to read with…

  29. Jennifer Mattern March 5, 2010 Reply

    LOL Yo, I’m sooooo drafting the next Freelance Theater episode where you have to play a douchey Brit. Ooooh, or like Gilbert Gottfried. Or wait… how about Gilbert Gottfried trying to do a douchey British accent???

  30. Yo Prinzel Author
    Yo Prinzel March 5, 2010 Reply

    “how about Gilbert Gottfried trying to do a douchey British accent”

    Somehow, in my head, this sounds like Jerry Seinfeld.

  31. Jennifer Mattern March 5, 2010 Reply

    And for the record, I don’t think all British folks sound “douchey.” So please don’t take it that way. In fact, I have quite a few friends over there, clients, and have even met some absolutely yummy British gents. I’m a big fan. ;)

  32. Yo Prinzel Author
    Yo Prinzel March 5, 2010 Reply

    Hahaha, oh gosh, now I’m going to get in trouble with the Brits too! NOOOOO! I’m ONLY talking about the Brit voice in my head–not that a Brit accent in general sounds pompous or douchy. *sigh* I feel so misunderstood :)

  33. Jennifer Mattern March 5, 2010 Reply

    LOL Yo… that thought almost made me fall over b/c I was laughing so hard. I think we’re having one of our goofball private discussions publicly. Hehe. :D

    @Carson – Also just for the record, the previous couple of comments weren’t directed at you personally; just in response to you. On re-reading I think it could have come across differently, but I’d rather apologize and clarify than try to play cover-up. Even though you piss me off occasionally (not today), you’re one of those people I can disagree with passionately and still respect because you can take it without morphing into a whiny little brat. So whether or not I love you or hate you on any given day, or agree or disagree with your decisions, I wanted to at least say you’re A-OK in my book. Well, usually. ;)

  34. Carson Brackney March 5, 2010 Reply

    Get your toothpicks out, Yo…

    Part One: Delivered in the Douche-y Affected British Accent

    Obviously, we can’t always determine the whole of any author’s nature by virtue of his or her text. I wrestled with Derrida, the Yale school and others long enough in grad school that I’m not really interested in performing wholesale textual deconstructions in an effort to “know” a writer.

    However, when one reads the comments to this entry, coupled with an acquaintance with their overall context, you don’t need to play rhetorical critic to reach a few conclusions about motivations–especially when the authors’ sometimes state them outright.

    I do know me. I don’t know you. All I know about you stems from your words. That’s true for all of us who don’t regularly socialize with one another. As writers, we also know that we choose our words quite intentionally in order to create a presentation of ourselves and to communicate our ideas as clearly as we can.

    When Jenn says, “Here’s a novel idea for those who like to throw those words around… if you don’t like people always being angry with you, stop doing and saying stupid shit,” she has a purpose. She isn’t just babbling incoherently. I know that from past experience, frequent reading, context, etc.

    Perhaps, she says “throw those words around” instead of “may unintentionally mislabel” because it better indicates the kind of unthinking recklessness and thoughtlessness she senses. She hyperbolizes with “always” instead of “occasionally” or even “often” for a reason. “Stop saying stupid shit” is intentionally blunt and provocative and she knows that.

    So, while you’re right about our inability to *know* one another, there is a great deal we can determine based on the way we phrase our remarks.

    I may have completely mischaracterize the above-referenced comment. The textual bridge between author and reader can be navigated in a variety of ways, some of which may have very little in common with author intent. As professionals, however, we’re probably less likely to fail completely on our communicative mission.

    It’s a guessing game, as you noted. But we do have clues.

    Part Two: Delivered as a Fairly Typical Midwesterner

    I think it borders on bullshit to take offense to people calling others “elitists” or “negative” when so many folks within that group act like fucking know-it-alls. The labels may not always be right, but it shouldn’t be surprising. And calling people out over it sounds almost as whiny as the posts and comments that use the labels.

    You reap what you sow. When people run around taking pity on those poor wittle ignorant suckers who buy into models they don’t like and talking about how they know a “better way”, it comes off really snotty.

    Snot begets snot.

    It makes more sense to me for people to just ‘fess up to being negative elitists. At least that’s honest.

    Being a negative elitist with a temper doesn’t make anyone wrong, just like being relentlessly positive doesn’t make anyone right. The underlying arguments are the real issue.

    But we’re all smart enough to know that our presentations influence the way people perceive those arguments, right?

    If the arguments are what really matters to us, we need to think about presenting them in ways that don’t intentionally push hot buttons. Or, we can accept the fact that people are often going to react like asshats.

    These days, Yo and I apparently share views on much of religion. However, calling out the “whiners” reminds me of one of the few things I actually learned during my years of enforced Catholicism (my folks felt the need to keep the grandparents happy).

    There’s some biblical recommendation about plucking the beams from your own eyes before going after the splinter’s in some other person’s eye.

    We can all walk around pretending as if we don’t deserve the name-calling and chastising those who engage in it, or we can look at our own tones and presentations.

    Part Three: Delivered in the Voice of a Prescription Drug Commercial Disclaimer Reader

    I love all of you with all of my little Internet heart and would gladly sprinkle this with happy faces and winks if they didn’t irritate me so much.

    Also, don’t confuse “you” with YOU in many of the above remarks.

  35. Carson Brackney March 5, 2010 Reply

    @Jenn-

    No offense taken.

    Even if those remarks WERE directed at me, which they pretty clearly weren’t, I wouldn’t hold it against you. You won’t find anyone with thicker skin when it comes to argument.

    And, for the record, I think it’s good that we can occasionally piss one another off without whining, crying or otherwise sucking.

  36. Jennifer Mattern March 5, 2010 Reply

    Again… no one has said they’re never negative, angry, etc. Missing. Whole. Point.

    My tones are definitely chosen intentionally. I don’t personally give a rat’s furry little ass is someone thinks it’s “negative” or whathaveyou. I do, however, find it incredibly amusing and hypocritical for someone to preach positivity while they insult others’ supposed personalities rather than their point of view, or pretending that being angry about an issue makes them an overall angry person. That’s just a case of feeling bad for yourself because the big bad blogger was mean to you. They’re not likely affecting the person they insult very much. They just portray themselves as weak and rather desperate rather than being strong in their own opinions on the actual issues. Basically, those types of insults are nothing but a fall-back.

  37. Jennifer Mattern March 5, 2010 Reply

    @Carson – Nah, I reserve the “whining” for private discussions. (Poor Yo.) I get it out. Then I get over it. Then if there’s an underlying issue I think is worth discussing or ranting about, that’s what makes it to the public posts.

    Debating occasionally is fun. I find it more amusing than stressful (which I know is how some people take it). Life’s just too short to get upset over the little stuff.

  38. Jennifer Mattern March 5, 2010 Reply

    Fun, active discussion today. But I’m tired and want to go do things that mean people do to unwind. So play nice. I’ll check in and approve anything in moderation again in the morning.

  39. Yo Prinzel Author
    Yo Prinzel March 5, 2010 Reply

    “would gladly sprinkle this with happy faces and winks” That’s the great thing so far in this thread–you don’t have to! We all seem to “get” it even if we don’t all agree.

    Carson, I agree that some people come across CONSISTENTLY to me as elitists. Some people also come across as self-appointed martyrs and others like manipulators. My point is not that you aren’t really allowed to assume that about another, but that it’s not a good idea to make that the basis of an argument and really not a good idea to write that they are because you just can’t know.

    Like Jenn says, you could read my comments and think I am a bitch. I really don’t think I am–I’m blunt and don’t have much of a nurturing instinct so I tend to forget that others have feelings. Oops. Also, I am very passionate and am like a dog with a bone if I think someone isn’t really listening to what I’m saying. Lastly, I’m not an elitist. Believe you me, if I need money, I’ll go dry hump the Amazon Turk system to get it. I’m not a writer in the traditional sense. I’m a talker–a communicator. I don’t like doing content mill work and won’t as long as there is a better way–but that doesn’t mean I think I’m better than it or the people who do it.

    I think you and I would probably agree about more things than we would disagree about. I think we probably even agree a little bit on this point: if you want to argue a point, don’t call the person you are arguing with a negative elitist hater. Argue facts and your opinion. That’s it.

    On so many blogs I see, “This blogger said XYZ, but they are just being negative. That blogger is an elitist who doesn’t understand globalization, new technology, whatever.” That is not a good basis for an argument, period. if you think you aren’t going to get any where because you SUSPECT that the person is all of those things, it’s probably best just to bow out.

  40. Carson Brackney March 5, 2010 Reply

    The girls will be home in a little while.

    Hayward’s BBQ opened a new location within blocks of our home. I’m taking everyone out for an earlier dinner.

    I hereby quit this post.

    I think you’re all a bunch of negative, angry elitists who consistently miss. my. point.
    :-) ;-) :-) ;-) :-) ;-) :-) ;-) :-) ;-) :-) ;-) :-) ;-) :-) ;-) :-) ;-) :-) ;-) :-) ;-) :-) ;-) :-) ;-) :-) ;-) :-) ;-) :-) ;-) :-) ;-) :-) ;-) :-) ;-) :-) ;-) :-) ;-) :-) ;-) :-) ;-)

  41. Wendy March 5, 2010 Reply

    I think it’s great that people have their own opinions and express them freely. I don’t agree with the name calling, but I’ll be honest and say that I’ve had my weak moments and called a few people out when I’ve been irate over someone else’s opinion. Most of the time I try to wait until I’ve calmed down a little before making a response, otherwise I find myself saying things that I ultimately regret.

    I do find it funny sometimes that a meek comment I make can be taken as a vicious one by someone else. One of the drawbacks of the internet, I guess.

  42. Catherine L. Tully March 5, 2010 Reply

    Personally I enjoyed reading this so much that I almost forgot that I am also a negative, angry elitist. Thanks for the diversion! :)

  43. Yo Prinzel Author
    Yo Prinzel March 5, 2010 Reply

    You know, I won’t vouch for the attitudes and intentions of many people, but I will you Cath. You are the least angry negative elitist I have ever met. You are sweet and sour, confident and witty, courageous and determined… but never angry, negative and elitist.

  44. Debrah Ovitt March 5, 2010 Reply

    I watch Fox News,and if [they] are not controversial,then what is? We need many points of view on any subject to come to a conclusion about how we feel about it.Do you want to choose or be uninformed?

  45. Rebecca March 5, 2010 Reply

    I am not angry and elitist. I am a bitch. That is all.

  46. Rebecca March 6, 2010 Reply

    Okay, okay, being a bitch isn’t really all, although I should say that in Texas, it’s something of a compliment.

    I started to post a comment here with some real thoughts, but 700ish words later decided to just post in on one of my blogs rather than require anyone to dig out more toothpicks. My greatly esteemed thoughts (as spoken in a not-quite drawled Texas accent) are here: http://www.internetauthor.net/2010/03/06/angry-and-elitist-writer-nah-just-a-bitch/

  47. John Hewitt March 6, 2010 Reply

    Thanks for the Article Yo. I have found myself getting negative about aspects of the blogging world and the writing niche lately, so I understand your feelings completely. The site in question kind of makes a living off of getting mad about things, so I can’t really get too down on that. People read WW to get worked up, and they get what they came for. It’s kind of like visiting one of the “news networks” on cable. You know that you are getting into when you tune in. You are there to hear a rant. If you aren’t, you quickly turn the channel and move on.

  48. Jennifer Mattern March 6, 2010 Reply

    @Rebecca — LOL I consider you one of the “nicest” people I know in the writing world. You hide the bitch rather well!

    @John — You hit on another important point. Writers and sites have different styles and different audiences. There’s nothing wrong with that, and pissing off people not in the target audience is (or at least should be) expected. I think one of the more interesting points is that the people being called haters or negative all the time don’t seem to mind on a personal level (although as Yo pointed out, it’s kind of obnoxious when it comes down to people using generic insults instead of anything that backs up their case). They know their audience, write for their audience, and aren’t afraid to point out the silliness of it from time to time (although I’m sure there are some exceptions who do get in a bit of a huff — there are always exceptions).

  49. Yo Prinzel Author
    Yo Prinzel March 6, 2010 Reply

    @Deb, yup, it’s all the different thoughts and opinions that make the world go ’round.

    @Carson, I can’t believe I’m missing your point rather than successfully counter punching it. Help me here. Also, I’m jealous of your BBQ meal :(

    @Rebecca, the great thing is, you can be a bitch, an elitist, angry, negative–whatever the heck you want. But if someone simply dismisses your POV because they assume or infer that you are, they are doing nothing to prove their own point. As for the $31k content mill SAHM issue (you mentioned in your blog post) that’s the thing–it could be a good idea (although after SS tax, income tax, retirement savings, sick and vacation time and with 8 solid hours of typing 5 days a week, 52 weeks a year, I doubt it) but the person who Tweeted that did not provide all those points. There is some responsibility to let people know the other side of that coin–especially when they make money by promoting content mill work. So people spoke out and naturally were called elitists. Like that is a good argument or something.

    @John, personally, I have no problem with WW. It might not be where I go if I need a pick-me-up, but that doesn’t mean they should change or that their work should be dismissed out of hand as negative and angry. Different tones and approaches appeal to different people, and that’s great. I just think constructing a moving argument from “your” side is way more constructive than just calling the person you disagree with an angry elitist hater who is negative–even if you really do think that’s the case :)

  50. Jennifer Mattern March 6, 2010 Reply

    Mmmmm, bbq season’s a-comin’! I can feel it today… like an early spring day here. :)

    On another unrelated note, can I just say I really love the readers here. I go to so many blogs where comments are a line or two at best, and there’s very little actual discussion. But when most folks involved are writers, we just can’t keep our virtual mouths shut. I love comments with substance, and I wish other niches got to experience more of it. :)

  51. Rebecca March 6, 2010 Reply

    @ Jenn – I do hide the bitch rather well. Just ask my husband if it’s there – he’ll tell you the truth. :D

    @ Yo – The SAHM might not be thinking of taking vacations and saving for retirement with that sort of income. The content mills are (in a sense) a replacement for the Tupperware and Southern Living parties. After all, most SAHMs aren’t looking to start another career, they just want some pocket money or are looking to close the financial gap that often occurs when a parent stays home for a few years.

    From the many, many conversations I’ve had with moms interested in working online, many are not looking forward thirty years, even if they should be, they are looking for something to do while baby’s napping until they go back to work in a few years or hubby gets the raise he’s been promised.

    In that regard, 31K a year, even after taxes might be worthwhile if the other option is government assistance of some kind or scraping by constantly doing without. There’s always the debate of what’s full-time anyhow. But I agree with your point as a whole, it’s frustrating when people don’t present the full picture or bother to support their position.

    In full disclosure, this full-time mom would never consider 31k a decent living working online no matter how easy the gigs are to get.

    But then I actually know how to market myself effectively, run a business and plan to file taxes for the S-corp. If I didn’t I might not scoff at a job where I’m basically more like an employee rather than a true freelancer. After all, we can’t all be heavy-hitting entrepreneurs. But that’s a tangent, so who cares.

  52. Jennifer Mattern March 6, 2010 Reply

    @Rebecca – I won’t ask. Don’t want to get the hubby in trouble. ;)

    You make a good point about the ones who don’t really want to make a long-term, full-time go of it. And content mills are probably fine and dandy for those folks. I don’t often see that disputed, even among the most heated mill-haters. They’re also not career freelancers. Yet some of the bloggers who supposedly target freelancers trying to build or start careers give advice for hobby writers masked as something more. That’s one of the big things I take issue with personally (nonetheless those who profit from giving the often-misleading advice).

  53. Yo Prinzel Author
    Yo Prinzel March 7, 2010 Reply

    @Rebecca, those are great points. This is why open dialog and not dismissing people as angry elitists is so important.

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