Monday, July 5, 2010

RANT on Revenge

I am stepping up on my soapbox here.  So, if you don't like all the hollering and shouting, you may want to tiptoe on past.

I received an e-mail from a writer acquaintance recently, sharing that an evil person has a plot against him.  I will not share the plot because I do not want any evil-minded people out there acquiring a new method to use for tormenting and taunting writers--or anyone else.  Suffice it to say, the evil person launched a personal campaign to malign my writer acquaintance's wonderful published works.

The story brought to mind a similar event, one that I will share.  On my Author Exchange Blog, I interview published authors, editors, agents, and all manner of folk in the publishing industry.  The interviewees usually enjoy the free promotional opportunity and post links to the interview on their websites, blogs, etc.  Did you notice I used the word usually in the previous sentence?  It was intentional.

Last year, I published an author's interview and, upon checking the comments a couple of hours after it appeared, was horrified to view a comment.  Actually, the comment was a novella--a diatribe against the author citing an interminable list of wrongs, ranging from the author's mistreatment of family from the time she was a child to more current misdeeds.  Mind you, nothing in the comment/novella pertained to the author's writing or published works.  It was clearly a vicious sneak attack on the author.  For all I know, the contents of the novella could have been true.  My blog, however, was not the appropriate forum for the commenter to air his/her "issues."  (Did I mention the commenter left his/her comments using the name ANONYMOUS?  How weaselly is that?)

This particular incident introduced me to the security measure known as "moderating comments" on a blog.  If a blog host does not moderate comments (choose to have the comments e-mailed to the blog host BEFORE allowing them to appear live on the blog), they appear immediately online--in all their glory.  If a blog host does not moderate comments, the only way to get rid of them is to delete the entire blog entry (which includes the offending comments).

I deleted the interview, along with its offensive novella, and reposted it.  Yes, I began immediately moderating comments--on that and all the other blogs I host.

Which brings me to this:  If a person is so angry with, and wronged by, another person that he feels revenge must be exacted, why does he have to be so darned sneaky?  Why can't he simply walk up to the person who committed the wrong and punch him in the nose if conversation won't resolve the matter?

Okay, you've got a point.  Jail is not a prospect most people look forward to and might just be a deterrent to the nose-punching alternative.  But still.  I can think of one (or seven) people who've really and truly pissed me off over the years.  A couple of them were downright sneaky and nasty; one or two were simply users.  It would never cross my mind to sabotage them online.  Mostly because when I wear my insurance hat, I am very familiar with offenses such as libel, slander, invasion of privacy, etc.  And as much as I might want to see those 1-7 people get theirs, I sure don't want any negative consequences to reflect on me when it happens.

I've just made it clear that I don't understand revenge.  Which is why I've never used it as a plot device in a novel.  Can anyone explain to me--in simple, basic language--what motivates a person to risk all sorts of painful consequences for revenge?


  1. A-MEN.

    What motivates revenge? Especially the "weaselly" kind? I feel kind of sad for people who are motivated to act that way. I suspect that most of them have probably been dealt a legitimately crappy hand in the card game of life. And rather than use their problems as motivation to rise above them, they think the only way to level the playing field is to bring everyone down to their level.

    Note, I feel "kind of sad" for them. Not fully sad because as long as you are bearing up under a miserable burden, you are to be commended. As soon as you start giving in to it and letting it beat you, you are to be pitied.

    And when you use it as an excuse to make others miserable, you are to be despised.

  2. This is maybe an oblique response but my novel The Darkness was actually my revenge on behalf of someone else. Very briefly, noticing the accent of a waiter in a restaurant in Scotland, I suggested that he was a long way from home. His reply was that he needed to be. He then explained that a drunk driver had killed his wife and two wee daughters, been sentenced to 18 months in jail and served only 6 of them - as the waiter put it 'That's 2 months for each life. His story stayed with me and I wanted justice for him. Eventually, I wrote the book and the fictional equivalent of the driver suffered. But, as it happened, so did the character who was exacting the revenge. I understand the revenge motive but I think embracing it only leads to more misery.