An email from a reader today, which (to paraphrase) noted I don’t seem to mix it up as much with dickheads here or elsewhere, and wondered whether that had to do with maturity or just because everyone’s moved on.
Maybe both? On the personal level, I’m rather less feeling the need to bother with the jerks. Over on Twitter, I’ll offer up a single pro forma condescending tweet before I mute/block someone; and over here on Whatever I’m even less inclined these days to humor trolls. At this point there’s just no percentage in it and I have other things to do. I made the decision last year to cut down on the amount of ego-searching I do, which makes a difference as well. Dickheads might be talking about me, but I don’t see it nearly as often, so from my point of view it’s not something I think about as much. Occasionally someone will bring something some jerk said to my attention, but that happens less as time goes on; we’ve all got other things to do, it seems.
Beyond that, it does seem that most of the dickheads who used to rail about me have either moved on or sunk themselves into obscurity or both. The fellow most enthusiastic about being a jackass in my direction over the years has recently fixated on someone else, which is nice for me and apparently harmless enough for the fellow he’s fixed himself upon. The object of his affections doesn’t seem to be suffering any real negative effect from the jackass’ constant need to attach himself, lamprey-like, to someone else’s career in the hope of gobbling up leftover crumbs. He’ll occasionally still snark in my direction, and mutter something to his sockpuppets about my blog visits, which, fine. But I don’t think his heart’s much into it anymore. He’s found a new crush, and I wish him joy.
Outside that dude, there’s a small group of indie writers (and their fans) who have used me as a fetish object in their never-ending war against the SJW-ing of science fiction, but that’s mostly just, like, six dudes reminding each other they’re in the “I Hate Scalzi” club over and over. Again, it’s not done me any harm, so let them have their whine circle if it makes them happy. But they seem to do it less now, as far as I can see. Among the former Sad Puppies, a couple of them will still hitch the strawman version of me to their chariot and drag it around the walls of their compound, to desultory cheers. But honestly, that was soooo long ago now. In the here and now, most of them are busy trying to build (or rebuild, as the case may be) their careers, and that’s probably a better use of their time. Good luck to them.
And that’s pretty much it, I think? Science fiction isn’t the locus of trolling and random dickheads like it was a few years ago. Most of those dudes moved on to comics and/or retreated back into video games once it became clear they were just wasting cash trying to sabotage the Hugos. That tide has retreated, so my share of abuse from it has commensurately declined. And also, you know. I’m a well-off almost-50-year-old white dude, and I can’t be fired from my job. The random dickheads have other people they prefer to bother.
And again: Fine by me. The path of my career has never been materially affected by these dickheads, but they can become enervating over time. I’m perfectly happy that most of them have moved on, and that I have moved on as well, in a different direction. Life is short.
So that’s why there’s been less of this sort of nonsense recently. I’m sure it will never go away entirely — this is the Internet, after all — but it really does seem to be in decline, and likely to mostly continue in that direction. Knock on wood.