Book reviews are an interesting part of an author’s life. People can leave the sweetest compliments along with some not-so-nice complaints. It’s fun to watch the reviews on new books and I am truly humbled that so many people take time out of their day to write them. It motivates me to write more…if that’s possible.
I even receive lovely private messages, messages that literally bring tears to my eyes. Last night, someone sent me a beautiful message about An Amish Christmas Carol. She wrote how she could identify with Elsie and that she often turned down invitations for fear of being a bother. She proceeded to tell me that she wouldn’t do that anymore, that Elsie had shown her that, indeed, she was loved and needed. I think that was the most special message I have ever received. It’s moments like these that have made me realize how blessed I am. These lovely words keep me grounded and humble.
But there is a dark side to reviews, too.
You see, there’s a virus spreading and apparently no one is immune. It’s contagious, too. Even those people who practice the best care to avoid catching it are coming down with the virus. It spreads fast and furious. It creates a life of its own. It claims many victims along the way and leaves a wake of destruction.
The virus is called incivility.
I’m not certain where it came from or how it began but I think the Internet had something to do with it. Over the past few months, I’ve been encountering people online who, I’m sure, are pleasant as could be…good, church-going, God-loving people. But with just a little prodding, I’ve seen their Christian values left at the keyboard.
I recently responded (politely) to two comments on my Field of Zombies: An Amish Parable book (co-authored with Sam Lang) that were more in the category of just outright nasty. I noticed that one comment was promptly deleted–for which I’m thankful since she had thought it was a good idea to call me “evil” and confessed she would never read the book—which is a shame and slightly ironic since several people DID read it and quickly understood that it was, indeed, a parable using zombies as a metaphor for the increasingly poor behavior of the non-Amish due to our addiction to technology.
The other review was modified after that person sent me a private message with an explanation about disagreeing with some not-so-nice behavior by some people, including the other reviewer, on Facebook toward me. Well, no explanation was needed, especially since I am well aware of the not-so-nice public behavior by some not-so-nice people including both reviewers. Regardless, I’m glad that this person modified the review because the original posting called the book “boring” and also gave away the entire storyline.
But there is a greater lesson here.
I, for one, continue to refuse to become uncivil in the virtual world, anymore than I would become uncivil in the real world.
He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God?
So, my wish for all of my friends and fans is that all of us avoid this bug…this virus of sorts. Turn your back on those who speak poorly of others, who accuse unjustly, and who perpetuate their own problems through projection of fears and jealousy (or just plain old meanness) onto others. By calling out these people and not tolerating uncivil behavior…in a nice way, of course…perhaps we can cure the disease. After all, I have, indeed, seen what is good in the world. I’ve seen it in words and actions of people who touch my heart every day. Praise the good, ignore the bad, and do what is right to walk humbly with God. This is what I ask Him for myself and all of my friends and fans.