A matter of overstatement

I have a little online office on Zoetrope called Mission Submission, where the focus is on paying publications and paying contests. I did this because I ruffled a few feathers with my attitude towards pay for writers, and writing for pay instead of giving it away, in the office where I usually hang out, the Flash Factory.

Well, conflict follows you everywhere. A member in my office posted a call for submissions to a publication that paid in copies. I checked out the site for the publication, and indeed it did not pay in money, although it also didn’t say it paid in copies, either. In my office I put up a note to say I’d let this one pass, but the focus was on markets that paid in money.

The next thing I knew, the member had removed her post, withdrawn from the office and sent me an email saying the mistake was hers for posting a call to submissions “where for-the-love publications are hated”.

Hated? I never said I hated non-paying publications. I said the focus of the office was on paying ones. As far as I can tell, non-paying publications are welcomed – even dignified with the name “markets” – in every other office.

I wonder why people feel the need to use the word “hate”. I’ve been called a child hater because I didn’t want to have any. I’ve been told I hate television because I don’t watch it. And now this person has implied that I hate non-paying publications. In fact I don’t hate non-paying publications, television or children. I just don’t want to participate. (I can say the same about liver and lima beans.)

I asked the question, “What’s with the word ‘hate’ in this situation?” My friend Doug Campbell said, “You take a big risk these days when you disagree with someone, no matter what the subject and no matter how rationally and respectfully you do it. People nowadays tend to equate disagreement with disrespect, and right away they’re pissed off and reaching for their six-guns. It’s very rare and extremely difficult these days to engage in a calm and rational debate with someone.”

Yeah, I notice that. If you ask someone, “Why did you do thus-and-so?”, just because you’re curious, they often get huffy right away. And I’m not talking about questions like “Why did you ever decide to choose that colour? It makes you look like death warmed over!” I’m talking about, say, asking someone why they decided to call me “Mrs”. I want to know what it is about me that makes that the title they chose. It’s curiosity, both personally, (Do I look like a “Mrs”?) and as a writer (What characteristics in a woman make her look like a Mrs?). No matter how I phrase it, I get huffiness, sometimes with a side order of insincere apology.

This use of “hate” matters to me because I’m concerned about the animosity attributed to me by implication, and also by the inaccuracy of the diction. “Hate” isn’t dislike, disapproval, or not wishing to participate. It’s a vehement opposition with a wish to destroy. To use it lightly is to devalue it; it’s a misuse, just as flagrant as saying “flaunt” for “flout”.

The older I get, the less I find I can truly say I hate. Even liver and lima beans are really just a matter of taste.

This entry was posted in Going on About Words, Who are these people? and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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