I've been noticing a peculiar phenomenon on review sites: the lower a book's rating, the more people flock to read and comment on the review.
For example, I was at Dear Author yesterday. The review of a novel rated "DNF" had already garnered quite a few comments. Recent and more benign posts received roughly from five to ten comments each. I've seen this at Reviews by Jessewave, too, sometimes to a startling degree.
"Authors Behaving Badly" articles invariably draw crowds -- usually with torches held high, like incensed villagers in the old Frankenstein movies. I've seen countless such episodes on the Internet.
What's up with this? What does it say about human nature? I often get the sense that a lot of people derive some perverse joy from the missteps or failures of others. I can't deny I've peeked in on such discussions -- and probably, when I was still a newbie, participated in some -- but I always depart feeling a little skeeved.
Voicing one's outrage over truly reprehensible attitudes or behavior, as Teddypig sometimes does or Kris did so eloquently in this post, is completely comprehensible to me. You know the saying: If you don't stand up for something, you'll fall for anything. There are countless injustices against which we should speak out. Hell, there are even individuals whose conduct is so odious they deserve to get the collective raspberry. But these aren't the sorts of things I'm referring to.
So . . . what's it all about, Alfie? Granted, we're all capable of morbid curiosity as well as petty resentments and self-righteous snits. But public pile-ons disturb me. Do our own insecurities combined with a herd mentality demand we take satisfaction in the crash-and-burn moments of others? En masse? Just wondering.
Footnote: The final paragraph in this post by Mrs. Giggles appears to be a recent example of what I've been babbling about.