I was going to write, in needfully-vague terms, about all the Awesome and wildly creative Stuff we’ve been doing. But sadly, GISHWHES hit a very public bump on Monday. And I think we need to talk about it.
Part of the entire idea of a scavenger hunt is finding things, and getting people to help you find (or do) those things. And GISHWHES has always embraced that – we reach out to people we know, and people who know people we know, and often utter strangers.
(That’s how I ended up getting friendly hugs from complete and random strangers in an Amtrak station, last year).
And the backdrop of GISHWHES has been to do this in as fun and inclusive a way as possible, – and if someone says they can’t help, we smile and move on to the next person who might. We do what we can, in the best way we can.
But this year, some people forgot what GISHWHES is about, and were unforgivably rude to people who said no. They forgot that we’re asking people to join us in fun. They forgot that we’re approaching strangers, and need to explain to them what’s going on, and infect them with the fun, too.
And because they did this to people who make a living with words – writers – it hit the Internet. In a pretty noticeable way.
So what people were hearing was “GISHERs are assholes.”
This was particularly painful for me, because I’m a GISHER…and I’m a writer. These were my people at odds.
Thankfully, it seems that this was a small number, out of the thousands of people worldwide participating. But any is too much.
Winning is great fun, yes. Everyone dreams of winning. But if your only reason for playing along is to win….you’ve not only missed the point, you tore up the memo without reading it.
Creativity. Joie de vivre. Good deeds. Positivity.
For my fellow writers who had bad experiences, I’m sorry. Most of us are harmless and actually quite nice. I apologize for the assholes. And yes, note of their bad behavior was taken by our Overlord and his Admin Crew, and noses, I believe, have been whapped (I would have cut them off and cast them from the Hunt, myself, but I’m not Overlord).
(Unfortunately, it wasn’t just GISHERs behaving badly. There was some sniping and “aren’t I clever” snarking from several writers on Twitter, many of whom had no idea what was going on, and didn’t bother to ask. I hairy-eyeball the lot of them.)
However… I’m pleased to say that out of that conflagration we also saw a phoenix rise. Several of my fellow writers reported having lovely exchanges – even when they had to say no. Greg Cox, Dayton Ward, and Tiffany Trent, to name the folk who said “yes quote me,” went out of their way to talk about how pleasant their interactions had been (as were mine), and Jaym Gates, who took on the task of fixing willing SFWA members up with needy teams, had only good things to report about her experience. And some of the writers are now making noises about joining next year! (Join us. Jooooooin ussssss…)
So I’m hoping the rest of the week, people will remember what’s most important about GISHWHES. (Hint: it’s actually not the winning).
Meanwhile, the past few days I’ve ended up covered in cornmeal, macked with a dummy, practiced my best busker voice, coaxed people on three different continents into (mis)behaving silly, met half a dozen new people, and talked team-mates through the occasional Item-related hyperventilation…. God only knows what the rest of the week will bring!
Hopefully, only good things.