John Green, author of The Fault in Our Stars and Looking for Alaska, often engages with his fans on his Tumblr. But Green's active presence inspired several users to try to get his attention by tagging him in posts accusing him of sexual abuse.
Green responded by saying that casually thrown-around accusations like these were trivializing abuse.
You want me to defend myself against the implication that I sexually abuse children?
Okay. I do not sexually abuse children.
Throwing that kind of accusation around is sick and libelous and most importantly damages the discourse around the actual sexual abuse of children. When you use accusations of pedophilia as a way of insulting people whose work you don't like, you trivialize abuse.
I'm tired of seeing the language of social justice–important language doing important work–misused as a way to dehumanize others and treat them hatefully.
So we all seek (and seek to share) the jolt that accompanies outrage and anger. As studies have shown, the complicated dopamine rush that comes with righteous indignation is very powerful, and I'm indulging it simply by responding to the outrageous accusation that my work is somehow evidence of sexual abuse.
Green also stated that he will no longer be using Tumblr the same way as before because "the outrage cycle is exhausting":
But the outrage cycle is exhausting, and while there are wonderful examples of outrage fueling long-term, productive responses to injustice–We Need Diverse Books and the UPLIFT both come to mind–too often the Internet moves from jolt to jolt, from hatred to hatred, ever more convinced of our own righteousness and the world's evil. And getting caught up in that is very painful.
... But this stops being a productive place for me to be in conversations if I'm not allowed to be wrong, if my apologies are not acknowledged alongside my misdeeds, and if I'm not treated like a person.
I think at this point it's impossible to continue to use tumblr in the way I've used it since 2011. My life is different (in ways that are both good and bad); this community is different (in ways that are both good and bad); the world is different (in ways that are both good and bad).
So if this blog begins to look more one-way, with more original content and less reblogging/commenting/answering asks/etc., that's why.
... Also, I'm not angry or anything like that. I just need some distance for my well-being.
Writer Maggie Stiefvater took to Tumblr to offer support, explaining why the accusations were so troubling:
I watched this blow up before my eyes and it's clear that a lot of readers don't understand the real reason why this makes a writer like John Green get off the internet. It's not because it's a gross thing to throw around casually (it is) or that it's libel (maybe?) or that it's hate (for sure). Those things exist on the internet, just like neo-nazis lurk on the internet.
The reason why this makes a writer like John Green back away from Tumblr is because it insisted on climbing in his internet space. It didn't just exist out there, being hateful and weird, out of sight, for the entertainment (?) of like-minded individuals.
He was tagged in it. It was placed in his feed for his perusal. ... The hate is hand-delivered, with vicious joy: the creator is made to watch themselves being hung, drawn, and quartered.
All the kudos in the world don't make up for scrolling through your Tumblr feed or inbox and discovering you've been disemboweled yet again. You can have your own opinions on Green's books and internet presence, but the fact remains that he is a very real positive influence on thousands of teens. You're not just making sure you can't have nice things. You're taking away other people's nice things.