I really needed this post after a morning of seeing "bully" flung about everywhere someone's feels were injured— link at http://dearauthor.com/features/letters-of-opinion/taking-the-bull-out-of-book-review-bullying/
"...you don’t really hear guys like Oliver and Bourdain complain about “foodie bullies,” even though... gotten more than a handful of scathing reviews..."
[pulling this next point out of order to show above the fold]
"... what often happens in these situations is that the author in question, who feels personally attacked ...sort of combines all of the individual critical voices together and calls “bully,” not because there is a repeated pattern of victimization, but because more than one reader criticizes the author’s commercial product..."
But let’s go back to the psychological definition of bullying for a minute: physical or verbal abuse, repeated over time, and involving a power imbalance. Two things are striking about this definition. First, there is a repetitive aspect to bullying, and second, there must be an imbalance of power between the bully and the victim, with the bully having enough power over the victim to be able to repeatedly inflict physical or verbal abuse over time.
Who holds the balance of power
This is a tricky question, because it depends on what kind of power you’re talking about, and about how that power is distributed and utilized. Rose Fox neatly articulated the author is the primary authority on his or her own work thesis, and that argument is not insignificant. Regardless of what economic power the author perceives the reader to have regarding the sales of his or her book, a vast, vast majority of the time an author steps into a discussion of her own book, there is a resulting disruption. .. the Smugglers’ discussion, the author is perceived to be trying to direct conversation around his or her own assumed authority over the text...
There are a couple of implications we need to consider here. First, the fact that commercial speakers perceive themselves to have more to lose when their product is not viewed in the way they believe will make it economically profitable. Non-commercial speakers don’t have an economic investment in the product being discussed, and must therefore stand on some personal belief or principle in order to keep speaking. The incentive is lower to stand by non-commercial speech, thus the law perceives it to be more in need of protection. So when you have an author pitted against a reader who did not like the author’s book, the author has a much greater incentive to have her commercial speech prevail...
By invoking the personal attack language, the author is overtly assuming two places and two voices within the dual marketplace (ideas and commerce), utilizing these two positions to generate support from other authors and readers, with the (perhaps inadvertent) aim of drowning out and overpowering the so-called “bully.” This does not make the accused bully a “victim,” however, any more than the author is a “victim” of the reader’s harsh criticism. However, the author’s seemingly unquestioned ability to slip between the personal and the professional in defending self and product is a privilege that the reader cannot claim, and if anything it nudges the balance of power away from the reader...
Let’s just call it what it is
Drama. So very much of this back and forth is drama..."
Well, I'm going to stop quoting before I steal the whole article; use the link to read on as there are very good points.