Today, EL James, the author of the 50 Shades of Grey books (including the most recent release, Grey) participated in a Twitter chat under the hashtag #AskELJames. The idea, of course, was for her fans to ask questions on the social media service and for her to answer them.
If you only look at James' timeline, it might look like it went well.
But if you look at some of the most popular tweets during #AskELJames, well... it didn't go very well.
Many Twitter users who were clearly not fans of James' work (or otherwise have a very weird way of showing it) took over. By simply searching the hashtag it quickly became difficult to find legitimate questions for the author, rather that criticism or jokes at her expense. Some people directed their, errr, comments at the quality of her writing:
But the majority of top tweets for the #AskELJames hashtag had to do with the messages her books appear to send, which many argue is, shall we say, unhealthy.
It could absolutely be argued that James deserves the criticism -- both of the quality of her writing and, more importantly, the idea that they might romanticize abusive relationships. But many were willing to take their comments too far (if the above tweets weren't there already) into the realm of personal, tasteless attacks (it was Twitter, after all. Not always a bastion of human decency). Others attacked the author's fans rather than the author herself.
Like her or not, #AskELJames didn't make the greatest case for using social media as a fun, carefree way for creators to interact with their fans.
At the end of it all, James only tweeted that it was "an interesting hour... :D"