Brett Easton Ellis was once known for being an edgy author with a literary bent. Now he's becoming known for simply being obnoxious. Via Twitter, the once esteemed Ellis has given vent to his darker side, diminishing a once fearsome literary reputation in the process.
Things came to a head last week when Ellis, via Twitter, bashed author David Foster Wallace and his fans. The fact that the horribly depressed Wallace committed suicide four years ago didn't seem to matter to Ellis. Nor did the fact that his choice of language was crass, to put it mildly.
I generally don't care much for people who act like Ellis. Those who pride themselves on brutal honesty tend to be just plain brutal. Even if I agreed with his core criticism of Wallace – and I don't – I'd still look at Ellis differently now.
A poster on an English website has brought up an interesting point, though: if Twitter were around “back in the day,” many, many of the writers who are now admired might be looked at differently. Just imagine what Hemingway may have had to tweet about after a night of heavy drinking. Or Virginia Woolf during one of her infamous breakdowns.
We live in a new world, one where mass communication can be as much a curse as it is a blessing. By letting everyone on the planet know our random thoughts and feelings before thinking of the best ways to express them, we risk damaging our reputations and relationships.
In short, the days of keeping the less becoming aspects of our personalities in the dark are potentially over. We now have to be extremely cautious of even the most flip comments we make. My wife is forever reminding me to be careful of what I put out on the internet. She's right to do so. A reputation-damaging statement, after all, is just 140 characters away.
Just ask Brett Easton Ellis.