I know I provided my unique and no doubt – this is me we’re talking about, after all – offensive take on this topic the other day, but I felt the need to offer a few thoughts on the ratings, reviews and online behaviour minefield.
I think in many ways the goodreads controversy was inevitable.
When there is a pervasive, reactive culture in any community such as that in the book blogging world, it is bound to bleed from individual sites to social media networks like Twitter and goodreads. It is also true these places, especially when a so-called considered reply adds more fuel to the fire, tend to exacerbate a situation even further by allowing people to respond instantly.
I’m not saying everyone does do this, but in highly emotional charged settings? Well, we all have a ‘fight or flight’ instinct. It’s natural, it’s understandable, and it’s the kind of position any one of us can find ourselves in and can therefore relate to.
Should we react? To launch a counter-attack and starve the bastards out with a siege or not to launch a counter-attack and starve the bastards out with a siege? That may be the question; however, it really comes down to the personality of an individual.
An individual who might feel empowered and protected by the anonymity of the internet. An individual who might feel they have built relationships with authors and other readers and who, as part of their ‘role’, believe they should stand by them and/or defend them.
An individual who might also feel a sense of investment in what might be the subject of the contention. Maybe someone like an author?
Or perhaps even a reviewer??
Now there’s a thought.
The bottom line for me is this: We all have a responsibility for what we do, but what we aren’t responsible for is how people react to it. Similarly, we can’t control what happens, but we can control the way we behave to it.
Yes, we may have contributed in some way to an event that has occurred for which there may be consequences. Yes, we should take ownership of these. We are not, though, some form of deity who knows and sees all and who can predict what happens at any given moment.
Crazy, I know.
I do wonder if it might be time to take stock.
To think about why we became involved in this online community in the first place.
To remember that we all just fucking love to read.
Yes. This. Just this.
Yeah. Sometimes it really is just that simple. It’s worth being reminded of it.
So true. All this bad feeling over a shared love of reading. I’ve made some great author friends through blogging and on GRs, and a couple of years ago I would have said that direct contact with authors was a bonus part of the online community to which I belong. However, recently I’ve become increasingly sour about interacting with authors and wish there was more distance. Then I think of all my great author friends, who are lovely, lovely people, and know that these friendships would never have happened if we weren’t all in this together.
Oh, bah! This GRs thing has caught me at a bad time anyway, when I’m doubting myself and my reasons for blogging. I’ve never felt myself to be in the thick of things anyway, mainly because I don’t participate in the GRs groups and stay on the edge of other blogs, commenting only occasionally, and yet this stuff still effects me.
Why can’t I just read books , discuss books and share book ideas without being made to feel bad. Obviously I can’t.
“Why can’t I just read books , discuss books and share book ideas without being made to feel bad.”
And that’s it, Jen. Why should we be made to feel guilty about loving to read? Something many of us do for the sheer pleasure of it? We shouldn’t have to and we certainly shouldn’t have to stop sharing our thoughts about books with like-minded people – which all readers really are at heart in spite of the fact we might like different things.
Maybe it’s time to revisit ideas like the book club you started a couple of years ago? Although we shouldn’t have to create our own safe spaces to talk about books, it’s something that can be done in the short term while this issue is so heated. It’s a thought anyways, and such a group can easily be created on GR so it’s invitation only and moderated.
Yes. This. And it gets even messier when you add in trolls and others who like to fan the flames for attention and/or publicity. 😦
@Jen: Like you, I have mixed feelings now about author interactions. I have so many great author friends, but I find I’m increasingly hesitant about befriending other authors, based on all the drama that’s become nonstop in the past year or so…
“And it gets even messier when you add in trolls and others who like to fan the flames for attention and/or publicity.”
Indeed it does. As I said elsewhere, the fact that I have to relive my high school years is the suck. The fact that I have to deal with it or be witness to it when all I want is to enjoy something I love doing is bullshit to the power of infuckinginity and beyond.
We all have a responsibility for what we do, but what we aren’t responsible for is how people react to it. Similarly, we can’t control what happens, but we can control the way we behave to it.
This. I don’t know how many times the unnamed expert has said something along those lines to me, and it applies in all facets of life, not just online. I think as soon as you add readers and authors into the mix there is too much riding on the outcome, and tension invariably leads to a boom!
My unnamed experts say it to me all the time too, especially when my sense of responsibility goes into warp speed.
I think when it comes to reading, etc it definitely adds a certain element to the mix, and I think that might be because of the emotive aspects associated with reading and writing and the ways in which we connect with books and stories. My gut feel anyway, but it certainly doesn’t excuse what has been happening.
Does your unnamed expert know you call him/her the unnamed expert? Mine does and finds it highly amusing 🙂
And yes. There is so much emotion, so much ‘self’ involved in writing, and in reading, in connecting with the characters. But I agree, it doesn’t excuse what has been happening.
She doesn’t, but would probably kill herself laughing if I told her.
“But I agree, it doesn’t excuse what has been happening.”
No. We humans are inherently fallible creatures.