What Has Happened to Us?

Posted May 15, 2016 by Kara in Imaginative Discussions, Kara / 28 Comments

Imaginative Discussions

Disclaimer: Before I get started, I needed you to know that this is not going to be a positive or happy post. I am feeling in quite the negative head space right now as I write this, but it is something that has been weighing heavily on my mind for some time now. Before you judge me, or anyone else for that matter, I want you to think outside of your own experiences and keep an open mind. Realize that not everyone deals with situations the same way you do, or feels the same way you do when drama should occur. This is MY story and MY feelings, and they are not representative of anyone else’s, except for those that may have commiserated with me over this in the past couple of months. But even they don’t feel one hundred percent the same way I do. We are all different people, and no one is the same, and this is what makes us special and individuals.

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I’ve been a member of the bookish community for over five years. I started on Goodreads, before starting up this blog in March of 2011. I blogged by myself for a long time, and then I brought Lyn onboard in 2013. She has been with me ever since. At one point we gained another co-blogger who is no longer with us, then it was back to the two of us, then we added Pixie, and finally Maryam. The point of all this is, Great Imaginations has gone through many incarnations, and I’ve been on social media through it all. The bookish community has continued to grow and get larger, and as a result, there are many more voices, and it’s easy for yours to get lost. This is something I am dealing with right now, but that is a different post for another day. What I want to know is:

What the hell are we doing to each other?

I don’t remember when it started exactly, or how, or why, but people on social media are angry now. SO angry. And it shows in the way we are treating each other. I’m not going to name any names, but there are toxic but influential people (mostly on Twitter), that seem to be running the show, but talking down to anyone who disagrees, and all of their followers seem to just follow suit and accept this behavior as okay. I don’t care WHAT your platform is and how important it is (in this case v. important), but you do not treat people like they are garbage that you scrape off your shoe. Especially when you are an author and you are punching downward. Were you raised in a barn?

Okay, but this is not the only thing wrong with social media these days.

It’s toxic. So toxic. On most days, I log in to Twitter, only to see someone trashing someone else, and I log right back out. Either that, or my mouth drops open in shock. I am just disgusted by how people are treating each other these days, and the internet has given people a free license to say whatever the hell they want with very little repercussions.

There was a situation a couple weeks ago…

Drama in the bookish community about whether or not GoFundMe was the proper place for a blogger to raise money for a trip to BEA. The blogger in question was–and is–an important blogger, because they specialize in GLBTQIA books, and work very hard at making people see how important diverse books are. They are doing very important work, and I am thrilled they got to attend BEA. Back to the drama though. It spiraled out of control, with the bloggers that were upset about raising money for BEA through GoFundMe getting attacked for being transphobic, bullying, and against diversity, when nothing could be further from the truth. Leading the charge against these bloggers, one a very dear friend of mine, were some very loud and important voices in our community, some bloggers, but mostly authors. And I’m not saying that none of them were respectful, but the majority were not, and a couple were downright NASTY, calling one of the bloggers a “garbage person.”

Serial killers and rapists are garbage people. MRAs are garbage people. I’m pretty sure none of us are, though.

I’ve since had time to think about my stance during this drama, and I’ve realized that I was wrong. I can explain why I felt the way I originally did, but it wouldn’t do any good, and it’s kind of beyond what I am getting at anyway. Just realize that I am sorry for being against raising money this way, people can use GoFundMe for whatever they want, and anyone can donate to any cause they wish. There have been some REALLY stupid campaigns before and those were funded, so why shouldn’t someone be able to fund their BEA trip this way, especially when they are doing it on a very important platform?

Back to the issue at hand though, it is not okay to yell at people and belittle them in this manner. That author should be ashamed of herself. The people that jumped at the chance to pile on should be ashamed as well. The bottom line is this: none of us really know each other. So to treat someone you don’t know like that…a stranger that you would NOT say that to on the street…just where do you get off exactly?

I’ll tell you how I was raised. I’ve been wrong plenty of times, and so have my friends, but you know what we do? We talk it out. We try to get the person that disagrees to see our side and why we feel the way we do. We listen to each other and work out our issues. If all else fails, we agree to disagree. We don’t spread nasty shit about each other on Twitter and in DMs, and then unfollow them for feeling differently. Because I took the unpopular side, the side I believe was wrong (but people make mistakes, right?), I lost friends that day. People that I respected, loved, and really valued. Rather than try to talk to me about it, they showed me just how little my friendship mattered to them.

Edited to add: Now that BEA is over, there is drama over book hauls again. This happens EVERY year, and there are assholes on both sides of the issue. It generally culminates in bloggers and librarians feeling angry and resentful because ALA is coming soon, and bloggers are allowed into ALA if they pay a fee, but bloggers are upset because they feel unwelcome and unwanted, and mad they are all painted with the same brush. (It sucks–it really does.) But guys, empathy for each other, okay? We all love books. ALA obviously wants the public there, but if you decide to go and are not a librarian, BE respectful. Take only what you plan to read and review. And defer to librarians. This is not hard. But there are always a few bad apples at BEA or ALA to ruin it for everyone when most people are NOT like that. I just really want this anger towards each other to stop, in all facets of publishing. WE ALL LOVE BOOKS. We have something in common, so why can’t we find common ground?

I’m really sad about it.

That’s why I wrote this post. Maybe I thought I was closer to these bloggers than I actually was, and that was my mistake. But I can’t pretend I am okay with how we are treating each other, when I am not. I used this most recent drama as an example, but there have been so many other situations where the same thing happened. Anger. Pile-ons. People shouting into a void, acting like their opinion is the only one that matters, and shutting down anyone who tries to say otherwise. We are all people who care about books, and in most cases, each other. It’s time we start talking to each other about the issues that matter to each of us. We need to stop judging what we don’t know. I have no idea what the majority of these awesome people do when they are not on Twitter or Instagram. I don’t know you that well, and you don’t know me. But I can assure you that most of us want to help make publishing and bookish Twitter, book blogs, Booktube, and Instagram the best they can be.

I don’t want it to be an ugly place anymore.

I remember when we used to be open and welcoming to each other. These days I fear opening my mouth because I don’t want to have someone jumping down my throat. I’m afraid to speak up or share my opinion. I admit it. It’s why I haven’t been blogging much. I haven’t wanted to because I don’t feel all that welcome anymore. Social media feels really toxic these days, and I am almost positive it’s damaging my mental health. And yet I know it’s a wonderful tool for change, and it has done so many wonderful things so far, when we can get together and make something amazing happen. But why is it such a nasty place sometimes? And why do people think they can say whatever hurtful thing they want without thinking for a second what the person they are belittling is feeling? Where did the empathy go?

How do we make it stop?

KaraSig_Purple

28 responses to “What Has Happened to Us?

    • I wish I didn’t have to, but it really helps me interact with fellow book lovers and many people I adore that I can’t chat with elsewhere.

      And it kinda feels the opposite now. Say something someone disagrees with and EVERYONE in interested and it becomes a shit show. Totally a double-edged sword.

  1. People with power and anonymity will feel no obligation to be compassionate. What do we do? Ignore the assholes and continue putting positive energy out there. My introduction to the book blogging community was being told I wasn’t good enough to be part of the community, so I don’t have memories of kittens and rainbows. But human nature is what it is, and trying to recreate the past is a doomed exercise. Focus on the few that matter to you, stay out of the drama (reacting to assholes makes them feel justified to keep exhibiting that behavior), and you’ll be fine.

    • I try, but it’s so hard to keep at it sometimes when all I see are authors that are supposed to be professional being rude to their readers, the people that put money in their pocket. I don’t get it.

      And I am so sorry that happened to you, and I can’t imagine someone telling you that. It’s completely gross.

    • That’s not really my experience. Sure, there has always been drama, but there were SO many great people that made it worth sticking around. I still have close friends, but I have also lost a few, and the drama and negativity has gotten really intense lately.

  2. I’m always so behind apparently. I did see the drama around the BEA haul of a blogger. And while I think that that behavior is wrong, I also believe that people are judging bloggers all around the world for the behavior of one person. Most of us would never do this. The majority of bloggers do all this work for no compensation. That shouldn’t be forgotten, in my opinion.

    Like you said, I could never deal with people being hateful to each other. I understand you can disagree, as we don’t all share the same opinions on everything -duh- but you can disagree in a nice manner. You don’t have to be rude for that.

    To be honest, I always hear about this drama later on. Aside from the BEA haul and the author who stalked a blogger once, I almost never see this drama on my Twitter feed. Maybe I’m only following the “right” people? Anyway, I hope this community will be the peaceful, hopeful and kind community I know it can be.
    Jolien @ The Fictional Reader recently posted…Weekly Wrap Up | May #2My Profile

    • I absolutely agree with you, Jolien. Bloggers are taken for granted, a lot. By authors, by publishers, and it’s really disgusting. I’m tired of being treated like crap. I really am.

      And yes, people can still disagree and be respectful and talk it out. Seems like people just want to yell and talk over each other these days.

      Be glad you hear about it late? I’ve been trying to keep my distance lately, but now I’m trying to make my way back because I feel like I really want to be an important voice in this community, and it’s starting to get to me a little bit.

  3. I tend to vent my anger and frustration on Twitter a lot. I probably shouldn’t, but it feels good to let it out of my head, and to hear validation that I’m not alone in my feelings.

    My Facebook is free of most of the negative stuff, though, so that’s probably better to read 😉
    Tez Miller recently posted…April 2016 ReadsMy Profile

    • Yeah, I’m starting to again too. I don’t want to feel silenced anymore, because that sucked. What’s the worst that can happen if someone trolls me for an opinion? Not much, really.

  4. I’m only commenting on the after BEA issue because I have no idea what the previous drama was about. I totally agree with you! I cannot believe some things I’ve seen on both sides of this argument. On the one hand, I’ve seen a blogger with 7+ copies of multiple ARCs and I think it’s excessive. I’ve also seen the authors who complain about bloggers even being allowed in and I can hardly believe it! My favorite authors seem thrilled to see bloggers at BEA! And I didn’t even realize that the librarians were mad about ALA! I’m getting to go for the first time this year because it’s near me. It’s not as if we’re going into the actual sessions – we literally only go to the exhibitions! My librarian friends are thrilled that I get to go and are giving me tips, so it’s shocking to me that people are so rude!

    • It’s just a MESS everywhere I don’t know if anything can be done about it. I’m just tired of rude people all around. Looking forward to meeting you at BEA!

  5. I’m sorry to hear about this. I have been reviewing books for almost nine years and had always wanted to blog (I recently became a contributing blogger on a site) and seeing this overall negativity makes it scary. But I hope that you and the many bookish people who do so continue to spread your love for books. We need you all, negative people or no.

  6. I’m so tired of people jumping down everyone else’s throat on Twitter. It happens after every single convention and happens more and more on a regular basis. What happened to respectful discourse? To giving benefit of the doubt? To not burning down all the freaking bridges?

    There are some situations where there’s clearly an egregious misstep, as with that infamous monster book haul photo from this year’s BEA–but most of the time, people are yelling over what are, in fact, THEIR OPINIONS. Not illegal, not against the rules, etc. There are definitely legitimate causes for concern, but I see a lot of the same names heaping abuse without merit, slyly subtweeting, turning every situation into an “us against them” mentality, and sometimes playing victim. It’s interesting that some of these people don’t seem interested in raising thoughtful questions and trying to work constructively towards change, they mostly seem to want to rant, shame, feel superior, and gossip. I wonder how many of the ranters have actually written to ALA or BEA to raise their concerns, and of those, what the reactions have been. I’m pretty sure the conventions are interested in as many attendees (READ: booklovers) as possible, as they’re happy to take our money, and the publishers want awareness in general. These guys all know that non-industry people attend, including bloggers and members of the general public. The amount of publicity and promotion that comes out of a simple photo or tweet is enormous.

    There’s also a ridiculous movement towards bloggers being professionals. Yes, bloggers should be respectful and courteous (and most of us go out of our way to do that not only in person but also muzzle ourselves online), but we are not professionals. We spend thousands of dollars and countless hours on this thing every year, but most of us are not paid and it’s a goddamned hobby. It’s not our job and we aren’t bound by anything other than the law and our own code of ethics. As such, I think bloggers can pretty much do whatever they want, as long as it’s not against the rules and within reason. The catch is, of course, that everyone has a different definition of “reason,” and everyone has to find what that is for him/herself. But I’m sick to death of being reading tweets that feel like we’re being pummeled because someone THINKS that doing x and x is wrong. It may not be in the best taste, it may not be polite, it may drop you off someone’s publicity list, it may lose you followers, it may do whatever–but it also may not be wrong. Opinions aren’t fact.

    Sorry for going on. I had a scathing blog post drafted after ALA 2015 about this, but I never posted it. Good luck with your trip, btw. I’ve gone a few times and it’s always been a fun experience until I get home and see the nastiness online, some of which was directed specifically at me last year. People often offer up the “Bloggers don’t belong at ALA, why don’t they go to BEA” argument, like we’re all made of money and have even MORE time and resources to devote to this hobby. I’ve only ever been to ALA, because they’ve been located within driving distance–and guess what, they ALLOW bloggers! If people are mad that bloggers have access to conferences, screaming on Twitter or heaping abuse on us is not going to change anything.

    Another post which you might find interesting: http://jenuinecupcakes.blogspot.com/2014/06/like-i-said.html Same old story, another year. There’s far too much policing that goes on in this community.
    Wendy Darling recently posted…Flamecaster: ReviewMy Profile

    • And I’ll reiterate for the inevitable subtweeting: 7 ARCs for one blog is over the top, and yes, selling ARCs is squicky/shouldn’t be tolerated. Your point was about the nature of online discourse in general, Kara, which has become non-existent. I feel like there are a reasonable few who have the middle ground, but the majority of Twitter is screaming ranting rage or those of us who mostly hold our tongues and walk away. I’m definitely not on it as much as I used to be, and it seems like I mute someone new everyday.
      Wendy Darling recently posted…Flamecaster: ReviewMy Profile

      • That’s exactly what I mean. You can disagree with someone and still talk about it respectfully. I feel like because there is less social interaction in this world due to technology, people have forgotten how to talk to each other or something.

        An opinion is just an opinion. That’s that. There are too many people in this community shouting their opinion as if it’s gospel and a fact. It’s not. If these were the people that were in charge of my social justice cause, I wouldn’t want to work with them to make change happen. They are fucking rude and nasty and unwilling to listen to anyone other than their small, close-minded circle.

        As long as publishers continue to want bloggers at BEA and ALA, they don’t have a leg to stand on. There are bad apples in literally ever group. Authors are not immune from this. Hardly. If anyone knows this, you and I fucking do. And yet bloggers get blamed for shit, time and time again. It’s repulsive.

        I don’t want to be a professional blogger. I don’t want this to feel like work. Editing is my job and that feels like work sometimes, but it’s supposed to. Blogging is not. It’s my hobby. You are supposed to enjoy your hobby. I don’t mind the idea of getting paid for promo content, but I don’t want to start what is basically a blogger union. That is fucking ridiculous. Period. End of.

        Yes. So sick of opinions being parroted as fact. They aren’t any more knowledgeable than anyone else. No matter what they say. So sick of that, lemme tell you.

        What happened after ALA 15, if you don’t mind my asking? I forget. And directed at you? I so don’t remember that. How horrible. I am really looking forward to going, but I know better than to post a photo of all the books I get. In fact, I just may avoid the internet afterward.

        And yeah, totally agree with you about Twitter. So sick of people treating each other like garbage. And I’m tired of sitting back and watching it happen. I have no idea what I am going to do. I use my mute and block button frequently but I’m just going to try to fight the right battles.

  7. I feel like there has been a lot of drama lately and I try to stay out of it because no matter what side I take, I’m always wrong in someone’s eyes. I definitely sometimes feel unwelcome in the community lately and a few weeks ago I started to feel SO horrible I had to take a hiatus because of it. This saddens me because I’ve always been on my own and I thought I was the only person in the world that loves reading SO much. And then I found this community about three years ago and I thought I’d found my place. And yes, I’ve met some wonderful people and made a few very good friends along the way, but it’s this drama that ruins it all for the people that just want to chat books with fellow bookworms.
    Bee @ Quite the Novel Idea recently posted…{Bee’s Reviews} The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson ~ Cute, Sweet & So Important!My Profile

    • It’s really a tough thing when it feels like you can’t do the right thing no matter what you do. I hear you completely. Taking breaks helps though. Just tell yourself it’s temporary, and you will come back when your brain and emotions feel better. I’ve taken quite a few social media breaks, and it really helps put life in perspective. And then also, don’t not curate your social media feed the way you want it. Block and/or mute the people that upset you, and it’s almost like they don’t exist. That also helps. I am so sorry you were hurt by it, though. It’s tough to see that happen when you love a thing so much.

  8. I couldn’t agree more.. Mostly I’ve stopped going on Twitter as much because there’s always something new every week. And what I don’t understand is that it’s always about someone’s opinion and if someone has a problem with it, they explode into rage. I’ve muted so many people because of this because I just can’t take the negativity anymore.

    Twitter was supposed to be this safe bubble where we love books and gush about plot and characters and writing. Sad to see it become this battleground where some people think someone is attaching the, when it’s really just their opinion.

    • Yeah, the anger explosions are out of control. People can’t just talk things out anymore and it makes me sad. I also use my mute and block buttons a lot. I get tired of the constant negativity.

      I never looked at Twitter as a safe bubble because anyone can see anything you put out there, but there was a level or respect for each other that I don’t think is there anymore. It’s like our community changed from a regular Target into Black Friday Target, and it has to stop.

  9. I think it will be really hard to stop. Which is sad. And it also has hindered my motivation to blog. Luckily I have many friends around me, and we have a safe space to talk about such things. And when I don’t want to see it or talk about it, I get off of Twitter (Though let’s be honest, I feel like there are 3 dramas going on at the same time atm. It feels never ending)

    I know this is sad, but I have kind of given up. The best I can do is not support the authors and bloggers that are rude, and resist the urge to tweet about anything.

    I loved this post Kara. I think it was great, and brave, of you to post something that has been on everybody’s mind.

  10. Ugh . . . DRAMA SUCKS! I am so sorry that stuff is happening. I always seem to miss the drama on Twitter, maybe because I don’t use it as much as some people do. I am grateful for that. Regardless of what your opinion is on these matters, everyone should be able to have a difference of opinion without getting attacked for it. It seems like people on the Internet are always so angry and I think part of it is the anonymity. I don’t think people would be this mean to people face to face. Either way, it’s pretty sucky,
    Cynthia @ Bingeing On Books recently posted…DISCUSSION: Things Book Snobs SayMy Profile

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