Over the four years that I’ve been blogging, I’ve seen a lot of posts going up about the drama in the book blogging world. About people being attacked for their viewpoints, stalked for their negative reviews, outraged over others’ bad behaviors at book conferences … it seems that there is no short supply of negativity on the internet. But still, each and every time I see a post about how painful and draining the book community can be I think, “Really?” Because that just hasn’t been my experience. I’ve found the book blogging community to be a friendly and welcoming place.
I tried to figure out why. Do I just stay away from controversial topics on my blog? I don’t think so. I’ve posted about many topics that have brought about debate in the community:
- The Irresistible Pull of ARCs
- Number of Followers and Following Back (though some of my thoughts and habits have changed since I wrote it)
- Authors that Complain (and why I eventually gave up on that complaining author)
- The Fine Line Between Inspired By and Copycat
- And a post entitled I Wasn’t Stressed About Blogging Until I Found Out I Was Doing it Wrong.
And I’ve written about some even more controversial topics:
- Reading and Writing Diversity (a HUGE hot-button right now)
- Faith in Blogging
- Is it Ever Okay to Judge?
- And my personal views on Cheating in books
So, if it’s not that I’m staying completely away from controversial subjects, could it be that I’m just too disconnected from the book blogging community as a whole to fully experience the negativity? Sometimes I think that might be partially true. I have my own little niche here at FYFA—I didn’t purposely carve it out, but I tend to interact most with the bloggers from the Book Blog Discussion Challenge because I know those bloggers best (it’s the nature of the challenge and why I really love it!). I’m on Twitter, but I don’t live there like some people seem to. I treat it more like visiting a semi-distant relative—I go in, I say hello, have some surface conversations and then leave with a polite goodbye. Occasionally I see a dramatic thread and I even sometimes comment on it, but it’s usually just to agree with someone whose viewpoint matches my own. I almost never express disapproval on Twitter and I’m always very careful of the way I phrase things.
And, honestly, I think that’s where the difference comes in. I tend to be a rose-colored glasses sort of person, and this extends to the book blogging community. I honestly feel like I see the good in people and situations much more quickly than I see the bad, and I tend to assign good intentions to people—probably sometimes even naively so. I can read a negative comment and think, “Hmmm… well, I can see where this person is coming from. I’m glad they made me think about that.”
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not thrilled when people are just plain rude (which definitely happens), but when I see this somewhere I just choose not to engage. And then I forget about it. It doesn’t leave a lasting bad taste on my tongue. I don’t have overarching negative feelings about the book blogging community as a whole because of it. I just think, “Well, that person’s a jerk,” and I move on.
Of course, it’s much easier to do this when I’m not directly affected. I can pop in or out of a conversation at will and ignore a thread that gets too nasty. I can even read said thread, think about it for a few minutes and then walk away. That’s a whole lot harder to do when someone’s attacking you or someone you’re close to.
Still, if you’re feeling a lot of negativity in the book blogging community, I’d say the best thing you can do is not engage in those sorts of discussions with strangers. I’m not saying don’t have opinions—or even don’t express them. But I will say that your blog is a much safer place to share your opinions than social media. And when you do post controversial opinions on your blog, try to have an open mind and phrase things in a non-confrontational tone (as much as you can). And also try to remember when you have a negative experience that the encounter doesn’t define the book blogging community as a whole. I’d say that our little world is, in general, a pretty positive and uplifting place. Are there a few bad apples? Sure. Don’t let them ruin it for you.
(In fact, if you’re looking for a group of friendly bloggers, go check out the Discussion Challenge link-up. I guarantee there isn’t a bad apple in the bunch!)
Have you had any negative experiences within the book blogging community? Has it shaped your opinion of the community as a whole? How did you get past that? I want to know!