During Armchair BEA, I wrote about professionalism and ethics in blogging. At that time, I went on record as saying that while blogging gives us the freedom to write about whatever we want, to maintain a professional appearance means that we need to consider our audience when writing. Sometimes, blasting a book, a movie, a fellow blogger, a friend, and so forth, are not necessarily the best examples of professionalism in blogging, especially if one works closely with those in publishing, publicity, or even bookstores.
I say this because last week I was absolutely shocked and extremely upset at what I was seeing around the book blogging community. I saw a niche blogger cussing like a sailor on one post, practically spitting venom about his/her feelings about something. I saw other bloggers ridiculing those who went to see Eclipse. I saw those who went to see the movie compelled to apologize for doing something they enjoyed doing and looked forward to doing, because of others’ reactions. I saw a complete lack of understanding and serious degrees of unprofessional behavior. Gone was the sense of community and camaraderie that I normally feel. Gone was the sense of pride I typically feel at being a book blogger. Instead, I was left wondering why this was occurring and sick to my stomach because it was occurring.
Book bloggers are some of the most compassionate, understanding bloggers out there, or so I thought. Our love of books brings us together, and because we recognize that everyone reads a book differently, we embrace differences of opinions. At least, this is what I USED to think.
Now, I am concerned by the vituperativeness of certain bloggers against Twilight fans. When did it become okay to mock those who disagree with your opinions? Why are others SO angry at Twilight fans? The same anger, mockery and general ill-will also occurred when both Twilight and New Moon were released, and I just don’t get it. I do not see the same feelings towards Harry Potter fans or The Hunger Games fans or even Star Wars or Star Trek fans. So what is it about the Twilight Saga that makes non-fans so vocal?
When did it become okay to be so poisonous when expressing one’s opinions? Is it appropriate to curse like a sailor when a blog is firmly entrenched in the YA niche? When does the freedom to express one’s opinions go too far?
I ask these questions because I am still sick over what occurred last week. Honestly, this has been occurring for far longer than just last week. Frankly, I am tired of the kvetching and complaining about blogging or others opinions: Blogger versus Word Press, Intense Debate or other third-party comment systems versus none, Twilight versus the rest of the world. Ultimately, who cares? For most of us, blogging is a hobby that comes with perks. However, with these perks (relationships with bookstores, publishers and the like, free review copies) comes responsibility. We do the entire community a disservice when we fail to think about these responsibilities and decide to whine like my ten-year old. Maybe your book blog is just a hobby, but someone else may be hoping to use his/her blog as a leap pad to something in writing. The community is judged as a whole, and all it takes is one vituperative post to make the rest of the community look bad. More importantly, because it is a hobby, this means that a majority of us have jobs in the real world that help pay the bills. The last figures I saw indicate that 100 percent of employers will be vetting potential employees is the social media forum. This means that what you say may indeed come back to haunt you when job hunting in the future.
So, I ask others: where should one draw the line when it comes to freedom of speech/opinion and blogging? Do we lose something when we temper our voice? Is there a way to speak freely but do so in such a way that is not explosive, harmful or hurtful towards others and still remain true to our opinions? Can free speech go too far when it comes to blogging?
Very well put, Wendy! That is exactly the point I tried to make. You definitely said it much more succinctly! LOL!
I am not a fan of venomous posting, elitism, or unprofessionalism in blogging – so if I see it, I don't subscribe to those blogs. I do think that if a blogger wants to be taken seriously by the book publishing industry they need to think twice before they post something that is mean or unprofessional. Ultimately, everyone has the freedom to post what they wish…but I do wish some people would follow the golden rule a bit more!
My recent post Sunday Salon – August 8- 2010
The idea of free speech and freedom of expression does mean that we are able to say what we want. I agree that all we can control is our individual behavior. You have definitely given me food for thought.
I will definitely do that the next time I run across a negative blogger!
Very well put, Michelle. And for the record, I wasn't trying to judge…too much. More, I was trying to make a comment and hope people at least think before writing something negative and judgmental on their blog or on Twitter.
I hope you are feeling better!!
Valerie, I love that statement by Nick Hornby! If we are truly going to promote literacy, then who cares what others read?!
I'm with you on the comment system. I've created more accounts to allow me to leave comments on as many blogs as possible. It is part of being a member of the community.
Andi – I do think that while it is unfair to judge an entire community based on a small cross-section, but doesn't that happen in real life? I'm not saying that everyone has to conform to the same rules and standards; I'm just saying that if we want to be taken seriously, we need to consider the message we are sending. Maybe it isn't important for bloggers, but what about for future job searches? According to an article I read at work the other day, 100 percent of all employers will be searching the Internet and social media sites to vet out all job applicants before they even consider interviewing them. This means that every sentence you write online may work against you at some point in the future. It is something to consider, is it not?
Profanity itself is not a deal-breaker for me. However, I do think that a person can get his or her point across more…intelligently, if you will, without profanity. We are writers by trade, whether it is a hobby or not. We should be able to state our point of view without resorting to the f-bomb in every other sentence.
I do hope that those bloggers who are more negative than positive will not last long. I do agree that there are more non-elitists than elitist bloggers. Maybe I just need to learn to hit the "unsubscribe" button more often!
I missed the drama because I've been in the hospital, but these kinds of things always bother me as well. I believe that everyone has the right to their opinions and to read/watch what they like and no one should judge them for it. I also do not believe in apologizing for what I like. If I like the Twilight series, which I do, and someone loses respect for me because of it, well that's just wrong. I have a wide range of reading taste and this one series does not define me as a person. I just think all the judgement needs to stop so the camaraderie in the book blogging community can continue.
My recent post Im back- Sort of
That's very true.
My recent post Still Missing
Thanks! And that's a perfect recap of what I was trying to say!
Just because we have freedom of speech doesn't mean we should use it regardless of the outcome. Great post!
My recent post BBAW Registration Post
It isn't that I wanted to get involved. It was more that I had something to say that I felt was important as a reminder to others. I do agree that at times, the entire blogger community feels too much like high school.
As bloggers, do we want friends or do we want attention? I want friends and attention, but positive attention. The negativity needs to go.
I took a step back over the weekend and stopped blogging and tweeting until I felt better. Staying positive occurred once I wrote this post. Elitism is a great way to put it and is exactly what is occurring. Crazy that this is an issue still.
Thanks, Kathleen! My hope was to start a dialogue or at least get people thinking about this.
It was the expletive-laden mockery that was the nail in the coffin for me last week. I do not want to be associated with the bloggers who resort to such behavior.
We do reserve the right not to read blogs that offend us, but as a blogger, I have every right to be upset over how other bloggers might impact how others perceive bloggers as a whole.
Thanks, Carrie! I wonder if we are discussing the same author…
Thoughtful, well-written blogs will ultimately help us with the industry. Profanity-laden, vituperative blogs will continue to hurt us.
It's the negativity that gets me. Everyone can name at least one book that they liked when others eschewed it. Why the need to be so negative about one book? I don't get it.
I can and have stopped following people because of nasty posts. It doesn't necessarily stop them from occurring though, and I still believe that these bloggers reflect negatively on the rest of us.
The anti-Twilight posts were the icing on the cake. I have found a lot of negativity lately or very unprofessional posts. It was disturbing to me. It doesn't just stop with blogging. It extends to Twitter and Facebook and all other methods of communication. We just need to be careful what we say online.
I totally saw Eclipse. And I totally swooned at Jacob. I'm not scared to admit it!
I get what you're saying. We're an opinionated bunch, that's for sure.
I'm happy that I didn't come across any of these posts that you are referring to. It is sad when people forget their manners just because they are blogging vs. talking to someone in person. I think you can be opinionated and expressive and still be polite and professional. Your thoughts on this subject are thoughtful and ones that many people should read.
My recent post Janeology – Does Family History Determine our Destiny
Hm, I totally missed out on all that! Sounds really hateful, though. =( A part of me thinks that if people are ridiculous on their blogs so be it and I just won't read them. But you're right that book bloggers are, right now, a fairly tight-knit community and it looks bad overall for some bloggers to be that way. =(
My recent post Still Missing
Interesting point. I haven't seen many anti-Twilight posts (I can't recall any but I do often end up skimming through my GR), but I have seen many positive ones. The only ones ridiculing it seemed to be ridiculing it after seeing it themselves. The I went to see it and I wish they had improved x and y. That being said, negativity is always bad and I definitely think bloggers should stay positive.
My recent post Guest Review- The Road by Cormac McCarthy- by Trent Aitken-Smith