Ouch. And true. Take a look at the online comments regarding the impeachment, recent events in Iran, comments at the Golden Globes, or pretty much anything in the media, and it’s not just book reviews. It’s everywhere.At first I thought (like everybody else) that people are too sensitive and easily offended these days. This thought was thrown for a loop by a passage in The Reading Life: The Joy of Seeing New Worlds Through Others’ Eyes where C.S. Lewis wrote that he believed the English language was degrading because people were more interested in expressing their feelings about things than conveying accurate information. If Lewis was writing this (and he died the same day Kennedy was assassinated), then this devolution has been in progress for decades.
It’s obvious that the ease of sharing seems to be moving from helpful feedback to bombastic pontificating. It’s good to have forums to communicate, but why has this “snarky” thing become so popular? I don’t understand how anybody can think they look cool or sophisticated by putting others down. In fact, it’s quite the opposite: it exposes your insecurity. As that author I mentioned above went on to say, “if you don’t like it, have enough sense to put it down and move on.” True enough. Perhaps it would be more effective to ponder why you had such a strong emotional response to it, and deal with that instead.
I got Season One of Star Trek Discovery for Christmas, and was so impressed that I was online looking for Season Two. It was good to see that the writers finally got up to date with the changes in storytelling in this franchise, and the special effects are impressive. Imagine my surprise when I went online to look up Season Two and saw over 400 reviews lambasting the series as being “too progressive” and “too dark.” The reviews went on to criticize the writers, stylists, uniforms, and characters. One person even suggested that one of the actresses needs cosmetic surgery because “her face is distracting” and every other woman needs a hew hair style. I’m glad I didn’t read those reviews before I got the first season, or I might have missed out on something that I’ve enjoyed immensely. Only the positive reviews had objective reasons for their reviews. The negative ones, less so. It was over 400 emotional responses saying “how dare you progress with a franchise that’s supposed to be about the development and progression of humanity.” Hmm. I will be getting Season Two, by the way. I later asked Rick what he thought of the series, and he said “I’m glad they got decent writers. It reflects reality better than the other series have.”
I’m not saying that people shouldn’t post reviews anymore. I’m saying reviews aren’t helpful or serving their purpose if people use them as yet another outlet to express their rage and discontentment with the world. I’m sure everybody would agree that we need to know what doesn’t work so we can make it work better in the future. In fact, reviews have helped me to improve my writing, and I am considering feedback I’ve received as I work on Domino and plan to expand it into my next book series. But reviews that solely express opinion like “all this science LOL” aren’t helpful. It’s sci-fi. If you don’t like, understand, or appreciate science, then don’t read something categorized as sci-fi. In case you don’t know, there’s a trend in sci-fi to put more science in our work, and to make it realistic. That means you’ll have to think. If you don’t like books that make you think, stay away from sci-fi, and probably fantasy as well.
The same goes with other things. If a product doesn’t meet your expectations, it’s ok to say so. Just give us an objective reason why so we can take some useful feedback from it. Personal attacks and vague statements don’t make you look cool. They make you look like you can’t express yourself without being a jerk.
It’s something we all need to ponder. Even the sweetest people are subject to bad moods, bad days, and being rubbed the wrong way. Just do us all a favor: remember what goes around, comes around. If you don’t want to reap it, don’t sow it. It’s good to adhere to the general rule to log off if you’re angry or upset, at least until you process it and feel you can articulate it accurately. That’s why this blog was posted today, instead of late last week.
And if you really do feel compelled to share your feelings remember: that's what blogs and social media are for! Let's keep the reviews classy, folks, and put our emotions on display elsewhere, if we must. At least be fair and bold enough to put it out there where you can get feedback and open dialogues to better understand this crazy world we live in.
That’s all today. Take care, and have a great week.