I thought that having a book blog would make me immune from those who like to use the anonymity of the internet to vent their unpleasantness upon perfect strangers. We all enjoy a lively debate now and again, and I know that many readers love nothing more than a heated defence of a favourite character or a grumble over a poorly chosen shortlist, me included. But at heart, readers are gentle souls, are they not? Idealists, dreamers, tea drinkers. Lovers of fairytales and fancies, not malice and malevolence, surely?!
Sadly, of late, the numbers of nasty comments I receive from ‘readers’ has been increasing. I am often called ignorant or stupid. Occasionally, I am, apparently, narrow minded. Also, naive and uneducated. I don’t understand the meaning of the word ‘review’. I don’t write what people want to read. And I write too much, anyway. Plus, I am too dense to understand what some writers were trying to achieve and need to re-educate myself on how writers work. If that wasn’t bad enough, I am a horrible person for writing bad reviews of books. I am wrong, always. I miss the point, frequently, because I am, again, stupid.
The list could go on.
Thankfully I couldn’t care less what these people with such small, sad lives think. Their pathetic, pedantic comments actually make me laugh rather than upset me, which I am sure wasn’t their intention. However, I find it quite depressing that these people are out there, and find it acceptable to treat other people in this way. It is a form of bullying, of the type that is becoming more and more prevalent and insidious. The amount of cyber bullying that takes place is horrendous; I have complaints about it every week from students who have been relentlessly targeted on various social networking sites by their peers. When you don’t have to look at someone when you are communicating with them, it seems to remove the accepted boundaries of social behaviour, and all manner of hideousness comes forth from people who are probably, in all other areas of their lives, perfectly nice. What has our world come to, when a girl can’t even write a review of a book no one has probably even heard of without having a bucket of bile poured onto her head?! I might not care what these people think, but other people certainly do. Thoughtlessly abusing other people online is a dangerous game, and as a teacher, I know too well the damage it can cause.
I love the fact that the internet has introduced me to plenty of wonderful people who share my passion for books and culture and have widened my world in so many ways. I love that people find pleasure in reading the posts I cobble together. I will never stop feeling a little frisson of excitement when I get notified of a comment on my blog. I love that I am allowed to write about the things I’m interested in, and talk about those things with other people who are interested in them too, in a space I have created to do what I want with. It is incredibly liberating. Of course I recognise that in choosing to publish what I write on the internet, I open myself up to all manner of people accessing my words. However, I am not in this blogging game for controversy or debate. I have enough of that in my real life. I am not making anyone pay for what they read, and I am not forcing anyone to read what I write. So, if you don’t like me, or my opinions; if you think I’m stupid, ignorant, or both; if you think I have poor taste, write too much, or don’t know anything about books, actually – then simply press the little cross in the top left corner of your internet browser, and I will disappear. Now if only everyone had that feature…wouldn’t the world be a better place?