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Why All This Hostility On Social Media?

This is in response to what’s been happening on twitter lately. If you’re familiar with twitter as I imagine most of you are you’ll likely be aware that every now and again Q&A sessions with authors are hosted. Usually things are civil but sadly the recent chat with 50 Shades of Grey Author E. L. James was the very opposite.

Long before this Q&A session it’s been hard to miss the hostility towards the book. Personally I only read a tiny, tiny bit (we had to see what all the fuss was about, after all) but it wasn’t for me so guess what I did? (this seems to be controversial these days so make you sit down before you go on)

I didn’t continue reading it. I put the book down and moved on to something else. Seeking out the author on social media and telling her in as rude a way as possible that I hated her book never even crossed my mind. When I read a book and I don’t enjoy it, I stop and move on. A lot of people, however, continue despite them hating the book, passionately, and they make sure the author knows how upsetting the read was for them by completely, entirely slanting the author on social media afterwards.

Somebody please help me understand why this is necessary? If you don’t like a book, can’t you just not read it? Life is too short to spend on things that make you this angry (and this whole #AskELJames thing really got ugly). I understand that domestic abuse is a sensitive subject for some people, especially those of you who have suffered through this very thing, but guess what? 50 Shades of Grey isn’t about you, personally. Even more importantly, it’s fiction. Not real. Made up. Do you really have the time and engery to get this worked up over a fictional story? I definitely don’t!

Also, I can’t help but wonder if you really hated the book as much as you claim to if you read the whole thing. I’ve got better things to do than read an entire book I loathe, and I’m sure you do, too.

I know it’s easy to say anything on social media. It’s quick, and no one knows who you really are behind your profile picture. Therefore it’s also very easy to be rude to people, but that’s no excuse for doing it.

Some people have approached me on twitter saying that their hate isn’t just directed towards the book but towards the author’s personality. Can’t you just not talk to her? Can’t you just not follow the news regarding her? Do you want to be mad at her just for the sake of being mad at her? I avoid people if they make me angry, I don’t seek them out knowing they’ll ruin my day.

Let’s consider, for the sake of comparison, Game Of Thrones by George R. R. Martin. Does that not have immense amounts of explicit rape, domestic violence, incest, brutality, slaughter (…the list goes on…)? Where are the angry mobs vowing to hunt down George R. R. Martin?

Here’s the deal: Writing a book isn’t easy. It takes a lot of energy, dedication, and time. Reading a book also takes a lot of time, so don’t waste said time reading something that appals you. Also, please remember that there are real people behind those profile pictures on social media. Venting your hate might be easy but that doesn’t make it the right thing to do. So what if you don’t like how she responded to all this negativity? What do you expect her to do, re-write the whole thing until you’re happy with it? Apologise to everyone for speaking her mind, like you are doing by insulting her?

So please, people, don’t feel forced to read a book which upsets you. Unless someone is holding a gun to your head until you’ve read every last word you have no obligation, now, do you? You can’t like everything, and there won’t be any hard feelings if you choose to move on, but please, for the love of fudge, move on.

And don’t insult every aspect about the author afterwards. It takes a conscious effort to write out a message on your keybaord, read over it (if you are indeed a perfectionist like me who reads over even the shortest text message three times before sending it) and press sent. The words can’t just leave your mouth without you realising that you’ve spoken them aloud.

It’s fiction, people. Don’t get mad. It’s not real, and it’s not about you personally.

There are more worthwhile things to be spending your time on.

Published inA Writer's MusingsUncategorized

4 Comments

  1. Meka James Meka James

    I’m on twitter, but I rarely go there. I’m still not big on all the different social media things. As for the hate, well EL has been getting it since the beginning. Not sure how bothered she is buy it because she’s made her millions and will continue to do so.

    The whole debate over the merits of the relationship presented in 50 Shades really came to light when the movie was being released. People were screaming it glorified an abusive relationship and made it seem like that was the sort of thing young women should hope for.

    I can’t remember who said it, but the quote was opinions are like assholes, everyone has one. LOL That’s how I look at the 50 Shades thing. Some women swoon over him, they think the’s the best thing since sliced bread (really who comes up with these sayings LOL) while others think he’s an abusive ass. They will go round and round and things get nasty. Things are brought down to a personal level over this fictional book. Did I read 50 Shades, yes. Did I hope my 18 year old college student would find a man like Christian,hell no! Did I feel the need to go and say nasty things about the author and the story she chose to tell, nope.

    Like you said there are books out there that depict worse things (I should know LOL) but I think the uproar came because this particular one was packaged as a romance. People have long since hidden behind a screen and the rules of engagement seem to go out the window because of it. Common decency and respect is lacking in a society that can pick up any ‘screen name’ then say what they want unfiltered in 140 characters or less because they are ‘anonymous’. People love to dictate to others what they feel is right and shove in your face why you are wrong. People like to feel they know what’s best for others even if it has nothing to do with them. Look at the whole gay marriage debate (in the States at least). A difference of opinion is not an option for some. It’s their way and their way only. Social media just makes it easier for them to be nasty about it. πŸ™

    • I’m the same with twitter. I have three accounts now (which might be the man problem – who has time for three accounts? what was I thinking?) – one for my photography, a casual one and one for my writing, and I’m trying to at least use the writing account regularly. It’s easy and quick enough to have a browse through while I’m waiting for my bus but it’s just as easy to forget about.

      It’s really quite interesting how much the movie has divided the crowd! On the one side there were people who slated it for glorifying abusive relationships, one the other there were all those women who forgot to take their cucumbers back home again afterwards. And then there was this little group in the middle with people like me who couldn’t have cared less. I don’t support abusive relationships (goodness, no!) but I do think all this has gone a little too far.

      I have no idea how much she’s bothered by all this verbal abuse she herself has gotten because of the books, but any artist needs to have a pretty thick skin so I imagine she’s fine. And as you said she’s made a lot of money out of all this, so she knows that there a more people loving her books than there are people hating them.

      And besides, look at what she’s done! She’s sparked such a huge debate with one book? Well done, her!

      You know, I saw that same quote not long ago, haha, and very true it is!

      You saying that the issue was with the book being sold as a romance reminded me of something… My last ever retail job was with a well-known shoe store (I won’t be naming names but we had some more-money-than-sense customers). A lot of women bought their wedding shoes with us, so naturally the shoe had to be perfect in every way. You wouldn’t believe the amount of women who tried on a perfectly white shoe, loved the fit, but decided against it when the box the shoe came in classified it as ‘champagne’ instead of white. They loved the shoe, knew the colour was perfect because they had seen it, but changed their mind because of something it said on the box. Anyway, my point is, people are gullible. Never mind what it says on the box, trust what you know! Never mind 50 Shades being sold as a romance. Everyone alive should know better.

  2. “It’s fiction, people. Don’t get mad. It’s not real, and it’s not about you personally.”

    Well said! I think a good portion of the people who hurl insults at EL James are jealous of her success. Others are offended by the subject matter, and some of just trolls who will insult anyone for anything!

    • I always wonder how people manage to go through life if they are offended this easily by something made up – chances are you’ll come across a book or movie sooner or later that’ll have sensitive content. What are you going to do, just not read anything, ever? It’s bound to happen, what’s the point in getting mad about it?
      You know, you’re probably right, about the jealousy. They see someone who has written about something they loathe but who got immensely famous out of doing it. I imagine it’s an unhealthy mixture of jealousy and spite. And yes, there will always be people who insult others just because they can. The safety of the screen kills manners too easily in too many people.

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