In Case I Forgot Who Was Listening.

I finished a popular fiction recently that I enjoyed. I’ve read a lot by the author and I thought this one was actually more enjoyable than others. It was easy to read, it didn’t piss me off, it sent me down interesting thought spirals, and it allowed me to put one more book on my listen getting me closer to my 2018 goal of 100 books. I then followed up with a few people telling them how I liked it because they hadn’t read it yet. 

And then – maybe a few days after I finished it – I saw someone post about the same book on Facebook and they said something like, “This book was so terrible I had to throw it against the wall when I finished it! Give me better books to read!” 

I’ll be honest. It stung. I had a bit of a personal crisis and I spent the next several days questioning my potential for evaluating books and wondered if I should quit making recommendations. WHAT IF I AM ALWAYS WRONG? Am I just so simple-minded that I like dumb stuff? SHOULD I QUIT TELLING PEOPLE TO READ DUMB STUFF? 

(Notice I’m not even revealing the book because I’m still too embarrassed that I liked it. I’ll need to see a few more friends admit they liked it before I’ll actually admit which one it was. NOW I AM WORRIED EVERYONE BUT ME WILL HATE IT BECAUSE I AM DUMB.)

Obviously this happens a lot on social media: LOUD PROCLAMATIONS OF OPINIONS! I tend to do it more with status like: OMG THIS WAS AMAZING GO SEE/READ/BUY IT NOW!

But for the purposes of this post, I’m talking about the loud NEGATIVE posts. When it’s about something obscure it doesn’t phase me too much. But that’s not usually when you see it. More often than not people like to be LOUD about their negative opinions most often in regards to something popular.  I saw it A LOT during the Twilight Era, which is understandable because it’s all kinda terrible. BUT I STILL LOVE THEM WITH ALL OF MY HEART! (Do you see what I did there?) But you also see it about things like the Marvel Franchise, or Kanye West, or [Insert Popular YouTube Star Here, I Don’t Know Any Of Them].

Whenever it happens, especially when it’s about something popular that I maybe didn’t hate, it stings quite a bit. Like – suddenly I’m embarrassed that I liked the thing in question. But then I worry, wait…have I voiced LOUD and NEGATIVE opinions on social media about popular culture contributions that I didn’t like? Because I do NOT want to poop on your joy.

There are definitely popular forms of entertainment I don’t like. I don’t play video games. I don’t watch shows on Showtime or HBO. I didn’t like Season 2 of the Serial Podcast (S-Town.) I did not see the movie Gone Girl because I closed the book hating every character in it. 

But when I express my distaste online, I try to do it like this: 

  1. “I don’t watch that show on HBO, I’m more of a CW girl. I’m too prudish for adult-themed shows.”
  2. “I could not stop reading Gone Girl, it definitely a page-turner, I just didn’t really like the characters at all. There was no one I felt like I could root for.”

I guess I try to provide an explanation so that if someone did like the thing I’m admitting I don’t like, then they can see that my thought is more: THIS WAS NOT FOR ME, instead of THIS WAS A TERRIBLE CREATION. But I honestly don’t know if I’ve been really consistent about that. Seeing the, “THIS BOOK WAS TERRIBLE!” status a few weeks ago made me worry that maybe I have doe the same thing.

Because I’ve read A LOT OF TERRIBLE BOOKS. I just started one few weeks ago that I was told by several people was wonderful but I put it down after about 40 pages and just couldn’t motivate myself to pick it back up again. And it was a Pulitzer Prize winner!

I can’t really hunt down any statuses or tweets where I’ve aggressively lambasted something a lot of other people have enjoyed, but if I have ever done that to something you loved, please forgive me. I saw the Twilight movie 7 times in the movie theater, I have no room to judge.

But I will try to do better. I will try to remember that the words I put out into the ether are read by more people than I can really know in terms of their personal tastes in movies/tv/games. I mean…I’m the first in line to see any movie starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, NO MATTER WHICH ONE IT IS AND I WILL LOVE THEM ALL. I’ve seen Baywatch three times. THREE TIMES. I really hope if I’ve ever done something dumb like use my social media to blast some sort of pop culture product, that everyone would remember: Oh, wait. She still swears that “Pump Up The Volume” was Christian Slater’s best movie. Maybe I’ll just let her opinions roll off my back a bit. 

3 Comments

  • Erin

    I have had this happen to me where I state emphatically that I loved a book and then everyone else rolls their eyes. When this happens, I remember that in order for the book to be in my hands in the first place, thousands of books were rejected by the publisher and this one was chosen. Then, an editing team worked on the story with the author and collectively improved it to the point where the publisher invested tons of money to print it. That wouldn’t happen if there wasn’t a belief among a group of people that it was a great story. You are definitely not alone in your love of the book! The other thing I know is that books are loved and hated over the most trivial stuff. It isn’t about the merit of the story or the character development. It could be that the book was based in Boston and the person reading it has a huge hate on for New England. It could be that a character reminded them of their grade school bully. People are weird. Love what you love and don’t apologize.

  • Kylie

    Zoot! This is what makes you an incredible person: your reaction to something prompted you to analyze and review your own thoughts and reactions to things that may have stung others the way you felt stung. This feedback loop in and of itself is kind of amazing! I hope you give yourself credit for that. SO few people would have this kind of realization and reflection, never mind action on it!

    Since about 2010/2011 I’ve tried to stop culture policing others. I remember so clearly attending my then-boyfriend’s housewarming party and his younger roommate invited friends over who basically did nothing but shit all over my bf’s playlist because they thought the artists were “too mainstream” or “too similar/copying [insert way more indie artist here]”. His response was just “you’re in my house, and this is my music. People like what they like! So just deal.” (or something to that effect.

    Ever since, it’s been “you like what you like, and your reasons are your own!” As long as people aren’t supporting and pushing problematically racist/sexist/damaging things, I hope every feels comfortable enough to love what they love.

    I unabashedly LOVE bad reality TV. Teen Mom (all parts of the franchise), The Challenge, 90 Day Fiance…you get the picture. But this is my thing! I don’t think it reflects poorly on my intelligence or character and if people dislike this genre of crap TV I can 1000% understand why.

    Thank you as always for the insightful look at a topic I feel like we don’t consider enough. Love reading your words 🙂

  • Liz

    Pump Up the Volume is excellent and I recently found a $5 copy in a closing store and watched it with some friends. I have a theory that Christian Slater’s character grows up to be Mr. Robot and it totally holds up.

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