Think Aloud explores book-related discussions encompassing reading, writing, blogging, and perhaps newsworthy content. The focus is to push the boundaries, stretch the mind, and encourage dialogue within this community. Let’s all think out loud.
Freedom of Speech in the
Book Blogging Community
Niche blogging communities suffer speech freedom as social dissonance dictates subjective thinking.
I was asked by Mishma @ Chasing Faerytales to contribute to a dialogue regarding freedom of speech in the book blogging community. Below is my bit to share with you. Here’s the link to the compilation post on Mishma’s blog: Book Blogging and Speech Freedom: A Collab Post.
The post also features other awesome individuals involved in the conversation, including: Cait @ The Paper Fury, Hazel @ Stay Bookish, Nara @ Looking for the Panacea, Rachel @ A Perfection Called Books, and Nufaiza @ Say It With Books.
Gather around for some real talk. This is probably the most personal ramble to date. The opinions expressed are my own.
Let’s begin with a story:
A while back, I left a comment on a meme post and was put on blast by its author, their friends (emphasis on plural), and was sub-tweeted that I was: “putting down another blogger” and it was “wrong of me to judge how they choose to blog” (among other comments). Now was that really my intent? I didn’t think so. I even asked other bloggers to review the comment and they thought my choice of words could have been misconstrued. (Of course, they could have been biased.) Either way, I replied back and apologized for not wording my thoughts “correctly” (?) with no reply to follow. I left it alone after that.
I’m sure this issue has seen another day in the blogosphere but it calls for attention the ease of misinterpretation; how even a slight nuance in wording can change the tone or message. More importantly, however, is how quick the wildfire of judgment can spread in determining the degree of defence needed to counter the feeling of being attacked. Fact: it is much easier for extremes to be amplified if it holds a negative connotation as opposed to one that gives praise. Why? Because no one enjoys shit being disturbed when it’s happening to them.
This raises an important question: should you ever feel afraid to comment with opinions that [willingly or unwillingly] go against the grain of the message?
I would hope that regular readers to my blog (so, you!) know that I encourage criticizing and being criticized as to inspire debate. Yet as much as I put myself into the content, I maintain my thoughts at an arms-length distance which I feel some bloggers don’t. This isn’t to say that the essence of personality is lost but that it acts like a barrier giving me the opportunity to step-back and transparently ask “Okay, this individual agrees/disagrees with me. Why is that?” Note that it isn’t wrong to feel emotionally attached to your thoughts—it is by and large an extension of you—but realize that there’s a difference in your person being attacked and having your opinions criticized.
When you sign up to be part of any publicized social community, you’re opening the possibility to be put under the microscope of scrutiny. What you do with these opinions is completely up to you but I find it disingenuous to be a blogger who acts on freedom of speech through book reviewing, discussions, memes, and what-have-you only to dismiss interpretations of that other than your own. To reiterate: you do not have to agree with alternative ways of thinking but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be open to give them thought. This wholly applies to readers as well. I just don’t think you can have it both ways.
But what if you can’t even get to the point of opening that voice?
There may be times when you have something to say but fear the dissonance of your voice in a collective channel of unfamiliar noise. I hear you. It’s tough to throw your opinion out there especially when it’s of the unpopular variety. It’s even tougher to digest that there are those who will police your thoughts, often dismissing it as a lesser voice for reasons of “credibility”; ultimately marginalizing the person behind the thought.
And that to me is completely bananas.
This manifestation of blogger egoism begins when you receive your very first statistical up-vote; be it a follow or a view, and inflates into something toxic. It’s inescapable and something all bloggers face: a self-fulfilling quantifiable truth of popularity equating to credibility (and otherwise, authority). However, it can be extremely counter-intuitive when this balance of power governs the need to “do-right” onto others to inform or suggest corrective ways to think or proceed in the blogging community. Know that I am not short-selling bloggers helping other bloggers as less than what it is because tips are always appreciated but it becomes an issue when popularity justifies the standard to which readers ought to perceive a thought.
That to belong means you should follow the hype.
That to enjoy blogging means you should model yourself after other successes.
That to have a voice means you should rarely think for yourself.
Bloggers seem to have this almost-invincibility complex where they rarely see themselves at fault under the veil of a “critical opinion” (and I say that with the utmost use of air quotes). With conflicting interests in perception, it often derails from being about the substance and can be considered more an attack on the individual making that opinion. This isn’t a pessimist’s view in saying that the community is laden with toxicity but rather in the face of polarizing thoughts, equanimity doesn’t seem to be the go-to trait. I will say that there is no feeling similar to the satisfaction of being right or affirmed. However, there is rarely anything discrete in this community. We are students and teachers, and we are on this wildly interpretive journey together—me on this side of the screen, you on the other.
So take everything you read here and anywhere else with a grain of salt. It does not matter if you are a newbie, a seasoned pro, or just a passing thinker; trust in your voice—in “you doing you”—and take every positive and negative in stride and own the experience in a way that best helps you sleep at night. There is no cookie-cutter way to be yourself and you should never feel marginalized into thinking otherwise.
Be a blogger, be you, and be true; the rest [I hope] will surely follow.
1) Have you ever dealt with negative comments during your time of blogging? What was it about and how did it spawn? How did you manage the conflict? (Only share if you’re willing)
2) What is your opinion on blogger elitism and authority?
3) What are some barriers to bloggers fully voicing their opinions? Tips to overcome these obstacles (if any)?
I was ecstatic when Mishma asked me to collaborate with a bunch of stellar bloggers to talk through my thoughts on this topic (thank you again, Mishmash–my nickname for you, if you’re willing). Most of these think alouds have seldom been a serious topic for me to delve into so it was a nice change of scenery in that regard.
You don’t have to agree with the comments made above. My only hope is that you accept them for what it is and carry on.