Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly discussion meme created and hosted by Rukky at Eternity Books! This week’s topic about toxicity in the book blogging community, which is a topic that I have a lot of opinions on. I’m going to try to keep this post as concise as possible, but it might be a bit longer than my usual post.
I’ve been a member of this community for a long time. I celebrated my third Bookstagram anniversary last month, and I’ve been on and off active on my blog and Book Twitter for about a year and a half. I’ve spent my time in this community as a wallflower, spending more time on the sidelines, watching and reading, instead of commenting and getting involved with discussions. I’ve seen a lot of controversies unfold, especially on Book Twitter, and I think that my situation provides me with the opportunity to give an insider’s outsider’s perspective.
I spend a lot of time scrolling through Book Twitter, and I’ve seen countless debates unfold about every imaginable topic. I’ve seen people debating whether audiobooks count as reading, who should be reading YA, diversity in books, how many books a reader should read, tagging authors in negative reviews, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. People have opinions, and sometimes people disagree. Unfortunately, given the nature of social media, these disagreements tend to snowball, and suddenly you open Twitter, and you can’t figure out why people are talking about soap and the proper audience for A Court of Thorns and Roses.
It’s also not uncommon for me to open Book Twitter and find that an author is being called out for being problematic. Sometimes it’s because they tweeted something problematic, and other times it’s because the content of their book is problematic. I’ve seen dozens of authors get called out, and I don’t know what happens to them after they get called out, or if it affects their ratings and sales.
I usually don’t know what launches these discussions, but I do know that the first time I stumbled upon one of them, I was shocked. Some of the comments seemed so mean and toxic, and I couldn’t wrap my head around it. Now I’m used to these discussions unfolding, and I think that they’re quite valuable. Social media is wonderful because it gives people a chance to connect and learn from each other’s experiences. Some of the comments are quite mean, but a lot of the comments in these discussions seem to be well thought out. I’ve learned a lot from watching these discussions unfold; for example, I never realized that the anti-audiobook position that some people have is an ablest position.
Given the nature of social media, it’s easy for things to explode and snowball out of control. As I mentioned, I usually don’t know what comment sparked the debate, but I catch a lot of the comments that come after. I think that when we join in on these discussions, we should be careful and take a few minutes to think before we tweet. Sometimes the harsh responses are called for, especially when it’s from an author who should know better, but other times people make mistakes, and the harsh response isn’t entirely called for.
The community is massive, and it’s impossible to read every tweet, blog post, and comment. Given the nature of social media, negative things tend to rile people up, and they stick out in our minds. I’ve had an overwhelmingly positive experience as a member of this community, and I think it’s a great community to be a part of. We’re people, we’re readers, we all have opinions, and we don’t always agree. I don’t think that this community is toxic, I think it’s quite welcoming, but it’s not always sunshine and rainbows. These disagreements and toxic moments allow us to learn from one another, and I think as a whole, the vast majority of the community is working to make it a better, more inclusive place.