I’ve been waiting for quite a while to write this post, because I know its going to ruffle feathers. But at this point, I really don’t care. I’m going to write this post and I’m going to say it – the Twitter book community is toxic. I know, I know, you don’t think so. But honestly, it is.
I get you (and you know who you are if you’ve every done this) might want to call out an author for “problematic” behavior. However, you need to understand that what you find problematic is not necessarily considered problematic to someone else. They may not see anything wrong with it. However, I’ve noted that in many cases, when an author is “called out” they aren’t truly called out. Calling them out would mean that you @ mention them on the social media platform and inform them of what they’ve done wrong and why it is wrong. But that’s not what you do.
No, what you do is you do something like S***h J M**s so that people can’t find the author’s name in search results. Then you proceed to whine and complain about what you find problematic. And you get people to jump on board… especially since people are too afraid to lose you as a follower if they don’t fall in line and start complaining about the author. (Sarah J Maas is amazing and I used her as an example because she’s one of the authors I’ve seen this happen to.)
Then you do things like say “It’s OK to read (insert author here) as long as you acknowledge the problems with his/her writing/behavior.” It is never OK to say something like that. That, right there, is what will keep people from reading. Why? Because they’re terrified they’ll “read the wrong author” and get shunned or told off. Believe me, I’ve been told off for saying I like the Harry Potter series because J.K. Rowling has been labeled as anti-LGBT and anti-Semitic. I’ve been told that I’m not allowed to enjoy the books I enjoy because the authors are “problematic.” I’m tired of it. I’m tired of getting on Twitter Newsflash: There is not a single person on this planet who isn’t problematic in some way. No one is perfect.
Another things I have a problem within the book community is people saying things like “You can’t say you are well read if all the authors you read are white.” I’m sorry, I don’t go looking for the author’s skin color before I start reading a book to make sure they aren’t white. I don’t care what color their skin is. If the book is interesting to me, I will read it. If it isn’t, I won’t. Simple as that. The author’s skin color, sexual preference, disability (if any), or gender has zero bearing on whether or not I’m willing to read the book. The book itself determines that. And honestly, if choosing a book to read means I have to take into consideration a whole list of things regarding the author, I don’t want to read anymore.
This behavior on Twitter in the book community is toxic. You don’t have the right to tell people what to do or how to feel/think about an author or book(s). You have no right to “call out” someone unless you @ mention them and actually make an attempt to educate them about what they are doing wrong. If they argue or won’t listen, fine. You can block them, stop reading their books, and never mention them again if you want. But please, try to not tell others that they shouldn’t read the author/book(s). Try not to be that person who is keeping someone from reading because they might offend someone with their choice of author/book(s).
I’ve had to flat out leave the book community on Twitter because I can no longer tolerate the way people act there. I have a new Twitter (that I will not be linking). I follow 2 or 3 book bloggers and that is it. I’ll probably follow some authors, but I think the book bloggers I’m currently following will be the only ones. Unless the attitude of the book community changes and people start understanding that while they have a right to their opinion, they don’t have a right to tweet things that sound like a command – example: “You can read Sarah J Maas as long as you acknowledge how problematic her books are.” That’s not cool and for someone who is just getting started reading and discussing the books they read, it’s entirely possible you may put them off reading for good because they’re terrified to anger the people on Twitter.