I Read, Therefore I Judge

I’ve been reading the comments sections of posts. Perhaps a bit too much:

trollThe black cloud of negativity, who says things like:

“George R.R. Martin is the most overrated writer in the history of fantasy/sci-fi. His books read like a contract and substitute shock value for originality and talented story telling.”

“You want fluff, read a Dragonlance novel or that shite Gabaldon series.”

And I won’t even go into the comments on the #AskELJames fiasco on Twitter.

For the most part, those in many professions don’t get critiqued by total strangers online. Artists have become, for some unfathomable reason, the target for a kind of criticism that goes beyond taste. It isn’t enough these days to say a particular work isn’t the type you enjoy. It must be slammed into the ground, the artist portrayed as stupid, untalented, etc.

“I don’t like it” isn’t acceptable anymore. The very fact of dislike now impugns not only that work but everything an artist does and even who they are.

I wonder if those who do this have ever considered that wiping out the confidence and the desire of those who make art may leave them without anyone to criticize at all. How many artists give up under the weight of uninformed and untrue insults their work receives? And how many careers are damaged by the platforms so easily available to those whose only talent is to criticize?

I am reminded of an old adage: those who can, do. The twist these days comes in the second part of the saying: those who can’t, criticize.

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12 thoughts on “I Read, Therefore I Judge”

  1. Thanks for this. I’m appalled by the number of people who feel they can judge others on a regular basis, regardless of whether they’ve even met the other. I guess my opinion is also judging, but really, when will we allow others to simply be? If I can’t give a good review, I keep my mouth shut and my hands off the keyboard. “Do unto others” works best for me, and when did that idea go out of favor? Folks are so insecure they tear everyone else down just to build themselves up. I pity their lack.

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  2. I see it as the adult version of cyber bullying. I admit I’ve done my share of bad reviews when I’ve found a book really awful. We do ask for honest reviews. We owe it to potential readers. But, instead of tearing down the author, I say what I think would have made the book better for me. I also include something nice.
    I once actually read a review that was so nasty the person said she hoped the author’s children would die. That’s just shameful.

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    1. I think that’s what I find so crazy, Sandra. It becomes a personal attack on the very worth of the author, not the book. Some of these folks seem to believe if they don’t like it, then the author is at fault and is a horrible person for writing something they didn’t like. It’s just weird.

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  3. Writing is the least respected form of creation, it seems. People don’t understand how your soul comes though your fingertips when you write with passion. It cuts to the core when someone tears your work apart. Although, I would just be happy with any comments at all most days!

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    1. I agree, it does seem like that these days. There’s a real air of “oh, anybody can do that”. Or worse, if you’re not hitting the bestseller lists, your work obviously isn’t any good.

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  4. I was raised on the adage, “If you can’t say something nice…” And I order fiction for a library so I have to have respect for other people’s tastes or I couldn’t do my job. Personally, I think other writers are often the worst offenders in this. And I think a lot of it comes out of jealousy and frustration about their own careers. But it never helps anyone to tear someone else down. It just makes you look petty.

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  5. The computer age has given another podium for those to vent. You can’t see their face, therefore, it makes it easier to spew venom. It’s very sad… Also, I tend to agree with what Mary G. stated above about other writers. I was shocked to find so many tearing down other authors. It reminded me of high school! My mantra, “Be kind to everyone you meet–kind words with a smile.” Great post. 🙂

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  6. I’ve been lucky so far, that all my reviews have been good. I know there are people out there that don’t like the way I write and that’s okay. There are books out there that have glowing reviews that I couldn’t stand, but I didn’t slam them. It’s a matter of taste.

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  7. I would never attack an author personally (Really? Wishing an author’s children dead?Horrible!).

    At the same time, I am not afraid to say that I think a book is terribly written. I could offer a few examples – of best sellers, even! True, not everyone would agree with me, but it is my opinion, something which I usually keep to myself unless asked.

    Cyberspace has created a societal monster. There’s such a judgmental attitude in everything, now. I actually have to log off of the internet for weeks at a time in order to save my sanity. Seems as though people have become nasty toward anything that differs from their own perspectives.

    Thanks for the mind food – great post!

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    1. Saying that you didn’t like it, or it wasn’t your style, or you didn’t think the plot, pacing, characters, or whatever were well done, are all acceptable comments, in my opinion. But it seems like that isn’t enough for people today. If they don’t like it then the author clearly has no talent, shouldn’t be writing, their stuff sucks or on and on. To me, if a book makes a bestseller list, or sells a large amount of books, then people like it, no matter what I may think of it. But Cyberspace has indeed created a monster, for the comments are so personal sometimes it’s hard to believe actual people wrote them.

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