Calm down, calm down

Posted on August 3, 2012

The other day I asked a question on Twitter and Facebook about a documentary on the most popular book in the charts at the moment – you know the one. Well, I thought I was asking a question, I was in fact, unleashing Armageddon upon my corner of the social networking world called Facebook.

Over the past couple of days I’ve been reflecting on the wisdom of asking the question when I KNOW that the subject tends to cause such extreme reactions in people. I don’t like subjects that won’t allow usually perfectly rational people to see the other side. Or even to agree to disagree. I knew this but asked the question anyway.

So, what was this question I asked: ‘Does anyone know if the [name of popular book] documentary will point out how it romanticises abusive relationships? If not, will defo avoid.’

This upset a few people. And they expressed their upset. Which was fair enough because I’m not usually one for keeping my upset to myself, either. I should also point out that I’m the most argumentative person I know. I love a good exchange of views, me. People will often disagree with me and I’ve been known to sit up half the night arguing my point until the person sees the light (just ask my Father In Law) or we agree to disagree.

On this occasion, though, matters weren’t allowed to develop into a healthy argument – they just turned very nasty, very quickly. People were insulting each other instead of arguing their point of view. This led to me deleting that post and saying essentially we should all be friends and move on. Unfortunately, the bun fight came rolling (did you see what I did there?) onto the second post so I had to delete that and take to my bed. (It was late and I had a head of hair to twist before morning. But you get my drift.) So, rather than try to explain on FB my broad view of this entire subject, I thought I’d come over here, instead.

Right, first of all this book. OK, it’s not great literature but then, I’m not a fan of a lot of so-called great literature. It’s a mega seller to the likes of which has not been seen before, and of course others in the business may well be jealous as a result. Someone on Twitter accused me of jealousy because of the question I asked, and you know I was taken aback by that accusation because I’m not. That may be the overall impression that comes across from the general vitriol that has been spewed towards the book(s) but that genuinely isn’t my motivation for not liking the book. For me, any author worth the paper or screen their work is printed on knows how hard it is to write a book, and how much harder it is to get it published. This author has done that, and she’s also come up with a book that people want to read. Good for her.

However, just because I don’t begrudge her the success she’s garnered, it doesn’t follow that I’ll necessarily like her work, like what she’s written, or won’t point out things that I don’t agree with. That’s what I was doing. Pointing out – as is my right – why I didn’t like something. Actually, what I was doing was saying if a programme about something I didn’t like didn’t cover an issue I had with it, I wouldn’t further upset or annoy myself by watching it.

That’s my general view with most things, you see, if I don’t like it, I won’t participate in it. For example, the baby swap story in EastEnders. That was a plot twist too far for me. I loved EastEnders – had watched it for twenty-five years – but that storyline upset me so much, I had to stop watching the show. Even now, over a year later, I still have to remind myself not to turn to BBC1 at those regular times because it was such a part of my routine.

The same with books. If a book upsets me, I will put it down and I will decide I don’t like it. And I will tell people what I don’t like about it. But, that’s my view and I know a LOT of people won’t ever agree with me about this book in particular. Fair enough. I accept that just as I accept I won’t ever agree with them. In other words, I accept that we’ll have to agree to disagree.

Which is why I got so delete-y on FB before slinking off the other night – I hated the way it became a bun fight, with people shouting the odds at each other, insulting each other, and certainly not even bothering to consider the other person’s point of view. A discussion and/or argument is all about being willing to listen to what someone else is saying, even if you know they’re wrong – and not insult them for it.

So there you have it. I started the apocalypse because I asked a question that I genuinely wanted an answer to. I’ve decided it best to text someone if I have those sort of questions in the future and to continue to use Twitter and FB to connect with people as I have been doing – for fun and laughter. It’s a shame that I feel I can’t say what I like, but I don’t apocalypses – my name’s not Buffy and I’m not handy enough with a stake.




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