We live in an era of hate. Instead of praising our favorite singers, we are tearing down one that doesn’t even matter to us. Instead of leaving a 5-star review on one of our favorite books, we are leaving a 1-star review on the recently highlighted one. Instead of looking up neat dance videos, we are watching a series of YouTube flicks of people falling down during their wedding day. For every person who loves something, there are ten people who are trying to tear it down just for fun.
At some point, it became “cool” to “hate” on whatever is out there – generally the latest, most popular-selling item. I could write about all kinds of hate in our culture, but I would rather focus on the “hating” that is happening between readers. I want to clarify that I realize most people do not participate in this hating. It’s often the haters that are simply the loudest, but I still think it’s important to face the issue of readers hating on readers in order to let readers know they are not alone and they can – in fact – be proud of what they love to read, no matter what it is.
So, what is hating between readers?
1. Making fun of someone for their reading choices. Sadly, this shouldn’t need an explanation, because it is wrong, but it is one of the main types of hate that I have personally seen happen, especially in schools. However, it also happens outside of school – mainly on the Internet – and I will explain why this is destructive below.
2. Fans putting down fans of the same novel/author: no one is a “better” fan of the same novel. Everyone is a fan. We should be happy that we enjoyed the same story. Who cares who read the book before the movie deal or after they watched the film? No one needs every edition of every novel in order to say they are a fan, and no one should be put down because they don’t have every fact about the series memorized.
3. Deliberately spending obnoxious amounts of time tearing down a novel: ex/ creating entire websites that encourage the burning of said novel, especially when one has not even touched said novel.
These are the three main types that I see, and I think it is destructive for many reasons, but this article is one of my favorites: Hating Twilight Does Not Make You Cool. In this bit, Brian D. Buckley writes about how readers look down on one another, even going as far as to call someone “stupid” for not reading something else. Google is a pretty…sad place if you start searching for keywords regarding certain novels. In fact, there are entire websites dedicated to saying horrible things about certain novels AND the readers of those novels.
I know the “hating” generally focuses on the books, but why focus on what someone doesn’t like at all? Why not spend your time praising what you love instead? The reason I think readers should spend more time praising what they love and less time hating what they dislike is simple: the “hating” seems to get more attention today, and the “hating” starts making some of those readers embarrassed to say they are, in fact, a fan of those novels. This can be destructive, because those readers might not branch out to other novels that they would also enjoy. They may stop talking about what they are reading. They might not write reviews or share their thoughts with their friends. They may even stop reading altogether.
We know we are creating a negative reading culture when articles like this are popular: Be seen with a book? It’s just not cool, says 1 in 5 children. There is even something known as “Hate-Reading” which is when people purposely go out of their way to read about everything they dislike instead of enjoy. We should be an encouraging culture that appreciates all readers for whatever they feel connected with. Personally, I am happy if people are reading – no matter what it is. I think everyone has their preferences, and I worry that “reader hating” is preventing people from reading more and/or causing readers to hide instead of discussing their favorite novels.
So, what can we do?
We can encourage readers to love whatever they love. We tell those haters to go spend their time being positive instead of negative. If someone starts talking about something they hate in an inappropriate way (like calling fans stupid) we avert the conversation to something that person likes and/or tell them to try not to judge others’ tastes. We can encourage each other to remain positive, and we can create safe environments on the internet for fans to be positive by asking those internet “trolls” to leave or to be more appropriate. We can read what we love, and we can share it, even if it’s the “uncool” thing to do. (Because nothing should be defined as “cool”) We should be proud of what we love.
On my Facebook Author Page, I actually asked, “Has anyone ever made ‘fun’ of what you were reading? Why do you think people do this, and do you think it is destructive to the reading community? What do you think?” And here were some of those answers:
Charles Yallowitz: Not since high school and it was usually only part of the mocking. Some people simply carry low opinions of certain book types and those who read them. It’s close-minded and cuts a person off from a variety of reading.
Ojan Borot: I haven’t personally found that. I am a 36 year old hwy construction worker and have no issue telling everyone that I am currently reading the Twilight series and am enjoying it. (even though I hate the 3 lead characters). I am halfway through Breaking Dawn and I read The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner.
Lori Remenicky: Reading is reading is reading – doesn’t matter what it is. I’ve always read romance – I hope no one has made fun of me for that.
Check out all of the answers, and leave yours below!
I would love to keep this conversation going in order to encourage readers to be proud of whatever they enjoy reading.