Thursday, September 14, 2017

Discussion: When Should You Keep Your Opinion To Yourself?

Feed Your Fiction Addiction and It Starts At Midnight host the 2017 Discussion Challenge.

Most of the people reading this post right now are bloggers. Sharing our opinions is what we do. If you’re like me, then you have a lot of opinions, especially about books. (And food. But mostly books.) I’ve been wondering if there are times when you should keep those bookish opinions to yourself.

One of the book bloggers I follow on Twitter passionately dislikes a popular book series. I haven’t read this series because it doesn’t sound like my kind of thing, but I guess controversial stuff happens (or fails to happen) in the books. Some people are angry about how the controversial stuff is handled in the series. This particular blogger is massively pissed off about the “stuff.” She often complains about the series, its author, and its rabid fans. Sometimes, when I read her tweets, I think Wow, that’s harsh, but her tweets usually don’t bother me because it’s her Twitter page. She can post whatever she wants on it. If I’m not in the mood for rage, I can scroll over her posts.

Earlier this year, the newest book in the series came out. The blogger ramped up her rage. Whenever someone mentioned the new book on Twitter, she replied to their tweet with a massive multi-tweet rant. The rant basically said If you like this series, then you’re a terrible person and need to reevaluate your life choices.

I didn’t mind this blogger’s rants when they were just floating around Twitter, but once she started directing them at specific people, they started to seem . . . shitty. These people weren’t asking for thoughts on the series. They were posting photos and getting excited about their preorders showing up. Maybe they knew about the controversial stuff and didn't think it was handled poorly. The blogger was giving her opinion without anybody asking for it.

This has made me wonder when it’s okay to give your opinion online. Is everything online fair game for opinions? When you post something on social media, should you expect people to give their thoughts on it? If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen, right? If you can’t stand the opinions of strangers, get off the Internet.

Or, does personal space exist online? Should you only give your opinion if it’s asked for? If someone is excited about a book you hate, is it okay to say you hate it, or should you ignore it and move on?

Let’s discuss: I want to know your opinion on opinions. When should you speak up, and when should you back away from the keyboard? 


  1. This is a great discussion post. I think people should feel like they can freely give their opinions, but you have to be prepared that someone will always disagree with you, and if you're nasty about your opinion, people will react the same way.

    If you're putting something out on the internet, people will react to it. Why put it out there unless you want people's opinions or some sort of reaction?

    However, I think people need to be more respectful. Disliking a book is one thing - telling people they need to re-evaluate their lives if they like that book is another thing completely.

    There's also the old adage: If you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything at all. Why bring someone down who is excited about something just because you don't like it? It's unnecessary.

  2. Great topic! I used to be quiet about my bookish opinions but then I was 'attacked' (people just called me nasty untrue names) for not agreeing with what they were saying about a book and I decided I didn't care anymore. I am going to give my honest thoughts no matter what. I think it's sad that people can't have different opinions and express them (nicely of course) without others getting offended or angry.

  3. It seems like the person is expressing her/his opinions on the issue, not just the book series. So yeah - it's fair game.

    If it had been a harmless book series for entertainment only, then it's probably best to just let people read whatever crap they want. But once 'real issues' get involved, bring on the opinions. Of course, disagreeing is not an excuse for rudeness.

  4. I think the internet is just as much a place for sharing negative opinions as it is positive ones, and there's no reason for them to be held back until solicited. Opinions aren't less valid for being negative. I do think it's rude to devolve into personal attacks on people for liking things that you yourself don't like, but there are rude people everywhere, online and off, and dealing with them is just a part of life.

  5. I'm ok with a blogger disagreeing with my opinion of a book if they are respectful about it. If I like a blog I'm fine with someone saying they didn't like it or couldn't get into. I don't like when I'm told that my opinion is in some way wrong or that only idiots like that kind of thing. That is not respecting the right of others to disagree with you and that is wrong. The blogger you mentioned has the right to hate something but not to abuse others who like it. I love Harry Potter but I don't hate on those who don't like it because their opinion is as valid as mine is. I don't often comment on reviews except people I'm following but if I do I always respect that person and never argue with them, even if my view is different. I'm more likely to comment on reviews where I share the opinion of the writer.

    If you put your opinions on social media or blogs, you should expect responses to it. Sharing opinions and discussing what you read and watch can be a lot of fun. You should not have to put up with trolls who spout bile and commit personal attacks though but sadly that seems to be the price for being on things like Twitter.

  6. Moderation and restraint is necessary if one wants to keep sanity. That said, I have made a few people mad over my dozen years of blogging and have lost a few readers, but so what. Sometimes I find I have to speak out--but generally it is about issues like Civil Rights, being kind to others, and such. On Facebook, I recently had enough by a man my father's age (or maybe a little older) who had been bragging about how great the 50s were--I finally responded that I was sure it was a good decade to grow up in IF you were a white male and then suggested he read a book (Separate Paths) written a former professor of mine who grew up in that time and explored the different ways his life was from his African American peers... So, sometimes you just have to speak out. As for book reviews, generally if the book is bad enough for me to trash it, I don't finish it and chalk it up as wasted hours...

  7. awesome post! I think online is a reflection of RL. You can express your opinion. ALWAYS. BUT. action reaction law. Just be ready for the consequences. IS your opinion positive and supportive and popular you'll get a lot of love. Is your opinion less popular, then less love. Is your opinion offensive. Then be prepared for people to be offended and to react back. Is your opinion dangerous? it spreads hate and discrimination [Neo Nazis protesters I'm looking at you] if there are law against that be ready to be punished. If you spread hate be ready to be hated. I don't care too much about controversial opinions and situations what drive me crazy is when people act all surprise and hurt when people react to their opinions. You put yourself out there? face the consequences good or bad.

  8. Opinions are great...but there is a line we shouldn't cross, IRL or online, and that's the line from opinion to attack. Attacking is never okay...and it is hurtful. Life has enough hurts without adding to them.

    Thanks for the great post.

  9. Oh what a great post!
    I think it's great to have your own opinion.
    Most of us are bloggers, and we are here to review, and have different thoughts and feelings. On one hand I LOVE that she isn't afraid to take a stand, and she is honest with her readers. She doesn't go with the popular opinion, and makes her own decisions. That's great, and I think most of us strive to be that honest.
    However I think when it leads to attacking people it's taking it too far. She's entitled to her own opinion, and so is everyone else.
    This just causes unneeded confrontations.
    She should be grateful to be in a community that is so open to different opinions, and enjoy it.
    I love when people have different opinions it's what makes the world go round. I know how corny that sounds, but it's true!
    She needs to state her opinion in a loving way, and not add more hate to the world.
    LOVE this post!
    Ashley @ Books To The Tea

  10. I think that, as in the real world, there are boundaries! There is such a thing as respect. It's widely ignored on the internet, but again, just like in the real world: Someone can say something (free speech), and someone else can not agree and say something back (free speech), maybe even rudely so, but they have to also be aware that others WILL judge that. You can say anything you want, but you'll be judged. And if we're a community, we shouldn't be lashing out against other people. You CAN do it, but you SHOULDN'T, that's what I mean to say. In the spirit of letting people enjoy things. In this blogger's case, her invading the space of others to spread negativity is not okay, imo.

  11. I think that some people cross over a few lines that they shouldn't. People are all different and like different things and it is okay. I give my opinions all the time but know that other readers are going to think very differently than me.

  12. Oooh how I love this post! Because... yeah. This happens ALL. THE. TIME. And honestly? It's annoying. No, it's actually more than annoying, it's pretty rude.

    Look, everyone can have an opinion. Hate on a series all you want. But when you start popping into other people's conversations/opinions to throw shade, that is when it crosses the line from "voicing your opinion" to "kind of being an asshat".

    The thing is, this blogger CAN go ahead and be rude to whoever she wants. Like, she has that right, I suppose. But then in turn, everyone can also not want to engage with her anymore, and kind of decide they're not as much a fan of her as they thought. So... consequences, I suppose. Because if someone jumped onto a tweet of mine, especially a benign tweet like "oh I liked X Book!", just to say mean things, I'm not going to be following that person anymore. And this is a small community, word gets around if you're walking around acting like you're superior and can force people to have YOUR opinions.

    And honestly? I think that people who are decent and trying to form genuine connections and such DON'T do that to other people. To me, trolling people online says a lot about a person, and none of it's good.

  13. This sounds simply like bullying, I don't know. And it DOES seem shitty and like that person has nothing better to do with their lives. Sorry for those two had multi-tweet rants replied to their pre-orders :/ I have taken care of unfollowing any such person who does that on Twitter a few months ago (even if I agree with their opinion) because they just spread hate and do nothing good. Spreading hate for the cause of "diversity" is pointless... (it's most commonly diversity, I've noticed.) It has made my Twitter experience MUCH better.
    But even if we discuss that we should sometimes keep our opinions to ourselves, you know full well that people like that won't. They don't care about anyone else's opinion or feelings. They think they are THE RIGHTEST person in the world :)
    As for me.. I don't like to state my opinion on controversial stuff at all. Not like my lowly little opinion will change anything. It's best to stay out of the arena, I think.

  14. I would never ever do that. I have never said online that I didn't like something. My personal opinion is just personal!

  15. I have held back opinions online when I knew it would hurt someone -- an author or reader of a book I really didn't like. Maybe that was dishonest in a sense, but in that context I felt it was more important to respect others' feelings. On the other hand, I have also at times expressed negative opinions, but I would try really hard not to criticize people who don't think as I do. I try to back up my opinions with reasons, and then it's up to the readers to decide if they agree. I definitely do not want to get into virtual fist-fights on the internet.

  16. I completely agree with you that this is one of those cases where the blogger should have just kept her opinion to herself. Everyone's entitled to their own opinions, but that doesn't mean we have to force them on others. And no one should be berated for liking a book. That's just not right.

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

  17. I generally hold my tongue if I see someone praising something or excited about something I don't like- I might FEEL like saying something lol but I never would, because... boundaries? It seems rude to do that. So yeah I don't really feel it's appropriate for someone to do that. BUT being that it's the Internet or Twitter someone is going to do that from time to time, and someone will then respond, and... the fun begins.

    Some people may WANT the drama, and Angela has a good point- if you put yourself out there you will get a response. So I see it both ways, but generally I think if someone expresses their opinion, and it's not directed at me, I stay out of it. Unless it's somethiug truly offensive/ dangerous, why attack someone?

  18. I've seen this happen a lot too, and whilst I think it's OK to say that you didn't like something, you've crossed a line when you start directing it specifically at people, or are implying that anyone who did like it is stupid etc,. People are allowed their own opinions, and attacking people doesn't make anyone change their mind about the actual book: it just makes people think you're not very nice. So I don't get what people like that are expecting to achieve really!
    And you wonder why these people keep going on, and on, and on about something they supposedly hate so much. Maybe say that you didn't like it, but leave it there! Why would you keep wasting your energy on something you don't like, instead of moving on and talking about and promoting the things you did like?
    Great post! :)

  19. I have no problem expressing my opinion of a book but once my review is out there in the world I let it go. It's over and done and I'm on to the next. There are people out there who take this all a little too seriously, IMO. I don't believe in going on to someone elses review and giving them hell for any reason. BUT if someone comes over to my review and tells me I read a book wrong or my opinion is wrong I never stay quiet. I'm going to start telling them they read my review wrong ;) I welcome everyone and welcome disagreement but to tell someone they are a terrible person, have atrocious taste (has happened to me) or worse is just rude. I try not to engage people who behave that way.

  20. This post was pretty great. I'm so annoyed when this happens because it's just so out of place! Giving your opinion is good, but be polite, careful, and don't bring others down if they're enjoying something! Kindly point out if something is problematic, but you can't ATTACK others!
    Your discussion is accurate because I still don't think I'm completely sure about when we should speak up. Letting another reader know something is problematic is great, but bringing them down and offending? I wouldn't want to do that. Open discussions about our unpopular opinions are amazing, but I wouldn't be comfortable if I spotted a thread like the one you did.

    It's really interesting because my recent discussion post is about why bloggers are The Most Honest of the Species. It's true, we are. But it's not always good. Here's my post, I think it relates:

    Great discussion!

  21. I try really hard not to rain on other people's parade. I consider very carefully if I'm going to even post a negative review especially because I don't feel its necessary to hate on things. ❤️ I really loved this, we need to think about this more.