Hobbies are the things we do to give us pleasurable respites from our everyday life. When everyday life and its responsibilities are more enjoyable than hobbies, it’s time to reevaluate the hobbies.
I lurked online for a long time before I ever commented in a forum, blog, or website. For the most part I’ve really enjoyed the conversations, and even when they were hijacked, the good outweighed the bad. But for me, not so much at the moment.
I don’t enjoy being angry. I don’t feel empowered by my anger, even righteous anger. Confrontations make me feel uncomfortable at best and nauseated at worst. And while I get over drive-by attacks or name-calling, it takes a bit of effort.
Between the presidential campaign and the current unpleasantness(es) between authors and reviewers, I’ve found that blogs, twitter, and a lot of other hitherto enjoyable spaces have become emotional land mines. And the worst part is, the angry, insecure, obsessed voices drown out the pleasant, mature, intelligent ones. At least, at the moment they are drowning them out in my head. And since that’s the one I live in, that’s what I’m stuck with. I’ve tried to avoid it, but it creeps in anyway.
I’ve started second-guessing myself on reviews of authors I know (not as friends, just as friendly acquaintances), on happy tweets about books I’ve been looking forward to, and even on complimentary twitter exchanges with authors that aren’t about a specific book. Because at some point someone whose opinion matters to me will point to my reviews or tweets and cry favoritism, sock-puppeting, or something worse. If they don’t do it to me, they’ll do it to someone else. Because there’s always an individual out there who thinks everyone else is getting a special deal.
I like reviewing, and I like talking to authors. But the thing I like most, the thing that brought me online in the first place? Read and talking about books with other readers. I joined Twitter and started blogging because they gave me opportunities to talk about topics that weren’t part of a standard review. But those conversation are being interrupted way too often for my taste now.
I really enjoy blogging. I really enjoy Twitter. But right now, the annoying, unpleasant, and depressing stuff is overwhelming the stuff that gives me pleasure. So I’m taking a break. I don’t know if it’s forever. I know it’s at least through the end of the year and probably longer. I’ve also deleted my Goodreads account, and I think I can promise I won’t be going back to that one.
The discussions here have been so intelligent and almost entirely drama-free, I hate to give them up. That’s why I’ve waffled on this for the last couple of months. But I can’t make it work for myself.
Let’s put it this way: when grading exams feels like a more pleasant activity than logging into Twitter or surfing around to my usual internet haunts, changes must be made.
I’ll still be reviewing at Dear Author, and I’ll still be on email. Thanks so much for reading and commenting, I can’t tell you the pleasure you’ve given me over the last year and a half.