This discussion topic came to me after my third Twitter hiatus following an explosion of call-outs and angry tweets threw my anxiety into overdrive. Book drama does not inherently mean angry people. But a lot of the time, book drama does lead to angry responses, subtweets, and very vague, very sweeping statements.
I’m not going to make any arguments for or against creating a safe space on Twitter*. It’s a valid discussion, but one that needs a separate post to itself. In this post, I’m focusing on whether you should jump into the book drama, or take a step back.
*for the sake of brevity, this post focuses on “book drama” called out and investigated through Twitter threads/tweets. i acknowledge this also happens on other social platforms like Instagram.
*also for the sake of brevity, “book drama” is used to refer to any large-scale news that affects the book community
Are you involved?
Many people became engaged in the Blood Heir drama. But were all of them involved? Where does involvement in book drama begin? At one point, it seemed everyone was talking about Blood Heir: YA readers. Teens. Journalists. Authors. Those who had received ARCs and those would do anything to get a copy.
None of this is to debate Blood Heir’s fate. I’m only bringing it up now as a example of what happens when book drama becomes NEWSWORTHY. Everyone wanted to cast their opinion on Blood Heir, but how many had background on young adult books, the teen reading experience, or book reviewing?
tl;dr: you should have a tangential connection to the communities affected by the drama if you plan on engaging
Do you actually know what’s going on?
Most of the time, we find out about book drama through a tweet that is super vague and not from anyone/anything that has to do with the original drama. It might be something like “OMG can’t believe about ‘x person’ or ‘x thing’” and it’s like, Well hmm, I don’t know what THAT means??
📎 Find the Facts
I usually have to sift through many different twitter threads, comments, and the search bar to see if I’m able to track down someone that is explaining it all or *IF* I can even find the original. Sometimes, it has taken me 15 to 20 minutes to compile even a general gist of what is going on, and by then, it’s usually through other people’s thoughts and a weird game of telephone . . . but with screenshots.
📎 Trust the Tweet
First impressions are definitely not what they seem. There have been times that I just saw one or two things, thought I had the story figured out, and then when I got all the facts, it ended up being something completely different. For example, I first thought about the Nora Roberts/Tomi Adeyemi drama. The story didn’t give any details but was just stating there are a lot of book titles that share common names. It wasn’t until continuously digging through twitter threads and then a blog post that broke it down hours later that I fully grasped the full meaning of it. Plus, information kept coming through throughout, and much like other book drama, one new piece of information can change the entire conversation.
tl;dr: one tweet isn’t the whole story. you can try to follow threads on Twitter, but at the end of the day, social media isn’t a news site.
Do you have anything to contribute?
When a Tweet about the misgendering of Dr. James Barry came up on my timeline, I looked up information about the book. I informed myself on Little, Brown’s decision to acquire Cape Town, on Barry’s life, and on the author who has written this new “non-biographical” rendition on Barry. But I withheld from tweeting.
I made the choice to blacklist this book and author, but I didn’t want to take away from the many trans voices clearly explaining what was wrong with the book. Sometimes drama comes up on Twitter that you agree/disagree with, but you don’t have to engage directly. Make up your mind (and any life choices if you need to) and move on.
tl;dr: if you don’t have anything new to say, if someone has already explained your point, or if the person has already said “I get it”…you probably shouldn’t engage
How are you phrasing yourself?
Most of the time drama definitely brings out the emotions in us. Sometimes anger, sometimes hurt, sometimes frustration, sometimes excitement, etc. With certain drama, it might instantly cause a gut reaction – you never know how it will affect you. I’ve certainly seen a few things that made me angry on the spot. However, how you go about phrasing yourself is definitely an important part of how you engage with it.
There are definitely a couple of different ways that you can approach the situation. There might be the gut reaction of anger and outrage. Trademarks include: all caps, lots of exclamation marks, name calling, and more. It might make you feel good – but depending on the drama, it might add fuel to the fire.
Being super detailed, carefully thought out, and more neutral is another reaction as well. I’m always for more detail and thought out, but if it’s too much in your response, it might seem that you’re a little too apathetic to the situation or minimizing the emotional impact.
The answer is always balance! But you have to be true to yourself and your voice. Personally, I’m always the person that wants to tread a bit lighter, and will sit there and rewrite and rethink a tweet for about half an hour before I usually end up giving up on it – which is a whole different thing – so I haven’t found out what my voice is in the drama world and how my phrasing is after a million edits.
This is by no means a checklist to follow before diving into the Twitterverse. Let’s be honest, who thinks for more than a minute before sending off a Tweet? (Okay, me, but I’m an anxious bean and re-think my choice of socks in the morning.)
Opinions = the foundation of the book community. I mean, the entire premise of book blogging is to share our opinions on books—what we loved, what we hated, what was just okay. Our opinions help influence. So, it’s only natural that many of us will have opinions when it comes to certain book drama.
So now that you’ve gathered your information and assessed the situation, the time comes to figure out what you do with all of it. Do you jump into a Twitter thread? Start your own? Take a book off your TBR?
Do you do nothing and let it all play out?