Discussions Only We Know
How Outspoken is Too Outspoken?
We all know someone in our lives that will just tell it like it is without qualms about who's feelings they might hurt, what opinion they might step on, or what controversial matter they might plow through. Or maybe you're the way yourself.
For me, these people always border on grating. Even if I can admire them for their blatantly honest opinion and I always know where I stand with them, these people always leave me feeling like I'm walking on eggshells, bordering on the cliff over an abyss, cringing while waiting for the ax to fall. I'm always wondering when I'm going to be the one to offend this type of person and over what. And how far will they go to make me feel their wrath? I’m all about saying what needs to be said. Ask anyone in my real life. If something needs to be said but everyone is avoiding saying it, I’ll typically step up to the plate and lay the cards on the table. But I prefer not to have to do that. I don’t get any joy out of it.
Honesty (and the necessity for it while blogging) has been discussed here and among other blogs frequently. It's crucial. It's imperative. It's necessary. I
can’t shouldn’t review a book here on my blog or anywhere else without giving you my honest opinion about it. That’s the whole point of reviews for books and any other product or service one might be reviewing. But when is it too much? Or is there such a thing as too much? We should always be honest in our reviews when it comes to our opinion of a book. We should always be honest about citing our sources and giving credit where credit is due. But what about over sharing? Or maybe I should say "over opinionating?"
You can easily say that your blog is your blog and what's on it will be your opinion no matter who you might offend--readers always have the option of…well…not reading. But we also have to realize that putting our opinions on our blogs is putting it out there for the world to see. And we need to take responsibility for those opinions and the impact that they have on others.
This subject, like the moral of modesty, is not so easy to draw the lines on, and there will be much debate over where those lines fall. I can't tell you where the lines are, but I can tell you when I think you've crossed it. I can tell you when I think I’ve crossed it.
I’ve run across this in the book blogging community in various forms and in various weight. I’ve seen bloggers who give off the impression that if you disagree with their opinion of a particular book then you must be the biggest idiot around and they’re going to lecture you into why you should agree with their opinion of that book until you agree or shut up and disappear. I’ve seen bloggers who have cemented ideas on what blogging should be and what your blog should look like. I’ve seen bloggers who want to tell you how to market your blog and if you’re doing it any other way then you must be a novice. Or *gasp* maybe you don’t market your blog at all? Then you’re for sure a moron. I’ve seen bloggers make mistakes (granted sometimes big mistakes) and other bloggers offer up opinions on how everyone should treat those who make mistakes. I’ve seen bloggers respond to drama in the book community—whether it be authors behaving badly or bloggers behaving badly—and they have an opinion on how those people should be treated and if you don’t comply then you become one of the “behaving badly” too.
Granted, I do have to say that this isn’t something I’ve seen from the majority of book bloggers. It’s just a here or there kind of thing. Overall, the book blogging community that I’ve been exposed to has been nothing but awesome. Occasionally, I’ll run across one of the bloggers mentioned above.
So here’s what I think: Over sharing/too much opinion becomes too much when people are scared of the backlash that will inevitably come from you if you disagree with them. The problem lies, therein, with the fact that others are usually only aware of this feeling--you are often oblivious. Have you ever picked up on the vibe that others might be afraid of you? If so, do you care? Should you care? Do you have the opinion that “well that’s just the way that I think and everyone else ought to see it that way too?” Or do you leave room for other ideas and feelings?
There's a balance, and anytime balance is required, it's not easy. We have to work at strengthening ourselves to be better balanced. After all, I wouldn't be able to jump onto a balance beam and do a back handspring without first practicing how to walk. Blogging is no different. Exercise, practice, trying to do better...to be better...is the only way we're going to succeed in this area.
Do you want to be a blogger that encourages debate and conversation over a book or over the ideas of what blogging entails? Or do you want to be a blogger who shares your ideas with the worlds and the world can do with that information what it will because you don’t care about what anyone else has to say? Do you want to have a conversation? Or do you want to just share your opinion? Honestly, either way is fine, but I know that there’s only one type that I’d want to have anything to do with. Which type are you?
Personally when I come across a blog that screams “over opinionated”, I’m off that page in a matter of seconds. I don’t reply. I don’t argue. I don’t engage. I just run for the hills. But what do you do if an “over opinionator” stumbles upon your blog? (This hasn’t really happened to me, but I guess theoretically it could.) What if they’re commenting on all of your reviews and your posts and blasting your thoughts out of the water? What do you do then? Do you respond? Do you just ignore? Do you remove their comments? Have any of you run across this problem? How have you handled it?
As always guys, I’m curious. What do you think? Let me know!