April 15, 2010

In Which I Give My Opinion on the U.K vs. U.S. Book Bloggers Debacle

I missed Jackie from Farm Lane Books' post when it first went up. Actually, I saw J.C.'s response today before I even read Jackie's post. I was kind of surprised by Jackie's choice of words and strong opinion, and yes, I was a little offended. However, I also think everyone is entitled to their opinion.

As an American, I don't really feel loud and obnoxious. I'm not really ever that way (unless I drink too much, but that's neither here nor there. :) I don't feel I am somehow self-promoting my "brand" or something when I send out a tweet that I have a new post up (you're following me for a reason, hello) and I don't feel that memes are bad (although I do take responsibility for creating 2 and having 2-3 up a week) and as long as there are book reviews included, it is still a book blog. (And, I would like to point out that Jackie participated in my 20 Questions meme.)

Sometimes I find Brits to be a little snobbish, boring, and without personality. Should I broadcast that generalization on my blog? I wouldn't ever dare. Know why? Because it is a generalization based on a handful of people. And generalizing about nationality is just as bad as generalizing about race, gender, or age. Any reader of my blog knows I love making friends of different nationalities and reading about different cultures (just check out my Snapshots in Diversity series starting tomorrow.) I have friends via book blogging in the U.K. that I don't think are snobbish, boring, and without personality and I have found these friends by not being prejudice against their nationality via generalizations.

I am sure Jackie's words came across harsher than she intended and she was really just trying to open up a discussion. Perhaps she should have had someone proofread it before she posted, but hindsight is 20/20, isn't it? While I agree with Pam's response and J.C.'s post, and while Jackie has put out an apology for offending, I fall into the middle ground here. No, I didn't appreciate the generalization, but also I understand how sometimes we say things that come across differently than we intend and I understand that everyone makes mistakes and I understand that really what I felt was what so many people of other races, nationalities, and cultures have felt for thousands of years- I AM NOT A STEREOTYPE, I AM AN INDIVIDUAL. Perhaps we as American book bloggers should take any anger or frustration over Jackie's post and turn it into a determination to never make anyone else feel like how we felt when we read it. I think it is the American thing to do, ACCEPTING OTHERS, if you don't mind my saying so.

29 comments:

  1. Hm. I'm just now reading it because I couldn't figure out who the blogger was when people were talking yesterday. I'm surprised to find I'm not at all offended... yes, it was very steep in overgeneralizations (sp?), and maybe she shouldn't have posted that for everyone, but that is her experience with book blogs.

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  2. I like Jackie a lot. While I think what she said was badly worded, I do feel bad that she's been singled out and attacked as well. I don't plan on dropping her blog and I'm glad she issued an apology. I think some bloggers took things too far in their being offended. She made a mistake, that's all. We all do that sometimes.

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  3. I just saw that post ... I wasn't really offended. She is entitled to her opinion and she has a good blog. I don't necessarily agree with her ... but some of the things she points out bother me too. I never put it down to cultural differences though; just blogs I don't "jive" with.

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  4. here is a quote from her post "In the UK we view Americans as loud and self-confident and this seems to result in bloggers who aren’t afraid to promote themselves. US bloggers are quite happy blowing their own trumpet"-

    does she consider Asian bloggers as devious and sneaky, Australian bloggers as quick to anger and dangerous when drinking, etc?- her post is really shameful

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  5. I'm just a little tired of people thinking they can say anything as long as they first preface it with a "but" or apology and then seem surprised that people take offense. It would not have been difficult at all to word the post differently, to have a dialogue. And I completely called the day after apology post. I don't mind when someone points out a difference or asks questions but this just seemed to obviously offensive. I'm tired of some book bloggers trying to tell other book bloggers what is okay to have on their blog to be "legitimate". I won't be reading her blog again.
    I'm surprised you aren't more offended (except that you are super nice so maybe that's why) but you do host and participate in memes, yet I think you have one of the best blogs around. It was a crass generalization and she should have known better.

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  6. I didn't feel horribly offended, but I found myself feeling very defensive. I don't really understand what her point was I suppose. If it wasn't to offend, which I believe to be the case even if she didn't post an apology, then why? She goes into some pretty in depth generalizations about both US and UK bloggers.

    And I'm sorry to say she sounds very superior while describing the 'quieter' British blogs she prefers to the 'loud' American ones. Its just human nature to gravitate towards any sort of media that holds the majority of your interests--and in the book publishing world its not often that books are published simultaneously between the UK and US, so either side will have books to discuss ahead of time that the other side does not yet have.

    I admit that sometimes the UK blogs can be interesting--I learn about authors who aren't due in the US for months yet, or books (such as the Trisha Telep books or Glenda Larke) ahead of time. I like that. But then I read Aussie blogs detailing authors or books that may never see the light of American publication (Kylie Chan is a good example of this; I read about her a good year and half on an Aussie blogger's blog before I heard about her American publication rights being sold. I eagerly anticipated being able to read her books and actively sought ways to get my hands on them ahead of time).

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  7. @mel u
    Its interesting that she is quick to generalize Americans as being 'loud and self-confident', and then the British as 'quiet and reserved'. Its my understanding that when people stereotype British people its often more along the lines of 'stuffy and pompous' as well as 'quiet and reserved'. Her choice of wording when discussing the British blogs is definitely more respectful and lenient then when discussing the American blogs.

    also note in the comments she is quick to say that she considers those in Europe under the same banner flag as the UK bloggers. So they too must all be 'quiet and reserved'. Aussies also seem to get this distinction. I didn't see any asian bloggers (but I skimmed the page after comment 60 or so).

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  8. I'm kind of with Deb on this one. But I never visited Jackie's blog before this point, so I feel no need to be forgiving or nice. Not that I'm offended, per se, just annoyed. I would never blackball her or be rude to her for saying something stupid, but I do have to admit that that post will be hard to forget.

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  9. So this is what I don't get - who is forcing anyone to read anyone else's blog? Isn't the point of blogging to have the freedom to say whatever you want to say however you want to say it? (Freedom of speech and all that.) Blogging has no rules, no right or wrong way. I would continue to post what I want to post even if I had 1000 followers (vs. my current 22), because ultimately it's my blog and something I should be proud of.

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  10. Frankly I think the whole thing got blown out of proportion. Her post could have lead to an interesting discussion about the differences and how some things work for u.s. vs british book bloggers. We can all learn from each other. Obviously, she proved the point unintentionally from the responses she received.

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  11. While I could certainly understand and respect that some people genuinely felt offended, what upset me the most was the responses Jackie got in her comments section....some of them were just plain mean and nasty and I honestly didn't think our book blogging community was like that.

    I try to give everyone the benefit of the doubt because I find that it stops many conflicts before they start. I also firmly believe in any blogger's right to write about whatever they see fit.

    I happen to know for a fact that Jackie did not mean that post in the way that so many people decided to interpret it. She's a kind hearted woman. And I'm not sure that I can say the same for many of the comments that were left there.

    But that's just my two-cents worth and it counts about the same as everyone else's two cents, LOL.

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  12. Wow ... just read this whole craziness and the thing that was the most interesting to me was how it was escalated in the comment section. It was like a Lord of the Flies scene. (He's British so hopefully everyone will get the reference. ::wink::) Holes were dug, feet firmly planted in mouths and, well, blah. I'm not a big fan of the "controversial" topic posts anyway ... there will be people on every side of a topic and since the host is always firmly on their chosen side, the "others" are always trashed. Again, I say blah.

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  13. Jackie certainly did not come across as reserved and dignified in that post.

    Perhaps the only US blogs she could find were heavily into self-promotion --- which is why she found them in the first place, I bet.

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  14. I read Jackie's blog, I like Jackie's blog and I like Jackie :D. I made my childish post to in a way show her what she said was a bit over the top and childish. This post is nicer :D

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  15. I love what you write here Rebecca:

    "Perhaps we as American book bloggers should take any anger or frustration over Jackie's post and turn it into a determination to never make anyone else feel like how we felt when we read it. I think it is the American thing to do, ACCEPTING OTHERS"

    Part of that special skill of being so accepting, is to forgive others for sometimes being idiots.

    And trust me, I throw myself heartily into that category - meaning I have made a mess of things myself when trying to bring forth a thought only to find it comes out horribly, horribly wrong and to some, hurtful.

    Of course, I am an woman of older persuasion who grew up in San Francisco during the 60's and 70's. Yes, I am a product of the hippie age: flower children, summer of love, - you get the picture.

    I could never intentionally generalize or stereotype anyone. But that doesn't mean I have never acted the snob, pendantic, and rude. Shameful as it is, I have a helluva an ego and it gets me in trouble. A lot.

    It has been my life's work to rid myself of this albatross, but I digress.

    All I mean to relate here, is that I love what you say here Rebecca. I hope more will come away wanting to move on from this rather than continuing the divisiveness, which in the long run, truly hurts us all.

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  16. Mhmm, I agree.

    You've already seen my post in response to what she said, so I won't repeat all of that - the thing that probably bugged me most about what she said wasn't that she was just stating her opinion... because everyone is entitled to their own opinions, what bothered me was how she worded it to sound like she was speaking for all of us British people when she's not.

    Like this bit: ""In the UK we view Americans as loud and self-confident" - She doesn't say that SHE views Americans that way, she is acting like she's the voice of the UK... and that kind of bothered me the most (and was the main reason behind me writing up a post in response, to make it clear she doesn't speak for all of us).

    I disagree with what you said at the end of your post though, the whole accepting others is the "American thing to do" - it's the HUMAN thing to do, not just American. =P

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  18. Wow, a lot of comments over there. I have totally missed the drama.

    As for haven't heard of books, I thought that was the whole idea. I love seeing what you all are reading all over the world. That is one reason why I am not following any blogs in my own language. I know those books, they can be found here. I want new and exciting things.

    I guess I am more American then when I have had memes, contests and participated in blog tours...no, that just makes me a blogger who thinks things like that is fun and I want diversity on my blog. Something else among the bookreviews.

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  19. I just heard. It's good that she voiced such opinion. Now we know how tactless Brits are. How would she feel if I make such an entry? Some opinions ought to be kept to ourselves.

    It was very nice of J.C to respect Jackie's opinion. If she can respect, why can't we?

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  20. I am a Brit and I don't think we are snobbish and I can definitely never be described as lacking in personality. I am not offended in anyway with this debate. As I love spending time talking to American bloggers, in fact most of my readers and most of the blog I frequent are American rather than English. I am not sure how that happened but it did. I love to see what you Americans are reading as it prepares me for what books will be coming out here. I am even travelling around America by books. So don't think bad of all us Brits!

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  21. Wow, I only caught up with this late last night while watching the election debate (in London). I think in the end we all blog for different reasons but the main reason being we all love books and want to connect with others who do too. I think diversity is a great thing, and in reading lots of different blogs we expand our horizons and get recommendations which we might not otherwise. As we don't have enough hours in the day, I tend to read blogs that talk about books in genres I like as well as those that make me laugh and tell me a little about the lives of the bloggers (I'm sure many of you do too). And a bit of healthy discussion is good too. I'm mixed and live in London but feel I belong everywhere. And I'm still on the hunt for bloggers in Asia, anyone out there?

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  22. I just followed your link to Jackie's post and skimmed it. I didn't find it offensive. Though I don't know if this is how she intended it, it struck me as having a kind of humorous tongue-in-cheek quality.

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  23. Very well said Rebecca, very well indeed. You're thoughts are excellently constructive which is one of the many reasons I enjoy visiting your blog.

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  24. Well, I have missed the whole debate, I guess. But your post is very well stated.

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  25. Who needs soap operas when we can get all the drama we need from the book blogging community! Frankly, I was appalled by Jackie's post. I tend to agree with Deb on this one. Why do some blogs think they are so superior that they can say, "too many memes", "not enough reviews", "too many giveaways", "too many non-bookish posts"...did I miss something? Are we in school or something? If so, I would like to see the handbook please...LOL! I think most of us started our blogs because we love books and wanted to write about them. It's our own personal diary (that other people read) so why shouldn't we put what we want on it and write what we want to write about (without ridiculing others). Besides, it's not our job...shouldn't it be fun?! Personally, I'm not much for a blog with review after review. I like memes and I enjoy non-bookish topics as well. IMO, variety is the spice of life. Bottom line...I stopped caring what people think about me or my friends when I was a teenager and, sadly, all of this reminds me of high school cliques. I just do not have time for it and I just will not follow blogs that think they are superior to the way I blog. I hope I haven't offended anyone, but I had to get my loud, obnoxious two cents in!

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  26. @ Michelle True Book Addict.

    I agree, I like non-review posts. I don't do them often but they are usually popular. So I guess others like them too.
    I think one of the reasons I was upset and Michelle perhaps you also, is it seems that these criticism of blogs come up every so often as if there is only one way to blog. That would be dull if we all blogged the same.
    Posts that do that pull something away from the blogging community and cause hurt feelings. Even if that is not the intention of the blogger, it almost always happens in the comment sections.
    People need to think before blogging something that could hurt people and then be prepared for the fallout. Jackie had a right to post what she did. People had a right to comment as they did. Now lots of people feel bad, including Jackie.

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  27. Hmmm...kind of frustrating that I responded to comments after Kristen M. and my comment is not here....I wonder if anyone else's comments have disappeared into cyberspace...

    I am not going to comment on each comment again, but I will throw in some of the highlights of what I had said.

    One thing is that though her post did lend itself to wondering about her thoughts on people of all nationalities other than the U.K., I think that we would be making a generalization of her and that really wouldn't be any better than her making generalizations of us.

    And, yes, it is not just an AMERICAN thing to do ACCEPTING OTHERS, but a HUMAN thing to do. Very well put, lanna-lovely.

    I just think, dear readers, that the whole thing is upsetting, yes, but that I think it came across as more offensive than she intended (though some of her responses to those whose comments agreed with her opinion lead me to question that) and she did apologize. Whether the apology was because she was sincere or because she didn't want to look like more of a bitch, I couldn't say. But I want to give her the benefit of the doubt and as many times as I have wanted another chance, I can't just not give someone else one. That would make me a hypocrite. And if there is one thing I hate more than snobs, it is hypocrites. So, while she may or may not be xenophobic, I want to use this whole event and discussion as a way to better myself and make sure I treat others as I would want to be treated.

    chasingbawa- There are certainly bloggers in Asia! India, Singapore, Philippines, South Korea, Japan- to name a few. E-mail me and I can give you specific URLs. :)

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  28. I'm not American and I was offended for Americans. I've been reading Jackie's blog for a while and I always enjoy her reviews but I think she should have thought twice before she posted that particular post. But now she's apologized (and like you said, who knows what her motivation is) and it is her blog which means she can say/write whatever she chooses too. She can be as racist, sexist or ageist as she wants to and there is nothing we can do about it except stop reading. (Which I'm not going to do because she did apologize). And that is one of the great things about the internet and blogging. You write what you want to and you read what you want to.

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