To criticize or not to criticize?
September 1, 2012 at 5:15 am #100632
Sometimes I come across some work and I am hesistant to criticize it, especially if the comments already on board are glowing.
I recently came across a post on cassava republic blog that made me question my action. Here is an excerpt:
Social media such as Facebook and Twitter have brought people together in unprecedented ways. In literary circles authors can get directly in touch with their fans, other authors and even their reviewers. This has been an amazing advantage for writers. By responding to fan messages, chatting on blogs and forums, and generally establishing personal contact, many of them have been able to create and grow fan bases for their work.
But as critic Jacob Silverman notes in his article on Slate.com, this personal connection can have its drawbacks. For as literary circles – writers, editors, reviewers and fans – become ever more tightly bound through their social networks, it is becoming harder to offer honest feedback.
Silverman uses the example of Emma Straub, an author who, through her generous, funny and kind persona on Twitter, has garnered a following of over 9,000 users. He notes:
…let’s say you’re part of this web of writers, fiction-lovers, literary editors, and readers in the social-media world and you’re assigned a review of Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures. What if you don’t like it? Or what if you like it, but not unreservedly? Are you willing to say so? Would you be willing to critique Straub’s novel after watching her life scroll out on social media over the last year—indeed, after likely being the recipient or admirer of some small word or act of kindness on Straub’s part?
The writer concluded with these words:
If an author’s work is objectively sub-par, and 99% of his or her cheerful and enthusiastic social network were just too polite to tell the truth, while the remaining 1% who didn’t want to falsely praise it simply chose to say nothing, then that author will never get a true reflection of the work’s worth. And, as far as I am concerned, that does no one any favours.
When I read the article I agreed that we are not helping each other if we all shout “great”, “inspiring”, “awesome” or even keep quiet when constructive criticisms could have been made.
What do you think?
I feel exactly the way you do @Osakwe and I’m one of those people who will just walk by without leaving a comment.
I’m as effusive of a good read as I can be blunt on a bad one. If I get so excited, I can write a thesis on a two line poetry that I like if the lines feels good to me but this days I just do the waka pass if I don’t really feel a write-up is up to par except if I have an assumed projection of the writer’s personae, and feel confident that he will take my critique in good faith.
And being blunt doesnt mean I’ll say some unprintable things about the write-up o but I’ve come to realise that we take things differently so I tread with care on these things. Ego is a really powerful thing especially for writers and a bad review/critique is a solid ground for personal vendetta.
@midas I get you. the post on the blog was quite an interesting read and it did point out that many feuds had started over a bad review.
It’s so hard at times to decide whether or not to say something. Personally critics have made me better and that is one of the reasons I am here. Sometimes sha it is not easy to swallow
That is why i do not read an authors name before i make my comment. I also do not read previous comments before i make mine. We must help each other. We must criticize.It is disapointing that people read and pass on without making comments. I have made it a point of duty to comment on every post here. For over a year, only a few posts have escaped me. I am disliked for most of the comments, but, the wise writers no that i am always honest.
90 percent of the writings here are nonsense, and readers let it pass.We are not being fair on Literature.
I implore all readers on this site to always make a comment, no matter how stupid or blunt it is, just be honest, just say exactly what the work feels to you.