I have been on this earth for a lot of years and I don’t think I’ll ever understand why we feel the need to take away someone’s happiness. I get that we have thoughts and opinions. I understand that we feel strongly about what we think is right and what we think is wrong.
And we’re entitled to those thoughts and opinions. But why do we feel the need to share those opinions in a way that takes away someone’s happiness. Or if not taking away their happiness in its entirety, taking it away in part, making it less.
Shouldn’t we rejoice in the fact that something good is happening for someone else? Just because it’s not happening for us right now, doesn’t mean that it won’t. And when that time comes for us, wouldn’t we want others to be happy for us? Wouldn’t we want to feel like we can share our joy without having it crushed, reduced or diminished in any way?
I get feeling jealous. I get feeling like it’s not fair. I get feeling why not me. But just because we have those negative feelings, do we have to share them? Do we have to spread the negativity around? Does that statement “misery loves company” have to be true?
I’ve been a part of this bookish community for a number of years now. And I’ve found that for the most part bloggers and readers and authors are wonderful, generous, kind and helpful. They are enthusiastic about the books they love. They want to share their excitement for upcoming titles, they want to help their blogger or author friends succeed.
They are there for each other. As friends. As sounding boards. As support.
I’ll never understand why someone else’s success can’t be used as a push to achieve the same rather than used to wallow in self pity. I’ll never understand why those who are friends when the going is tough can’t be friends when the going is not so tough for one of them.
Shouldn’t a friend be happy when another friend achieves their dreams? Shouldn’t a fellow author rejoice when one of their colleagues or friends gets their work published, because it means there’s a chance for them, too? And even when it doesn’t, shouldn’t they be happy that someone who is striving for the same thing they are gets a chance at happiness because they know what it’s like all those other times?
Why do we need to inject our negativity into something positive? Does it make us feel that much better to make someone feel that much worse? Do we feel better because what we’ve said makes someone else angry, upset, hurt?
Maybe for the moment? But for the long-term?
Rejection sucks. Being ignored sucks. Being left out sucks. Being left behind sucks.
But just because we’ve been sucking on some major sour grapes, does that mean we should tear apart someone who isn’t?
We seem to talk a lot about fairness in this community. Is it fair that Author X got published and Author Y didn’t? Is it fair that Author X’s series got picked up when Author Y’s less known but exquisitely written one didn’t? Is it fair that Blogger A gets 5,000 hits per day on their site but Blogger B only gets 50? Is it fair that bloggers in New York have easy access to more bookish events than those than bloggers in Arizona?
Maybe. Maybe not.
But is it fair to take someone’s happiness and dump all over it? Is it fair to put someone down just because you’re feeling jealous? Is it fair to share your opinion when your opinion is only meant to upset someone else?
If fairness is the big concern, then maybe we should be thinking about the ways in which we’re not being fair before we talk about how unfair things are.
Is it fair that I have the luxury of being a book blogger, getting the occasional “free” book for review, live in a country where I can buy almost any book I want? Is it fair that I have a platform where I can share my thoughts freely without repercussions? Is it fair that I can go to sleep at night and not worry about my safety and the safety of those I love? Is it fair that I can earn money and have the freedom to spend it as I choose?
I suppose it’s not. It’s not fair. But it is what it is and I wouldn’t change it.
But is it fair that you have a site that’s more heavily trafficked than mine? Is it fair that you have more followers on social media than I do? Is it fair that you’re a better writer, reviewer, blogger than I am? Is it fair that you get more comments on each of your posts than I do on mine? Is it fair that you get to attend conferences that I don’t? Is it fair that your mailbox is filled with bookish mailings when mine isn’t? Is it fair that you’re more friendly or social or smarter or prettier or younger than I am?
Maybe. Maybe not. But it is what it is and I wouldn’t change it.
I can be sad that I don’t get approved for a title I very much wanted and still be happy for every single person that did. I can feel jealous that they got to take pictures at a conference with their favorite authors who now know them by name and still be excited that they got to meet them.
I can feel sad that I didn’t get a ginormous mailing from a publisher and still be thrilled for those that did and be excited for the authors that each of their books are getting put into the spotlight.
I don’t have to let the feeling of being left out take center stage. I don’t have to let it take hold and make me miserable. I don’t have to then let that misery out in the form of a blog post or comment. I don’t have to destroy someone else’s happiness. I can share it.
And in doing so make myself feel better. Make the sting of rejection feel that much less.
I am not a Pollyanna. I am no one’s ray of sunshine. I am snarky and judge-y and opinionated. I have lots and lots and lots of opinions.
But I try to put myself in someone else’s shoes before opening my big mouth.
I try to think of how it would feel if someone told me I was mean for posting pictures of the books I receive on my blog, when I know my reason for doing so is to put them in the spotlight for the author and publisher and not to create the jealous feels. I’d feel awful.
I try to think of how it would feel if someone told me I was just “lucky” to have my review blurbed in a book or “lucky” to have made a publisher’s mailing list or “lucky” to have gotten a story published instead of being deserving of it. I’d feel unworthy.
I try to think of how it would feel if someone said the way I wrote my reviews was wrong, the opinion I had of a book was wrong, the promotional posts I chose to include on my blog showed that I was lazy or a suck-up. I’d feel upset. I’d doubt myself. I’d feel like something was wrong with me.
I try to remember how it feels when someone has come along and taken away my excitement, enthusiasm, love for something. When someone has made me upset when they didn’t have to. When someone has made me question myself.
It sucks. Big time.
So I choose to only share those opinions that aren’t meant to bring someone down. I choose to share in someone’s happiness so that I can feel a little bit happy, too. I choose to think about how I phrase things when I’m in a particularly grumpy mood so as not to offend.
And it’s really not that hard to do. It’s not difficult to be happy for someone. It’s not difficult to choose to be excited instead of a buzzkill. It’s actually way easier than trying to find ways to make others miserable.
So I’ll never understand why there are those that choose animosity over kindness in this community. This is an amazing community filled with such incredibly talented writers and enthusiastic readers.
We may be far from perfect, but we all have one thing in common – we love books.
So I’ll never understand those who choose to taint it, to bring it down, instead of support it, lift it up.