Four times this week I’ve run into people being plaintive about how everybody is excited about something or likes something except them.
Three of those times I wasn’t excited or didn’t like the thing either. But the thing is–I don’t tend to announce, “I am unexcited about the World Series!” There are people who are excited. They can go ahead and be excited. If I am directly asked, I will indicate that, no, it is not taking up much of my attention, but even then I will try to refocus to what I am really interested in right now is this other thing here. And I know lots of rules parents make for their kids about this with food. “Do not yuck other people’s yum” is the most common phrasing I’ve heard. Some parents say “do not harsh other people’s squee” or various other things not to harsh. But basically: if it’s not morally offensive, if the flaws in it are not things you want to analyze for a reason, if it’s just not your thing, there’s no reason to get in the faces of those who are excited.
I think sometimes in a particular subculture it’s hard to get perspective, though. Two of the times above were about the new Star Wars. And it’s easy to see how someone could feel that their entire Twitter, their entire Facebook, all their nerd friends in person–eeeeeverybody was excited about it! But no, there are plenty of people who went to your high school who are excited about college football instead of Star Wars (in addition, of course, to the ones who are excited about both)–who are excited about a reality show that premiered last week, or frozen concentrated orange juice futures, or the campaign of some presidential candidate, or anything else, really, that is not Star Wars.
And this is even more worth remembering when it comes to novels. Because the novel that “everyone” was excited about? Will probably reach fewer than 40,000 people worldwide. Probably far fewer. Its author, while a household name in my household and probably, if you read this blog, yours, is famous in such a complete bubble that my next-door neighbors–who like books enough to put up a Little Free Library on their corner lot–are guaranteed not to be able to identify the name as an author rather than a musician, actor, or dental hygienist. And so complaining that “everyone” thinks their book is so great while you are the brave truth-teller who sees that it is not bad, not morally reprehensible, not even mediocre, just–not your cup of tea? Does not tear down the rich and famous. It just points out what that author already knows: that fame and glory has only arrived to them in a tiny, tiny pinpoint of the universe.
This is why I’m not using the author’s name. It would not be fair to focus on them as the “popular” kid who is not “really” that great when that’s not my point at all. What is my point? Perspective, perspective, perspective. There is almost nothing that is universally adored, so if you’re feeling surrounded by people who like a thing you don’t like, who are excited by a thing that doesn’t excite you…does it actually hurt you? Can you go somewhere and talk about a different thing completely? Because there often is a reason that other people are not speaking up to say, “I am not excited! I don’t like it!”, and it’s not cowardice, it’s courtesy.
Does this conflict with my willingness to give harsh or mediocre reviews? Eh, I don’t think so. I think going out of my way to single out a thing to say, “Not excited!” or, “Not that great!” is not the same thing as more context. But if you think I’m wrong, go ahead and tell me why you feel I’m wrong, I’m interested in discussion.