Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Loss of Enthusiasm for Facebook and Online Interaction

I have lost much of my enthusiasm for the Facebook series book groups, for my own Facebook page, and even for this blog.  This is because of people who tease, ask overly inquisitive questions, fail to read carefully, make assumptions, make thinly concealed catty comments, bait others with controversial topics, fail to follow group rules, and so on.  The examples given in this post concern specific situations that have involved me and do not cover all situations that I have witnessed.

Normally, I don't allow this behavior to bother me, but I have been especially busy and tired for most of the last year, which has weakened my emotional strength.   I will regain my enthusiasm at some point, but for now, I have a low tolerance for much of the behavior that I see online.  This has caused me not to post as much specific information on my Facebook page, Jennifer's Series Books, so that I can avoid seeing comments that might bother me.  I also do not find the series book groups on Facebook to be as much fun as they once were, and for the reasons I have already mentioned.

Last year, I was making regular updates about my reading progress on my Facebook page.  I had set a goal to read 300 books.  After several comments that expressed utter disbelief or that asked how on earth it was possible to read that much, I began to feel like I was viewed as abnormal.  I know that nothing is wrong with me, but I can't help how I feel sometimes after reading some of the comments.  So I quit updating my 2016 progress for the most part.  I have only given one update for 2017, which was my total for January.  Since then, I have not revealed how many books I have read, because I no longer enjoy sharing that information.

I have been getting an increasing number of comments about how much room my books must take up, and I'll confess that the tone of some of them has bothered me. Some people apparently think my house is full of books and nothing else, and they crack jokes about how many shelves I must have.  I don't like being teased.

Let's clear something up.  Yes, I have around 6,000 books in my collection.  I probably own an additional 2,000 books.  They are in three rooms, not everywhere.  Series books are small books.  They are not textbooks, and they are not huge.  They don't take up much space.  Many of my books are softcover, which take up even less space. Most of the books are double-shelved.  It's amazing how many books can be placed on one shelf.

Some of you must be under the impression that I keep everything I read forever. Actually, I sell books after I read them if I don't like them enough to want to read them again.  I built a set of Phyllis Whitney books in 2015, since other collectors find her books to be excellent.  I overall enjoyed them, but not enough to want to read any of them ever again.  I put the books up for sale, and most of them are now gone.

I sold my set of Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers books.  They are gone, freeing that shelf space for more recent arrivals.  My Nancy Drew On Campus set is currently up for sale, and I'm sure it will be gone before too long.

I got rid of all of my duplicate Ruth Fielding, Betty Gordon, and Billie Bradley books, keeping just one of each title.  I have sold my Whitman movie star books.  (By the way, some of you may have just read the first sentence in this paragraph and thought that I sold all of my books from those series.  I find most people skim everything online and miss the real meaning.  It's so frustrating, and I wonder why I bother to write anything!)

The pace at which my collection is growing is less than what others assume.  I get rid of lots of books, and I do it all the time.  I shouldn't have to explain this.  That I sell books should make it apparent that I don't keep everything.

Let's cover some assumptions.  I was organizing my books and published a photo. The following photo is not the exact photo, but it was of this portion of my shelves.

Someone assumed that I only collect hardcover books because only hardcover books are in the photo.  Never did I say that the photo was of all of my books, yet someone made that assumption.

Another time, I photographed some of my Nancy Drew Wanderer hardcover editions.

Someone immediately asked if they could purchase some of the books and wanted to know how much they would cost.  They just knew (or so they thought) that I had to be selling some of them since the library stickers are still present on some of them and that there is no way that I would have left the library stickers on books that I am keeping.

Actually, some of the library stickers are underneath the laminate and cannot be removed.  Second, on the day that a book arrives, I may not feel like spending five to ten minutes picking away at a library sticker that is affixed to the book with monster adhesive.  Some library stickers are almost impossible to remove, so I leave them instead of struggling with them.

I have never been in the habit of showcasing books that I plan to sell.  This is because those books are shelved in a disorganized fashion.  I also think it is far more interesting to showcase my collection than showcase a bunch of random books.  But for whatever reason, people will make their assumptions.

Over a year ago I happened to read four different series books in the same month that had the same very specific theme.  It was purely coincidental and rather unlikely that it would ever happen randomly.  I photographed the four books and put the photo on my Facebook page.  Someone immediately commented that I forgot one and mentioned another series book with that theme.  Never did I say that my photo was of every series book with that theme.  I stated that the photo was of books I had read in the last month. I certainly did not forget one of the books I had read in the last month.

I put some books up for sale on Facebook.  I wrote a short statement summarizing what would be seen in photos. Someone apparently barely looked at what I wrote and thought I was selling completely different books.  Let's say that my short statement was "Nancy Drew Picture Covers and Trixie Belden Library Editions."  I was asked to provide photos of the Nancy Drew Library Editions that I had for sale.  I also had a second person shoot off a question at the same time asking about the prices, when I had placed the prices on sticky notes on every book in every photo.

It's a bit disheartening to see how much of what I write is completely misunderstood. Again, I do wonder why I bother.  Facebook has seriously caused me to question my own communication skills.  Each time I get questions or comments like the examples I have given, I have gone back and read what I wrote to try to see if I had caused any of the confusion.

Finally, I grow so weary of rules violations in the Facebook groups. I have stated multiple times that members should never post anything having to do with religion and politics.  I have also stated that altered book covers with religious or political content are never okay.  The reason is simple:  We do not all share the same religious or political beliefs, and those two topics always cause trouble.

So, a political post shows up in one of our Facebook groups at least once every six months.  Most members do not see the posts, since we manage to get each one pulled down within 30 minutes.  The political post is typically a Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys book cover that has been altered by a media organization to include political commentary.  Each time I see one of these posts in a group in which I am a moderator, I feel like I have just been attacked.  I am not kidding.  It causes me great stress when I see one of these posts, because I have to make a decision.

Facebook has become a very nasty place.  The comments on news stories and on personal Facebook walls are horrible, especially concerning politics.  Allowing even the slightest mention of politics to occur in the group opens the door to that nastiness spilling over into the group.  It cannot be permitted.

I become very stressed when I see the post because it always causes trouble regardless of how I react.  Strangely, I am considered at fault when I didn't make the post, but that is how Facebook groups work.  Blame the moderators for everything.

If I were to leave the post, then some people would be angry that I left it.  Leaving the post condones it, and the half of the group that is on the opposite side will be offended. Almost certainly, an unpleasant political discussion will ensue.  Since I can't have that, I have to delete the post, which is what I always do.  The result is that the person who made the post becomes upset because they feel that I should not have deleted their political post, even though the rules have always stated that political posts are forbidden.  Some people have actually left the group after their political post was deleted.

All posts that mention current politicians or that link to videos containing those politicians must be deleted from the groups.  The reason is the same as given above. No matter which side is represented in the post, we can be certain that half of the group's members are on the other side.

I will admit that I have had a few moments in the last year in which I have actually regretted that I ever created any Facebook groups.  If I had known in 2013 what I know now, I might not have ever created a Facebook group.  Running a group is stressful and a great responsibility, which I don't take lightly.  I will protect the group at all cost, even if someone feels wounded that their post disappeared.  It's unfortunate that some series book enthusiasts now dislike me because of my protection of the group.

You can see why I have lost my enthusiasm.


A Candle to Read By said...

I think you are expressing what many of us have felt. I join a group and then leave because of some of the snarkiness I see. My husband thinks that the physical anonymity makes it easier for people to be unkind, inappropriate or reactionary.

As for your reading, I for one am impressed. I love to read but have lost my ability to focus the way I once could. We are all just envious. Your blog has meant a lot to me over the years even though I don't comment much.

Blogging can be difficult, too. I have had to deal with some unbelievable drama with it and have asked myself "why do you do this/" (blog?).

Hoping you will feel refreshed and encouraged soon. You are appreciated!

A Candle to Read By said...

p.s We have more books in our house than many local libraries--our favorites are library discards. There is not a room in the house without a bookshelf or stack of books. We love it.

Jennifer White said...

I am getting a significant reaction to this post from here, my Facebook page, and via private messages. The view counters on this post and at my Facebook page are showing a much higher number than my average post.

Some are worried that I am planning to quit. There's no danger of that. I'm just a bit fed up with the behavior I see online.

It's clear that this post has struck a chord with many. We can all relate to this on some level. Online we see so many mean comments everywhere, and unfortunately, some people carry it into the collecting and hobby circles, to the detriment of all of us.

The bottom line is that everyone should read and think carefully before they post a comment on Facebook. If they plan to create a new post in a Facebook group, then they should consider whether the post is appropriate and whether it could upset someone. Before they make a comment, they should consider whether their comment is mean-spirited or could be taken in the wrong way.

I always think before I post, whether here or on Facebook. Especially with posts like this one that reference real events, I read and edit the post over and over before it gets published. Parts of this post were written six to eight months ago, so this has been gnawing at me for a long time. The final edit to this post was made right before I published it today. I chose to soften the wording of one part so that it would sound better. I always am concerned about others' feelings, which is why it bothers me that some series book enthusiasts think ill of me and think that I have tried to hurt them on purpose.

I love series books. I love reading them, and I love sharing my thoughts about them. I get exhausted sometimes, and things get to me. But my beloved books will always be there waiting for me. We have to keep a hold of that love and not let politics or other differences come between us. We must stay positive, and we must not criticize each other. We must not make snide comments, and we must remember that we are all good people who love series books.

Winkytinky said...

I am envious of your book collection. You are awesome! I am one of the rare folks who enjoys Facebook immensely. I am sorry for the not so nice experiences that you have had. I for one, appreciate all of your posts.

Unknown said...

I'm sorry that you've had to put up with so much nastiness. I have always enjoyed your posts and learned much from them and your blog. I thought that your reading 300 books was inspirational (and completely doable); I also tried to read that many books but only made it to about 250. I just want you to know how much I appreciate all the effort that you put into this and hope that you will feel better about all this soon. P. S. I love the look of your shelves. I wish mine looked as good.

Mooshkin said...

I always enjoy your posts and blog entries. I'm laughing at the comments about "how can you read so many books?" Series books are quick reads. Plus, if you love to read you can fit in a bunch of books!

Anonymous said...

It's not just you, about that disconnect between what you've said and what people see. People online seem to skim so quickly, and they comment based on bad assumptions or misunderstandings, sometimes because apparently they're confident that the person they're talking to will do the work to correct them if they're wrong. Or somehow skipping over the word "not," which results in a total misunderstanding.

After the election I pretty much stopped going on Facebook that much; I didn't go on it much even before that. I see too many things that upset me and the easiest path is to just not go on Facebook anymore. I do really enjoy looking at the series book groups just because they are free of that kind of drama, for the most part, so I appreciate the effort of keeping things on topic.

I really do love some parts of the Nancy Drew fandom (and I love to see other collectors' collections, neat items they own, etc.), but when I first found other Nancy Drew lovers online, I found that many of them prefer Nancy in a relationship I absolutely can't stand, and seeing people talk about it just makes me feel depressed and disappointed. At times it makes that usually happy thing really upsetting for me. I can't explain why, and there's no logical reason for it to disturb me so much, but I can't seem to react any differently.

I really love that you take the time to review the books you're reading, because it helps me decide if I might want to read/collect them too. And I think it's fantastic that you read so many books.

Michael Nabholz said...

Jennifer, I am sorry that you are feeling this way, and I hope that it passes.
Thank you for sharing your adventures and discoveries in books.

Julie Ratcliffe said...

Dear Jennifer,
I'm sorry you are so disheartened by thoughtless behavior online.
I find your blog very informative and HIGHLY entertaining. You convinced me to give Judy Bolton a second look and introduced me to Penny Parker. Please keep writing!
P.S. There is nothing weird about reading 300 books in a year. Sheesh........

Unknown said...

Oh please no, don't lose your enthusiasm and please keep sharing information as some of us are quite interested in your vast knowledge! I am a long time Nancy Drew collector and fan (as well as several other girls series books) and I just found your blog and have been re-reading your comments about so many different books I had no idea were available. Plus, as an eBayer I love your comments. Just know that not everyone is rude and some of us are really glad you are here!

Bella Donna said...

Hope you feel better soon. I know how you feel regarding people's scepticism for the amount you read - 2 years ago I read 825 books in one year. I usually average about 500, but because I am a seriously fast reader (Nancy Drew type book takes me about an hour) and I was ploughing through some kids series books like The Boxcar Children, people thought I was making it up. Hey ho. I love reading and do it for me, not for them. So chin up, we love reading your reviews and blogs xx

Unknown said...

Hi Jennifer. I really do enjoy reading your blogs, especially those relating to Nancy Drew. One thing you wrote in this blog really resonated with me. The part where you said that people's comments to your posts on Facebook can really make you start to doubt your communication skills. YES!!! I totally know what you mean. That kind of thing gets on my nerves a lot and I too have felt many a time that although I try to take great care in being clear in my posts, it is very likely that at least one person will misunderstand what I wrote. Aarrgghh! Anyway, hang in there.

Jennifer White said...

Just in the last few days, I have been asked questions by three different people in response to posts I made on Facebook. The questions were covered in the post, which wasn't read carefully. Apparently most everyone skims on Facebook or just looks at the pictures. It is very frustrating.