On positive reading

Today was the unveiling of the Adelaide Fringe 2013 Poster. Ta-da!

After the drinking of expresso martinis, eating of the macarons, filming of interviews (not interviews of me, of course, but our new Fringe Ambassador Paul McDermott), and the cleaning up of confetti, we returned to the office and waited the obligatory onslaught of negative reactions. Not from the media – they had gotten martinis at eleven in the morning and had been serenaded by Paul McDermott. No, after the unveiling of every poster, or pretty much every event, there is always nasty comments below internet articles and comments on Facebook about how people think the poster is stupid, ugly, not as good as last year. And of course they are not expressed in a constructive critical way – no, they are downright mean. The most bizarre one was on Adelaidenow: ‘At first I didn’t like it, but after closer inspection, I have found it to be a perfect depiction of the Arts in Adelaide, that of a bird crapping on the head of a demented person….well done!!’ What the….?

Have you noticed how people tend to write a much higher proportion of negative comments about something on social media than positive comments? Why is that? People say it’s because there is more anonymity, which is probably part of it, but I think it’s just that people always like expressing their distaste more than their enjoyment. It’s the same with books… people always find something critical to say, sometimes just for the sake of saying something. I understand that of course some books are written better than others, and liking books, or art in general, is so so subjective, but seriously… why do you have to be so darn mean?

Imagine you have poured your heart and soul into a book, or an artwork, or a piece of music, or anything really. To hear anything negative about it is a bit heartbreaking, because you have put so much of yourself in it. Imagine not even hearing intelligent, comprehensible criticism, criticism you can understand and perhaps learn from. Imagine getting an onslaught of nastiness, which can attack you personally, which is possibly containing information which is untrue, and you can’t even retaliate …

There are too many negative readers, and negative writers, out there in the world. I know that criticism is one of the way of learning, but not this way. We need more positive readers… people who exclaim to the world, to the online world, to the creators themselves: ‘This book/artwork/piece of work is great!  This is fantastic!’ I know that ‘haters gonna hate’… but maybe we can drown out the nasty comments by posting nice ones. Stop focusing on the tiny little details that maybe aren’t perfect, but saying what makes us smile.

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