The great thing about All The Social Medias is that you have access to way more people’s opinions than ever before in all of history. Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, even the comment section of your local grocer’s weekly specials site, all provide you with tons of insightful analysis and helpful information about the quality of any number of things, like current movies, or latest technologies, or critically important national policy debates (sometimes in 140 characters or less!).
If you’re putting Something Out There, like a new vacuum, or book, or blog post about the lack of female protagonists in video games, there’s a very good chance that someone, somewhere is going to have an opinion about it. And they will probably express it.
Occasionally it can be useful to go See What People Are Saying.
But before you do that, there a couple of things to know:
1) NEVER DO THAT.
Okay, actually it’s okay to do it if you have to. But it’s important to keep in mind that:
2) People often make sweeping authoritative declarations about quality such as:
This is terrible!
Easily the worst thing ever in the history of mankind!
If I had to choose between going back in time to shoot Hitler or the creator of this, it wouldn’t even be a choice … Hitler lives every time. IT’S THAT BAD!
I used to make this mistake all the time. And I still do it occasionally, but I’ve been working on it.
It’s very easy to confuse your own personal distaste for something with an objective and authoritative judgment that It Is Bad.
Some things really ARE bad. Like that curry chicken and egg salad with extra mayonnaise sandwich that you left out on the counter overnight. DO NOT EAT THAT. IT IS LITERALLY BAD.
But there are a number of authors out there whose material I don’t particularly care for, and whose writing I used to look at and scoff and say “This is so bad! This is awful! It’s TERRIBLE!!!” and I’m not even one who usually uses exclamation points all that often, so that was getting pretty emphatic.
But many of those authors are selling literally millions of copies of their work. Clearly they’re Doing Work that other people find value in (or, in which other people find value).
I’m not their target audience. And that’s okay. It is, in fact, good!
It’s great that those authors have found an audience and have connected with their audience and even though I want them to only create things that I like because my whole world revolves around ME BY GOLLY, it’s REALLY OKAY. Something something about not pleasing everybody.
Whatever you create, some people will hate it. Hate it. (Sometimes it won’t even have anything to do with you … lots of people hate things just because other people like them.)
It can be helpful to remember that “This is HORRIBLE” is usually just code for “I don’t like it”.
(Also, never read the comments.)
(Feel free to post comments below. I will read them.)
(I rarely take my own advice.)