What’s So Funny ‘Bout Peace, Love & Understanding?

Ally Blue (Savannah)(Apologies to Elvis Costello. Heh.)

When I asked Ally Blue to write a blog post I thought for sure she would talk about paranormal activity, what’s under my bed, or why we should all be afraid of what’s coming at us from the another dimension. Yet here she is  blogging about niceness. What a great topic just before the holidays!

Before I say anything else, I should probably confess that I am not a lifelong romance reader. I really only started reading romance when I started writing it back near the beginning of the century. Which isn’t as long ago as it sounds, since we’re not quite ten years in. Anyhow, the point is, I haven’t been a romance reader as long as a lot of you guys have. And I’ve been a part of the online romance community — the blogs and such — an even shorter time. I’m not sure how long I’ve been reading romance blogs, but it’s not all that long. No more than a couple of years, I guess, if that.

My point — and I do have one, I promise — is this. I’ve noticed something that kind of bugs me, and I’m hoping some of you who have been around Romance Blogland longer than me and are more familiar with its nooks and crannies can tell me if what I think I’m seeing is real, or just me looking at things crooked like my husband says I do sometimes.

Here’s the thing. It seems to me that a fair few folks frequenting the romance blogs have a problem with niceness. I don’t mean people are going around saying “Everyone be MEAN! Mwahahahaha!” If that’s happened anyplace, I totally missed it. No, I’m talking about the disturbing number of folks out there who seem to equate “nice” with “dishonest.” This inevitably happens in any heated discussion on certain blogs. Things start turning ugly, someone pops in and wonders why people can’t be nicer to each other, and a whole bunch of commenters jump on that person with remarks equating niceness with Sparkly Unicorns of Perfidy and espousing the virtues of their own version of honesty, which always seems to involve being as cutting as humanly possible. As if the only way of being honest is to go for the jugular.

niceI just can’t understand what’s inherently wrong with people trying to treat each other with respect, and I really don’t understand why “nice” has to equal “let’s all lie to each other and pretend there are never ever any problems” in some people’s eyes. I know for a fact that it’s possible to be honest with someone without being cruel, snide or otherwise ugly. Hell, we do it here at Wave’s all the time. How many times have we had intense discussions about touchy topics here and managed to keep it from turning into a flame war? You do that by being respectful. By being — say it with me, kids — NICE.

So, what do y’all think? Is it just me? Is my definition of “nice” totally skewed? Do I just see these things because I like being nice and always want other people to be nice too? Or do y’all notice this trend on some of the romance blogs as well? Well, maybe “trend” is too strong a word, especially since I’ve seen this going on ever since I’ve been hanging around the blogs. But still.

Tell me what you think. All opinions are appreciated, agreeing and dissenting. One thing about it, I know you guys will be honest, yet somehow manage to treat me and each other like human beings worthy of an opinion. And there won’t be a Sparkly Unicorn in sight g

(Disclaimer: I will not name any of the blogs I’m talking about here. Some you could probably guess, others you might not.)

Author

I live in Canada and I love big dogs, music, movies, reading and sports – especially baseball

16 comments

  • Well, y’know, there’s nice and there’s nice. When “nice” is a coverup for condescension or judgmentalism or a host of other unpleasant-at-the-core traits, nice ain’t so nice anymore. Of course, it isn’t always easy to see through the delicate mask of diplomacy that often passes for niceness; plenty of people accept it at face value, myself included sometimes.
    *
    Ally, what am I saying? Help me! Okay, I’ll take a stab at what I mean. (Because, you know, I am a writer. *g*) If I can’t have genuine nice, I’d rather get a face full of nuts-out nastiness. At least I know where I, and others, stand with that. It’s the Janus-faced con artists for whom I have the least patience.

    Reply
    • That’s my feeling too KZ!
      As someone who blogs his opinion often I would rather have honest disagreement where I can respect and understand a counter POV than insincere niceness that is just covering passive aggressive nastiness.

      Reply
      • K.Z., Sir Pig, here’s what I am thinking here. If a person is using a fake veneer of sweet to attempt to hide their cruelty, or to play the passive-aggressive game, that is NOT being nice. That is the polar opposite of nice. I don’t like that any better than I like someone being nasty to me, but I don’t personally PREFER nastiness either. You know where you stand either way: on the opposite side of an argument you are not ever, ever going to win. There can be no forward momentum in any discussion without true dialogue, and there will never be real dialogue as long as one participant uses brick-wall tactics. And nastiness and fake-nice both fall into that category. They both point to a person who doesn’t want to listen to anyone but themselves.

        Reply
        • Ally
          Thanks for the kind words about the bloggers who comment on posts on this site.
          *
          Expressing personal opinions frankly without being offensive is something we should all aim for and most of us do. Every day, when my patience is sorely tried and I’m tempted to go for the jugular, I count to 20 before I write. I don’t always succeed because there are people who insult others without consequence all the time, and believe that everyone is fair game, since their opinions are the only ones that should matter.

          *
          Two recent occasions when there were controversial posts on this site (I think we have probably more controversial posts than the majority of sites) were the opposing posts on the Lambda controversy, and William Maltese’s post about why female writers should stick to their own genre and not write books for and about gay men, and also that female reviewers (of which I am one) should not review books written for men by men.
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          I think only one commenter really got out of line on the Lambda post and started talking about Muslims, which is when I closed off comments. William’s post generated the most comments so far on this site, pro and con, but no one insulted him or anyone else as far as I could tell although most disagreed with his views.

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          Of course there have been other touchy subjects posted, but the commenters know that the acceptable standard of behaviour here is you can say your piece but you can’t use slurs and insults to make your point, which I think is the way it should be everywhere. Unfortunately it’s not. We all have opinions and it would be a terrible world if we didn’t. We should all be able to express our views, as long as we don’t insult others – no matter how tempted we are.

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          I have posted on controversial subjects and I know that many who commented didn’t agree with my position because they told me so. One recent example was when I posted, again, that the site would only review M/M or gay books. Some authors were mad even though I pointed to the Header which states clearly the type of site this is, and I still get books to review that are obviously 1/3 het or are M/M/F or M/F/M menages.

          *
          We live in a world on the Internet where many bloggers feel that they can say pretty well anything because they are anonymous, and most of them get away with doing so. The rest of us have learned to be civilized and say our piece without insulting someone who disagrees with our opinions.

          Reply
  • Hi, Ally. 🙂 Nice topic!

    Weighing in on this one– because it’s soooo rare for me to have an opinion, right? 😛

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    I think a lot of the random asshattery goes back to people (usually kids) starting out playing on the internet with the idea in mind that they could say or do whatever they wanted without any “real” consequences. It wasn’t like anyone could find them, so why not have fun and try to foment some insurrection? If they pissed anyone off TOO badly, they could just make up a new username and start again.

    *

    Fast forward a decade or more, and while some of these same people have grown up and acquired a certain degree of maturity in the real world, some haven’t. They find blogs and use them as a place to vent themselves of the BS of their daily lives (in some cases) or just want to cause drama because it makes them feel important.

    *

    When I was younger, still figuring out my way around this Internet thing, I ran into all sorts of people who managed to piss people off. Sometimes it was because the ‘net is so inflectionless and (at the time) smileys and emotion tags weren’t widely used. Other times, it was people who deliberately set out to make as much of a fuss as possible, apparently so they could point to it later and say “I did that! Aren’t I cool?” And clearly, other people joined in and continue to do so.

    *

    I don’t get it either. Personally, I’m a fan of being polite and respectful to people online. Possibly moreso than I am in “real life”. To be honest, if my boss asked whether her pants made her butt look big, I’d probably offer up my trademark cheeky grin and say “Define ‘big’ for me. It’s such a relative word.” *hee* But that would be based upon the relationship I had with her, as I tend to be a rather irreverent sort.

    *

    To get back on topic, though… I’m pretty sure the same people who equate “nice” with candy-coated lying are the same people who equate “honesty” with cruelty and viciousness. I just find it funny that it happens so often with the romance blogs, considering romance is supposed to be all about love and happy endings. 😛

    ~Tis (who isn’t indulging in the barely-contained fan-girl squee)

    Reply
    • “I’m pretty sure the same people who equate “nice” with candy-coated lying are the same people who equate “honesty” with cruelty and viciousness. I just find it funny that it happens so often with the romance blogs, considering romance is supposed to be all about love and happy endings.”
      *
      Yes! Exactly. Very well put 😀

      Reply
  • Us Canadians are always nice. 🙂 I can’t be bothered with the big fights that break out on the internet. I only hang out on blogs that have “nice” people. I have met (IRL) some super people from the internet that I met through blogs and there has never been flame wars on those blogs. Coincidence? Not likely.
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    As Jen said, there are people out there who love the giant messes created in bloglandia. There are those who have no opinion whatsoever but figure out what the most controversial rude one will be and then state it to stir up controversy. And some people are assholes in real life AND on the internet. I remember a case on a parenting message board where someone said something really outrageous and the people jumped on it shocked, outraged and she kept going and going and you could tell people were getting riled and then she said “I didn’t mean it, I just said it to get you going.” Huh? What the hell was the point in that? I don’t go there anymore. I don’t have time for the crap and usually stay out of it. Cause I’m Canadian and I’m nice. 🙂
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    In the immortal words of Weird Al Jankovic in Canadian Idiot:
    “Break their nose and they’ll just say “sorry”
    Tell me what kind of freaks are that polite? ”
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    I’m not ashamed to be known as a nice person (I hope I am anyway), I don’t think it’s insulting and it doesn’t equate to sucking up and lying. Not where I come from anyway. That’s just called being a brown-noser.

    Reply
    • Oh man, what kind of person says ugly things when they don’t even mean it, just to stir the pot??? I can’t even imagine why someone would want to do that o_O
      *
      I’ve pretty much learned to stay away from certain blogs when there is a controvery going on. It just gets my blood pressure up and stresses me out, and I end up getting zilch done and being in a bad mood. Not a good thing for anyone, especially me.

      Reply
  • The word ‘nice’ makes me think of my mother… something I try not to do to much LOL. (it’s bad enough I am turning into her)
    I do remember the one thing she did tell me and that was ‘if you can’t say anything nice DON’T say anything at all’…. it was in reference to the screaming matches I had with my sister.
    I dont do nice… I do honest in a polite, friendly manner LOL

    tish

    Reply
    • OMG I remember that saying VERY well. And I don’t like it. Well, in certain situations, sure. You don’t want to tell your boss those pants make her butt look fat. At least I don’t. Heh. But when a situation calls for honesty, it should be given, in a respectful manner. Of course for me, that’s my personal definition of “nice” so I think maybe I’m a little skewed after all, hmmm…

      Reply
  • It’s just the blogs where you hang out, Ally, and it only happens when you’re there. 😉 Kidding!
    .
    And also, can I just say, that Asheville is one of the nicest cities I’ve ever been to (planning on moving there for a REASON, I say!). Last time I went over there with my Mom, we saw several examples of people being ridiculously, insanely nice when the same situation in Charlotte would have stood a good chance of resulting in unadulterated asshattery.
    .
    …Which has nothing to do with romance blogs, but dammit, I haven’t been to Asheville in months and you just made me miss it. 🙂

    Reply
  • Well, if someone read my blog and disagreed strongly about something I said I would hope they would feel comfortable enough to say so. I do respect people’s reacting even strongly. I am not against someone stating a counter point or discussing their feelings on something even if negative. It’s a comment section that’s what it is for.
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    Now verbal abuse sucks and no if I saw a comment section on my blog going off the rails abuse wise towards one of my readers I would step in and say so.

    Reply
    • Mr. Pig, I love you and IHOP for the same reason I love Wave and her place. Honesty and an open forum for everyone who has something to say. And you KNOW from experience I have no problem arguing when I get the notion *g*

      Reply
  • Hi Ally
    Great post (this is me being nice).
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    I agree with you, although I hate the word ‘nice’ which conjures up images of my mother saying to me “Be nice to your sister” when she was the one pulling the hair. I prefer one of the other words you used ‘respectful’ or treating each other with ‘respect’.
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    Some blogs attract people who like a good old ding-dong and are willing to tread all over the feelings of the other commenters in order to prove that they are right and everyone else can go to hell. Nice people, respectful people, will not follow those blogs for very long before they move on to read blogs where there is respect for everyone, no matter how dissenting the opinion because, let’s face it, no-one wants to be insulted for being the voice of reason in a pit of snarling viewpoints. This is why some blogs seem full of pushy, opinionated people and others are not. The ‘nice’ people have moved on. I certainly did and my blog reader looks very different to the way it did 4 years ago.

    Reply
    • Hi Jenre! Thanks 😀 I think you’re probably right. Some places most likely end up being the way they are because the more level headed folks end up going elsewhere and leaving the drama-lovers to do their thing. I always end up peeking at the latest blog throw-down, but I never comment. I don’t want to get involved in the bloodletting. And even though there are topics that I do feel very strongly about, I don’t see the point in frothing at the mouth about anything because it distracts everyone from the central topic and derails the whole discussion. Also, I have zero patience for drama for its own sake. SO middle-school!

      Reply

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