These days everyone has an opinion. I was taught to respect opinions of others even when I don’t agree with them. Each person has a different starting point or frame of reference that colors their opinion. For example, I was taught if I couldn’t say something nice in a comment, don’t say anything at all. This was the foundation of how I was taught good manners. As such, I try for constructive criticism rather than belittling others. It has worked for me when I managed projects and people as well as raising my kids. It also makes me very sensitive to comments from others.
Is this the truth?
During our lifetimes we get all sorts of comments from parents, teachers, friends, and acquaintances. Most times we listen to what is said and the tone or voice intonations that accompany the comments. We can also see the face of the person providing the comments and get a reading on their sincerity. As humans we prefer positive over negative, as it makes us feel good. I have found that the rise of various social media and technology avenues comments are often provided with no face-to-face contact.
With the world a global fishbowl we can each see more than any generation before. I will submit that the above rule for good manners should still remain the foundation for our comments to others. We can taste a dish at a nearby restaurant, look at a piece of art, listen to some music, or read a story and an opinion is formed. How we convey any opinion today is filled with many options.
For example, when you visit a restaurant you tell the server the meal was satisfying by what you say and how you tip. These days, you may find that your opinion is solicited via email or text for the food and service received. Often this is a multi-question survey with your ratings conveyed. If you are asked for a summary of your visit you can convey this with no name or pseudonym. This opens the doors to honesty, or so ‘they’ say. I still wonder who the ‘they’ are.
Social Media Anonymity
As I am an author, I have to receive my feedback from readers, hopefully from all over the world. In this situation, I seek opinions from those I may not ever see or speak to, unless at a book signing. Stories are reduced to the best of 5 stars, and thoughts from the reader or listener of the story. Keep in mind if you are an adult the 5 stars can be thought of as an A and 1 star as an F, from a subjective reader you don’t see or even have a chance of seeking clarification on whatever was stated.
I will not like everything I read, nor do I expect anyone to like everything I write. I would, however, like to see a bit of pluses and minuses in the summary provided. I want as much detail as possible to improve future writing or improve targeting specific readers. Having comments with personal stabs against me are not only not helpful, but remind me of the boss who is nice to your faces and then fires you without reason in a letter. Not putting your name or taking ownership of your remarks can color those comments by something unrelated that may have happened just prior to writing the summary.
I would offer some considerations when creating a review on a book you’ve read.
- Read the book, don’t just guess at the summary
- Provide the feedback in a timely manner to completing the book, unless you are blessed with total recall.
- Be sincere in your remarks with examples
- Write about an aspect of the book you liked or enjoyed
- Provide constructive criticism on a facet you didn’t care for or would like a different style used
- Align the star rating to your comments
- Reread the comments before submitting and think about how you would feel if they were to you
I encourage you to write reviews. They do not have to be fancy, just honest and straightforward with no personal attacks.