Neutrality. The pH of 7. Inoffensive.
What do those three things have in common? I’ll tell you what. A Jess, who attempts neutrality with every damn thing she writes. Have you noticed how sensitive our modern day and age is? Look, I’m not a stagnant old man longing for the past (look at that, I nearly backspaced that in order to write person instead—I wanted to be “gender neutral"). I’m not shunning progressiveness. All hail equality is what I say. But I digress. The thing is, what with all the shitstorms that are raised wherever progressiveness goes, there’s been this increasing prominence when it comes to the need for remaining politically correct. You get shit for being "conservative", as you do for being progressive or uneducated on whatever society currently picks and chooses to promote.
That feeds into all things in life but for the purpose of our context, let’s talk about being politically correct in book blogging. I don’t want to speak on anyone’s behalf but for me, personally, I attempt to attain a particular level of politically inoffensive speech. Always. Which, when you think long and hard, defies the whole logic of personal opinion. That’s not to say I’m a horribly offensive person who dines on corruption and the tears of fresh, innocent children. But I’ll be honest, I’ve built an image here. One that doesn’t play into issues of controversy and the likes.
Don’t take that as a sign of impassion. In fact, I’m hella opinionated and friends and I enjoy a good debate because it lets you push the boundaries and explore different angles, perspectives and personas. The thing is, there’s this hindrance called the internet. It’s a real double edged sword (you don’t understand how stoked I am to be able to finally use that idiom haha). On one hand, you’re given the opportunity to open yourselves up to likeminded people, as well as expanding your horizons further than your little bubble of comfort. But at the same time, you’re horribly vulnerable. Little do we realise, reality—our day to day routine that switches and swaps between the very few people we’ve let into our lives—is interlaced with comfort. You’ve been able to pick and choose, to an extent, the people surrounding you. With the world wide web, there is no sieve (for lack of better word). You and billions of other people, who will most probably not agree with you, share this one space. And I suppose I don’t feel comfortable sprouting off ideas and thoughts and beliefs that essentially are all experimentations of my very being. At this stage in my life, I know where I stand on particular issues—gender quality, freedom of speech etc. But the rest of it? It’s chopping and changing and god, maybe one day I’ll wake up and think Jess, don’t be an idealist in that field or Jess, perhaps that’s not what you want to support or Jess, deep down you actually like a good insta-love romance (fat chance for now). And I guess, unlike others (although do what you will, it’s a free world and I totally respect and admire anyone’s choices and decisions—dammit, there’s the neutrality again) I want my personal growth to be recorded by the memories of those around me, and not a digital dot on this unbound mini universe of information that I will, not even at the end of my life, be able to comprehend.
That being said, you’ll notice how much I value transparency and that’s why the lines get murky. Where do I draw the line before I cross into the land of hypocrisy? As a book blogger, I’ve carved myself a place on the internet—a product of immense time consumption, lack of sleep and personal opinion. And I’ve felt it. I’ve felt these two aspirations of mine—to remain transparent in all reviews and to remain inoffensive and respectful—clash in every second sentence. If you’re a regular, you’ll know that sentences that assert a certain point are often followed by a parenthesis insisting that you’re open to your own opinion and that I bear no judgement. Nowadays, I question my need to maintain such a diplomatic facade. To me, transparency involves clear, distinctive personal opinion, one that attempts objectivity—pros and cons based on the invisible standards set, first by the elitist literature heads and those set by consumers/society—interweaved with a subjective offering of thoughts. And yet here I am a) filtering my language and b) remaining prim, proper and polite.
It’s a paradox, what we do here as “book bloggers”. We’re at this stage where we’ve moved beyond blogging as a form of personal enlightenment. It's not a one man show anymore. Like it or not, we’re now an industry run by capitalism. We’ve progressed into playing around with things such as industry contacts, publicity gigs, and marketing plans. We’re the amalgation of personal expression and professionalism and in my cynical mind, one day those two concepts will go to hell. As two opposing forces existing on the same plane, they battle each other as it is and as we further slip further—consciously, unconsciously—into a world run by money, where will this hybrid of “professional opinion” go?
Did I have no endgame to this discussion piece? You bet. But now I want to pose a little thought-stimulator for you. I’ve mentioned my distaste for the infinity of technology which means that while I’ve seemingly assimilated with these new "professional requirements" in order to meet the progressiveness of this field, I've had to watch my speech. Conversely, here I am, yearning to return to the roots of blogging. Is there a way about this? Are you in this position? Have you noticed this shift?
Basically, hit me with all your thoughts.
(Note: I wanted to talk about controversy then subsequently shelved this discussion out of fear of its controversiality. If you haven’t wandered over already, Mishma recently had a fantastic collaborative post addressing the many facets of the freedom of speech in the blogging. That post inspired this post to be let free.)