‘If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothin’ at all.’


I’ve been thinking a lot lately about Thumper’s Law. Social media is full of people sniping at people, often at strangers, sometimes (and I can’t decide if this is more or less disturbing) at friends. This sniping ranges from the IMHO spattered disagreements about a stance on politics/feminism/social behaviour to the directed and malicious attacks on people based on their race or gender or something else that is a ludicrous reason to target someone for an attack.
I started to think about it the other day when Laurie Penny received a spurt of one star reviews on Amazon. I was thinking that even if the writers of those reviews refuted the fact that they were trolling and argued that they had read and disliked her book I just don’t see the point of a nasty review. Just put the book/that writer into the category in your head where things you don’t like go. And leave it there.
Then I was looking at the endless abuse that Stan Collymore gets. Hateful, racist abuse, death threats, threats to his family. And why? Because he’s black? Because he played for a club you hated? Because he wasn’t very nice to Ulrika Jonsson? I had some twitter users retort that he says bad things too. Hypocrisy! Again why can’t we block, or unfollow? Or tut and shake our heads in that incredibly British way? Why must we resort to hurling despicable abuse?
And then there is the arguments that take place on every Facebook & Twitter thread every minute of every day. Between ‘friends’ or at least our friend’s friends. These people that we think are SO WRONG that we have to throw insults and abuse and write really quite hurtful things until that person is sat looking at their computer screen in tears. And why? To what means. By shouting someone down on the internet are we making ourselves feel good? Are we blazing a path for truthtellers everywhere regardless of the casualties? Or are we just being mean. For no reason. Because the protection of sitting behind a keyboard makes us feel anaesthetised to the effects of our words.
Come on people, we are all human, please let’s think twice before we attack one another. Let’s all be Thumper and if we don’t have something nice to say then let’s not say nothin’ at all.

My Man Booker Rant.

Rant incoming:
Before I start I will state that I see the good that the Man Booker prize has done over the years. It has catapulted many talented British & Commonwealth authors into global success. Which is good. But which also brings me to the first part of my rant. The American book market is a force to be reckoned with. It’s size, money & power is always going to impact globally more than British publishers can. This is why awards like the Man Booker were good, bringing the spotlight onto the British (& Commonwealth) book industry. Except now it’s not so much about that because now the Man Booker Prize has opened up to up to American authors so that’s kind of a moot point. I have no idea why they thought that was a good idea & I don’t see the Pulitzer being opened up comparably any time soon.
Secondly, half of the books on the Man Booker long list haven’t even been published yet. Not only does this mean that readers can’t feel like they are participating in the judgement process but that also bookshops (especially our beloved independent ones) can’t use the longlist as a promotional event. They can only display half of the books, book groups can only discuss half of the books. The authors of the non victorious books might not see the flourish in sales that being longlisted might otherwise provide.
Prizes like the Man Booker should be about getting people to read new talent, getting people involved in the comparison of some of the best books that the year offers. It should provide a marketing event for booksellers. It used to be one of the best points in the British publishing year.
Every year I try to buy & have read the Man Booker long list by Christmas. I’m starting to think I might not this year.