Stop Telling People to Stop Telling People What They Should/Shouldn’t Be Reading

I used to be one of those people. One of those people who loved to chime in about what people should and should not be reading, watching on TV or in the theatres. I knew that there were a lot of people out there polluting their minds with crap writing, crap acting, and over hyped  corporate garbage. I believed (and still believe) in the independent writers, artists, and entrepreneurs who were creating and selling the “right” kind of art the “right way”. But then I stopped.

Why did I stop? Did I realize that this was the wrong way to think about things like art and that “to each his/her own” and to “live and let live”? Absolutely not. Most of the time I just bite my tongue. I stopped judging for awhile and just thought to myself that as long as people (and especially young people) were reading then that was good enough. More people need to be reading all the time so I shouldn’t split hairs as to what exactly people choose to read. Then I stopped doing that too. I stopped doing these things because I realized that there is a right and a wrong answer out there. I’m not saying that I have all the answers but I am saying that I have a belief that the way I do things is the right way and I will continue to do things my way.

Take a look at food culture these days. People are constantly telling us what we should and shouldn’t be eating. They’re telling us what’s bad for our health and what’s good for our health, what’s sustainable and what’s not. Fair Trade, Organic, Vegan, Sustainable are all things we should be looking for now in our food. Tell someone that you regularly eat at McDonald’s for lunch and you’ll get the same look  from book snobs if you tell them that your favourite book is anything by Nicholas Sparks.

When it comes to food, a lot of the things that people are telling you are actually right. There is a right and a wrong when it comes to food. Chances are, if your diet consists mainly of little to no vegetables and many Nicholas Sparksburgers then you may have some health problems coming your way. Sure, maybe not in your invincible twenties but sooner or later you are what you eat. If you fill your stomach with garbage, you’re going to eventually start to feel like garbage. The same goes with what you put into your brain. If you read trash, you’ll start to feel the effects of trash brain. It’s a scientific fact. Am I going to tell you what I think causes trash brain? Absolutely not. I don’t do that anymore. It doesn’t mean that I still don’t believe in Trash Brain (TB was already taken) though.

I believe in Trash Brain and I see the effects of it every day in my line of work. This week there has been a lot of talk about YA literature and who should or shouldn’t be reading it. I think it has something to do with that movie coming out this month with that girl in it. A lot of people on Twitter have been saying that they read all kinds of books and people should stop telling others what they should and shouldn’t be reading. I think they should stop doing that. We need those judgmental judgie snobs out there. I need that little voice on my shoulder telling me to put down that Nicholas Sparksburger with cheese and bacon because it’ll cause plaque in my arteries and I’ll have a coronary before my 40th birthday. We need to always keep the discourse going. People need to know that actions always have consequences, whether it’s what you’re eating or what you’re reading.

JLN

 

 

5 comments

  1. I don’t know if I fully agree with you Jason. I mean, I get what you’re saying about Trash Brain. It’s definitely a thing.

    But a) I don’t know that you can label any book as wholly Trash or wholly non-Trash. My creative writing profs always used to tell us that if you can’t find anything good about a draft you’re workshopping, the problem is you, not the draft. Even the Nicholas Sparksburger has SOME nutrients. Maybe you can fully avoid some mostly-Trash books, but some are more middling, both good and bad, and it’s okay to read those ones too. You just want to be a bit more discerning as you do.

    And then b), I just don’t agree that being judgmental or snobbish is ever helpful. I think instead we should just talk passionately about the good books we love and encourage people to check those out. Maybe talk too about some of the problematic or Trashy parts of other books, but not in a directly judgemental way. Less telling people what to read or not to read, and more just talking about the books.

    1. It’s true that even a Nicholas Sparksburger comes with lettuce and tomato and those aren’t bad for you at all. I’m just glad that you agree Trash Brain exists because that’s all that really matters. We just need to avoid Trash Brain. If that takes someone being a little judgmental once in awhile to help me avoid Trash Brain then I’m all for it. As long as that person is doing it to help me avoid Trash Brain and not just to prove that he/she knows better than I do. That I will not tolerate. That’s what hipsters do. ;)

      1. I guess judgement among peers who understand and respect each other and are looking out for one another is a different beast than judgement among strangers on the internet making flash judgements based on a single tweet or post. And I guess I can get behind a bit of the former as well!

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