Wednesday 22 August 2012

How opinionated is TOO opinionated?

Yesterday, I got into a somewhat heated debate about THIS ARTICLE in a Facebook Writer's Group. The discussion was civil, but I could feel the frustrated undertones of the other commenter. I was also feeling frustrated myself. Because we strongly disagreed with each other. And I began to wonder ... am I too forward?

I asked a close friend of mine whether she thought I was too forward with my opinions before continuing the discussion and letting it evolve into something sticky. She told me that I wasn't. She said that there is overbearing and there is assertive, and that I was the latter. I was relieved. But then I also wanted to kick myself. I realized I was taking it all too personally. And so was the other commenter. (Funnily enough we both ended up admitting to this and cooled off each others' egos. I was so intrigued by her that I ended up purchasing her book! But that's not the point of this post.)

My questions to you are: How do you deal with conflicting opinions on the Internet? Do you hold back? Do you go too far? Do you pretend to be all cool and collected and swear at your screen? Or do you stay away all together because you're afraid of tarnishing your reputation? How do you know when you're straddling the line?

On another note, have you read the article I linked to above? What's your opinion about it?

PS: If you missed Monday's post, go check it out and contribute a question about the Homeric Writers' Retreat & Workshop, for a series of posts I'll be writing about it.


  1. I didn't have a problem with that article because I didn't feel like it was slamming anyone in particular. Publishing is changing and there are lots of emotions surrounding it; and, of course, there will be many varying positions on it.

    I know the last thing I should or want to do is comment on a post when I'm angry because honestly, it's not worth my time and it would never make me look good.

  2. What didn't you like about that article?

    1. I loved the article, Laura. It was the other person that didn't :)

  3. I usually just stay away from the controversial stuff, more personal than business related items though. (That's just my personality though.) But it is possible to be assertive without being rude. And I think you fit that category.

  4. It is always hard to know to know when to step away Jessica. Just do not let this sort of issue cause you stress, life is too short.

  5. I avoid and in real life. It's not worth the stress it causes.

  6. I think with me, it depends on who the other party is.

    If it is a friend or co-worker or (most often) family member - where I think I might need to talk to them again - I'll either walk away or present it as "I've always sort of believed..."

    If it's some anonymous person online with a ridiculous position, I won't choose my words quote so carefully. Understanding, of course, that I'll never change someone's opinion or position by being rude...

  7. Like Laura, I didn't think that article was slamming anyone, but I suppose that could be subjective. I actually read it when my publisher sent it over to me. We talked about it in detail, and it was an enlightening discussion. In all honesty, I stay away from controversy on the Internet these days. I feel like it's completely pointless, most of the time, and if I'm going to have a heated argument with anyone, it will be in a private one-on-one space like email. I've found more and more that when someone is offended by something - and this includes myself, absolutely - that there is some insecurity at the root of it. I hate arguing about something I am insecure about today, and might resolve tomorrow, so to speak.

  8. I've read the article. I'm not sure I have enough experience to judge it properly.

    When it comes to being opinionated on the internet, I can be pretty stubborn when posting about certain things on my own blog, but I try not to say too much on other venues.

  9. You know what they say about opinions, they're like belly buttons, everybody has at least one. I tend to keep my opinions to myself unless I'm directly asked, at which I figure the person who asked must be able to handle my response, particularly if I doesn't agree with them. But on the internet... I don't really see the point.

    Yes, the publishing industry is changing and I think in the time the dust will settle. I've read some award winning books I thought were crap and I've read some self-published books I felt should have awards showered upon the author. Which only goes to prove that what we read and what we like, like viewing art, is subjective. So what if I prefer Pissarro over Picasso?

  10. Interesting article, and (I'm assuming) established authors don't like 'upstarts' rocking their money boat (how dare they?). I agree that we need to acquire some skills but those who have made it through the gate don't always welcome the ones on the other side. It's a fact of life.

    Looking forward to your posts on the questions and the writing retreat.

  11. OK, I got as far as "am I too forward" and had to LOL! BAHAHAHA!!! You are extremely assertive--good way of putting it--and I find that my closest friends are the most outspoken people on the planet. I like knowing how people feel, and I don't like folks who play "figure me out."

    Since I sent you the link to that article (LOL!) I did in fact read it. As for getting into heated debates on the Internet, I avoid it. First, because electronic communication is easily misinterpreted (no voice inflections). Second, because I don't know everybody who's online personally, and people can have very different personalities IRL. The internet is weirdly freeing that way. :D

    Regardless, don't change~

  12. As a very opinionated person, I hold back online. It's not like reading a novel when you can see the facial expressions and read the inflections. Discussion online regarding controversial topics leaves too much for interpretation which can lead to misunderstandings and, on occasion, uncivil behavior. And as you said, topics close to your heart can be taken too personally. I know what I believe and I appreciate opposing opinions, there's just too much grey area online for me.

  13. I skimmed the article but gave up wading through all the comments. It’s the old story: people are making guesses as to what’s going to happen in the near- and mid-future and some will be right (it’s statistically inevitable) and some will not. I could add in my tuppenceworth but really I’m not—nor are most of the people who are offering up their opinions here—well-informed enough to offer an view that people should take seriously. I’m small fry and I know it. That doesn’t mean I’m not entitled to hold an opinion—and I do have one—but I’m not sure I need to get myself all stirred up by the fact there are others who hold a different one. None of us are going to change anything by getting our knickers in a twist publically. Now if there was a referendum where my opinion could make a difference then fine. I think sites like Amazon should get the public’s opinion since, as far as writers are concerned, they are the government and it would be nice to see them as something other than a dictatorship. Self-publishing earned its bad name. It is fully deserved. End of story. People used to make jokes about Lada and Skoda cars too and rightly so but times change. And so is publishing.

  14. Opinions and the's like gasoline and fire sometimes! I CAN have a hard time keeping a cool head if I feel fired-up about something, but I'm learning more and more how to let it go or walk away, perhaps mostly out of professional necessity.

    I only skimmed part of the article and a few of the comments. I think it's a great article, btw, but overall I've started to disengage from the "self-published/indie versus trad" debate lately because frankly, it's starting to feel superfluous. Clearly plenty of independent authors have found astonishing success, and even more are making a living wage even though they haven't achieved superstar status. And I'm starting to see monetary success as a self-pub/indie author myself, and I feel completely validated in my chosen publication path, so I've stopped minding what people who disagree have to say about it. Things are probably going to change drastically, and opinions will too, and in the meantime I'm just going to work hard and do what is best for my career.

    Sometimes I feel like it's important for me to be assertive or whatnot about what I see as being true (especially since two years ago, I feel like I was being told things that were NOT true in regard to self publishing), like the fact that being an independent author has worked very, very well for me personally. But at the same time maybe I AM becoming less opinionated, at least in the sense that if people want to disagree with me about publishing, I am losing interest in arguing. I'm doing what works for me, and it's awesome. If they want to do something else, that's fine. It's kind of like if I love cheesecake and some other people hate it, I don't really want to debate the point. I'll just eat all the cheesecake and they can eat something else. You know what I mean?

  15. I think it's fine to voice strong opinions, as long as they're done calmly and respectfully. People don't have to agree; they don't even have to listen. Where I start to tune out is when people make personal attacks or behave childishly. When that happens, it means that the person doesn't have a strong argument and is desperate.

    I love the John Mellencamp quote below. :)

  16. i'm fully in your corner, jessica


“I'm using my art to comment on what I see. You don't have to agree with it.” ~John Mellencamp

“Allowing an unimportant mistake to pass without comment is a wonderful social grace” ~Judith S. Marin

“I don't ever try to make a serious social comment.” ~Paul McCartney

“I'd make a comment at a meeting and nobody would even acknowledge me. Then some man would say the same thing and they'd all nod.” ~Charlotte Bunch

“Probably what my comment meant was that I don't care about the circumstances if I can tell the truth.” ~Sally Kirkland

“We're not going to pay attention to the silliness and the petty comments. And quite frankly, women have joined me in this effort, and so it's not about appearances. It's about effectiveness.” ~Katherine Harris