Where Is The Love?

Over on Facebook, I’m a member of an entertaining and generally pretty neat music discussion group. The format is pretty simple: we just post what we’re listening to at any given time, and each post forms a thread where people chip in and talk about the records. Generally speaking, this is both great fun and intriguing: you learn a lot about the music, but also about your fellow list members – their preferences, their own stories about how they connected to the music and why that connection was made, along with any number of stories about accompanying gigs, how the bands/musicians impacted their lives and suchlike. In other words, generally it’s a very positive experience that leads all of us who frequent the page to spend vast amounts on new musical discoveries, and pick up long-forgotten favourites again.

However, sometimes it’s not entirely positive. There are times when someone posts something and it is immediately met with scorn or derision by other members. “Oh jeez, you don’t listen to this crap, do you?” – you know the sort of thing. Now, at the end of the day the group page in question is a community discussion page, where people need to be able to post their opinions. This is the nature of such groups, and I’ve been a member of these sort of groups since the first week I was online, back in 1997, so it’s not a surprise to me that that’s how it works. It could be argued (successfully) that that’s the whole reason the group is there in the first place. So why does the negativity get me down?

The short answer is because sometimes I get sucked into it myself, and I hate myself for being so weak. Recently someone posted that they were playing Coldplay‘s Ghost Stories. Now I don’t mind Coldplay; I wouldn’t describe myself as a fan by any means, but I own a few of their albums and usually take the time to listen to any new music they release. I tried Ghost Stories and couldn’t get on with it at all. I just found incredibly disappointing. I won’t rant on about it, though: some of my friends really enjoy it and get a lot out of it, and I know some folks think it’s one of their best records for some time, so who am I to rubbish it just because it doesn’t do anything for me? And yet, on that fateful day, I joined the thread just to dismiss it. I posted in the thread, sat back, and immediately felt… I don’t know… diminished.

This might sound odd coming from someone who reviews music in his spare time, this reticence to share an opinion; but it’s all to do with time and place. When I write a review, good or bad, it’s because I am being asked for my opinion – by the musicians, their label, my Editor, the people who read it… a multitude of people. When I post in the discussion group I mentioned above, though, no-one’s asking me for my opinion on what they’re listening to. So why do I feel obliged to waste my time, and the time of those who read what I’ve written, saying something doesn’t appeal to me? At the end of the day, it achieves nothing – my opinion doesn’t change, the listener’s opinion doesn’t change, the music remains unchanged. There’s no benefit from writing what I have written; it’s just dead pixels – in fact, it may even annoy or irritate people who do really enjoy it. The vernacular for this sort of activity is “thread pissing”: stepping into what might otherwise be a positive, enjoyable sharing of something purely to dismiss it. Surely, it’s at times like this that my gran’s sage advice that “if you can’t say anything nice, why bother saying anything at all?” is entirely appropriate.

It’s happened again today. Someone posted that they were listening to an album I really enjoy, and someone followed it up with “bleeeuurgh”. Just that, nothing else – no rationale for not liking the record. What has that achieved? Nothing. I suppose I could just take the attitude that I should feel bad for that person, who can’t enjoy a great album that means a lot to some folks. But instead, I just feel annoyed at the fact that some people just can’t be happy for other people and feel obliged to belittle the stuff they enjoy that means so much to them.

So from hereon in, I’m going to attempt to take the path of the better angels of my nature and just avoid threads dedicated to stuff I don’t like. Life’s too short, innit? And faced with so much that it’s worth me enthusing about, why should I waste my time and energy on the stuff that does nothing for me?

Except for Meghan bloody Trainor, that is. Well, there’s no excuse for that, now, is there? 😉

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Where Is The Love?

  1. Lee Realgone says:

    As a fellow member of said group, I’m always happy that such empty negativity is rare. I genuinely like and respect most of the people who make regular posts. It’s great that, quite often, if people disagree with the chosen albums or the musical taste, they’re usually smart enough to back up their thoughts with intelligent reasoning. It’s still only opinion, of course, never entirely right or wrong – but there’s much to be said for being able to argue your particular standpoint with a bit of intelligence.

  2. Paul T says:

    Agreed. I tend to keep my trap shut if I haven’t anything positive to add.

  3. Jon says:

    Nice well balanced post Dave… :o) I do enjoy the discussion about music that often goes on at TNIMN and like you, I’m generally of the ‘why would I want to waste my energy bad mouthing something that somebody else gets pleasure from?” frame of mind… I’m much more likely to post in defence of something that someone has dismissed with a casual put-down without any obvious thought or reason for their point of view… and it’s the positive stuff that sticks… I’ve been encouraged to listen and discover new music I like from enthusiastic posts in the group far more often than I’ve been dissuaded from listening to something because of a negative post.

    However, I do think robust but well mannered discussion can be fun and informative (I noticed a recent post in the group where someone had posted about an album they enjoyed and someone else had then commented that while enjoying the band in question this particular album hadn’t done anything for them… the original poster then responded along the lines of why do you bother to comment if you’re just going to be negative? But would we really want to belong to a group that just had posts along the lines of ‘I like this” and the only comments were “Yes, I like this too”?) For me it’s interesting to read a post from someone who, while liking a particular artist, is able to recognise that some of their albums are better than others… even though this may well be a personal matter… and the fun is in the discussion about why ‘Presence’ is a much, much better album the ‘In Through The Out Door” ;o)

    I also do think it is possible to some degree to make value judgements about the worth of something… ie. you’d be hard put to make a convincing argument that Kylie Minogue is a better singer than Dusty Springfield, or Aretha Franklin. BUT that in no way invalidates the fact that you may personally obtain more pleasure from Kylie than either of the other two…. and that’s often the thing that people confuse… they equate ‘I like’ with ‘good’ and ‘I hate’ with ‘bad’… In my own personal likes and dislikes there’s plenty of stuff I know on an intellectual level is ‘good’ but it doesn’t touch me… and conversely things I love while knowing that it’s not particularly good.
    (Talking of value judgements, it’s interesting to note that often it’s the fans of a particular band or artist who make the most extravagant claims for their music that the artist would never make themselves (ie. “this is the best album every made” or “this is better than Mozart”).

    I’m just rambling now aren’t I? I’ll get my coat!

  4. echomanstl says:

    Great post Dave, and wonderfully nuanced thoughts on the subject. People often accuse me of being “overly positive” or say things along the lines of “you just like everything, don’t you?” This isn’t the case, I have preferences and records / TV shows / artists / whatever I can’t get into *at all* or that actively turn me off. But I’ve adopted a personal policy along the lines of what you’re describing above — no “thread pissing”. If I don’t care for something, I don’t need to chime in to say that I don’t care for it. To each their own. Hence my enthusiastic posts about and comments on friends’ threads about the music, et al, that I *do* groove to. I’m hardly perfect, I occasionally get sucked in and against my better judgement “go negative”. But I always feel dirty afterwards. But I digress. Great thoughts and I truly understand where you’re coming from on this one. Stay the course!

  5. echomanstl says:

    Also, great distinction made between a negative review (where you’re being asked to provide your opinion, or where you’re offering up your own opinion on something) and an unsolicited negative comment on someone else’s post.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s