I’ve been thinking a lot about leaving the book community.
I understand on surface level how absurd of a comment this is. Leave the book community? I’m barely in it! I’m rubbish at blog hopping and only tiptoe around Twitter. I’m only in one Discord server that rarely has activity and even interactions on my “active” fronts – the blog and bookstagram – are middling at best.
It’s more… the content creation aspect. I have a lot of ideas of things to write about, but I’m not sure the interest is out there. There are some other aspects as well. I’ve tried blogging those about a few times and I just come off as a selfish child, so let’s just say I’m still mulling things over.
In the course of thinking about this, though, I’ve been thinking a bit about the average lifespan of a book blog. I think that three years is a pretty typical stretch, if not a generous one. Book bloggers come and go pretty frequently, and some that have stretched longest are either ones who are very good at playing social media (like Paper Fury or Shut Up Shelea), bloggers who are sweet and attract people naturally by being thoughtful and wonderful and sensitive (Drizzle and Hurricane Books and The Quiet Pond) and those who are simply resilient and stubborn and refuse to die (oh hi that’s me).
That’s not to say that people don’t fit in multiple categories, mind you.
A lot of bloggers come and go through the revolving doors. Blogging requires a decent amount of time. I’m fairly prolific as far as bloggers go – I can do a review in 30min and a post in an hour if I’m inspired and focused – most people will tell you a post takes two hours, minimum. Blogging is a large time commitment, and it’s easy to see why a lot of bloggers drop out after a year or so.
Still, the work aside… I do think there’s a level of toxicity to the community that drives people away in their formative stages. Twitter is intwined well into book tube and book blogging, and I don’t know a single person in the Twitter book community who would say it’s not a toxic place. While many of the conversations are necessary, they don’t always stay productive. That is – people start raising their shields defensively, subtweeting, gossiping, retweeting without researching situations, calling out mutuals, drawing lines and picking sides. This is a whole post in itself that I really don’t want to write – I’m not qualified for it.
The social media communities around the content platforms create a lot of tension. Creators just entering the scene because of a passion for the subject matter are not well prepared for the social media onslaught. It becomes exhausting, and it becomes exhausting quickly.
Please understand – I’m not calling out Twitter for cancel culture or anything like that. It serves as a sounding board for many important issues and topics, and promotes self-education and growth. But it is a lot. And it is not always productive, not always kind.
In many ways, I can’t blame the bloggers who step in and out of the scene quickly. Blogging is a difficult hobby – mentally and emotionally. Keeping up with the latest book crazes and community trends is challenging. Doubly so when you’re an international blogger and don’t have the same access to books. Reading voraciously requires a decent amount of mental energy, particularly for those who juggle blogging with their careers, families, and education.
Sometimes, I wonder if those who cut ties with the community are the smart ones?
Have you ever thought about leaving the community? How do you deal with the anxiety of staying on top of all the bookish drama while still reading and creating good content? Let me know how you cope in the comments!