As you’ve probably noticed, I’ve been less active online.
Not only in the blogging world, but also on social media. I always like to think of my blog as a much more joyful space than social media, which is why I try to prioritize it over social media platforms, but it’s no secret that places like book Twitter and bookstagram can suck me in.
Over the past year, though, I’ve been considerably less active on those platforms—and it’s made me so much happier! And while I have several thoughts on how tiring social media can be and other negative aspects of it, I wanted to focus specifically on how my reading has changed as a result of being less online, because I’ve noticed a lot of effects that I wholeheartedly welcome.
And of course, this discussion isn’t meant to demean these social media platforms or anyone on them! I’m still on social media, just much less now, and this is based solely on my personal experiences.
One of the biggest things about bookish social media is that there are always going to be the books that everyone is talking about, the new hyped up release, the latest series to catch everyone’s attention. It’s interesting to see how vastly these books differ, especially because some communities seem to be stuck in another time period (cough cough Tiktok)—but no matter what, people are hyping something up.
I’ve always considered myself to be okay at not giving into the hype, because I have a good idea of what my tastes are and try to stick with that. But I’d still felt a pull towards those more popular books, wanting to know what everyone else was raving about. Now, though, that doesn’t exist for me.
Part of it is my changing tastes, yes; I don’t care about a lot of the hyped YA books because I’ve simply lost interest in a lot of YA in general. Part of it is also the fact that since I’m not online as much, I have no idea what books are hyped up in the first place. But I’ve found that when I encounter a book I’m interested in, I’m indifferent to whether or not it’s hyped.
I talked about this before in my post outlining how my reading changed over the past year, but I think I simply have a new form of “hype” for myself now. It’s not based on the latest book people are talking about online, but genuinely just what I am personally excited to read. And I don’t think this would’ve happened if I hadn’t gotten offline and focused solely on what I was interested in. It was as if because I slumped a lot last year, I was eager to read any book, and I figured out that hype didn’t matter to me when my reading was perfectly fine without me keeping up with the latest releases.
In summary: I don’t really know what books are hyped anymore, and I don’t really care!
Also, this is not me trying to say I never read hyped books, or don’t want to read them because I don’t want to be like other girls. A lot of my favorite books are books that are quite popular! This is more just like… I used to pay a lot more attention to what was hyped, and sometimes I would care about it, but now I just vibe on my own!
I’ve always had an on-and-off relationship with ARCs, but a desire for them always remained. Sometimes all I wanted to read were ARCs, sometimes I was tired with them, but I was consistently pretty happy to read and review ARCs.
Now, though, I genuinely have zero desire for ARCs. (I mean… there are certain books I certainly wouldn’t say no to an ARC of… but I don’t actively want them! Unless it is Graceling book 5 by Kristin Cashore. But that is because I have issues.)
I feel like ARCs have always been a central part of the online book community, and especially even more so recently for some reason. I’ve observed how it’s expanded past reviewers with platforms to people simply writing their thoughts on Twitter. And while I don’t think it’s ever been necessary to be a part of the community, it’s certainly been a big perk, one that a lot of people partake in if they have the opportunity/ability to!
For me, ARCs have always been an online thing. I was introduced to them through blogging and received them through blogging. Unplugging helped me remember that, believe it or not… there are books I can and do want to read that are not future releases! And I think this goes hand in hand with hype—when I’m not scrolling through Twitter all the time and seeing what new ARCs people were reading, I remember my backlist TBR and feel less inclined to pick up ARCs.
Also, I love writing reviews and I’m pretty good at not feeling like I have to review every book I read (as in, I just never review any books I read). But I think being more offline also helped me remember that, like any normal offline reader, I read to read, not to review. So my interest in ARCs has decreased also because I’ve come to really hate the need to review them.
In summary: ARCs are as cool as they always have been, but they’re not for me anymore!
A common online joke I see is about how readers, with the high amount of books that they read, have no life. Some people get really offended at this (which I think is funny because if you are reading 300 books a year, you are godly, you are better than everyone else, all of their opinions are beneath you, etc.), but I don’t think that’s the right response.
I know it’s a silly little joke, but it does have some basis—although some people can do it, it’s hard to balance a busy day-to-day life with reading! But I think it’s useless to get offended, rather than questioning why we feel like we have to get defensive over the amount of books we read when it just… does not matter, or questioning why people make that joke in the first place (which is probably because they feel insecure about the amount of books they read in comparison to higher amounts).
As long as we’re online, we’re bound to always compare ourselves to others, in the book community and outside of it! It’s very normal to make comparisons, but getting off of social media really helps so much because it makes us see less of other people’s lives and able to focus on our own.
For example, when I was slumping a lot at the end of last year, I expected to feel horrible about reading only 2 books a month. But I genuinely had no time to read, which also meant no time to be on social media, and I was actually pretty impressed that I managed to read even 2 books in the midst of all my schoolwork! And I know that I wouldn’t have had this mindset when I’d been more active online—because, not to call myself out, I focused on other people instead of myself.
Whenever I talk to my friends who read but aren’t in online book communities, they’re always shocked at how much I read in a year or month, even if I don’t think it’s that much. I think it all boils down to how, no matter how much we compare ourselves to other people, there’s always going to be someone who’s “better” than us, reading so much more than we’ll ever read. And getting off social media forced me to focus on myself and my capabilities, rather than fixating on others.
In summary: I feel less pressured to read a certain amount of books, and whenever I go through periods of slumps (which has happened each month so far this year), I don’t beat myself up like I used to. I’m gentler to myself!
In the end, I think my reading experiences offline all boil down to one thing: I simply care less about other people. And wow, it’s been amazing! Bookish social media (and social media in general) is incredibly focused on what others are doing or what others are saying, and of course it’s annoying when it leads to discourse, but when it also makes reading not fun? It just makes being on those platforms seem pointless.
I don’t think social media is all bad, even if I sound extremely annoying complaining about it. Hype can be a great thing, especially in introducing people to new books, and ARCs are certainly a wonderful privilege! Even a bit of friendly pressure in goal-setting or readathons can be good, too. But I think social media really magnified my natural instinct to care about what other people are doing, and took the focus away from my individual self and tastes. It made reading less fun for me, when the main reason why I wanted to join those platforms was to make it more fun.
If you’re on bookish social media, I honestly couldn’t recommend more that you try to unplug from it, even if it’s only for a few days. Yes, you can escape from the unending, tiresome discourse, but more than that: I think you’ll find that your experience with reading improves a lot, too.
are you on bookish social media? has it changed your reading? how do you feel about ARCs and hype?