The Internet has conditioned us not only to rapidly consume all kinds of information, but also to come up with verdicts that are just as instantaneous. You can comment on a news story, as well as publicly “like” or “dislike” individual comments underneath said story. Any social media platform worth its salt is built around a similar (and similarly blunt) feedback tool. New shorthand usually emerges, too; for several years I’ve run a books blog on Tumblr, where the highest compliment you can give is to reblog someone else’s content with a note at the bottom reading, simply, “This.”
I’m proposing an end to both kinds of pre-emptive strike, good and bad. Let’s take a step back from those ever-tempting thumbs up/thumbs down icons, at least until we’ve had a chance to read and digest these books for ourselves. By all means, be curious. Be skeptical. Have high hopes, as well as high standards. But there’s no shame in abstaining from judgment, or in taking time to privately mull things over. In fact, it’s kind of liberating.
- Michael Hingston launches his new books column over at the Edmonton Journal. You can read his first entry here - and keep an eye on the Edmonton Journal books page for a new column every Friday.