Leave Folks to Their Joy

By Julie, not believing we haven’t had snow in Somerville yet!

wickedauthors,comAround the end of 2018 I noticed a couple of people posting on Facebook, letting people know they shouldn’t bother to see Mary Poppins Returns, and listing the reasons why. When folks disagreed, they shut them down. As someone who spent the last half hour of the movie weeping with joy, I disagreed. (The Balloon Lady!!) But I’ll admit, in a social media world that is often overly opinionated, those posts bummed me out.

leave people to their joyI wasn’t sure why until I saw this post, which I shared last week and have been thinking about ever since.  Leave people to their joy. I’ve decided that I’m holding that idea close in 2019.

I’ve worked in the arts for over 30 years, and I’ve been a published writer since 2015. While I believe in the need for critics, I don’t believe in a binary “like/don’t like” rating system. Like something or don’t, but because you feel one way doesn’t mean folks who don’t agree are wrong. Of course, if you have a ton of experience in a genre or art form you will have a more informed opinion. But that doesn’t mean you “win” an argument.

Now, that doesn’t mean I don’t have opinions, because I do. Strong ones. But here’s what I’ve noticed. I can go to a play with my critical hat on, and question a casting choice or a set design or a beat in the play. But if I’ll look around and see folks having a wonderful experience, does that make them wrong? Or even if there’s a “this isn’t great” consensus, a handful of folks may love the piece. Because they’re in the minority, does that make them wrong?

The arts are subjective. Have your opinion. Share your opinion, respectfully. Give reasons for your opinion. But don’t make someone feel badly for disagreeing with you. As my friend Marg-e used to say, that’s why they make different colored refrigerators. Not everyone agrees all the time.

Leave folks to their joy.

44 Thoughts

  1. I love the refrigerator thought! For so many years, I bought furniture and decorated, dressed a certain way,etc.because it was how I thought I needed to, for others views of my and my home. Now I decorate and dress how I want! I love colour! Sometimes bright and bold is the way to go!
    While I am very opinionated about certain issues, I have learned just to back off and let others enjoy things that I may not enjoy or agree with.

  2. Well said, Julie. I have someone in my circle who continually finds the negative aspect of everything, to which I reply, Don’t rain on my parade.

  3. Julie, this is so true. I adore the movie, “Love, Actually.” Yes, it’s a tad ridiculous and there are gaping plot holes and things that just wouldn’t happen. But who cares? Over the holidays a writer friend of mine shared a blog post about why that movie was so awful. I read about three sentences, realized the whole thing was a screed, and thought, “You know what? I don’t have to read this. It’ll either make me angry or sad, and I don’t need that.”

    Just because you don’t like the thing other people say they enjoy doesn’t mean you have to post saying how ridiculous or dumb it is for you.

    1. There tends to be a lot of ‘let me tell you why you’re wrong’ sharing going around. It definitely diminishes the joy. Sometimes it’s worth the conversation to see things through a more inclusive lens. But the LOVE ACTUALLY hate? If you love the movie, skip it for sure.

    2. I disagree that it’s a tad ridiculous, Liz–Love Actually is a wonderful movie. 🙂 Seriously, it’s one of my favorite movies and I watch it every year around the holidays along with It’s a Wonderful Life. They can put it on my tombstone–“She thought Love Actually was a fabulous movie.”

  4. It seems that people have become more and more opinionated recently. Time was you could have a reasonable discussion with people about differing opinions, and come away informed and still on speaking terms with others. That’s getting more and more difficult. I confess my daughter (half my age) and I had such a discussion recently. She was watching a television show that I don’t watch. She asked why, and I told her I thought the lead was ugly. She erupted. But I didn’t say that the person WAS ugly, I said I THOUGHT SHE WAS UGLY–my opinion. Isn’t there room for different opinions these days?

    1. I love the conversation with your daughter. I agree, folks have lost the ability to disagree and still be friends to a great degree.

  5. You are so wrong — kidding. Everyone wants to be right — it’s part of human nature. But social media magnifies our ability to express opinions on so many things that it’s making people dig in instead of listening.

    1. LOL! We’re going to be spending a lot of time together this spring. We’ll need some ground rules!

      I agree about social media. We all need to figure out how to have nuance in our conversations online, since that’s where we’re going these days.

  6. Julie, such a great post! I’ve always wanted a cherry red fridge (so far, just the washer-dryer). And I cried all though Mary Poppins–but the Balloon Lady always brings the joy.

    1. I love the idea of a cherry red fridge! Glad my sister and I weren’t the only ones. We were a mess–the kids were all worried.

  7. What a perfect post, Julie! You truly are a glass half full person and I love that about you. It comes across in your writing where you create a soothing and hopeful space for people to be for a while. I think Sherry Harris gets to the heart of it with her humorous reply of “You’re wrong.” There’s a big difference between saying this is how I think about something vs. this is how I think YOU should think about something. I find it’s hard to share an opposite opinion because people can leap to the idea that I’m telling them they should or shouldn’t enjoy their thing because I disagree. My guilty pleasure movie is The Wedding Singer. Completely schmaltzy but I adore the characters, the premise of the story, and of course, the music. Another guilty pleasure is The Wedding Date because Dermot Mulrooney is so hunky and there’s a great scene where he almost kisses Debra Messing. I think I’ll go watch it now.

  8. Agree wholeheartedly!

    When I was a wee tad, I can remember my plain spoken Dad telling me that “Opinions are like butt holes. Everyone has one, but that doesn’t mean that one is better than another. Remember to be kind and if you disagree then agree to disagree and go on to something else.” Also remember my Mom telling me there were three things you don’t discuss unless you REALLY know someone well enough to have a decent discussion – politics, religion and other people’s kids. Blend the two and I think you have some very good common sense to care you through not only this year but every year. 🙂
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

    1. Great advice from both your folks. Politics and religion are a good rule of thumb. Even then, figure out how to talk about them with folks you care about. Agreed, these days that’s tough.

  9. Hi Julie,

    You’ve really touched a sore spot for me. My first impulse was to start my post with a “shouted,” YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT, but Sherry and others beat me to it so I thankfully resisted that impulse and stepped away from that initial joke line.

    It’s a sore spot because I’m one of those people whose initial impulse is always to go for the “funny” response to everything. If there’s a joke to be made, it’s going to pop out of my mouth irrespective of the situation. I’m rather like Dustin Hoffman in Rainman in that respect; I seem to be without a filter and unable to resist that impulse.

    Obviously, my close friends know me well and understand that sense of humor and realize that what I’m saying is done without malice and doesn’t even represent an opinion. But I know that this behavior hasn’t always been limited to those closest to me and that, without any intention to do so, I’ve hurt people’s feelings. And I’m equally sure that this has happened more than I realize, and that I’ve hurt feelings where the person has successfully concealed that hurt.

    I know we’re a bit past the point of New Years Resolutions (something I don’t do anyway), but you’ve made me resolve to make a bigger effort to bite my tongue more and try to make sure that anything that erupts from my mouth can’t wound, even if the joke feels too funny to resist. I’m going to try and remember how terrible it felt to realize that a jibe made without malice had actually hurt and consider that BEFORE I let something hurl out of my mouth. I know I won’t always be successful, but I’m certainly going to try.

    I have a character in the book I’m working on who is very like me in that respect. He’s present in the book primarily as a sounding board for my protagonist and to provide the humor that helps keep it in the cozy genre. He’s very sardonic and gets all the funny lines in the book (and he’s a lot funnier than I am because I can to use all those responses you don’t think of until ten minutes later),

    But I think that I’m going to try adding a scene where he goes too far and hurts some feelings. Coming up with the perfect riposte in the moment isn’t the be all and end all of the universe, nor should it be.

    I know this was a bit off topic, since you were talking about sharing opinions that stomp all over anyone who differs, and I certainly agree with the quote from Stone Chin (even though I really enjoy a vigorous discussion where everyone can share differing opinions). The exhortation not to deny others is a good one, and something I heartily endorse. There’s little enough joy in the world these days. It behooves us to let any there is flourish, especially when it isn’t a joy we happen to share.

    1. Lee, thank you for your wonderful comment. Your thoughtfulness shines through. And I think creating a character with that trait x100 is a WONDERFUL idea. Folks need to laugh.

  10. I have an entire blog focused on telling people what to think. And I’ve got to say, when I don’t like something I think others will, I really struggle. I try very hard to explain what I thought the flaws were without attacking the person or people responsible or the fans. It’s a hard balancing act at times.

    On the other side, sometimes it is hard to write a review of something I love that I know has serious flaws. The one that comes to mind is HERBIE GOES BANANAS. The movie is cheesy as can be and has ridiculous plot holes (beyond Herbie himself). Yet I love it. And I spent my entire review excusing the serious issues with the movie because it gives me joy. (And now I want to watch it again.)

    1. You don’t tell people what to think, Mark. You tell us what YOU think. And because we’ve learned to trust your opinion over time, we value knowing what you think. This is why I love reviewers who write what they are passionate about.

    2. You do the balance well. And since you’re in the critic space, uncovering layers is part of your job. I feel that way about theater. I also have seen flawed pieces that made me weep. And there are some not great plays I will see any time because they make me laugh.

      If I’ve seen HERBIE GOES BANANAS I don’t remember. I will need to remedy that.

      1. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. It’s 1980 and pretty bad. But so bad it’s good. Or at least fun. Then again, it may be that the kid in me comes out since I watched it so much growing up. (My brother always wanted to watch it.)

  11. Great post and great plan for the new year to leave people to their joy. As I’ve gotten to be a woman of a certain age 😉 I have developed my anti-bucket list – which means I don’t have to do things I don’t want to do anymore, including not conforming to everyone else’s ideas and not staying in social media groups or real live person groups when somebody is sucking the joy from everything. Telling me your opinion is fine, but why would you tell me I’m wrong and be negative when you already know I like something. I just don’t understand people like that.

  12. The thing that confounds me is people who will follow a FB fanpage of someone whose work they don’t enjoy. What are they doing there? “Go pee in your own pool,” is what I always think.

  13. I love this post! I’m a true believer in live and let live. I’m old enough not to care what others think of me. And I’ve learned to put myself in other’s shoes to try to understand what they perceive and feel. That leaves little room for raining on others’ parades. We all need as much joy in our lives as we can manage.

  14. I agree. I check TVLine every day but only read articles on shows that I watch. I’m a little annoyed to read an article on X-show and find a comment that X-show is terrible and Y-actor is awful. That’s different than a fan who is upset with a plot turn or cast change. Why even comment if you don’t watch a TV show or movie or read a book series?

    Also, everything doesn’t have the same purpose. Some things are created as a message and some just for fun. Both have value and fans. Sometimes you get out of a book, show or movie what you put in so something may touch you that would mean nothing to someone else.

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