Hello there allies, archenemies, and everyone in between! As avid readers, we all are fully aware of the benefits of literature to our character. But in all my readings of articles about readers (because I love affirming myself! HAHAHA) I have never come across one that balances the glowing “reviews” on being a reader. This post is brought to you by my realizations on the book twitter community!
Readers are empathetic.
Readers are intelligent.
Readers are better.
You could absolutely trust the fact that any reader in your life are bound to have any of these qualities. But what most people fail to see is that, readers are also human and are bound to do atrocious acts. I’m not saying that readers have been dehumanized before rather, most of the time, readers are put in the glittery pedestal and all the others are segregated as mere subjects to them. This kind of perception deliberately positions readers to wield some sense of power aka knowledge. On the flip side though, this view also cultivates smart shaming from the “mere subjects”.
The point here is that, no matter which side you are in, readers are deemed to be better by the majority.
Now this is where I’ll attempt to debunk this thought. The term “reader” is often used so liberally by many people that the label itself came to connote an individual’s high intellect. The problem here is that, there are in fact, so many types of readers but not all of them are mindful readers.
I’m not here to pit readers based on their taste because we all have the freedom to choose what we want to read. But we shouldn’t erase the fact that what we actively consume reflects our attitude and principles. Being a mindful reader doesn’t mean you have to only read self-help books, literary fiction, or the intimidating classics. To be a mindful reader, you have to know the implications of what you are reading and supporting; you have to be aware with the author’s intent and stances. Like they said:
“You cannot separate the art from the artist.”
As book bloggers, we all have to have the awareness of the gravity of our influence in the community no matter how large or small your following is. The sad part here is that, some readers are unabashedly tone deaf when it comes to social issues especially when it involves oppression of a minority.
With all what’s happening in the world this 2020, from COVID19, the looming economic downfall of multiple countries, the ceaseless protests in Hong Kong to reclaim their democracy, the cries of black people for the justice of GeorgeFloyd and the #BlackLivesMatter movement to topple white supremacy, the rage of Filipinos in opposition of the Anti-Terrorism Bill that strips off their freedom, the abuse and inhumane attacks inflicted on the Palestinians, and many more undocumented atrocities in the world, some readers and book bloggers instead chose to close their eyes and zip their mouths. Or worse, cry false tears and spew out “empathetic” nothings to support the cause.
We don’t need your empathy if you simply do it in AN attempt to maintain your image.
Readers are not saints, and just because you’re one does not absolve you of atrocity. Some people are fully aware of their influence and most of them mask their prejudices through the label of being a “reader”. Yes, we all have the opportunity to unlearn and relearn from our mistakes but we don’t have any room for performative activism. What we need right now is to amplify the voices of the oppressed and not counter their cries with that #AllLivesMatter mentality. To do so only trivializes the blatant oppression happening to them.
Most readers often romanticize dystopian heroes and heroines yet in the face of real world oppression, we only get silence from them.
Being a reader in this modern age demands a responsibility to question the backwards views of our classics, to be aware of the power of literature to uplift diverse voices, and most importantly to wield our accumulated knowledge to spark conversations and to pay it forward, even if it’s only a small role to play.
I hope this post won’t come across as too preachy! I myself am still learning the power of both my voice and my silence. To all the readers, out there, I hope that my words reach you.