Over the weekend, there was a bit of a brouhaha in the YA literature space after a Wall Street Journal article called Darkness Too Visible by Meghan Cox Gurdon appeared.
The article was not well-received by folks I know who write or read YA, though I’m sure there are folks out there who agreed with its premise that “Contemporary fiction for teens is rife with explicit abuse, violence and depravity” and that this is neither good in general nor can one escape from this in the bookstore.
Rather than focus on the arguments presented in the article or in rebuttal, what fascinates me here is how social media helped unite a community in response.
Many readers and authors of YA (as well as editors, agents, booksellers, and teachers) took to Twitter, starting the #YAsaves hashtag which became a trending topic on Twitter, climbing as high as number three and accounting for multiple thousands of tweets.
The Wall Street Journal’s Twitter account was included in many tweets… and joined the conversation as well. The account become a point of contact with the paper. It also offered up a collection of #YASaves tweets (in a tweet that was retweeted at least 100 times):
On Facebook, long comment threads popped up everywhere I looked talking about the article. More people reposted the original link or links to other conversations as their updates. The Wall Street Journal’s page had a lot of good conversation (and a lot of spam, too).
Blogs came into the fray, as well, with YA authors (including multiple authors whose books were mentioned in the article), teachers, and reviewers chiming in as the day(s) went on. Fans, readers, professors… well… you name it, they were blogging and still are.
As I write this, the conversation continues to grow. People who felt voiceless or attacked by the article have been finding that they can have a voice and have support. Social media gave connections to people who, in the past, would not have been able to find each other (on both sides of the issue, no doubt).
The fact that the raised voices were able to interact with the Journal, where the flashpoint originated, is certainly something that couldn’t have happened at this scale decades ago. Most of the conversation was respectful and designed to express and bridge differences of opinion, perhaps part of the reason so many joined in.
The fact that individual authors singled out in the article had a visible, public support network is also a recent development. In the case of authors, seeing readers express how a book has made a difference to them, as many tweets and comments expressed, goes a long way and is proof that their book matters, despite any reviews or commentary otherwise. This, too, is new in the real-time sense.
This is not a case of governments being overthrown or stolen goods returned by the connections that social media creates. Still, while not as instantly newsworthy, it does show the power of connectivity and what a motivated, motivating group can do.
Got a favorite link or thoughts about the weekend’s activity? Feel free to share below. I know I’ve only seen a fraction of what’s out there, and it’s been fascinating to see the different approaches folks have had while speaking out.