Looking for new tones


negativeNegative reviews fascinate me.

I use the term “negative”, specifically, as opposed to critical.  The latter embodies a definition that includes “expressing or involving an analysis of the merits and faults of a work”.  The former is generally an expression of flat disapproval.

The fascinating part to me is the difference in tone between positive, critical (which can be both positive and negative) and negative reviews.  The commonalities are significant:  passion, conviction and purpose, without which, the person would not be motivated to make any comment.

The negative reviews often focus on a specific issue of dislike and spend the entirety of the comments on that issue.  Like a pebble in a shoe, the bother of that point overwhelms any other consideration.  It’s as if that particular sticking point is the only thing the work is about.

Unfortunately, passion expressed negatively can sometimes lead to unwarranted abuse.  A number of negative reviews push past their initial point to cast aspersions beyond the nature of a critique.  It’s as if the reviewer forgets there is a person behind the creation and (sometimes with a sense of arrogance) makes broad statements of character or condemnation.

This fascinates me.  Beyond the homilies dealing with honey and vinegar, what drives a person to move past critical opinion of a work to judgmental statements about a creator?  Where is the value creation in destructive as opposed to constructive criticism?  Surely creators will have tougher times ingesting suggestions from harshly-worded comments.

The other part that fascinates me is the underlying edge to the displeasure.  It’s as if some harm was visited on the person and their reaction is to lash out.  While I have had plenty of entertainment leave me wishing I had not invested the time it took to view/read/listen, I can’t say I’ve ever felt like my life was substantively destroyed by the time lost.

There are times, when reading reviews on works other than mine (I don’t have enough reviews to use myself as an example), that I feel sad for the comments that have been placed there.  I think I understand the motivation of the negativity, I just don’t understand the need for the harsh tones.

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