Books, life the universe

Sunday, 18 January 2009


If you look for them there are a lot of strange discussions happening on Amazon in the form of comments on reviews. A 'guy' calling himself James Uscroft 'The Voice in the Wilderness', posted an extremely long review of the boxed set of Buffy the Vampire Slayer on which various people had posted comments mainly disagreeing with what was said. Fair enough you would have thought - after all reviews are simply people's opinions of that book, film or whatever. I have not seen any of Buffy so I'm not really in a position to comment on the review but I was intrigued by the comments which degenerated basically into a slanging match.

Out of curiosity I skimmed through this individual's other reviews which included one of the boxed set of Keeping up Appearances - the BBC comedy series. I think this series is very true to life and I have met people like all the characters in it. I agree that the whole thing would collapse if anyone told Hyacinth what they thought of her. But this chap James seems to have missed the point of the whole thing. We're all hamstrung by people like Hyacinth because we're too polite to tell her what we're really thinking. To me that's one of the things that makes a society civilised; it's not what is wrong with English society as this guy seems to think. He is a fan of the unemployed Onslow who to him is a true working class philosopher. This comment alone probably says more about the reviewer than the programme.

I posted what I felt to be a fairly mild comment that I liked being English and that not telling people what you think of them makes a civilised society. To which he replied that my argument was so flawed it was hardly worth responding to, but then he went on to respond at length.

This started me thinking about facts and opinions. I wouldn't ever say my opinion is the only correct one to hold. Everyone's opinion is just that - their opinion. There's nothing right or wrong about it. 'I disagree with everything you say, but I would defend to the death your right to say it.' Is the world getting less tolerant of the opinions of others? It seems so to me.


kcm said...

Sadly this type of reaction is human nature. Remember that some people are autistic (and many, many more have tendencies that way); they cannot put themselves in other peoples' shoes; thye have never been taught to think; they need instant gratification and basically act as 6-year-olds; the world revolves around them and them only. They and their (often negative and/or misguided) opinions are the only ones which count because they are the only ones which are correct. If you disagree with them you are either a total tosser or out to get them. My late father was a (slightly muted) example of this; sadly many merkins also fall into this category. These people are best ignored; they thrive on attention; and all they do is basically waste everyone's time, energy and will to live. The only treatment is a complete paradigm shift in their brains, usually brought about by getting out more! Or am I just being old and cynical? Love, K

Jilly said...

Yes I agree and no I don't think you're getting old and cynical any more than I am! I have withdrawn - with my dignity intact and will no longer respond to people like this - the internet is full of them. love Jx

Anonymous said...

Dear Jilly,

I am the James Uscroft in question, and I would just like to apologise for having offended you in my reply to your comment on Amazon.

I realise that it is probably far too little, far too late, and there may be nothing that I can do to alter your perception of me, but I would just like to explain why I treated you so unfairly.

You mention in your post that you only 'Skimmed' through the many comments which were posted in the wake of mt BTVS review. But while you are correct when you say that it degenerated into a 'Slanging Match,' at the beginning of the process, I did do all I could to keep an open mind.

Tima and time again, I wrote 'Please can we agree to disagree' or words to that effect, only to receive another confusing, provocative and accusatory comment the next day. So after a while, I lost all patience and viewed them as 'Enemies to be defeated.'

I am not saying that I am blameless, and I cannot remember the comment you posted following my KUA review. However, the chances are that by this point I had become too angry to listen, simply assuming that it was another thinly veiled insult instead of taking the time to read it rationally.

Just to correct one point which you mentioned however, I am not a 'Fan' of Onslow. Instead, I was merely pointing to the fact that he was the only positive point in the entire programme. The actor who played him was very talented, and the writers who provided his lines did a very good job.

That year which I spent arguing with other people on Amazon was probably the worst year of my life, mainly because I could not understand why these people were continuing to comment.

They had disagreed with everything I had said, and I was more than willing to leave it at that. But then, after eighteen months, the BTVS review was deleted, and the two people who'd made my life a living Hell, openly calling me "The Worst Reviewer On Amazon," a "Homophobe" actually told me that they were sad that they couldn't argue anymore.

I had been desperately struggling to understand why they were posting comment after comment. I had lost sleep and I had irrepairably damaged other people's perceptions of me as I became more angry and frustrated. But it had all been for nothing. In their minds it had simply been a 'Joke' and a 'Game.'

I have learned my lesson and I sincerely hope that I am now a better person for this experience.

The chances are that, if you think of me at all, there is little chance that I will ever be able to alter your perceptions of me. However, if you are open to the idea, then I hope that you would be interested in learning a little more about me.