I read a lot of comments on my twitter feed about the idea of books being harmful. Â I don’t get it. Â At least, I don’t get it in the context that a lot of people seem to using the term.
Harmful to a Group
This I understand. Â I can see how a book that characterizes a particular race or gender as less intelligent than everyone else, for example, could be harmful if people in other groups thought this was a fact and then acted on that information. Â This is why books like [email protected] of the Elders of [email protected] are harmful because they have incited hate and violence towards people.
I’m not arguing about that. Â But that doesn’t seem to be how the term is being used.
Harmful to an Individual
The idea seems to be that people should not be exposed to books/TV/movies that will offend or misrepresent them because it is permanently damaging to their psyche.
I’ve thought a lot about this and I can think of several books that have deeply offended me. There are those that still anger me when I think of them years later. There are things that I wish I never saw or read. There was one that I was listening to last week that I wish I could warn everyone away from because the representation of something very important to me was so misleading. But, I do not feel personally harmed by any of those books. Â I don’t think that I have been damaged by being exposed to ideas I hate or having people write about aspects of my identity in derogatory ways. I’ve cussed out authors in my mind and then walked away from books. Â No permanent harm done.
I’m not saying people should read things that they find offensive. Â If it isn’t right for you, that’s fine. Â Walk away and don’t look back. Whatever works for you. Â But are you so malleable that you will let a book change your feelings about yourself? That’s what I think of when I see people using the word “harm” in this context.
I think this might be a generational thing. Â I don’t seem to see anyone over 30 using this terminology.
Am I the only person confused by this? Â Are older people just better at looking at BS and not taking personally? Â Is this a self esteem thing that we’ll never understand because we weren’t raised in a time when that was considered important?
Readers over 30, have you ever been harmed by a book?