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Advice column aficionados Han and Matt re-answer the greatest questions from other advice columns and podcasts as well as fielding new questions with a little help from their cats.

Learn more at Han and Matt Know It All Dot Com.

May 11, 2017

We have too many opinions to keep to ourselves! That is, we have too many questions and we'd like to answer more of them, so that's why you're getting Opinion Overflow. Whether you want it or not. 

Listener Esmerelda asks:

"This was inspired by your February episode where you discussed the problem of people foisting books upon you, and in particular, Hannah's very particular taste and the etiquette issues that arise when they don't care for something their friend or acquaintance loves.

My problem: sometimes, when I don't enjoy a piece of media, or it's just not working for me, I tweet about it, sort of thinking aloud about why it's not working. I try to steer clear of blanket statements like, "Well, it's just OBVIOUSLY bad!" but sometimes that is my conclusion.

That part's fine. The problem arises when my real life friends behave as if I'm disliking media AT THEM. For example, "Jane" very much enjoyed Superhero Show X, but I thought it was kind of lazy in its writing, and spent a few weeks tweeting about the issues I was having. (I was pretty far behind everyone else, I wasn't giving away big spoilers.) "Jane" made some remarks about how I was spoiling her fun, and that I should stop. I wanted to argue -- I wasn't tweeting at her, or anyone else in particular, just recording my thoughts -- but I did so.

Something similar happened with another friend, "Daria", when I didn't enjoy her favorite Acclaimed Animated Series. I was puzzled as to why I wasn't into Acclaimed Animated Series, when it was so very Acclaimed, and started tweeting about the tropes it used which I didn't much care for. Daria got very angry, accused me of spoiling her fun, and ... well, it blew up from there.

(You guys may be amused to learn that Jane and Daria were also very unhappy when I didn't like A Certain Blockbuster Musical on my first listen, and said so. I did come around on a second listen, but mostly because I just love history, hip hop and wordplay. Jane and Daria for some reason see this as a sign that they swayed me into liking A Certain Blockbuster Musical, but actually I'm just very impressed by rhyme.)

These days, I try to keep my negative opinions to myself, or at least, to talk about them in other places, where people are less likely to see them. But I find that frustrating, because, as much as I love blogging and journaling, I really value that initial "thinking out loud" phase where I tease my issues out. Talking to my cat is less helpful.

I guess my question is this: is this a point of friendship etiquette that I've failed, or do my friends have the problem? Or, more likely, do we all have different but related problems? I never do this with media my friends have directly recommended to me, whereas they have been quite open about dissing stuff I've liked or loved that just doesn't work for them. Do we need to separate our taste in media from our ego and personal identities?"


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