Last year, when AAR published its latest Top 100 Romances List, many got furious at us for doing so in a way that didn’t encourage diverse romance. We took those criticisms to heart and our final list was indeed more diverse than any of the others that had come before it. However, the anger towards AAR, me (its Publisher), and its dedicated all-volunteer staff took on a life of its own on Twitter. For weeks, thread after thread attacked AAR and its staff, often in personal and, in my opinion, unreasonable ways.
At the height of this, someone I’ve never met screenshot a series of posts I’d made defending our staff, made them into a PowerPoint presentation, and presented them at a conference. At that point, I made my Twitter profile closed to all but people I knew well–I’ve since opened it back up to the public–and have been very guarded about what I say on that platform.
This has been a bummer for me in that Twitter used to be, for me, a place I could share my thoughts, opinions, and questions about. I’ve missed learning from and interacting with others who love the genre as I do.
Incredibly, Twitter has become an even more brutal place in the last year. I’ve watched in dismay as those who–anywhere, not just on Twitter–share things that, because others have found them offensive, are posted, often out of context, and routinely in a way that is clearly designed to silence the offender. Those of you who have followed my comments over the years here at AAR know that I am passionate about free speech and feel strongly that the very definition of a healthy community is one where people can disagree with one another without fear.
It has also made me wonder if fewer people are comfortable commenting here than they used to be for fear of having someone attack them or, even worse, share their stuff elsewhere. This doesn’t sit well with me.
So, we’ve decided to start a private Facebook group for readers and fans of AAR. It is a place where all are free to talk about romance and the genre. It will be a moderated page with rules which are these:
- We’re all in this together to create a welcoming environment. This is a place where everyone should feel safe. Here we believe in Kindness: Spread that sh*t around.
- Give more than you take to this group. Self-promotion, spam and irrelevant links aren’t allowed.
- Being part of this group requires mutual trust. This group is like Vegas: What’s shared here stays here. If you break this rule, you’ll be removed from the group.
We look forward to, with joy and kindness, talking about romance there with you!