Misbehaving Community

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I hate the online YA community. I have for a while, there’s a chance I have since I joined.

At times, it’s been for really shallow reasons like I have basically no following and I never get any response, or any response I want, from publishers, which is probably because of the latter.

Most of the time, it’s because I just feel like I don’t belong here. Why? I mean, I read YA books religiously, I love talking about them, I love promoting them, my room is basically my own, personal library.

I realized recently that it was because there weren’t very many people like me. I don’t mean there weren’t white people. There are usually a lot of white people. Everywhere.

It’s just there were, and are, no teens. Like, anywhere. Which I find pretty weird for the community being, you know, a YA community.

No, everyone was an adult. Everyone is an adult.

Obviously, I’d expected adults. Authors, you know. Also, I’d been to book events, I’d met adult YA readers but overall there were always teens.

So, online, where are they? Maybe, they just don’t care that much, maybe they were never me and never felt the longing to get even more involved. At the time, I didn’t think much of it. Eventually, I thought it might be a “me” thing.

Now, I know that the online YA community just isn’t teen friendly.

Teens are lost in the shadows of adults. Adults who’ve had more time, maybe more finances to build a YA platform for themselves, who’ve been able to buy more books and more stuff to take pretty pictures of that books with. Adults who “know more” because they’re older and therefore, I suppose, more desirable to interact with.

Nevermind the teenagers, the target audience. We’re lost on this community.

Forget, that most teens who actually do take the time to get more involved are actually pretty committed to this stuff. I mean, we’re putting the time in while juggling high school, a social life, family, extra activities, trying to find a job because these days teens are expected to at least look for a job.

But, those of us here, have taken time, out of all of that, to do this. I don’t know about you all, but I’m still impressed when I find a fellow teen who’s actively keeping up a blog, booktube, bookstagram, or anything of the sort.

All of that is null to this community. We’re teens, so, who cares? We have less money to put into building a “good” platform, we have less time, we have more anxiety and stress from school, we have more pressure from family and society to do what we have to do, we’re young, we’re still learning, so we’re less desirable to be around. Our services, our work is deemed less than that of adults who engage in this community.

Of course, I know there are a number of adults who “aren’t all that bad” I’ve interacted with them. Usually, they’re authors who actually remember that they write for teens and not just those adults who dominate the online community.

But overall, I think we’re lost. I see it, constantly. Teens who yell into the void. Teens who are hurt by adult members of the community. And adults who sit by and do nothing, ignoring us because, hey, we don’t have what they have, we don’t have what they’re looking for.

No, no one cares about teens until something is brought to their attention, thrown in their face. Genuinely, I feel like it isn’t until we remind people that in a lot of cases teens are minors that people get involved.

This community forgets us. They forget YA is for us and they shove us out of these spaces. People become upset when we ask for inclusion, they become upset when we raise our voices. They cry when we say “this isn’t right”, and screech until our ears bleed and we need to hide.

And we can’t even hide in a place supposedly meant for us.

Books are for everyone, there’s no denying that, but YA books are for teens. YES, other people can read them, but they’re for us. We want to go on adventures with people our own age, we want to see that we can achieve brilliant things, that our future can be brighter than what we see when we sit in a classroom being shut down by our teachers and even our peers.

We read ourselves doing amazing things (with more inclusion, more teens can see themselves doing those amazing thing). We read ourselves rising above that weird standard society has put on us, being treated as young children but we must act as adults. We see ourselves getting respect, getting power that a lot of times it feels like we’re robbed of.

So, yeah, YA books are for us. And so, by default, should be the community.

Because we read these books, we love them, we hold them close to our hearts, take their lessons into our lives with us.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we had a community where the same could happen? Where we didn’t find adults who loved YA, ignoring the audience and giving their opinions on something that isn’t for them. Where we didn’t find the authors who wrote these moving stories seemingly intent on pleasing their adult readers, not their teen ones. A place where publishing valued us as much they do an adult with the same amount of followers as a teen.

The bottom line is: change.

Change in YA is coming, there’s no way around it, it’s just something that’s going to happen. It always does.

Half of the people I knew when I started doing all of this have slowly faded into the background or disappeared altogether.

People who clutch their pearls at the idea of being inclusive are disappearing for fear of having to share their space with someone of a difference race, sexuality, gender, etc., are slowly leaving because they, ironically, no longer feel safe in a community that’s evolving to ask for accountability and accurate representation en masse.

I think the change is coming but like with everything else, we have a long way to go before it’s here. There’s a lot of time, I believe, between now and when the online YA community is as close as it can possibly be to safe and comfortable for a teen who wants to join. A lot of time between where people are going to have to do well to remember that this community is first and foremost for teens, that our voices and feelings have value despite our age, despite our lack of funds, small forums, our “pathetic” high school education.

Hopefully, we’ll get there.

And I hope I get to see the day a teen can wonder into the community with our fear or discomfort, get to actively participate in the community without gross stigmas attached.

For now, we’ve got a lot of work to be done.

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17 thoughts on “Misbehaving Community

  1. I think the problem is that a lot of adults forget that they were teenagers once. They forget what it was like to feel forgotten, unheard, confused, angry, scared. I remember no-one EVER took me seriously, and I couldn’t wait until I was older so that people would actually listen to what I was saying. It was adults thinking they are better than teenagers and children, because they have this weird superiority thing in their head. I have no issue at all with sharing fandoms with teens. Most of the time I am just excited that someone loves the same book that I love, and that’s how other adults should be too. The YA book community should be a safe space for teenagers, and I am sorry that you don’t feel like it is. You should be able to voice your opinion without worrying about being called out or bullied. You should be able to talk about the YA books that you love with other people who share the same love. At the end of the day, we are all part of the book community because we love stories, it’s a shame that there are people who ruin it for others. Just know that you will always have an ally in me πŸ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

    • I agree on a lot of this. I can’t speak for all adults, but I’m 27 and I still remember being 17. I can’t forget because my teen years were so hard but they molded me into who I am. And that’s why I read (and write) YA still.

      Adults taking over the YA community is definitely a problem in a way it wasn’t when I was a teen. We can all do better to listen to teens when they speak about this. I definitely have so much respect for teen book bloggers – I wouldn’t have been brave enough or had the time to blog as a teen myself. So thank you for speaking up on this. I hope we can do better by you guys in the future. πŸ’–

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      • Thank you so much. I’ve heard a few adults here stay because of the impact YA had on them or how their teens years were and some just start as teens and age out. But I’m always grateful for those who remember us and listen to us.
        Thank you for reading and listening. πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’d like to say I’m still in touch with my teenage self. I remember the feelings I had, of feeling invisible and that no one would ever take me seriously. And I keep thinking, man, I would’ve killed to have a book blog if that had been a thing when I was in high school. I was very alienated, had very few friends IRL and none of them were readers like I was. So it’s awful that teens are being ignored and shoved out of their own space online. Y’all need this more than adults do.

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    • That’s definitely an idea I’ve seen a lot of though I admit the more I think about it the more I think it may be the opposite. Most adults I know remember their teen years vividly and I think now that they’re older and know they hold someone’s ear they may be taking advantage of that even if it’s at the cost of those the community is meant for. They may not even realize they’re doing it. But now that the pressure of being younger is gone it’s easier to function like a younger person but get the respect of someone of their actual age.
      It is exciting to see other who love books, it’s just disheartening to see mostly adult who love these books and not other teens who can closely relate to them.
      We aren’t always called out and bullied as much as ignored, though the first two can happen rather frequently.
      Thanks for reading.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah I completely agree with what you are saying. I can understand what you are saying about wishing for more teens in the YA community, I hope over time they feel more comfortable in taking part without worrying about being ignored etc. Your post is important, and I know I will definitely be more mindful of this issue πŸ™‚

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  2. Thank you for being willing to talk about this. The dominance of adult voices in the online YA community is a major problem we haven’t taken any steps to address. As an author, I’m making a point of trying to keep teens centered in my community interactions.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. When I started out last year I was also surprised by how few teen YA bloggers there are since after all YA is for teens not Adults. Of course books are kinda for everyone and they can read it but they need to remember who the target audience is.
    One thing I’ve noticed is that the few teen bloggers tend to have the “small blogs” and don’t get the recognition they deserve. I often feel like it’s due to the fact that a lot of adult bloggers have the money or maybe just more time to put into their blog.
    This community is not nearly as inclusive of teens as it should be it definitely needs to change.

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  4. Thank you for this post! As a person who is employed as a Teen Services Librarian I appreciate you honest viewpoint and agree with you. Plus, I truly believe the only way to know if a teen is going to like a book is ask a teen:).

    Like

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