Facebook and Twitter stoke the fires of your latent narcissism. Pinterest alternately makes you feel materialistic and worthless at crafts. Google Plus is an exercise in profound loneliness. Thank God for Goodreads.
Written by Kyle Magin
There’s one social network that has never made me feel like an oxcart full of shit. It’s a haven in a sea of political viewpoints, outright racism, life-curating and cleverness-envy. It’s Goodreads, the social network for introverted, confrontation-averse bookworms like me.
Goodreads, founded in 2007, is a kingdom for readers. Where Facebook offers me obnoxious tours down memory lane to that time I blacked out at a lifeguard party in college and lost my really cool Expos snapback, Goodreads neatly curates all the books I’ve read since I joined the site into visually-pleasing shelves.
Where Twitter tells me which of the people I follow are buying gold, Feeling the Bern, or advocating for the Fourth Reich, Goodreads lets me know what my smartest friends and family members thought about David Sedaris’s new offering, frequently in complete sentences without all caps diatribes and with proper punctuation. Be still, my beating heart.
The thing about most social networks is they’re usually too useful to ignore and almost uniformly too stupid to really enjoy. Working in media, I’m required to interact with most of them and they exacerbate my worst demons.
Twitter makes it far too easy to curse a 20-year old for failing to fight through a screen. Facebook gives me an opening to throw down in steaming hot paragraphs with my most arch-conservative, Confederate-flag waving friend when in real life we just passive-aggressively crack on each other over beers. Instagram makes my jogs and short hikes look like epic feats of strength performed in the most pristine wildernesses and most bustling metropoli imaginable across the continent, conveying an outward persona that’s a mishmash of Jay-Z and Kilian Jornet.
Goodreads doesn’t possess that function. I refresh my feed there to find out if my sister liked the new book she read about mental health, and what my very smart friend in Houston is reading about the way Paris was planned. Sure, it gets repetitive–everyone in my friend group save me has read Amy Pohler’s Yes, Please and Tina Fey’s Bossypants–but it’s an exchange of ideas and accomplishments that is completely positive.
There’s no arena in which to spar or one-up each other, no incentive for stretching the truth. There’s only the bolstering of one’s better angels–the quest for knowledge and enlightenment, or just a good book. Even user reviews of heavily political works–Ayn Rand’s catalog, for example–are nuanced and thoughtful, rarely devolving into the spectacle that would follow if I wrote “The Fountainhead was just OK” as a status update on Facebook.
So the next time you’re posting South Carolina’s articles of secession to prove that yes, the Civil War really was only about slavery and not state’s rights, or retweeting a bloody first-round knockout .GIF, or instagramming your soup (for the love of God, please no) why not instead open up a Goodreads account? You’ll find all the people there you hope are the actual silent majority, rating one book at a time.