Brace yourself for some serious word-vomit today, as I try to gather my thoughts into coherent sentences! When I first had the idea for this post, it was titled, “I Hate Technology References in Fiction”, but as I began writing I realised that I’m completely fine with technology in fiction. In fact, when used well, I think technology can really add to the story (think texts, instant messages, and emails incorporated into the storyline).
What does get on my nerves in fiction, are references to actual brands, especially social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Even though these sites have been around for quite a while, I’m only noticing them becoming present in fiction lately (particularly Contemporary YA), but it’s a trend that seems to be growing, and I don’t like it.
Technology, the Internet and social media have been around for quite a while, and sites like Facebook and Twitter aren’t going to disappear any time soon. So it’s understandable that authors will try to incorporate them somehow into the story. It’s relevant, believable and relatable for the book’s audience. But for some reason, when I see references to actual brands in fiction, it really irks me.
Part of the reason brand references annoy me so much is because it pulls me out of the story. Although contemporary fiction is based in the real-world, for me on some level, it’s more of a parallel world. So when I stumble upon a reference to a real-life website, it kind of jolts me out of that fictional world and back into reality. I’ve read novels that have social media sites, and popular fast food chains, and franchised coffee shops, but the authors have given them made-up names relative to the world the story is set in, and that works so much better for me!
While some people may argue that references to “big brands” in fiction capture the culture and time we live in, I think it negatively affects the timeless-ness of the story (I’m making timeless-ness a word). Stories are loved over many generations because of reoccurring and relatable themes, emotions and scenarios, not because of the accuracy of the context of the time when they were written.
References to real-life brands in fiction seems to be a pet peeve of mine, which may change over time as I become more accustomed to seeing them mentioned in the books I read (hopefully not!), but I wanted to write this post to see if I can determine why brand references annoy me so much. I’m all out of ideas, so it appears I have two semi-logical reasons!
Over to you! Do real-life brand references annoy you, or do you love them and think we should have more of them? Why do you like or dislike brand references in fiction? Let me know in the comments!