Tuesday, February 10, 2015

What are Feels?

I hear the term “all the feels” around the internet, slang, and text message.  If we follow Urban Dictionary, then feels is short for feelings— to evoke an emotional response. Yet almost always we hear feels refer to the pop culture phenomena.  Are they the shivers when you feel the income of a romantic relationship in books? The danger of dragons prowling around in The Hobbit movies? Or, maybe, the face palm when I know the character will do something stupid?

In context, I must come up with the definition of emotion, but hold on a minute don’t emotions equal feelings. I’ll concede to the Oxford Online Dictionary’s definition of emotion meaning “natural instinctive state of mind deriving from one’s circumstances, mood, or relationships with others”, but the dictionary gets even more exact by saying “instinctive or intuitive feeling as distinguished from reasoning or knowledge.”  I would even hesitate that emotions are completely different from reasoning or logic and that we don’t need justification from our situation. The emotions we feel towards pop culture are simply the state our body automatically wants to put us.

So, does our body enjoy these shivering and nailbiting sessions we are forced into? I ponder this question about whether or not what I feel while reading a book is legitimate, after all they are caused by an inanimate objects that are portraying an animate people. These “emotions” are being caused by objects that have no business being a part of my cornered little part of the world. Yet still I like having these complicated parts of my life even further stretched by the fact of imaginary worlds causing turmoil in my stomach. I must point out however that the physical symptoms of these feelings are not imaginary— the butterflies are real.

In a culture dominated by teenage girls, myself included, the book blogging world even has some blogs that have spate ratings based upon feels. I look at those ratings as knee jerk reactions to the book— probably the best reactions to base a popular book rating on. Most of my reviews are based upon the book and what my initial reaction to book is. I don’t like the overdone synthesis of worldbuilding, plot, and character development that is often done in reviews. My own emotions, the portrayal of the problem in a complex way, and how the character becomes more mature is how I define a book.

In the end feels are not only the great buildup of pent up sighing and crying at the end of a book intensified by adolescent hormones, but rather also a process connecting with a book. With all the turmoil of teenagedhood I connect because of the feel. When I’m not necessarily good with people I can have real relationships with characters. The characters demand things of me— happiness, sadness, anger, nervousness, all part of a human experience that catch me from being emotionless.


  1. Dude. This post was deep and sciency. O__________O

    Unfortunately, since I'm not good with science. At all, I only got like half the post. However, from my own knowledge, I always talked about feels as feelings. "Feels" talks about fangirl feels. Like when my OTP gets together or when there's a heartfelt family moment. FEELS! However, when something bad happens, I can also have feels, but I'll probably be more specific and say "rage feels" or "heartbreak feels." Most of the time, fangirls kind of... just understand each other so we just tell the kind of emotions from the context.

    I like this discussion. Really made me think!

    1. The content of emotion is what the post was getting at. "Feels" are for everyone from the fangirl to the President of the US. Feels are a universal term we use for everything from books to movies to music. Thanks for reading!

      Amelia @ YA Bookologists (ya-bookologists.blogspot.com)