Social pandering has gone over and beyond ridiculous. We must be careful what we say and to whom, and even the most benign thing shared can cause outrage. Why is that? Words are hurtful, there is no doubt about that, but why must we walk on the proverbial eggshells anymore?
Bullies exist, they always have and always will. It is a toxic part of humanity and a reality most people face sometime in their lives. However, that doesn’t seem to be why people are so hurt by words lately. It appears that large masses of people have thin skin and have an axe to grind against anyone who shares a different viewpoint or vocabulary.
Below is a screenshot of a reaction someone had to a tweet. Keep in mind my wife runs my Twitter account and was the one that posted this, not me, which is massively ironic. The not-too-subtle accusation of sexism. The point isn’t to vent because I’m offended. It is to point out just how thin-skinned, so many people of our culture are. Why is something so innocent as my wife and I celebrating our teamwork in need of criticism?
Our culture is growing ever more sensitive to the point where it finds problems where there are none. No matter how benign a statement, social media post, or thought is, someone is bound to get offended, but not just offended, that person may feel the need to “educate” you and put you in your place. Offended people now are the social bullies. Attempting to silence any voice that is different from their own in the name of “good.” How do we fight this? Call it out for what it is, bullying. Us writers need to keep writing our thoughts and what’s on our mind. Not cater or pander to anyone, no matter how loud and obnoxious their voice may be. The irony is that it is typically those who speak of tolerance and acceptance that are guilty of the very things they claim to hate. Perhaps this is a window into everyone’s psyche, we are often guilty of the things we hate the most. Therefore, before getting sanctimonious over silly things on social media, let us examine ourselves and see if we live up to our own standards. We all need this. Certainly, there is a time and place to speak up, and that is where wisdom and discernment comes in, both qualities though seem to be sorely lacking in our society.
In my last entry, I discussed victimhood and the culture growing around that. Pain is a shared experience, it is one of the things that all humans everywhere face. Most wish to avoid it, however more and more American culture appears to be embracing it, placing people into categories based on historical and emotional pain groups. A writer’s job is to pay attention to the world.
As stated in the previous blog. I completely understand that there is hurt that I don’t understand and can never understand, and at the same time I’ve faced things that others will not understand. That is the truth of being human. Pain is pain. Yes, some of it is more traumatic than others, such as seeing combat or being assaulted, but claiming that as an identifying feature accomplishes nothing.
There is a recent study that says teens are creating fake social media accounts to “bully” themselves. Is this how much we prize victimhood? Have we ended up creating an environment that favors those who define themselves solely by their pain that this has become a reality? Life is short, and as we argue about who hurts more and what pain is more legitimate, feeling sorry for ourselves, our life is passing by.
As I watch this unfold, I cannot help but feel like this is something that would be considered unbelievable if it was in a fictional book. Especially the part where teens bully themselves to get attention. If that was in a book I was reading, it would feel campy and forced. Yet this is the reality of the world we live in.
I’ve said before that a big part of writing is observing the behavior of people. This observation enables authors to be guided toward more realistic characters. One observation that has become very apparent in recent years is hurt. So many people appear to be defined by the past and the pain that was inflicted upon them.
We are emotional, sensitive beings, even people who care very little for others are still sensitive, particularly when it comes to their own feelings. I do not pretend to know about every type of pain and how to overcome it. I do not know what it is like to be a veteran with PTSD or to give birth to a child. I have not felt the pain of going days without food, or the hurt of being divorced. One thing I am certain of, if you are human you have been hurt.
Pain is as much of the human experience as pleasure. We have all felt it, and not only have we all felt it, we have our own personalized version of it. I know from my own experiences that there are things nearly impossible to get past. My wife too has endured pain and suffering few know about, and she has shown such a level of grace that it seems inhuman to me.
We each know pain, but not all of us are familiar with the same type of pain that may plague another person. That being said, no pain is too great to overcome. Yes, there are hurts that are beyond what humans were ever meant to endure. I do acknowledge that, but at what point do we become stuck and defined by our pain? There seems to be so many people that this scenario applies to. This is seen heavily in identity politics, groups of all shapes and sizes coming out of the woodwork screaming “What about me?! I have been wronged!” Yes, yes you have been. You know what? So have the people you think are against you.
If we identify ourselves only by pain and gather with those who shared similar hurt, then how can we grow? If we continually shout, “what about me?” when someone voices a concern. If we utilize a person’s race, religion, philosophy, or nationality to say they do not understand pain, what are we accomplishing? Nothing, nothing but more hurt and more division. There is no glory in victimhood, and ultimately it will lead to shallowness and loneliness. If we think our pain to be so great that we can in turn shout down someone else then that reflects more on us than anyone else, even if our pain is legitimate.
In a creative writing class I had several years ago, the teacher cautioned against writing in dialect. The irony was that at the same time I was taking an Advanced Placement English class that assigned several books written in that particular style. Throughout high school and subsequently college I have periodically read books written in dialect, and I can see why it isn’t common place anymore.
“There Eyes Were Watching God” is often hailed as a classic, and assigned in classrooms all across the country. I struggled to get through it, I could barely make out what the characters were saying. I love reading, obviously since I’m a writer, but reading books written entirely or mostly in dialect is an insurmountable challenge for me. I can figure it out, but my brain wants to fix the words which means it makes reading slow.
Authors are called to “show nor tell” in their stories, and writing in dialect is one way to accomplish that. To me, though this shows the pitfalls of relying too heavily on showing and not implementing it wisely. Sometimes, writing short bursts of dialogue, such as a few lines, might be a creative way to show a character’s accent. Writing an entire book that way is clunky. That isn’t me saying I claim to be a better writer than these classical authors, but I share this perspective to let others know that if they feel the same, they aren’t alone. If you are like me, then dialect can be not only clunky, but distracting from the overall plot. Thank goodness it is a product of the past.
My latest book is out, and it isn’t a part of the running series Goandria. Crystal Moon is something that has a lot of meaning to me. It is inspired by real people, real events, and real lessons in an Urban Fantasy setting.
A few years ago, I read Dracula and was intrigued by the letter format. It felt like a good way to get insights into what the characters were feeling while being able to show the story more subtly. Writing in first person was challenging, especially with the first draft. It was difficult not to riddle the pages with “I” while at the same time having it flow in a way a real journal would.
One of my goals for Crystal Moon is to step outside of my comfort zone. Writing Fantasy is what I know and love, with the typical swords, magic and bows. Yet, as is the nature of stories, it morphed from my original idea of a comedy into an Urban Fantasy Thriller.
After rewrites and additions, it is finally available to the public, and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did writing the story. A lot of my heart and emotions went into it. Come, laugh, cry, and shake your head with me here.