Sunday, January 11, 2015

Finding Balance

   Initially, my plan for my first blog post of 2015 was supposed to be a look back on the tech breakthroughs of the last year and how I too was affected by the ever modernizing world. But as I wrote, I couldn't help but go to a dark place. 2014 was a year that will definitely find its way into the history books, thought not for the right reasons. Sure, we landed a spacecraft on a comet and 3D print technology came ever closer to allowing me to print my own robot army. But as we marched toward the future, the shadow of our past loomed ever closer until it was no longer our past, but our present that was full of regrettable actions, shedding light on just how far we have yet to go before we can truly call ourselves a civilized society. Not even a full week into 2015, we were hit with yet another tragic and divisive event. Yes, small groups will come together in solidarity against hatred and violence, but there will be more who will see another reason why their side is the right side. Why their hate is justified.
   2014 to me, seemed like the year of extremes. Everyone, it seems, was offended by everything and everyone was offended that others would be offended by things that did not offend them. It became not only dizzying, but dangerous to the many who dared speak their mind, only to find themselves arrested, or to have their personal information published online, or in the worst scenarios, physically attacked and even killed. The term social justice warrior was coined, and in a turn straight out of a classic dystopian novel, it became a bad thing.
   Understand that I am not pointing fingers from the lofty position of someone who has spent the last year fighting injustices and working toward the utopian tomorrow. No, on the contrary, I am writing from the perspective of someone who was in a position to say something, but mostly opted for the head in the sand approach. I avoided engagement with those who would argue social injustices on social media and I refused to share my own views on hot button issues. Yes, I did on occasion make a sweeping private post that made clear my views on intolerance, but what I did not do was tell someone, "What you believe is damaging and here is why."
   Why? Have I not previously discussed the fact that as an author of science fiction, I have a responsibility to address the issues that hold our society back? I have. I do this and have done this with every book I have published to date. But let's be honest. How many people are reading my books? Let's be generous and say thousands, which is but a fraction of the millions affected by civic atrocities, let alone the billions that call this planet home. Going farther, how many of those thousands do you think are sitting down and deliberately looking for a message or meaning that will somehow change their lives and open their minds? Likely that number is none, given that I write fiction, not self-help. Wouldn't it make more sense for me to state my views in plain speak here or on Twitter and Facebook?
   Probably, but quite frankly, I was scared. I was scared to point out that friends and family members had narrow or extremist views. I was scared that if I said something publicly that someone disagreed with, that I too would have my personal information compromised. As bad as that is, the worst part is that I dared call myself an optimist, yet took the cynical view that what I said didn't matter. That my arguments, whether off the cuff or carefully backed by research, would not make even a dent in the armor that is the personal convictions of others.
    Where does this leave me? Where does this leave any of us? What do we need to do to find a balance between subversive literary themes and becoming a social media extremist? Between an optimist and a realist? Well, the honest answer is that I have no freaking clue. But I refuse to stop being an optimist. 2015 has had a rough start, but I for one, plan to do what I can to put us back on the path to sweet robot utopia, one small and insignificant step at a time. Does this mean that I'm going to turn this blog into a platform for my uber-liberal agenda? No, of course not. But I do intend to speak up when I feel that doing so is appropriate. Still, don't be surprised if from time to time, my posts consist of nothing more than adorable baby robot pictures like some futuristic Buzzfeed article. After all, this post is all about finding balance.

6 comments:

  1. I got tired of all the bullcrap last year and have basically logged off of humanity's struggles. I used to inhale politics, I used to know everything there was to know about the latest international news. And now, I just switched it off.

    It all suddenly seemed so pointless to me and I just decided to focus on other things like space pirates and bounty hunters. Writing allows me to create a world of injustice, but allow the right people to win in the end. It doesn't always do that in the real world.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I disagree that you have an obligation to comment on politics or social issues from your position as a non-political writer. Writing is a business; politics is intolerance on both sides, each side being primarily intolerant of the other. One man's Political Correctness is another's suppression of Free Speech. If you come down on one side or the other, you'll automatically lose at least half of your potential customers. I've seen some writers fade, some blossom, when they descend into politics, but it's a crap shoot. For me as a Writer (capital W), I talk Writing and story telling. I discuss politics with my friends and family, always kept separate from business. That's the best advice I could give a writer, but each writer has to evaluate the risk on his or her own.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Fair enough, but science fiction has always been a genre associated with social commentary. It need not be heavy handed, but do me personally, that's one of the aspects that enhances my reading experience.
      I'm not looking to become a political pundit, but I'm not looking to deny that power imbalance and social injustice exists either. I'm just trying to figure out where the line is drawn between having no opinion and righteous indignation.

      Delete
  3. Having said what I said, I have to admit that my first novel was itself a political statement. Things I disagreed with came out of the mouths of unsympathetic characters, while my own political view was depicted only by the peace of mind that the sympathetic character found in the end, and where the story left him. I believe that the reader would have to think long and hard to figure out the politics of the story, and that no one would be turned off by it--mainly because it isn't heavy handed. Nor does it make a judgement. I wish I could say the same about the early short stories I wrote, some of which were a commentary on the US Military Draft, but we live and learn.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I believe that the same can be said of me last year as well. I was very disappointed in my lack of commentary on all the social injustices and outrageous antics of our own leaders. I raged anonymously on youtube, futily battling a troll here or there but barely anything dealing with my writing or blogs. I don't mind so much now because people will feel how they want to feel about an issue and it's not my duty or your duty to stand up on a soapbox and preach them out of their views. Nowadays every single aspect of life is politicized and in a very bad way. Nowadays politicized means divisive because everybody likes to pick a team for everything. You can't just have opinions but your opinions needs to represent a team. You have east vs. west., Kanye vs. 50 cent, Pepsi vs. Coke, Xbox vs Playstation, Consoles vs. PC, Marvel vs. DC, and whatever sports team you like. Notice how all of these mere choices create so much strife between so called fans (remember its short for fanatics). You can't just like a thing and what it represents but you have to actually hate the other thing so your thing is portrayed as better.

    Okay so I completely lost where I was going with that. It's tough to find that balance, as you say Christina, especially when even the most harmless and obvious comment is sure to get you labeled as whatever people want to label you as. I think what you're doing, what we're doing, is a good way to handle the situation. By paying attention and internalizing these issues and feeling strongly about them and living our lives aware of them makes all the difference. That alone affects our character and our actions. We just can't be too meek to act should injustice occur and too quiet to speak should we witness injustice. 24 hour news is just confusing anyway.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I know the world seems like an awful place, but statistically, we just keep getting better. Crime is going down. The percentage of people killed in wars was at an all-time low for the twentieth century- even with the two World Wars! Although lots of people are still racist, people are less racist than ever before. It just seems bad because now we know about everything happening half-way around the world, instantly, all the time. Our brains are trained to concentrate on the bad, so that's what we do.

    I hope you don't get more politically active on social media. I really don't think anyone changes their mind about anything from things they read on social media. They just block you if they disagree, and then you have no voice.

    ReplyDelete