I am a writer, want to be an author, I guess I’m not really sure what I’m allowed to title myself. I have been writing short stories for the better part of my life, and am on my second novel. A couple of my short works are even published, though by me through Amazon, so I’ll let you decide whether I’m just a writer or an author. The greater point, which will matter in a minute, is that I create stories and worlds, characters, and ideas that I want to share with as many people as possible. I don’t care what my reader’s politics are, or what they look like or identify as. I don’t want to just share my ideas with people that agree with me, and I don’t just write for myself. Art is meant to have an impact on people, and how can an artist have an impact if he or she only wants to share their art with like-minded people? What I’ve learned over the last few months being more active in social media is that not every author feels this way and how to not turn into that.
Over the last few months I’ve been involved in a consumer revolt against ethical problems in games journalism, where I’ve met a lot of interesting and great people. I’ve also seen that even the geek culture is subject to cliques, bullies, and the same sort of behavior many of us remember from the schoolyards of our childhood.
I was once a fan of Wil Wheaton, an actor and writer, but over the years the mantra ‘don’t be a dick’ seems to have turned into ‘only I can be a dick’. That’s not nearly as sad as the realization Wil’s inspiring video about how it’s O.K. to be a nerd, has turned into it’s only O.K. to be a Wheaton-approved nerd. It’s a shame that some people just can’t disagree on something without the hostility and anger, condescension and ridicule. Especially when it’s a group of people picking on others in a way that can only be compared to the ridicule we all experienced as children.
@scalzi AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH. Oh god. The idea that any of those people could get into college. AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.
— Wil Wheaton (@wilw) March 19, 2015
The sad thing is both of these authors probably don’t care that their behavior is catching fans and potential fans in the crossfire. Nor do they seem to care that their attitude as professionals in their field sets an awful example for those of us trying to achieve success as writers. The loss of fans they don’t agree with doesn’t seem to bother them, and I just can’t wrap my mind around that. We, as writers and artists, can’t change the world and have an effect on people if we only speak to those who already agree with us.
This is what I’ve learned in the last seven or eight months, how not to be, how not to treat people, especially on a forum as public as social media where shots fired in an argument might hit innocent fans. I compare this to another author I read, Peter V. Brett, who I believe shares many of the same views about the current rumblings in geek culture as John Scalzi, but expresses them in a very different way. I like Brett’s work, I even like a lot of his personal views on raising children in this subculture of ours, and I’m sure if the both of us sat down and talked we’d find a lot we disagreed on, and much we had in common. The big difference is I’ve never seen Brett express his views and then denigrate people who don’t share them.
The point here, I guess, is that it’s entirely possible to enjoy the art and work of people we don’t agree with, and sometimes don’t even like. I can find things I don’t agree with about George R.R. Martin, Gail Simone, Orson Scott Card, and a vast array of others, but I still appreciate their work, and I’ll still read it. What I can’t bring myself to do is read the work of someone who is openly, and directly awful to other people. It may be their view but when it’s delivered by pointing, laughing, and insulting someone, that’s just being a jerk…in other words a dick.