Ignore the title for now. It'll make sense later.
Lots of good new this week. I’ve never ran Facebook ads before. I went in with little expectations. My results were a little too good to be true, though the actual book sales remain to be seen for week one. (I won’t know that for at least three weeks.) I reached a total of about 2600 people. 206 “Likes,” 8 “Shares,” the latter two are the most important. I had the opportunity to extend the campaign over the weekend, but opted not to. Typically the highest traffic days on the internet are Monday and Tuesday mornings between 8am and 10am. Between that and finishing Underground Airlines—a solid alt-history slave narrative—I feel fairly accomplished. All that is left is to finish Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, and I can finish book three and begin writing, possibly, a spinoff novel for Tall Men. The key, as I’ve said time and time again is being productive and not making excuses. Don’t call yourself a “writer.” “Writers” post their shit for free on Deviant Art. “Author” is a coveted title that I’ve always owned, because I believe in what I do. “Authors contribute to the cannon of Western/Eastern literature. They participate in the global discussion of genre and literary theory. That’s an extreme, zero-to-sixty mentality, but, then again, I’ve always been an extreme kind of person—all in, all out. But I digress.
It's bubble of non-offense I give offense to
I catch myself in the act often, that is agreeing with myself. This self-congratulatory exercise makes me comfortably numb, as in the Pink Floyd song about heroine. Being “on the same page” is an addiction that I find myself struggling to combat, especially within the medium of social networking. While I have some conservative friends, they aren’t really “conservative” in the almost pejorative sense that would inform the opinion of a “liberal” or a “democrat.” (In quotes as well because these terms too are just conventions used to typify the positions and beliefs of certain segments of social/political discourse.) Though I’ve met some of the conservative ilk (my father included), and had wonderful and challenging discussions with them, this line of open communication hardly lingers beyond conception. In fact, it disappears. Like the ephemeral dust devil in a vacant lot, there seems to be substance to the conversation, but only moments later it dissipates into nothingness.
This particularly bothers me, and I’ll list a few reasons why:
First, typically those who are “conservative” or “liberal” conceive of themselves as being agents on a larger political stage, burying their own identity into hot-button issues and fetishizing the objects of their unknowing worship (guns, birth-control, legislation, et. al.). While there are implied, expected behaviors that emanate from these exterior labels, the partisan participation in government stands as the most prominent feature of these two groups. Democracy, our current form of government, hinges on the open line of communication between all citizens (excluding members of the above terms, because they undermine this whole process). But rather than be challenged by opposing viewpoints, we consign ourselves to the echo chambers of our collaborators, engaging in one-sided, non-offensive exercises of mutual agreement. While there are a many things that “conservatives” believe, of which I do not, these beliefs are founded on life experiences and ethics unique to another segment of society that we, the outsider, have no familiarity with. For example, there is legitimate cause to value the hard work put into founding a farm or a small business, but we must attempt to understand the values of someone raised in section 8 housing and their position of continual despair and stigmatizing, how that affects their productivity and “success”. We must also not lie to ourselves (ie “I deserve X because Y” or “because of circumstance X, I should have Y”) and think that we, the individual, are outside of the mutual agreement made between each citizen—that is, to be putting back into the social, financial, and political systems what we receive. In reality we are all in the same boat, same country, same brotherhood/sisterhood. So we must listen to each other with empathy and patience, or else risk demonizing a person. Just like the army, we are only worth as much as our weakest member. Instead of ostracizing the weakest, we ought to invest into them and become stronger for our efforts.
Secondly, if we remain in our tight-knit circles of group-thought, the ultimate end is abject cynicism. Facebook is the most regretful offender of this as an unrelenting disseminator of information. Most of it is bad information, or poorly structured. Worse, our reputation is invested into our opinions, our “voice” is quantified to metrics, our validation meted out in concise, impersonal injections. So, in an effort to be right, we willfully take liberties with the truth, equivocate, and outright lie vindictively—most of the time, that is. Other times, when we share information that confirms our bias and worldview, the information may be correct, but the supplier poorly states it, thereby making it confusing and allowing all kinds of people to draw seemingly disparate conclusions. On the spectrum of news and content, we are sensitive to the most outlandish of this kind of information: some of it true and most of it false. I see it all the time in my feed. Hyperbolic bullshit of the highest order! What is more frustrating: seeing things objectively true, but the information being ignored and kept under the roiling waters of false information. When I earlier mentioned that cynicism is the ultimate end of being in a bubble, it is because of the above. Seeing the truth trampled, day in, day out, brings us to despair and disillusionment: the latter being the seed and the former the water. When it all blooms the cynic bursts forth into the light, then bitterly turns in having had enough of this shit.
The last aspect, of why living in a bubble is noisome and detrimental to being a human being, is that we always live long enough for us to be the villain. This requires less explanation, as it could just be another addition to my previous point, but typically, after seeing your own side “lose” so many times the next logical step is to become dissatisfied with the position. Sick of seeing your side unable to fix gun-control legislation? Eventually, the thought will enter your mind: “this party does nothing for me. I need to leave it,” and one will start actively looking for information that confirms their new bias. Conversely, one grows older, accumulate some modest prestige, some possessions, earns a promotion at work, and then disparagingly look down on those around you for their apparent inefficacy. (Looking back on the idealists, we scoff and call them naïve and positivistic.) Then, like a thief in the night, your sentiment for the poor disappears and is replaced by a nagging need to register for the Republican Party. I can’t think of a different scenario for the contrary position at the moment, but you can catch my meaning.
Why this is on my mind is because I look back on the great movements of history longingly, while participating in my own folly. The great movements and events of yesteryear (The Civil Rights Movement, World War 2, The New Deal, etc) where Americian came together to accomplish something, are long gone due to our willingness to participate. Even if we are, we focus only on those who share our views. I am reminded of this as I see people tearing each other apart and the future, once imagined bright by people such as Gene Rodenberry, now is murky and stagnant.
Anyways… That’s it from me.
Back to work!