It’s the first Friday of the month again. For some reason I thought I had another week until it was my turn. Weird, right?
Part of the really cool thing about the Mad Genius Club is that I get to stand on my little soapbox for a day and you all must bow down and worship me. At least, that is what’s supposed to happen. Kate promised me minions. I want my minions, damn it.
Anyway, there’s been so much kerfuffle the past month about everything from conventions to Sad and Rabid Puppies that I really have nothing to offer on current events in the publishing world. I mean, really. It’s not as though I’m holding back. It’s just that everyone under the sun has spouted off about it so far and, quite frankly, little old me is lost in the shuffle. Really. I see “Sad Puppies candidates” and my name never pops up on those lists. *sniff* I’m just not evil enough to be given my membership coin.
If you follow my blog (my soapbox, my free advertising space) you’ll know that I’ve crushed two short stories in the past week, as well as have finished about half of the novel I’ve been working on for two months. While I normally write much faster than this (see: 2014), real life has been rather vexing of late and I really am beginning to wonder if this entire “adult” thing is all it’s cracked up to be.
Of course, if you judge adulthood by those who claim to have a moral superiority over my Mad Genius companions, adulthood can go blow a rabbit. Vastly overrated, I’d say.
Yeah, I don’t like being an adult. It sucks. You’re held accountable for your actions and words, you have to stand up and accept that some things in life are just plain old crap, and you can’t treat people like crap and not expect them to come back and treat you the same way. I was always told to treat others as I want to be treated. Unfortunately, my fellow (Millennials? Gen Y’ers? I’m somewhere in the middle there) Americans aged 18-36 have forgotten this. They have gone their whole lives being told that they are special and unique that when reality confronts them with something that counters to this belief, they lash out in anger. I’m not sure when it began to happen (I’m thinking it was the mid to late 90’s, because as weird as the 80’s were, the 90’s were far stranger) but it has had a profound sociological shock upon our world. Some good, some bad, but all of it different than what we have seen for the past 10,000 years of human sociological development. It doesn’t fit the pattern of history, and the belief that parents are still responsible for their children’s actions at the age of 25 flies in the face of evolution.
But… why? That’s a really damn good question, if you ask me.
As a historian, one of the things I’ve always looked for was social changes in the structure of a nation during their rise and (eventual) fall. Most social revolutions are slow burning, which allows time for the nation to accept the change in ideology and structure. The Renaissance is a great example of a slow-burn sociological revolution, if you think about it. There was an undercurrent already there, a chaffing against a central structured authority (hello, Vatican readers! I know we have a few) but it had not really defined itself in any shape or form until the Renaissance started to sweep through southern and western Europe.
The exact opposite of the “slow-burn” sociological revolution, however, was the Reign of Terror. Oh yeah. Revolutionaries were so hell-bent on expunging “bad think” and any sort of aristocratic ideology that if you even mentioned the incorrect name of a day (France changed their months to different names, and had a different name for every day of the year. It was confusing as hell, I know) you could be imprisoned, or worse. There was little time for society and the people to adapt to the new changes due to the frenetic pace of the Terrors that the inevitable backlash and desire to jump back to the old ways allowed for Napoleon Bonaparte to rush in, take over France, and set Europe on course for World War I.
And many of you wonder why I flip out when people quote Robespierre when spouting off about liberty and freedom.
We hover at that same precipice now, only instead of a guillotine, social media is the weapon of choice. I don’t blame them for using this tactic, though. It allows for one side to stay in the shadows and attack from safety without having to expose oneself to rebuttals and counter attacks. But this also takes away the entire human interaction that has defined us as as advanced species since we figured out what opposable thumbs were for. I’ve watched both sides of this culture war eat their own in an attempt to maintain ideological purity. Sarah Hoyt would tell you that it reminds her of the Communist purges of Europe in the 1970’s (at least, I’m pretty sure she would).
But this shadow lurking, these attacks via social media… this is not human. This is something older, something more terrifying. This is the use of technology to sate our baser, more primal instincts. Our desire to control our fellow humans, to fear those we cannot control. Everyone does it. It’s how you internalize it and handle your own desires is what defines you.
And no, I’m not one of those people who will argue that everything we do is human, because that’s what we are. No, that’s a cop-out. There is a difference between being a human, and being an animal. Our behavior dictates which we are. Our choices define what we are. To exclude our acknowledgements of societal achievements means a loss of our very civilization. Our civilization — the idea of it — is what has given us this tremendous opportunity to live in a world where we can lurk in the shadows of social media and name call, though.
It’s kind of screwed up, I know.