We’ve all done it: fallen in love with a celebrity of some sort. Perhaps it was an actor or maybe a musician. For me, it was fantasy and science fiction writers.
It all started when I was a teenager. Not going to bore you with the teen angst and being “misunderstood” by my peers, because . . . that would be a lie. I read fantasy for one reason: it was bad ass!
When I picked up a book by Tolkien, Moorcock, Asimov, Weis and Hickman or others, I was transported for a few hours to a fantastical place, where magic changed the course of the world or robotic ships took men to the stars. And when I finally put those books down, I believed with my whole teenage heart that these writers were marvelous men and women for gifting me with their visions.
Naturally, my respect (I left adoration behind me at about the age of nineteen) for writers led me to start “following” them on social media when that became all the rage. I’ve tagged along behind my old favorites and new for several years now, read their blogs, savored their tweets, and digested their other social media tidbits. Having “experienced” these authors views on many things, both literary and philosophical, I’ve had an epiphany: some authors just don’t know when to shut up!
Now I suppose this isn’t a huge secret I’ve discovered. I mean, writers have to be opinionated to write and put their feelings and ideas out there for the world to see. Some writing historians have told me most authors are narcissistic by nature, completely in love with their world view. I can see where that might be correct. Lord knows, there have been enough authors with serious, mental health issues. Hell, I’ve google searched a few myself, fascinated by their psychosis. However, the problem nowadays isn’t that more authors are narcissistic or even that there are a greater number of authors, but that it is just too easy to interact with them.
In the dark ages of a decade or so ago, you might have to wait a year or more to read your favorite authors new book and get an infusion of their outlook on life. Not anymore! Nope, today you can grab your ipad, sit on the couch eating popcorn, and read all about your favorite author’s personal views.
In fact, shooting off your mouth on social media is a requirement of being an author these days. Self-marketing I believe its called. All the experts teach that authors need to be more “personal” with their readers: tweet with them, facebook with them, and all the rest. So now, an author is instructed to be out there 24/7 spouting off his or her mouth for the whole internet to read.
The experts didn’t ask me, but I think that is one the stupidest ideas EVER!
I already can read some of your lips as you are saying, “Hey, I love interacting with my favorite author!” Just hold up with the nerd-rage and hear me out.
To be fair, I’m not referring to every author out there. Many are genuinely nice people. They plug their books, link to funny pictures, discuss articles about writing/publishing or talk about stuff that happened to them in day to day life. Just normal people on social media. No big deal there at all. If they espouse political or moral positions through their works of art that is fine; they are artists, and their books are their art. No one is complaining about that at all. We are talking
about social media activism and bad behavior.
So with that exclusion, we move on to the next category of writers on social media. The ones who believe their readers are idiots but are grateful for their career, kept humble by their innate knowledge that if a lot of people didn’t love to escape reality by reading about vampires, wizards, Greek gods or teen angst, they would be working at Barnes and Nobles part time and hoping to get a job as a middle school English teacher. These writers may show their contempt for their readers occasionally, but they are quick to cover it up with an “I’m having a bad day” excuse. Once again, that is cool, we all get annoyed by people at times, and at least, these guys try to be courteous to everyone – most of the time.
But then . . . You knew there was a “but” coming right?
But then there are those few authors, who believe they are “special.”
You’ve “followed” or “blogged” or whatever with these guys. The author who tweets 12 times a day about all his unpopular, personal beliefs and tells you he doesn’t give a fuck if it offends you. The writer who starts long blogs about the deeper meaning of life and how ignorant “normal” people are. The novelist who “preaches” to her readers about their political affiliation, labeling them as “close-minded idiots” who are contributing to the killing of children in ________ (insert third world country name here.) Those are the “types” of authors I’m referring to here.
These guys aren’t the majority of authors on social media, but they make up far more of the whole than I would have imagined, and they seem to honestly believe that, as soon as they published a book, they have been ordained as the divine prophet of some writing god. (Traditional and e-publishing count equally these days. Guess it’s sort of like getting a priests license over the internet.) I suppose the gods (or scientific method for some atheists out their) have wiped away the fog of stupidity from their minds, gifted them with a vision . . . no an epiphany about EVERYTHING!
Honestly, I don’t like saying this stuff about authors. Hell, as I grew up, I wanted to be one, though I never really applied myself to obtaining my dream. No, I’m not a journalist major or the survivor of numerous creative, writing classes. Nope, I’m just an ordinary guy who still likes reading fantasy and science fiction.
But the truth is the truth, and though I resisted seeing this problem with some of my favorite authors, the truth finally stood up and slapped me, or rather, in this case, appeared before my eyes in a blog. Honestly, it hurts when people you looked up to disappoint you, especially the “intellectual” authors who you always thought would be more open-minded than ordinary people. I mean, they have written about dragons, sorcerers, elves, robots, cyborg love triangles, et cetera the majority of their adult life. You would assume they’d be the last person to bash someone for having idiotic beliefs or morals. *Shrug* Guess you can be wrong about anyone.
As I alluded to, finally, an incident occurred where I read an author completely insulting and demeaning his fans. It appears that this writer felt that if his fans had a certain belief or political affiliation they were subhuman, uneducated idiots, who should be withheld medical treatment when they were ill. Yeah, he/she said everyone of these things about people on his/her personal blog and other social media accounts. Talk about nerd-rage. Wow!
Now, disagreements in life are a natural occurrence, and that is especially true in social media world. Nerd-rage is a regrettable but common occurrence when you have a computer screen and a thousand miles between you and the person you are insulting. But I’ve noticed these activist authors don’t need anyone to insult them before they go “nerd-rage” on their fans. All that is necessary is that you don’t respond to their tweet with an “Oh, praise you most high intellectual author for favoring your followers with this divine message.” If the response is anything else, you are going to get a well-written, very entertaining, euphemism filled tirade – plus you will get free editing of your comment, because everyone enjoys someone pointing out your ineffective use of punctuation or improper word usage.
Unfortunately, I’m not just trying to be funny with that last statement. I’ve read exactly that done to a fan on another writer blog. In this case, a reader wrote a humble criticism of an author’s inability to do anything on his/her blog except rant about political/social issues. This unfortunate reader made the horrid decision to put a curse word in his critic. What he received in return was a full page article filled with euphemisms comparing his idiocy to every insulting think under the sun and insinuating that he was not a man. The author didn’t call this poster any politically incorrect names but merely said his warped, inbreed, ignorant attitude had no doubt kept him from ever being able to have sex with anyone and probably contributed to his inability to use appropriate punctuation. All that for a criticism and one cuss word. The really sad thing was all the author’s “followers” (I believe bootlickers would be a better description) who were high-fiving over the stunning prose and illustrative euphemisms of their favorite writer bashing this “unbeliever,” whose sin was daring to point out he would like to read more about books on the writer’s blog and less about social/political issue.
Naturally, I couldn’t join in the fun. As I kept reading the novelist’s rant, all I could think about was this wasn’t good “marketing” on the authors part; did the publisher know this was going on; and didn’t Mr. Writer’s get horrid reviews on his last novel about a vampire sorcerer who had to journey across the multi verse to find the blue, crystal orb of elements. . . You’d think one of these things would have kept this “artist” from casting out such hateful criticism at someone who actually bought his books. Guess not.
Now, I know those are just two examples, and some of you are yawning saying 2 examples doesn’t prove anything. Unfortunately, there are many, many more every day. Perhaps not this excessive behavior but very close. Just to prove this, I’ll give three more examples of blogs/tweets I’ve read in the last few days. I can’t cite to every one I’ve read during this time frame, because it would be ridiculously long. And before you say it, no this isn’t a PhD thesis where I have to cite to the source material, and yes I’m paraphrasing the blogs/tweets I’ve read. Naturally, I’m also changing certain descriptive terms in order to protect the identity of the writer of such stupidity, so as not to embarrass them or get myself sued.
Example Number 1. With his eyes now open, the divine author understands that the savage, primitive ignorance of religion is baseless and is nothing but a worship of invisible, magic men and against the “real” nature of the world. Besides the obvious insulting nature of these comments to religion adherents across the world, this one made me scratch my head because this novelist writes about mythical gods, magic swords and elves in all his artistic works, yet he is insulting someone for believing in “magic men.” *shrug* I guess he is going to start writing handbooks on plumbing from now on, because nothing screams “the real nature of the world” like sewage lines.
Example Number 2. With the whole spectrum of modern, scientific knowledge and thought opened up to her brilliant mind, our “renaissance” writer now wants to bring this “enlightenment” to the huddled masses of her readers, to show them that only science holds the true answers to life’s questions, and that only through the worship of scientific thought can true understand be acquired. Okay, this woman believes she is a modern day Prometheus holding out the torch of fire (scientific reason) to all the readers of . . . her scifi, cyborg love novel. And I, her humble follower, need to go to a temple for scientific worship because . . . I use a computer? Did I read that right? Unfortunately, I did.
Example Number 3. The post-feminism, metro-sexual author who is all about social equality all day all the time. The one who writes 3 page blogs about how there is not enough characters of a certain race/culture/sex/LGBT in scifi or fantasy, and how novels must include these historicall,y downtrodden group . . . even if it makes no logical sense in the actual story. And don’t dare ask stupid questions like how a female character in a historical fantasy novel is a legatus Augusti pro praetore when females never held those position in “real world” history. Because if you do ask that sort of idiocy, you are just a male chauvinist bigot, who need to be castrated. Yeah, we get you are the second coming of Betty Friedan, your amazon best selling novel about vampire mafia assassins is The Feminine Mystique for the 21st century, and your blog VAC (Vampires Against Chauvinists) is going to ignite the next wave of feminism.
These are merely a few of my “observations” this week. Plus, I don’t “follow” every author ever published, so I’m not reading all the social media posts out there. But based upon my personal observations, these type of tweet/blogs are not uncommon. In fact, they are far more prevalent in the fantasy/science fiction writing world than I once thought.
Some of you will no doubt point out that I haven’t given an example where anti-homosexual tweets were made, or chauvinistic blogs were written, or religious fanatics were spouting vitrol, and there is a simple reason for this: I have not personally read anything like that from fantasy or science fiction authors that I “follow.” I’m sure they are out there, but I have not seen them. If you want to add those types of inflammatory writing by other authors onto my examples that is fine by me. It just provides more weight to my premise that authors need to shut up and stop talking about social/political issues on their blogs or twitter page.
Naturally, all this brings up the next question: where is this all going as we move further into the digital age, where instantaneous communication is a part of every day life? That is what I’ll explore later. After my theory is more well formulated. Thank you for reading my musings, and I look forward to any comments you might have.