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9/11/2012

Barely Political Lolcats



As writers, we do what we are supposed to do, at least most of the time. We write stuff. Oftentimes we get sidetracked, and do other things instead, like eye-googling the internet, watching Youtube, getting lost somewhere on the sidebars between music videos and TED. I love all that! No one expects us to be in razor-sharp focus all the time - after all, we are not journalists. We do want to deliberately entertain, te-hee! 

And although I do suspect there is a very fine line between bloggers, columnists and journalism people in general, there is one tiny distinction, that makes all the difference. As a writer of fiction and a blogger I shall be solely entertaining, because that is the job description.

Bloggers are split in different categories, they can be a) the extremely informative kind or b) the entertaining kind. You have to chose one side to be enjoyed and tolerated by the masses, you can't ever be both. If you are an extremely informative blogger, you may set out to write an (informative) book, and, chances are good, your book will be read by the people who also read your blog. You can make a joke, or two in the book, but don't overdo it; you are not Robin Williams, after all.

For someone like me, set out to do a fun little blog with rants, and reviews every now and again, plus snippets from my writing, it would be a serious mistake to be all too political. Being informative, I dare say, being political, scares fun-loving people too much, to respond positively or respond at all. Their job - their reputation is on the line, being openly affiliated with a person of such-and-such political values. And we all know that the Reps hate it, too. You have to play out your ideals in private, not where everyone else can see them. 

Thanks to social media we have become closeted again, hiding our true selves, because of what is and is not accepted. It started with people sharing the same things on Facebook, over and over again. Positive things, things that are indisputable. "Life is good." "Cats are funny." "Enjoy yourself." That's fine, I do that myself, because I don't have to think about the consequences.

The problem is that is has gotten to a point where even the attempt at dispute itself is frowned upon. No one dares to say anything that goes against the prevailing opinion. Righty, lefty. It's seems OK to be openly religious, because you get the vote of the majority that way. It's still not OK, not to believe in God. People think you're weird or a psychopath. People only dare to speak up in their like-minded circles about their collective dirty little secrets. You lose readers that way, being openly diverse, not playing towards the rules of the swirling consensus. It is simply unaccepted.

People give their thumbs up only for things that they themselves do, are and stand behind. And the choice for that is what everyone else does or does not like. We are like a swarm of bees. People like to see their own life choices confirmed. As a writer, I would need to mirror that for bonus points, and then I'd definitely get the friendly nod of approval. Quid pro quo. I find that disgusting. 

It's the end of free speech as we (may never have) known it. It's Germany, in 1938. It starts out with silent disapproval and it ends with pogrom and persecution. Nowadays, people lose jobs, because they openly share their political opinions at work. Your boss can't differentiate being a boss and being human at the same time - all the time - and unfortunately the same dynamics apply there as they do on the internet. You are what you say, not what you do. A big mouth attached to a suit. It means you will get fired if you say something he doesn't agree with. The rules of conformity nearly demand it.

Lately, I feel the same way here on my blog, gagged, curtailed. I don't get paid for my writing, which makes it even worse. I worry about possibly not getting paid in the future for saying what I think right now. I can't write like that, I can't live like that. This goes against the freedom of thought as much as it goes against free speech. Solution a) would be to play by the rule, solution b) would be to change the rule. I say, change the rule. I know full well, that by saying this, it may very well be the last post you ever want to read from me. That's unfortunate. But it doesn't mean I shouldn't take the chance to speak up, as long as I still can.