Unpopular opinion: social media is more a chore than a charm. I was pushed into it by my agent, despite his zero social media presence. It sells books he informed me, and I grumped and did what I was told. Of course, I didn’t know then about The Mob.
Much ink has been spilled about the infamous Twitter Mob that swoops daily down on the unsuspecting and cancels them. It’s a concept that’s always made me laugh; how on earth does this alleged mob meet or schedule meetings? If a group of people can’t even decide on the color of a stoplight, how can I believe some group of randoms somehow moves in coordinated lockstep to attack the unsuspecting? There is no singular mob, but there are, in fact, individuals who will question one’s statements, one’s authority, one’s abilities, and one’s position. And oh, how people of privilege do hate being called to account by those they assume are nobodies – thus the moniker of “mob.” (This of course is not to say that any social media is filled with people with whom Emily Post would be proud to converse – no. Manifold and varied are the mannerless boors. But, the mob threat is an empty boogeyman.)
What troubles me is the way that fear of the mythological mob strikes outsized terror into the hearts of otherwise intelligent people. I recently heard of an author whose book was dropped when his editor feared he wasn’t “own voices” enough for them to sell. She feared people’s reactions because she believed his identity didn’t match his character’s identity, and so pushed him into claiming publicly an identity he’d kept private his whole life. First of all, if we had ever actually listened to the originator of the phrase “own voices” we’d know it was meant to be a reader’s advisory, not a determiner of who was legitimate or allowed to write stories about whom. (Additionally, we don’t have to write solely what we know; this has been proven. There’s nuance in this, and the immediate dismissal of someone who doesn’t look/seem X writing an X character is deeply problematic.) And while I know it was his choice, regardless – it infuriates me. I wanted to be a writer so I wouldn’t have to talk to anyone, is my go-to joke when I have to speak in public. It’s not a joke, though – I really did hope that I could keep my uninteresting, dull existence happily to myself, and just write books. Who knew we’d all be required to perform our humanity over and over, as public as a frog, allowing an officious public bog to pry and meddle into our private spaces?
Once thought vulgar, now confirmed.
(Yes, we Googled it.)
Poetry Friday is graciously hosted by the one and only Jama-j @ Alphabet Soup, who is always in a much less cranky frame of mind than I am. Pop on over!