Views From The Captain’s Chair! Episode Nine: Ignore The Internet, It’s A Mean Place.
I had a whole other post brewing in the ol’ brainpan, but I decided I’d wait on that one and go a different route. Something else is troubling me.
Or, as it’s commonly known, the Internet. But I’m going to start calling it the Mean. It’s more apropos.
You see, there is one theme that runs through all those wires and servers and hubs and routers and doohickeys (possibly a couple of doodads, also), and that is the idea that since you aren’t in the same room with someone, don’t have to look them in the eye, and they can’t physically touch you, then you can say whatever you want, do whatever you want, and treat people however you want. You can be mean on the Mean without worrying about getting your ass handed to you.
That in-person fight or flight mechanism that is coded into our DNA is there for a reason. It tells us when to hold ’em, when to fold ’em, when to walk away, and when to run. That’s the natural order. But on the Mean? Nope. You can be as cruel as you want and a fist won’t turn your nose into jelly. No limits, no consequences.
Many say the Mean has allowed them to truly feel empowered and speak up for themselves. That may be true for a small (very, very small) minority. But for everyone else? I call bullshit.
Because it’s actually all about just being mean.
Empathy is not allowed on the Mean, only cruelty.
You are asking what this has to do with writing. I’m getting there, trust me.
I won’t go into the psychology of the Mean. No need. It’s about as textbook grade school as you can get.
The Mean has become the psychological and emotional dumping ground for every unstable persona on the planet. When I open Firefox and connect to the Mean it takes less than one minute to find someone drinking up someone else’s sorrow then spitting it back in their face. Try it. Go to Facebook and read your feed. How long does it take you to see someone rolling in the Mean and reveling in the hateful stink they’ve rubbed into their nooks and crannies?
The Mean is now a place where introverts become bullies, bullies become trolls, and trolls become monsters.
And those bullies, trolls, monsters lay traps.
What’s that? What are these traps I speak of?
Oh, the Mean has Rules. No one knows where they came from or who decides that they are Rules. Just one day there they are, posted for everyone to see. Rules. They make sure people stay engaged to the Mean. They trap people into thinking they don’t have a choice, that they have to respond or argue because, you know, the Rules.
I didn’t sign a contract with the Mean. I have zero intention of abiding by Rules created by those that suckle at the teet of the Mean. I’m going to conduct myself just as I would in public, with decency and honesty and freedom. The Mean can get mad, but I don’t care. I honestly don’t.
I won’t even list examples of the Rules because the Mean is all about ignoring intent, spirit, and substance. The Mean likes to argue minutiae. It refuses to see the bigger picture, the grand design, the overarching theme. Because then the Mean would have to see itself in that picture, design, theme. And that would not be pretty.
Again with the textbook psychology. Rules are a classic way that abusers assert control. They create insane Rules that no sane person can possibly live by in order to force a showdown so they can feel justified in abusing those they have forced the Rules on in the first place. If it wasn’t so destructive, I’d laugh at the transparent idiocy of it all.
So, again, fuck Rules. Fuck the Mean and its Rules. They hold zero power over me.
What? Writing? You still want to know how this is about writing?
Here is why this is about writing: because the Mean is made of words. Sure, there’s YouTube and Instagram, but the vast majority of the Mean is words. Facebook and Twitter dominate. And they are words.
As a writer, my words mean something to me. They are my livelihood, how I support my family, how I express myself as an artist, how I share the stories in my head with others. Those words I type, type, type everyday are more than just representations of the alphabet. Way more. They are an extension of who I am.
And I don’t want those words to be mean.
I have a thousand metaphors I can use, but there’s no point in writing them. I have actually deleted at least a dozen while composing this post. They don’t need to be said. I’m not debating, I’m not arguing, I’m not even asking for a polite discussion.
I’m just pointing out how mean the words are on the Mean. Mean, mean, mean. And like I said above, I don’t want my words to be mean.
My New Year’s resolution was to ignore the Mean and not get wrapped up in it. I have done wonderfully. I see posts about this, about that, about whatever and I don’t engage. I just scroll on by and shake my head. No need for me to get wrapped up in that crap. No good comes of it. And no one cares what anyone else thinks anyway, so what’s the point in engaging?
I shared that with you because that’s how I am treating my writing career. I’m not getting wrapped up in the manufactured drama or pointless arguments. I’m gonna write. I’m gonna put more and more novels out there for my fans to read. That’s where my words are going to go, not a Facebook post that serves no purpose other than to hurt someone else.
I’m not going to be mean. And I’m not going to pay attention to the Mean.
I’m also not going to tell anyone what to do. Not my place. If I’m saying fuck Rules then I sure as shit am not going to be adding to them by telling you how to act. Take this post how you will. Everyone is free to do and act as they want.
Personally, I plan on acting with kindness, with courtesy, with respect, and with gratitude. Everything good in my life has come from those actions. Everything bad has come from when I was mean. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to do that math. If I can’t respond to something with kindness, courtesy, respect, and/or gratitude then I won’t act; I won’t respond. I’ll show restraint and exercise my genetic right to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away, and by golly, know when to run.
So, to sum up: No mean for me. The Mean will just have to find a different writer. Hopefully that writer isn’t you.
Disclaimer: Views From The Captain’s Chair are just that: views. These are not laws. These are not set in stone. I could be totally wrong. I could be off my rocker (shut up). I could be full of S-H-I-T. I could change my mind next week. All of that is possible. Who knows? But if even just a little of this helps you then I’m happy with that. If it just makes you stop and think then I’ve done my job. Which I really need to get back to. Blogging don’t pay for the bourbon! Oh, and the whole Captain’s Chair thing? Yeah, I write in a captain’s chair. It’s true, Mateys! Got a question? Need some one on one? Shoot me an email, a DM, a PM (no BMs) or comment below.
Jake Bible lives in Asheville, NC with his wife and two kids.
A professional writer since 2009, Jake has a proven record of innovation, invention and creativity. Novelist, short story writer, independent screenwriter, podcaster, and inventor of the Drabble Novel, Jake is able to switch between or mash-up genres with ease to create new and exciting storyscapes that have captivated and built an audience of thousands.
Posted on March 3, 2014, in Views From The Captain's Chair! and tagged bible, exclamation, fiction, genre, horror, jake, Jake Bible, novel, publishing, science fiction, scifi, writing. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.