lydamorehouse: (Default)
 Yes, I know it's discombobulate, but blame Bugs Bunny. I always say "discom-boob-ulate." It's funnier that way.

Speaking of preemptive explanations, I have decided that the Internet is a terrible parent. I've been on the "Innerwebs" since its inception. If, several years ago, you asked me if the internet is destroying communication, I would have laughed at you and called you an alarmist.  However, the thing that I'm noticing more and more as we get entire generations who have grown up communicating via text is a tendency to assume the worst of the OP (the original poster.) Today, for instance, I got a comment on one of my fics that was a perfectly reasonable response to an author's note that I'd written several years ago that seems, in retrospect, a bit tone-deaf regarding genderqueer/gender fluid folks. This person probably think they took a neutral tone, but it came off as "The thing you need to understand...", which made me want to knee-jerk with doubling-down and yelling "$%!@ OFF."

Luckily, while I wrote a bit of that initial reaction in reply, I'm used to the fact that most of my fic readers are 12 (like, for real).  So, I try not to start with the swears. I try to say, "thank you for the information" and go from there.  Luckily, I also thought to re-read my intro and spotted WHY this person thought I was either a bigot or a moron.  THEN, I was able to go back and write, "Ah-ha! I get your point now, I will fix this so I don't look like a raging moron/bigot." 

And, yeah, I get that *this* is on me from the start. It's not the offended person's responsibility to treat *me* with respect that I don't seem to deserve. In fact, they mostly did.  

It's just that it really strikes me that, at least, for myself, going forward, I would like to pledge to recognize that even intelligent, wanting-to-do-right-by-everyone people like myself have this knee-jerk reaction to being "called out." For myself, so long as the person on the other end has not made it super clear that they are a NAZI in need of punching, I'm going to start with the expectation that the mistake was honest and maybe just soften my initial blow with something as simple as, "I don't know when you wrote this fic, but..." or "Maybe you already know this, but your introduction makes it seem like maybe you don't..."?  

I guess my point is, is that the internet did not teach us how to have a constructive argument.

You *can* have CONSTRUCTIVE arguments on the internet, though.  I've had, actually, a number of amazing, eye-opening arguments on the internet, specifically on AO3 over mistakes I've made in my fics. I learned, the hard way (by hurting someone), why trigger warnings are actually important. In those arguments, I had to do a lot of hard work. I had to let go of my ego and really listen and that's super-hard to do when you feel massively guilty. I also managed to have a conversation on Facebook about women in science fiction without having to go nuclear on the trolls. It can be done. It just takes a lot more commitment than we're used to giving anyone on the internet.

Anyway, truth is, I'm writing about this, because I'm avoiding a bunch of other writing I really need to either do or decide NOT to do.  
lydamorehouse: (Default)
Today at the library I got cornered by one of those  people who you just know is winding up for a rant about something.

After asking me if I worked there, she launched into a Thing about how dark young adult novels were getting and how we shouldn't be surprised when our children axe-murder us in our sleep after reading things like that.  Tisk, tisk and all that.   

I mostly nodded politely because I don't believe for a minute that teenagers are any more likely to axe-murder me over something they read or a game they played, than I would have when I was that age and read and played the same sorts of things.  (Look, when I was coming of age, it was the horrors of Dungeons & Dragons... there's always something that's going to Ruin the Youth of Today.)  

However, what this woman complained about is old news to some extent, and she's certainly not alone in worrying about it.  I told her so.  I also told her that I felt that some of what she was worrying about is actually a somewhat new (though, again, not really) trend in young adult books towards dystopian futures, which aren't actually about feeling sad and powerless at all, but about the need at a certain age to change the world, a desire to have a clear-cut enemy, and to DO SOMETHING to make things right.  This is a Good Thing disguised as a Bad Thing.

I didn't tell her, because I knew she couldn't hear that, that I also believe books about self-harm and other things aren't so much 'how-to' books for self-destruction as novels that help people feel less alone (like I did when I discovered that there were other gay people, thanks in large part to science fiction). Maybe these were never issues written about when we were young, but... I knew people who self-harmed when I was a teen, so you know, writing about it doesn't bring it into existence, it just makes the issues less invisible.

But that was an argument I was sure to lose, so I just nodded politely.  And, you know, YA *is* darker now than when I was a teen, but when I was a teen it also wasn't its own section.  We didn't really have YA as a separate thing.  We had juvenile and we had grown-up books.  A lot of people my age had to get our parents' permission to have free range of the library once we'd grown out of Dr. Seuss.  So, you know, I tried Lady Chatterly's Lover at sixteen (I missed the sex.  Seriously.  Completely.)   I also read Go Ask Alice and didn't become a drug-addict, funny enough.  Thus, I've never worried over much about books corrupting people.  

At any rate.

When she really, really wanted to agree with me that it was All Bad, I told her I don't make the buying decisions for the library.  If the kids want it, we stock it.  What are you going to do?

Ultimately, she thanked me for such an interesting discussion 

Have I mentioned I love working at the library?  I do, actually.  I really do.

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