We've been teasing poor Mason that he needs to have one of those billboards like they do at industrial sites that say: "___ days accident free." So, today, as I dropped him off he waved me away with a cheerful, "One week accident free!"
My poor baby.
Around my household, we refer to these random stumbles, etc., as: nerdspasms. As I told Mason, he comes by it honestly (though possibly via osmosis), as I have a long and sordid history of such events. In my youth, I had been known to just fall while looking up at something in a tree or once, while stopped, I fell off my bike.
We won't even talk about the time I was reading while riding my bike and hit a parked car. (The book was Go Ask Alice).
Speaking of books and accidents, it seems I briefly roiled up the whole discussion about Tempest's reading challenge on Facebook again. My friend and fellow Philip K. Dick award nominee, Minister Faust
, is doing a podcast these days and he linked me to his latest
, wherein he interviews Ms. Bradford about the reaction she got to her reading challenge.
I've been thinking about this on a more immediate level, because one of the things that Faust and Bradford discussed on the podcast (which is quite good, btw) is WHY does this happen. There are more and more articles appearing about why is it that people instantly freak out in discussions of race, gender, ability, and orientation that happen on the Internet.
In a seemingly unrelated note, I mentioned something innocuous about peanuts on my Facebook feed yesterday as well, and the VERY FIRST RESPONSE was someone admonishing my food choices as decidedly inorganic and politically fraught. Likewise, several months ago I made what I thought was a completely uncontroversial mention of mulching and I got several unasked for SCREEDS about how my mulch choices WERE KILLING ALL THE PUPPIES (that is only a slight exaggeration, seriously.) One person was so upset by the mulch I used that she wasn't satisfied just making her point on my FB feed, but also followed me on to my private message box and tried to continue the fight there.
Which, I think we can all agree is, ultimately, NOT AS PERSONAL as race, gender or orientation...
I've been thinking that, while there are obviously bigger, deeper social-economic/privilege-related issues going on in these discussions, people who use social media frequently, who are not even trying to say provocative things, often get inundated, seemingly constantly (because even when it happens once, it makes a very powerful, personal impact), with these kinds of finger-shakes from strangers. ("Damn it, I just wanted to say how much I loved my peanut butter!")
So there's that picture of Tempest. She's literally shaking her finger at us, the viewer of the picture, and bam! Everything goes down in the flame-y-est flame war in the history of flames.
I mean, yes, of course, a huge percentage of the reaction is from people who really need the rug of comfort/privilege yanked out from under them, but I think there's another percentage who are just unable to cope with finger-shaking without taking it personally. ("But I'm doing my best!" "Peanut butter is yummy!") And, I think even the best of us falls prey to that easily and our initial reaction is some kind of preschooler, "Nyuh-nuh! AM NOT."
I can't even tell you how many people on my feed started their reaction to my posting the podcast interview with, "Well, I haven't listened yet, BUT...."
It was the same when she posted her first article. Most people reacted without reading (honestly, also without thinking.) Kudos to Neil Gaiman who very publicly tweeted that he didn't care if they used him as a poster boy for successful white men. In fact, he encouraged it. He also implied that he could weather this "storm" because, frankly, he *is* a successful white man who is secure enough to let any one who wanted to read other books for a year. Thank you, anyway, but he was going to be fine.
We're all going to be fine.
Thing is, more people who buy books, the better it is for EVERYONE.
Yes, the economy is sucky for booksellers. Yes, as a writer, it's f*cking hard to sell books no matter who you are or what you write. But that's because people aren't buying books. Not because Tempest encouraging people to READ.
Also, it *is* possible not to take finger-shaking personally. It's hard. I can not tell you how IRRITATED I was by the mulch discussion on my FB feed because: OMG.
But the one thing I've learned from my time on the Inter-webs is that the more you let yourself react without thinking, the more you look like a dick. That's not to say you can't say what you feel, but take a breath before hitting "send." Seriously. Or go back and say, like I had to during the first giant discussion that erupted on my FB feed over this challenge, "Mea culpa. That was unnecessarily inflammatory. I mean what I said, but I didn't have to say it that way. I'm sorry."
Of course this is easy to say. So much harder to do. Especially since social media is all about call and response and instant gratification.
Okay, I'm going to shut up about this myself, because it's super-easy to get a rant on. I can't go to bed yet, someone is wrong on the Internet.
In other (but related) news, I finished CHILD OF THE HIDDEN SEA by A. M. Dellamonica (up for a Lambda in the SF/F/H category) and am on to GRASSHOPPER JUNGLE by the currently controversial