Okay, I shouldn’t have done it. I know. But, sometimes, my passion for an issue overcomes my internal common-sense policeman and I get involved.
A short while ago, I posted a Tweet relating to Climate Change, an issue dear to my heart long before I joined Greenpeace in the 1980s. It reached some deniers on Twitter; I received a number of responses and, not surprisingly, a few insults from that particular group of nay-sayers.
And I responded.
I should’ve let them get on with their fear-driven tirades; ignored them. But, buried deep within me dwells an eagerness to employ reason, and I allowed it out for a few moments. I answered their objections to my post more in hope than expectation. The process grabbed my attention for longer than intended, resulting in numerous arguments and counter-arguments. I must’ve spent a good two hours in the involvement.
And that, really, is the point of this post. As writers, we’re often passionate about any number of issues. My own list includes the environment, injustice, organised religion, inequality, the current Brexit chaos in UK, and politics, among others. I generally address one or more of these in my stories, as most of us do, tackling themes that fire our spirits and motivate our writing. In short, expressing our opinions via characters and themes.
But it’s a mistake to get involved with such issues on social media. By which I mean engaging in debate, which invariably descends into mindless name-calling by trolls and garbled nonsense by those lacking the language to frame their thoughts. So, I generally restrict my activity to putting out messages, retweeting items that inform followers, and only occasionally following up with a comment. There’s rarely any danger in adding to comments agreeing with your point of view; it’s those who disagree who need care.
I suspect the combination of easy, often anonymous, platforms with the general disruption the world is currently suffering encourages knee-jerk responses. And, those lacking other means of self-expression often resort to insults, and even threats. People are understandably frustrated by the state of the world, fearful of the consequences of our general irresponsibility as a species, sick of widespread corruption in Big Business and Politics, and often disheartened by the failure of their chosen saviours to act on their behalf. It’s hardly surprising when tempers are lost, hackles raised, and explosions of bile let loose on anyone daring to question any opinion.
So, just a word of warning: if you want to get on with your writing, it’s probably best to glide over the turbulent waters of whatever social media you use and allow the trolls, preachers, non-thinkers, evangelists, and poorly-educated to indulge their anger and frustration, righteous or otherwise, undisturbed by your words of wisdom. Put it all in your stories instead. Subversion is a much more satisfactory route for expressing opinions.