Thursday, April 20, 2017

Back when Free Thought was Cool

We work our way through life, step by step, pain by pain, worry by worry to a certain place. A destination. The somewhere we want to be. I like to think of this as working my way towards a truth.

Who I am. What I want to be. Where I want to be.

And all along the way things fight us. We have setbacks and tragedies. We endure loss. We deal with 'new normals' which unsettle us and rub the emotional sunburn on our skin raw.

One thing I have learned in life is the things in which you are told will change your life rarely do, and the things which do change your life are the things which are never told to you.

I believe there exists an entire industry out there which has the intention to piss you off and control the resulting rage. Yes, I am talking about the news here, but there are so many other examples of this tactic where the model follows something like this:
  1. Produce a source of outrage, like a video or image.
  2. Carefully seed the framing of the event with weasel words and triggers.
  3. Link the event with something totally unrelated.
  4. Push the narrative the unrelated cause is the answer for #1.
Rinse and repeat. This is life. This is what we are told on the Internet. This is our social media news feed. This is probably 90% of the posts complaining about something or trying to link event X to cause Y.

It comes from marketing. If your life is dull, drink a soda. This car will make your humdrum commute like a movie star's. Problem X, meet answer Y. You can use this to sell books too, so there is that, and I don't really have a problem with that since marketing is as old as the hills.

But marketing some sort of social engineering bugs me, because it runs afoul of free speech.

Back in the day, liberals and progressives were these really cool people to hang out with. The sexual revolution was something to be happy about. We could drink, smoke, grope, make nasty jokes, and support people's rights to do and say whatever they wanted (within reason, of course). But they were cool. They read Playboy and Penthouse. They did this whole subversive book and writer thing. We celebrated the counterculture. We let people speak their minds.

If something upset somebody, we celebrated that.

Free thought, you know?

Today it feels like the left-leaning point of view is the home of the new Puritan group-think. Don't say this. Don't trigger that. That is sexist. Don't let that person speak their mind. Shut her down. Silence him. Free speech is only the speech which does not upset me. Some points of view are more valid than others.

Otherwise, shut it down. Get your Internet flash mob together, use steps one through four of the marketing plan, and attack ruthlessly. Ban this person, demonetize that video. The terms of service for the site only protect the speech we want to see.

What happened to us?

What happened to being cool?

I am pretty much old-school when it comes to free thought. Many of my books feature gender-crossed heroines. I support people's right to write most anything they want, non-con, shifters, furries, cuckolding, monsters, close-relations, escorts, whatever - I reviewed them all. Early on I had some qualms after the multiple porn-pocolypses hit various booksellers, but I got over those as I found my voice and supported all sorts of writers with critical reviews.

Being cool about something is important to me. The fact I can be cool about a genre I may not personally appreciate as much as others - but I can find value and meaning within - is important to me. I am not triggered when I see a non-con book and scream the "R" word and try to shut the author down as sexist and a source of misogyny.

It's not that way.

This is fiction. This for some is an emotional release. It can apply to both sides. There is a reason for everything. I am stronger than that. I don't have an agenda to prove or a cause to push which requires me to tear other people down. People have a right to write.

Whatever they please.

I am cool with that.

I value being "cool" and open-minded.

We used to see the stuck-up people who got upset at every little cuss word in music or any reference to sex in a movie as a closed-minded puritan tightwad and "unfun" person. You knew the types, the people who wanted to ban certain forms of music and shame people from seeing certain movies because they had sex in them?

How far we have fallen?

I can't remember the last time I went to a movie theater and saw a sex scene, heard an off-color remark, or saw anything which could upset a carefully-chosen cross section of marketing test subjects.

I swear this is what happens when people's lives generally suck. This is what happens when a society is breaking down. This is what happens when people do not have opportunities, when life turns into stuffing as many rats into the maze as it can handle, and we are all fighting each other for the few scraps which our masters let us have. Being a good citizen or member of social media is defined by the level of compliance with the rules. Power is gained by stepping on others, and we get into these fake "triggering" wars over things people in the old days would let slide as "someone's opinion."

We turn on each other over every little thing.

Nobody is "cool" with anything anymore.

Here is my litmus test, and this applies to any generation - anywhere and at any time:
If you want to silence people, ban things, take away opportunity, or shut down points of view - you are a square and a part of the authority.

If you value open-mindedness and freedom and support people's right to say and do whatever they want (within reason) - you are cool and a part of the counterculture.
Why is this important? I sit here and wonder why I have to explain this, but here it goes.

If you foster a culture of repression and censorship against points of view you don't like...someday when who is in charge changes, this will all be used against you. Why? Because the other side will say "just desserts" and use those same tools or repression against your views. You know it will because you have been doing it to them, like forever. Hate breeds hate. Disrespect breeds disrespect.

It is better to be universally for freedom of thought and expression than it is to be right and force your point of view down everyone's throats.

Stay on the side of the "cool" people and be cool yourself with dissenting points of view.

Because it ultimately protects you.

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