On Community, Drama and Humanity

So there’s a dumpster fire going on in the romance world right now and I’m not going to say much about it, other than the only thing that is keeping me from leaving the national organization is my local chapter, which I love. I’m in cautious wait and see mode to see what national’s next response/move is given that half the board resigned today.

But this is only a part of what is going on in the author world I’m tired of all the drama. I’m not sure if it started in the sci-fi fantasy community with their racism/sexism/doxxing issues or the YA community when they began to eat their own authors alive on Twitter. Or maybe it’s been going on for much longer than that and I just noticed with those two. (We had a minor version in the historical fiction community a few years ago, but that  was pretty quiet and only resulted in a new organization forming.) Then there is the Hallmark ad fiasco (which has apparently resulted in a call on the national organization’s forums to boycott Hallmark Publishing, but that thread isn’t showing when you try to read it) and J.K. Rowling and her comments. I can’t. I just can’t.

Social media seems to be making it all the worse. I’m all for connecting authors, and yes, I know that racism/homophobia/etc. are wrong and should be called out, but sometimes it feels like a pile-on on both sides. The national organization’s forums are the same way, with all the name calling and accusations (again on both sides). Aren’t we all (or at least most of us) adults? Then why are we acting like children? And there is pressure to weigh in, lest your silence look like you agree. It’s a no-win situation.

I suppose this is just a reflection of how far our society at large has fallen in the last three or four years. Everyone seems angry and ready to lash out at the smallest thing (myself included, sometimes) and everything is insulted/offended by everything (sometimes warranted, sometimes not). Civil discourse is a thing of the past and even every day politeness is gone.

I remember long about 10 years ago when social media was great for the writing community, especially Twitter. I met all of the Spellbound Scribes (past and present) on there when we were affectionately known as #TeamAwesome. They are the reason why I am where I am today. Their support helped a fledgling, wanna-be author persevere through a LOT of trials and stay in the game long enough to be almost breaking even. But now that kind of online Twitter community is gone, replaced with vitriol and cattiness.

And it’s not just in the writing community. I was in several Facebook groups for the last year and a half or so for women discerning a certain vocation. But after being shut down every time I asked questions (that is what discernment is for, right?) and told I was not conservative enough for the vocation by the very people who are supposed to be advocates for it, I left. Thankfully, I have since found my purpose, but I will never forget the pain the people who are supposed to represent God and goodness inflicted on me just for trying to understand.

In both cases, the very people who are supposed to be helping new/existing members succeed are driving them away. It’s enough to make one want to become a hermit. Yet community is key to survival as humans. Multiple studies have shown that being around others makes you live longer. And if you’ve ever experienced the feeling of “finding your tribe” you know what a rush it is when you are with others who “get” you.

But nowadays it seems like flocking to those of like mind is considered a bad thing; you get told you only want to hear from others who agree with you. Well, yeah. If we can’t have a conversation anymore in which we agree to disagree, then being around people who agree with me is much better for my mental health than being yelled at and bullied.

So what are we supposed to do? I have no idea. I find myself retreating from people more with each passing day. Yes, I have friends whom I dearly love (and some of us can get into it on certain topics because we DON’T agree), but humanity (or at least Americans) in general are not fun to be around.

I guess the only answer is to try to be the best person you can (says the woman who can be really crabby and bitchy) and pray (literally) that things turn around. As they say, be the change you wish to see in the world.

If you have any solutions, please let me know. I don’t want things to continue this way.

I wish you all a happy, healthy and drama-free 2020.

6 thoughts on “On Community, Drama and Humanity

  1. Shauna Granger says:

    “And there is pressure to weigh in, lest your silence look like you agree.” This. This is one of the many reasons why Twitter became less and less part of my daily life. I miss what it was when we had #TeamAwesome, but I don’t know if we’ll ever get that community back. Burn out is real and when you’re struggling with it, being around so much negativity in a space that used to foster growth and support makes it so much worse. I still try and go back and act like I did during those magic years, and I see people like and retweet those tweets, so I know others want it back too. Maybe we’ll get there again one day.

  2. Rhodered says:

    Have you ever driven two kids and one starts screaming because the other one secretly pinched her? Marginalized authors (all those who are not white cishet and/or disabled) have been the kid who was secretly pinched, pinched incessantly by the other kid who to all appearances was calmly enjoying the ride. And now that the pinched kid finally, after years of hard, polite work of trying to get you the driver to pay attention and stop the pinching, is suddenly pinched even harder by the ‘calm’ kid, and they let out an almighty squawk, you think …they should have been quiet? When, in your world, is it ok to be truly and loudly angry because a situation deserves it? When will you realize that you can’t seat kids who will-never-stop-pinching next to kids they pinch? When will you get that by asking “why can’t we all just be adults and get along?” You are asking for a position of privilege because clearly you are not one of the people being pinched? If you silence the squawks, you tie the side of the pinchers. You allow them to continue to pinch with immunity. And you tell everyone who has been pinched that the comfort of your ears matters more than the bruises all over their bodies. There can be no civil discourse with white supremacy.

    1. Hi Rhodered,

      I fully admit that as a white woman I do come to this issue from a place of privilege. That is undeniable. However, I never said those who feel pinched should be silent, in fact I said these issues “are wrong and should be called out.” What I also said was we need to have a civil conversation and most of what I am seeing online right now is anything BUT civil, on both sides. If I came off as supporting white supremacy, that was TOTALLY not my intent and I apologize.

  3. RhodeRed says:

    Thank you for your thoughtful reply. I think the main thing is, people being discriminated against have tried civil. For over 100 years. The problem is, civil doesn’t work when the other side think you are sub-human. There’s a famous sociologist (who try as I might, I can’t recall the name of now) who has researched and proven that to have a democracy in which civil discourse is possible, first you have to kick out the nazis, white supremacists and intolerance. It’s crazy, you have to be intolerant to create a place of tolerance. Civility and ‘nice ladies’ are words used now to describe intolerant people. Because things are so bad that we should be up in arms about the problems.

  4. Thanks for being brave enough to write about this, Nicole. It really is a troubling environment that I’ve felt myself withdrawing from as well, regardless of the intentions of those raising their voices and asking to be heard. As Rhodered obviously touched on, the issues of privilege and marginalization shouldn’t be ignored, but I think what gets me is not even the civility of the discourse, but the knee-jerk reactions and assumptions some people seem to arrive at without considering all angles. “Call-out culture” relies on a mob mentality that I can’t bring myself to be on board with. I’ve seen authors “cancelled” by one person only to have everyone else jump on the bandwagon without even reading their work or doing due diligence on their stance (not talking about JK).

    I value everyone’s voices being heard, especially those who historically have not had them. But I ultimately agree with you–Twitter these days feels less like a community and more like shark infested waters.

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