On geeknerds, social media, and politics

In my world, people are divided into two types: geeknerds and those who are not geeknerds. If you’re a geek, then gender, skin color, sexual orientation, source of spirituality (or skepticism of), or who you voted for don’t matter to me. If your interests lie in any of the various subjects that qualify as “geeky” or “nerdy”, you’re one of “my” people.

If you’re not a geeknerd, that’s fine, you’re welcome to hang out, you may even have a good time, if you’re willing to meet me halfway. I don’t chase anyone off on purpose, but I understand if geeknerding isn’t your vibe.

When social media developed, I missed the whole “My Space” thing, but Facebook caught my interest, and I jumped in with enthusiasm.

I could have geeky discourse with like-minded people on a broad scale. I liked this aspect. But it didn’t take long for Facebook to morph into something very different from its intended purpose. There was a constant noise on my wall, about, broadly speaking, “politics”. And I spent a lot of time caught up in those conversations.

Generally speaking, no one wins those discussions (maybe someone, somewhere, but I doubt it). And most of the time, people end up with hurt feelings. Eventually the balance on FB shifted for the worst, and I found myself distracted by the noise more than doing what I was there to do.

These “hot button” discussions are good conversations to have, but, I have learned the hard way, I, personally, suck at them. I make zero positive difference, I’ve caused fights, and built zero bridges. And then a thing happened about a year ago I am not here to discuss, specifically, but must acknowledge. A couple of heated exchanges cost me friends. Long stupid story short, I accept my part of the fault for what happened and the stupid, arrogant words I spewed in the heat of the moment that contributed to the problem.

Where I have had the opportunity, I have apologized. Where I have not, I hope to one day make amends. That may never happen, and personally, that would be tragic. But I accept that I brought the situation on myself, that I had a big lesson to learn, and the best thing I could do for everyone, including myself, is learn it. So after some reflection, I adapted a strict “no politics” policy on my own wall. Before too long, I found that I didn’t miss all those fights.

Facebook politics had changed the discussions I had about geeknerd topics to something less interesting, less friendly, and certainly more aggressive. And that’s not who I am. In the months since, my FB presence much better represents what I want to do, why I’m here, and who I am. And hey, I get a lot more writing done during my day, so there.

Not that I don’t fight. If you want to say you loved Iron Man 2 or criticize my choice of Titanic as one of the greatest films ever, we ARE going to throw down. And that’s okay.

So what are my politics? It shouldn’t matter, but it does to some. I stand with women. I stand with the LGTB community. I stand against any situation in which someone is harassed or treated disrespectfully. I am fine with the right to bear arms, but I would rather we not return to the Old West, and think some common sense measures can satisfy both. I am a pro-science, pro-choice, Christian and Humanist, and yes, all those pieces play together just fine in my head.

If that sends you running for the “Block” button, well, that’s your choice. For the rest, I won’t be discussing this sort of thing, but an author’s politics tend to show up in their art, so I thought the time had come to put some cards face-up, if only this once.

One of my favorite songwriters, Edie Brickell, famously wrote: “Choke me in the shallow water before I get too deep.” That’s where you’ll find me, in the shallow water. After all, that’s why I engaged in social media in the first place.

And now, back to geeknerding out.

About R.J. Sullivan

R.J. Sullivan’s latest book, Commanding the Red Lotus, is a novel-length collection of three space opera tales in the tradition of Andre Norton and Gene Roddenberry. His novel Haunting Blue is an edgy paranormal thriller and the first book of the adventures of punk girl Fiona “Blue” Shaefer and her boyfriend Chip Farren. Seventh Star Press also released Haunting Obsession, a Rebecca Burton Novella, and Virtual Blue, the second part of Fiona’s tale. R.J.’s short stories have been featured in such acclaimed collections as Dark Faith Invocations by Apex Books and Vampires Don’t Sparkle. R.J. co-hosts the Two Towers Talk Show YouTube program with John F. Allen. He resides with his family in Heartland Crossing, Indiana. He drinks regularly from a Little Mermaid coffee mug and is man enough to admit it.
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2 Responses to On geeknerds, social media, and politics

  1. drdebra says:

    Hear, hear!

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