Image from NexusPlexus | Masterfile
* This post might be a bit disjointed, though perhaps it’ll make sense in terms of “chaotic order.”
One of the reasons I like the cyberpunk genre is the blend of introspection and self-reflection it encourages (it makes us question where we’re headed; it makes us ponder on the interaction/interplay between humanity and technology; so on and so forth).
Dragonsinn.net has been up for almost 13 years, and I’ve been meaning to write a dragon-themed series for some time. I’ve “taken my time” with it because I have high expectations for it [the original version of Dragonsinn was one of the first small dragon websites on the net, first uploaded in 1999 ;)].
Online social media in 1999 wasn’t like what it is now in 2012 (which probably means the scene will be very different once another decade has passed).
I enjoy the social aspects of social media, though I personally would prefer to see more profound or witty status updates and posts. I suppose I may be a little bit of a hypocrite since I don’t post “profound or witty updates” 100% of the time. But I do know that my personal preference is for something with mental/emotional/spiritual depth and variety.
Thinking about the early social media scene makes me think about the independent writing/publishing scene in 2009-2010. Both weren’t over-commercialized or saturated at that point in time yet (though I get that these two factors are “subjective” to an extent).
I’ve never doubted a single word (not even a comma) of George Orwell’s writing. Perhaps the introduction to Orwell’s Why I Write says it best:
From a very early age, perhaps the age of five or six, I knew that when I grew up I should be a writer. . .When I sit down to write a book, I do not say to myself, ‘I am going to produce a work of art’. I write it because there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a hearing. . .It is no use trying to suppress that side of myself. The job is to reconcile my ingrained likes and dislikes with the essentially public, non-individual activities that this age forces on all of us.
— George Orwell: Why I Write (Introduction)
I often see the same themes on the blogs and social media platforms of indie authors (exception = poets).
Yes, it’s fun to sail high on the Amazon bestseller ranks and rake in the dough.
Yes, it’s tempting (and comforting?) to convince oneself that quality writing doesn’t matter because the public only cares about entertainment, not technical standards.
Yes, it boosts the ego and “things happen” when someone in the industry contacts you because they can see the commercial value in your book/product and want to make a profit from it.
Yes, publishing is a business and traditional publishers have to do whatever they can to make a profit.
Yes, many people enjoy writing and if they can succeed at self-publishing and gaining an audience for their work, more power to them.
Yes, writing well and being praised doesn’t mean you’ll be able to pay the bills with your writing.
Yes, money is good.
But I like to keep in mind the authors who “write to have a good time” (Ms. Meyer of the Twilight series), versus the authors who write because they’re fuelled by a passion and purpose (like George Orwell).
I know that “you are what you consume,” which is why I’m selective with what I choose to ingest both physically (food) as well as mentally/emotionally (information, entertainment, infotainment, etc).
Writing is a means of communication — I like to produce stories that could be branded as “meaningful” entertainment (versus “mindless” entertainment).
I’m happy carving a niche out for myself, since the mainstream media seems to be infinitely more interested in hype than substance.
And I do know — and am very happy to have met — several indie authors who also have a purpose behind their interest in writing. These people, to me, are the real writers.
For me, at the end of the day, both money/materialism and spirituality are “real” things I have to face and deal with.
But I won’t sacrifice either one for the other (both are important).
I hope to see more people in the indie writing/publishing scene who have a real message to share, and who’d like to make a difference somehow. A lot of people still consider the traditional lottery-ticket bigshot agent-book-movie deal to be the pinnacle of (literary, or general) success. There’s nothing wrong with that (unless you dislike extreme commercialism and/or commodification).
But I like “resisting” systems and ideologies that aren’t interested in making a difference at all. Empires have every reason to maintain the status quo. Obedient sheeple are guaranteed to keep the empires in existence via buying/consuming what they’re told by the media empires is “good” for them.
That, itself, is what I enjoy resisting.
Because when we’re sheeple, who are we as individuals? Where is our sense of self-identity, and dreams, and thoughts, and motivations? Or are all those things defined by an external system that wishes to mold and control us simply for the sake of profits? Surely there is more to human life than being part of a sheeple audience?
Astrologically-wise, maybe it’s because I have an Aries North Node in the First House (psychological ground-breakers Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung both had the Aries North Node). I instinctively resist and put up a fight (in my own way) against anything that threatens my sense of individuality, autonomy and “sense of self.”
Going back to the beginning of this blog post, “corporate control” is a cyberpunk trope I’ve always been drawn to as well. I don’t think cyberpunk is a genre anymore — it’s become an actual reality (perhaps more quickly than science fiction writers actually anticipated).
That is reason enough for me to have some kind of purpose to what I write.
That purpose, in and of itself, is more important than whether I decide to label/categorize certain projects of mine as “cyberpunk,” or whether I consider myself a “real writer.”
And I hope the small but spirited/very motivated group of real “resistors” out there will always be dedicated to their cause.
I’ve this instinctive knowledge that once you stop fighting, you become both in and of the system/The Matrix/whatever you want to call it (the thing that deletes your freedom of thought/speech/action, your identity).
I know that when you stop fighting, you are, essentially, forever under the influence of the hegemonizing “one world, one people, one wallet” mindset of megacorporations everywhere.
As a writer/artist/non-conformist, that really scares me — even if society doesn’t give a damn about where it’s headed.
P.S. I enjoyed the following 3 articles on social media:
1) The Decline of Facebook | Jim Lastinger
2) The unsocial network you can never leave | Martin Utreras Carrera
3) Social Media Smart But People Stupid | Margie Clayman