The blue canary in the coal mine

I’ve been thinking a lot about social media and the activism that takes place on it. Largely on twitter, but similar could be said about Facebook and Instagram, and the general “Headlines Only” absorption of news and the increasing polarity of people.

But let’s focus on twitter. In college, I gave a speech about how activists during the Arab Spring used twitter to effectively organize and fight back. And as a disabled person, digital activism allows me to participate in ways inaccessible before. Since there’s so much advertising on Twitter it’s also useful when trying to reach a company to ask for change. Which makes it’s impossible for me to just shrug and say “twitter is pure evil what can I say.”

As I was discussing this with the ace community, someone anonymous messaged me to say, ‘twitter is also more full of minors than tumblr. And minors are more prone to spreading misinformation about events because they weren’t there for it.

And I thought on that for a second. It absolutely is common issue that queer history not being taught. And I don’t think this behavior is for a lack of critical thinking either on “the youths” part, or compete lack of care for it. I think it’s an issue of speed.

Twitter moves at such a fast pace, and with so many people trying to get attention on so many valid concerns that in order to even attempt to address all the ills in the world you have to juggle it all. Sometimes literally only taking a second to decide on an issue. “Does that sound like some other thing? Close enough, toss in the same pile. Whatever, we got 12 other things to focus on.”

Since twitter comes at you so fast, and often in an such unfiltered way, it’s overwhelming. So instead of technology adding in productivity that leads to a next level of consciousness type of singularity, it creates more of a mental DDOS attack.

And it’s not all that different from capitalism demanding you be productive at all costs, and that by the end of the day you are so tired you can’t sort out things. That’s a feature of it, not a bug. You want to strike for better working conditions? Have fun risking starvation during the process.

And I think the “turn yourself into a commodity via your tweets” is most evident by the fact that any popular tweet’s second reply is often “I don’t have a sound cloud to promote but here’s my—“

It’s actually kind of funny because a big sticking point of people leaving tumblr a few years ago was that it was too slow. Without realizing that twitter is a multi-lane highway that every user often has to cross on foot. And that result ends up with a bunch of banged up people who feel so beaten down that any criticism is meet with “please don’t cancel me!!” Which is not anyone’s goal when correcting false information or asking for accountability.

I’ve gone on multiple twitter hiatuses after abuse I’ve faced on the platform and each time to do I’m struck with this sense of how quiet it is despite twitter’s feed making no noise. It feels like you just left a room full of people screaming, that to some level had been such a constant you didn’t realize just how loud it was until it wasn’t there anymore.

Maybe you hear it too.

Hello World Twitter & Ace Community Interview!

HELLO WORLD came out yesterday,  and now I can type “Hello World” into amazon and find something I poured my heart and soul into. It’s so far getting glowing reviews for the exact things I tried so hard to get right. I have a paperback copy I can hold in my hands like portable magic.

Late last week I asked the ace and twitter community to send me questions about the book, and as promised here are those answers. Thank you to everyone who took an interest in this book baby of ours.

Anon Asked: What is your fav part of your novel?

I can’t think of a favorite scene, but I think my favorite part of the novel has been insistently Scott’s sass. His sarcasm and dry wit always made me smile even if scene wise there is chaos and destruction everywhere. I think being able to joke about things, even if it’s just gallows humor at times is really something that keeps everyone going.

Dawn Asked: What was the easiest/hardest parts of Hello World to write?

The easiest part was the general flow of the action. Scott has a singular focus in this book that question of “okay, where do we go next?” never had to be asked. Made writer’s block non-existent which was miracle like.

The hardest part, by far, was the sex scene. It never was right. It always felt like it assumed a lot about Scott that made me personally uncomfortable on his behalf. I rewrote it at least 4 minutes times trying to get it just write and it was hard because most people didn’t understand my concerns with it when I asked for feedback. In the end, I think it says something important, I just hope it comes off that way in the end and isn’t just glossed over as another pointless sex scene.

Osayi asked: How do you get better with writing? I mean I know it’s about practicing, so I suppose a better question is how to convince yourself to practice and actually practice properly? If, say, you only read horror stories and you were really good at writing them how hard would you think it’d be to write maybe a happy romance?

I think the one thing they never tell you is how hard writing can be. It’s a very slow process and if you don’t absolutely love what you are writing it hardly seems worth it. Find a plot or a message that you simply most tell, or maybe just a character who you absolutely want to follow where they go. That makes the world of difference when it comes to motivation.

As for the second half. I think that absolutely depends. I personally have an incredibly hard time writing happy cute things. I think that’s mostly because I always wrote as an escape from bad so I’d process daily or worldly struggles in fiction. I don’t think changing genre is the hardest thing, but if your heart is set to horror mode, and your head says no write happy romance your best chance might be combining them somehow. That juxtaposition might create something that only you could write.

Ace Apples asked: What would be your favorite characterization to see in an ace character? Like, what kinda personality traits would you love to see them with, or what kinda character archetype would you just adore seeing paired with an ace character?

Hmm, there is relativity so few aces in media and so many ways one can be ace that all I really want to see for ace characters is to be written by non-aphobes and with on page labels. I personally like the sarcastic, take no shit, aces. But mostly because if we were to go down as a single archetype  I’d love for that stereotype to be ‘dont fuck with us or the community.”

Anon asked: How do you think Scott being part of a marginalized and invisible orientation like asexuality influences his resilience as an activist (hacktivist!)? Looking forward to having this book in my hands and supporting you!

Bless you, sweet thing. By complete accident, Scott in ways became a metaphor for my own activism. I don’t want to make too close of a comparison because Scott runs around committing crimes every page, but I do think you hit on something important. Marginalized and invisible groups take so many more metaphorical hits than someone who is not. Sometimes I feel so worn down and literally feel like my face is all bloodied even if all my fights were digital that day. I think there’s a reason why the LGBTQIA/MOGIA communities’ greatest leaders are often people of color, trans women, and sometimes trans women of color. I wouldn’t dare compare myself or Scott to them, but I absolutely believe the most resilient people are from similar groups. I also think it’s why it hurts so much when you see them hurt.

Ben asked: What challenges did you face depicting asexuality on the page, given that it’s the *absence* of something?

It’s really hard and I think that was the driving factor that made me put a label on things. The more aware of things I become the harder it is for me to see that start line of explaining things. There’s a learning curve for readers and you gotta decide where you want to be on it. Straights who don’t understand the community as a whole need more things spelled out for them. Community members need less, and then as I writer, I see aces who are like hell yeah give me a strip club owning sex worker who is ace. I think it comes down to what audience do you want to speak to, readers will be from a range of backgrounds, but you gotta think who is this for. Is it for you? Is this to educate cis straight people? Is it for your own community? It’s definitely a big challenge in writing something that isn’t known by everyone.

Rachel asked: How would you describe your relationship to your characters?

They are definitely my children. I feel like if fan fiction was ever written I’d have to leave a note for the sitter that said make sure they are in bed by nine, here’s a list of their allergies, and an emergency contact number.

Ben asked: What’s computer tech like in Hello World? Is it close to established/probable stuff, or is it really out there?

I’ve always viewed the story as 20 minutes into the future. Everything bit of tech you see is based on existing tech. Even the creepy stuff. However, there is plenty of liberties taken with things that are only proven in theory that in the story are months away from being for the mass market consumer.

Marsianomo: I’m a teen asexual, what do you want me to get bout of this story?

I hope you have something I didn’t. I feel like calling him a hero is bragging, but at least someone who tries their heart out and is open about the struggles in that. That way when you fight, for whatever your own heart decides, you go into without Hollywood romanticism. I also hope you can see that ace lives are complexed and worth telling even if, or maybe when, jerks try to tell you otherwise.

Again thank you all for the questions and I hope you check out HELLO WORLD!