not “going there” on politics

I like to discuss a range of topics on this blog: mostly fantasy and science-fiction, of course, as that’s what I read, what I watch, what I write.  But also book writing and publishing; superheroes and horror; people, influences, and events from my childhood; football, motorcycles, pets, and music.  But I have rarely discussed, and will rarely discuss, politics and/or social issues.

 

And that makes me a rarity, these days, among sci-fi/fantasy authors.  I visit many of their blogs, and almost all of them often engage in socio-political talks.  Most of these authors are “liberal/progressive” (whichever term you prefer); a few are “conservative/traditional.”

 

They blog, of course, to get attention, and going the socio-political route is one of the easiest ways to do that.  To be fair, most of them, so far as I can tell, honestly believe what they’re saying.  They’re compelled to speak about news events and controversies because they, and hopefully their readers, have an emotional stake in them.  They feel that these issues are important and need to be addressed, and they usually invite their readers to comment.

 

However, some authors, I think—having followed them for years—are just pandering to their visitors, saying whatever they think their audience wants to hear.  Others spew the most outrageous nonsense: it’s hard to be sure if they’re faking it or if they’re just completely off the chain.  Regardless, it’s all to drive traffic to their sites, attract and retain sympathetic readers, increase sales, even wrangle media attention.  I don’t trust those writers, but I visit anyway, just to find out what whack bovine excrement they’ll drop next.  Hey, some people watch reality TV; I visit blogs written by ass-kissers or wingnuts.  Some hobbies are more strange than others.

 

Despite the boost in attention I’m sure I would get by aping other SF/F authors, I’m not going to “go there” with political or social discussions.  Why not?

 

My views are not unique.  I have liberal friends; I have conservative friends; I have friends who fall somewhere in the middle.  Many of them would be happy to share their opinions with you.  I am not.

I don’t have a dog in any fight.  I just don’t care that much about politics.  Really, what I’d most like people to do is buy, read, and enjoy my books, and tell their friends about me.  Whether they agree with my stances on abortion or gun control or gay rights or whatever is completely unimportant to me.  I have my views, but what I don’t have is the time, energy, or inclination to persuade folks to come to my side.

That’s not the focus of this blog.  I hear socio-political commentary all the time, either from the news media or the aforementioned authors or the aforementioned friends.  Every other day, someone’s on their soapbox ranting about this or that.  Frankly, I get sick of it.  Probably, you do, too.  And no, I don’t care if others think it’s trivial to ignore politics.  Speaking of which….

I don’t ignore politics, I just don’t talk about it here.  Yes, there are many important things going on.  Yes, I pay attention to them.  I have occasionally made posts that one could construe as being socio-political.  But it’s not something I’m going to make a habit of.

Politics is polarizing and contentious.  Our nation is becoming more and more partisan, and there’s a growing intolerance/disrespect for differing opinions.  And no, the “PC crowd” is not the only guilty party; plenty of “non-PC” folks do it, too.  People whose views differ from one’s own are no longer considered to be “having another perspective”; at best, they’re thought of as “misguided,” “ignorant,” or “misled.”  At worst, they’re “evil.”

I don’t have time to babysit.  Political discussions draw in regular folks with opinions, but also draw in the kooks and trolls.  I don’t want to spend a good chunk of each day moderating blog comments and putting out flame wars.  And as an aside, I have little patience for something I see a lot of: trigger-happy authors who ban commentators for disagreeing with them.  There’s nothing wrong with squelching the kooks and the trolls, but if you don’t want otherwise sane, normal people pushing back against your views, don’t put them out there for public discussion.

I don’t want to drive people away.  There are many authors whose books I’d like to buy and read, but frankly, their socio-political views (which they merrily broadcast on their blogs) repel me.  I suspect a lot of people have similar feelings about various writers.  It’s not worth it to me to risk alienating huge swaths of people.

 

With my books and this blog, I mean to reach out to fans of fantasy and science-fiction, especially young adults, new and casual fans of the genre, and those who desire something different.  I don’t want to pretend like I care deeply about certain issues in a cynical attempt to bring in readers.  I don’t want to “shock” for the sake of eyeballs, because my views are not shocking.  I’d rather be honest, be discreet, and maintain my integrity.

 

If that means fewer readers, then so be it.  I’d like this blog to be a place where people can be entertained, learn some new things, be reminded of some old things.  I don’t want it to be a place where they get pissed off or embroiled in shouting matches in the comment sections.  There are enough blogs like that.  This one isn’t going to go there.

 

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5 Responses to not “going there” on politics

  1. Victoria Klein says:

    I am a young fan of sci-fi. It will be nice to have a place without any overheated shouting matches that get out of hand. Thank you for making a place like this.

  2. Victoria, you’re welcome! I blog about once a week; please come back soon. 🙂

  3. Anna Erishkigal says:

    I just posted a comment very similar to what you just said on a SF/F survey that’s being sent around trying to figure out why hardcore SF/F has ‘greyed’ and hardly anybody at many of the WorldCon’s are under the age of 50 anymore. Well … yeah? A fan walks in to hear a panel about mythology in SF/F and all of a sudden the panelists start yammering for 40 minutes about the anti-feminist implications of Little Red Riding Hood’s cape being a metaphor for white male domination of some minority’s vagina.

    [*squickish squirm … quietly pick up notebooks and slip out the back door to find the ‘Building Steampunk Costumes on a Salvation Army Budget”*]

    The whole point of political discourse is to win over the uneducated masses by quietly building an argument so that, in the end, the listener has no choice but to come over to your side of the fence. The minute you stand up on a soapbox with a megaphone and start shouting, only the crazies will gather around you to listen … or throw rotten tomatoes. The ‘real’ people will clutch their trench coats closer to their bodies and quietly slip around you, avoiding eye contact so one of the crazies doesn’t follow them home and keep shouting.

  4. Anna, I have a colleague (Robert Bidinotto) who writes vigilante thrillers and who blogs about politics all the time, particularly what he sees as injustices. Not only does it make perfect sense for him to do so (given that his hero is a vigilante), but it’s brilliant, because his audience is interested in those sorts of blog posts.

    So I’m not saying that a writer SHOULDN’T discuss politics. And if other SF/F authors want to talk politics on their blogs, that’s all well and good for them. And if people want to visit those blogs for the socio-political talk, good for them, too. I’m just not going to.

    As for what they discuss on con panels, I haven’t attended one in decades, so I couldn’t comment on that.

  5. James Maas says:

    Kenton,
    Right on!
    I agree with you 100 percent.