Join Prism Book Alliance® as John Goode goes Outside the Margins today.
We are living in a selfie world.
Let me guess, you rolled your eyes and said “Well, not me!” Guess what? By doing that, you made my point. I didn’t ask if you were one of those people, I simply said we are living in a selfie world. You made it about yourself and that is part of the problem.
You see, back in the old days (yes that is a joke), you used to be able to have a point of view, an opinion or even a fact without someone taking what you’ve said or written personally and then arguing about it. People used to have the ability to separate themselves from the topic at hand and just have a conversation about the implications without making it all about them.
Case in point.
So yeah, someone stole someone else’s book. We all know the story and if you don’t, I’m sorry, I just can’t deal with talking about it some more. Go Google it if you are confused; but I am sure most of you know what I’m talking about. Someone stole someone else’s book and it was a horrible thing. We all know that.
Here’s the thing. The article revealing what had happened wasn’t just followed up by half a dozen posts of, “Oh my god look at what happened!”No, it was followed up by two dozen posts of. “I am an author and I would never do this.”
Who said you would?
I saw one post by a person who had written a book with this lady and she wanted to go on record to say she actually wrote what was published. That made sense; I mean, her name is on a book with a the name of a known plagiarist. But the rest of the posts, the other eleven posts I saw, had nothing to do with what this lady had done. Nothing. But here they were with their metaphoric ‘selfie stick’ making sure that their opinion was heard on a subject no one asked them about.
I mean really?
Did the other eleven think people would assume all authors in this genre steal books? Did they think they were under some kind of Goodreads investigation where agents were scouring the pages of their last publication to make sure every passage was unique? I saw one post where someone was speaking to the claim that this author’s enormous output was an indication that she had to have been stealing stuff. The other Eleven said “I wrote the same number of books and I didn’t steal shit.” That made a little sense, more than the others for sure. But most of them were like the guy who, when you’re talking with a friend about what kind of coffee you like best pipes in with. “I don’t like coffee at all.”
Okay, well thanks for that. See me and my friend do like coffee, which is why we were discussing it and no one looked to you and asked. “Hey guy not in the conversation, what are your general thoughts about hot or cold brewed beverages with caffeine?” Nope this guy just stepped between us, pulled out his imaginary camera, made some duck lips and took a picture with us.
When did we become this?
Lemme ask you a question before we go on. Do you know what LARPing is? It stands for Live Action Role Playing. Most people think of cosplay when they think of it, but that’s not what I am talking about. I am talking about when people dress up as characters, go out, and actually have an adventure in live action while role playing someone else. There is a variant of this that includes combat, hence the video I am putting here for an example. Just watch this, it isn’t long and you’ll need it for my next point.
Did you see and hear the guy shouting lightning bolt? Good, he is what I needed you to hear. Now of course the pieces of paper he is throwing are not lightning bolts. They do no damage and the only way they can affect you at all is if you’re playing the game with him. Got it? Good.
Let’s talk about words.
Words are tricky because they seem so much more than they really are. We take words for granted and imbue them with power without ever really understanding what they actually are. Words are place holders. Every single word that exists is there only to hold the place of a meaning. We take those words, replace them with meaning, and then gain the concept of what the words were trying to convey. Sounds complicated but it isn’t.
Let’s say we were both on a deserted island. Nether one of us speaks the other’s language, so we are forced to try to communicate without shared vocabulary. So I make a fire- don’t ask how. let’s just say I am crafty and have made a fire. I point at the fire and say tankua. You look at the fire and then to me and I repeat, tankua. So you say tankua, I nod, which is another form of communication we don’t share; but you see the look on my face and understand that I am happy with that and we agree.
Now outside of the two of us, that word has no meaning. We get rescued, go home to our respective homes,where tankua literally has no meaning because it only existed between you and me. Makes sense right? It is created word that stood for the fire and we both understood that.
All of language is what I just explained.
Every single word is made up and given power by a collective of people that all agree that these words mean these things. The words are not arbitrary, they are not predestined, they are just sounds that we all agreed mean something else. So tell me, how much power do words actually have then?
The answer is, as much as we give them.
I wrote an article where I said I did not like the word queer. It’s not a good word in my opinion because of what it means to the collective whole. Queer is the word you use when you are trying to say something is different in a wrong way. If you wanted to say something was different you’d use the word different. If you wanted to say if was different in an unexplained way you’d say it was peculiar. If you wanted to say it was different in a good or positive way you’d say odd, which has a quirkiness about it. But queer, queer is left for things that are different in a wrong way. There is no good way to use queer and that is because it was created by those of a majority looking at a minority and then judging it.
In the article I said I didn’t like queer because it was made by a heterosexual culture who was using it to try to shame homosexuals because to them, we are different in a bad way. I said I didn’t think the straight world had the authority to label us as anything and that if we wanted to use the word we should use it to label those who don’t agree with us. Those who we thought were different in a wrong way, bigots, haters, people who want to do us harm. Call those people queer but not ourselves, we aren’t queer, not to each other. By using their word we are taking their label and in some small way accepting their premise.
Because you know, that’s how words work.
Of course, people took offense because I was attacking a word they liked. They took offense because they were happy labeling themselves as queer and how dare I question that? I stated an opinion on what I thought and people thought I was talking about them and were offended.
Selfie stick and all.
See, all I did was point out what the word means and the implications of what its meaning to the bigger picture. I get self empowerment and ‘taking it back’ but if queer wasn’t a bad word to begin with we wouldn’t have had to take it back. Right? By saying you are taking the word back, aren’t you by default agreeing with me that the word is negative? Even if you personally don’t feel it is, you understand that to the whole it is a bad word, hence the need to take said word back?
So why get offended?
Here’s the thing about the entire mess that really pissed me off. People want to say that queer, though it meant one thing before, is now a term of empowerment and something different. The word has another meaning than it did before, so why can’t I see and accept that?
What about gay?
I remember when Eminem got hit for using gay slurs in his music. The reaction so bad he had to go on stage with Elton John and sing to prove he was not a homophobe. It all came up again in 2013 when he used the word ‘gay’ in his song Rap God and people lost their minds.
When Eminem said, though, was enlightening. He said when he used the term ‘gay’ he wasn’t talking about gay people as in homosexuals, he was using it to mean lame, or stupid, or ugly or whatever. He was using it as an eleven year old boy would. Which got me to thinking.
See if I say. “That shirt is gay.” what do I mean?
Do I mean the shirt looks like it wants to have sex with other shirts? Am I saying the shirt looks happy? Or am I saying the shirt looks stupid and the guy shouldn’t wear it? I bet you know the answer which then comes back to language right? In that context we get the word gay is a place holder for lame or stupid, yet here come our selfie takers wanting to scream that they are offended.
What happened to words having more than one meaning?
If queer can be a positive word because we want it to be then why does gay HAVE to be a negative word if it isn’t referring to an actual homosexual? I mean we all know we didn’t invent the word gay, it had a whole other meaning before we came along and took it.
Here is a little history lesson.
The word gay has its origins in the 12th century and came from the Old French word gai which meant joyful, full of mirth or Paul Lynde.
Sorry that last part was me.
So it wasn’t until the 17th century that it started being associated with immorality. By then the word had morphed to also mean, addicted to pleasures and dissipations. Then in the 19th century it referred to a woman who was a prostitute and a gay man was someone who slept with a lot of women, often prostitutes. Also at this time, the phrase “gay it” meant to have sex, with women.
It wasn’t until the 20’s and 30’s that the word became attached to homosexuals. By the 50’s it was exclusively used in reference to homosexuals and became the word we know it to be now.
And now it can also mean lame and stupid.
You know what Eminem is saying when he sings, you know that definition but there are still those who will get on a bus, drive five blocks, get off, walk another two blocks, cross a street to stand in front of that word, take out their cell, and then snap that selfie where they are offended that someone used that horrible word.
The word only means what we make it and if we can take the word queer and make it positive then we can also let them say gay and have it mean nothing. And it does mean nothing, it is just a place holder at best.
Now let me guess, but John, what about people who use the word faggot as a slur against homosexuals?
Good question, but you won’t like my answer.
See the term faggot is a straight up insult, right? I mean it is the homosexual equivalent of the N word (no I am not going to go into the irony of not saying the word in an article about word meaning and oversensitivity) and there is no way to use it in a non derogatory fashion. It’s a bad word and can only be used for bad things right?
But look at who is using it. If some close minded redneck uses the term and calls you a faggot, he is technically using it correctly. If you are a homosexual, then he is calling you one and then adding the fact he is not pleased with your lifestyle in general. Faggot is a place holder for. “You sleep with the same sex and I am not happy about that.”
So he calls you a faggot, now what?
See here is the thing. Don’t take that selfie. Don’t walk in front of that word. If he wants to call you a faggot let him, who the fuck cares? It’s a word and you had no know that he wasn’t inclined to like your choice of bed partners to begin with. I mean he has an American eagle on his tank top and is missing 3/5 of his teeth. You honestly thought this guy was going to go to Pride with you?
No, he doesn’t like you and he is voicing his displeasure with a word. A meaningless word that can only harm if you if you let it. Next time imagine him in a crappy wizard’s robe and instead of faggot he is yelling ‘lightning bolt’ at you. What did we decide about that?
Right, the only way that can hurt you is if you are playing his game.
This isn’t about you, this is about his issues with same-sex relationships. The only way you can be a victim here is if you let him. The same thing goes for the people who thought I was attacking their way of life when I said I didn’t like the word ‘queer’; all because they thought I was attacking them personally when all I was doing was expressing my opinion.
An opinion by the way I was asked to share, it was not given just because I wanted to talk.
So the next time someone comes at you with an opinion or a statement, ask yourself two things. One, am I adding to conversation or am I just stating I don’t like coffee to feel part of it and two. Is what they’re saying have actual meaning or do they have a piece of paper on it, just waiting to throw it at me.
Cause if it is the piece of paper, just walk away. You don’t want to play that game at all.
About John Goode
Hi. I’m John. Um…I like getting caught in the rain, I am not into health food and I have been on a plane. I write, but you know that or you wouldn’t be here (stupidstupidstupid, get it together John) Anyways, I have three cats, but not like a cat lady cause I am…um…a guy. I mean that, the cat lady part not the guy part. I mean I do mean the guy thing and can prove it…sigh. I like turtles.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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