Thursday, June 6, 2013

The SFWA Controversy and the Disgusting Internet Culture

So this whole SFWA thing is a mess. Yes, I know I'm a week or so late on this, but hang with me; my points about what this has stirred up are and will continue to be valid. (If you're not sure what I'm talking about, simply Google "SFWA" and scroll down a bit. Depending on when you're reading this, you probably won't have to even leave the first page.) To be honest, I've basically just skimmed the situation, so I'm likely missing some points, but, again, hang with me; I'm more worried about the Internet Culture than the SFWA. First, though, I'll give my view on the inciting incident.

Truth be told, the controversy that sparked the outrage didn't land much on my radar. Yes, the conversation and subsequent bikini chain mail cover were both in poor taste. I'm not a member of the SFWA, so I don't have much insight into the group, but from what I've seen online (twitter, blog posts, etc.), it was a bad choice by an editor (or editors) who should have known better than to print these. The two dinosaurs who made the comments, from what I heard, didn't really know they were in the wrong - too many years of yes men and women parroting their points of view. Does it make it right? No, of course not. But my hope is that the current leadership, which looks to be rightfully offended by what has happened in their own organization, will clean this up and make not only a stronger SFWA (which, since I'm not a member, doesn't really matter to me one way or another other than it's always good to have people treated with respect), and, more importantly, a stronger, friendlier, and more respectful writing community as a whole.

So why am I writing this? As I said, my anger didn't come from the inciting incident at the SFWA (that was more of an eye roll and a mutter under my breath of "That was dumb"), but from what happened afterwards. It came from the Internet Culture (this time comprised of mostly, I'm assuming, immature males of any age) saying such hurtful things because of their anonymity behind their keyboard. I'm hearing (or, more appropriately, reading) too many cases of women (authors or not) saying they are being harrassed simply because they are making their feelings known about this controversy. Sure, a good discussion filled with facts and other constructive comments and opinions would be fine, healthy even. But from what I'm seeing, that's not the case. Too common feedback women are getting for simply stating their opinions are sexual harassment, threats of sexual violence, being called vulgar names, and plenty of other horrible things. This is not okay. It's sick, quite frankly. I know it isn't limited to this particular argument, but happens all too often on any type of argument and controversy on the Internet, but that doesn't make it right. It's as far from right as we can get. And that's my point. The culture of hate on the Internet needs to stop.

I dream of a world where Internet posters don't rely on hateful comments on anything they disagree with. It seems that is the first, second, and third option many anonymous keyboard-sitters have when faced with controversy. The cyberworld (and the world in general) would be a much nicer place if people would use intelligence and tact instead. Everyone deserves respect until they prove, without a doubt, differently. As Wil Wheaton says, "Don't be a dick." I wish everyone would live by those four simple words. Or, if you want a sanitized version, "Treat others like you want to be treated."

Whether you're online or unplugged, treat women with respect. Heck, treat everyone with respect! Until some of those science fiction tales members of the SFWA pen come true, we only have this one planet to share. Why not make it a nice place to coexist? That's what I'd like to see.