Fake News & Alternate Facts.

(Owing to how things are going in the world today, I thought I would update and bring back this article I originally wrote in 2017, things have not really changed for the better. Please be aware that this article is satire and no offense is intended towards anyone except Them. They know who they are and also that I don’t care…)
 
We live in a world which is, as most of us are aware, dominated by information. Thanks to smart-phones, smart TV’s, tablets, phablets, crablets (that one isn’t real) – smart everything except for people – we are connected and appraised of events from around the corner or around the world twenty-four hours a day. We never miss a single thing. If a politician farts quietly while leaving an interview, somebody will tweet, twerp, fwerp or burp about it. You can guarantee it.
In fact, you can pretty much guarantee that should you get shot, murdered, assaulted or hit by a car these days, people will, thankfully be on hand with a telephone…to record your final moments and share them on social media later with a frowny face or two…maybe even a frowny face with a tear falling from one eye if you’re lucky. Did you think I was going to say that would call 999 / 911? Oh dear me, somebody has been living under a rock for a while, haven’t they now? That would indeed be responsibile and the right thing to do but how many likes would they get for that? How many followers? Come now! Who wants to accept responsibility these days?
This leads me onto my principle, actual point, I’ll be back to social media later on, don’t worry, it’s important but I have other things to cover first. Social media plays a very large role in what I’m about to talk about, actually a very large part so we will be coming back here.
Lets talk about lies, shall we? Untruths. Misdirections. Misleading statements. Falsehood. Or, as they are more popularly termed – in a very nice and nonjudgemental fashion – today, alternative facts.
I believe we used to call them lies but that could be ‘Russians’ hacking the Merriam Webster database in order to make me think that. That is what they do isn’t it? They want to destroy our freedom and replace it with their freedom which isn’t even communism any more so…..well…yes…right…ah…I don’t know! See that is just it, the age old trick; keep them confused and fighting while we control what they know and fight about.
 
Let me summarise The Rules right here;
  1. Identify the Enemy. Ideally someone who looks a little different, acts a little differently or speaks differently. Someone who can be held responsible for everything which has gone wrong since things were better; everything from The Economy to the store running out of peanut butter last night
  2. Identify their Agenda. They want to destroy something we consider important. Taco Tuesday for example. Those £%&*$£”* Mexicans want us to eat Tacos every day! They plan to introduce Fajita Law into America! Our Grandfather’s father died in the battle of Ruby Tuesdays to defend our right to American versions of foreign cuisine on set days of the week goddammit!
  3. Identify the Group which is “Right”. Make it so that one of the Values the target population holds dear is betrayed by not supporting The Group. Identify those who have left the Group as having copulated with the wives of goats from Afghanistani muslim, lesbian, mixed race, transsexual haters of Freedom and Truth!
  4. Identify your Stand. Choose something nebulous and undefinable. Identify how They are attacking said Value and the Group is defending it but don’t tell people how either is carrying out their activity. Choose something like Freedom, the Right to Bare Feet, Freedom to sacrifice cats to Anubis every 3rd Friday evening, whatever, it doesn’t matter. Just be sure to focus on the fact that Jesus or (diety of choice) is said to approve of said value.
  5. Alternate your Facts. Now you have established that the Donut Hating, Spanish Speaking, Grey-Haired, People from Around the Corner will do anything to destroy your right to eat a donut with enough calories to fuel a battalion of horses for breakfast and will take all of your donuts from you, we can now ensure that nobody will believe anything they say. They will lie to undermine our basic right to sugary fried dough snacks, they will not attack directly, that is not their style, they will try to discredit and negatively influence people about us. They will talk about the C-word and the F-word, they will bribe doctors to talk about calories, health and life expectancy but it will all be lies! Lies I tell you!
 
We used to call it propaganda and it was used to manipulate perfectly reasonable people into doing rather stupid and objectionable things. Nothing like what is going on today then right?
Well, OK, the fellows on the right ARE better dressed and somewhat more organised, this is true. Both groups, however are convinced that folks who don’t look like they do (for which said folks are extremely grateful each and every day) are responsible for every Ill of Society and that removal of said people (though they do not view them as people, oh no, not at all) will Make Everything Great Again, just like that. It’s magic. Actually I am not joking, it is!
The Sky is Blue.
 
We know the sky is blue, except when it’s night time or cloudy or any weather condition you would care to name. I used that example intentionally because it is very open to interpretation. There are a large number of people here who will come up with all kinds of alternatives and caveats. That is the point, an illustration for this excercise.
Let’s illustrate;
  1. The sky is blue. This is fact. During the day, they firmament surely does take on an azure cast which is rather apparent.
  2. But what about when it’s cloudy? Well, it’s still blue underneath the clouds isn’t it?
  3. It might be but how do you know? Well that’s what I heard and read and what they taught me.
  4. Oh what THEY taught you? Yes, my teachers and …
  5. No! Servants of the Donut Haters! Eh what?
  6. They want you not to think for yourself. How do you know the sky is always blue? It goes black at night. Maybe cloudy is the sky changing colour, right? Not all cloudy days are the same colour. Well that is true…
  7. And the Donut-Hating Transsexual orang-utans from China don’t like colors other than blue. They don’t? But why?
  8. Nobody knows. They do say that Donuts make blue look bad on people who eat them and only want people who don’t eat donuts to be able to wear blue. But I like blue, it brings out my eyes they tell me. My friends and family I mean. Good Donut Eaters I can trust!
  9. That’s right! They are trying to take both out Donuts and the colour blue away from us! I have heard too that they want to change the colour of the sky in order to keep blue for themselves. They’ll start with our Donuts but they’ll want waffles next, then churros… No! They can’t do that! Hows can we stop them?
 
Ok, ok I may have simplified slightly for cheap comedic cracks but the principles are sound. You’ve seen it today. Something will happen and the truth of the situation is obvious right? Some guys buys a load of assault weapons and murders innocent people, the answer is simple; why does no-one else see that? How could people think that living exclusively on donuts and nothing else will make you look like Arnold Swarzenegger in his prime, who could possibly believe that to be true? Then you see people who do and will vehemently defend that point of view against all detractors, defend it more viciously that they would defend their own children. They will also defend as strongly ALL opinions of their Group from anyone who does not belong to it and may be a hidden traitor. Lets us entertain ourselves with some examples from real world social media interactions but altered to protect anonimity and to add amusement;
  1. You think yellow frosting on strawberry donuts is just silly, Dunky-Dream are just being ridiculous….How dare you! Dunky-Dream are the defenders of donut freedom and protect us from the evils of salad munchers who will take all our blue away! What are you doing? Do you want they to be blue so that only you and your lot can eat them?
  2. Roland Runce forcing a diabetic to eat a donut on television is evil and he really is a bad President! You hate donuts and you hate Jesus! Jesus ate 12 donuts a day, it’s in the Bible, Mister, you go read that! People who don’t eat donuts shouldn’t be living here! Let them go back to Diabetia or wherever they come from! Hail Runce! Make Donuts Breakfast Again!
  3. Maybe square donuts would be cool? I mean they’d be easier to box and carry around…Maybe Bob Amba has a good point…Square donuts? You are going to Hell sir! Donuts have been round since they were invented in Jesus times because the Earth was round back then . The hole in the middle is to remind us that we are always missing something, God’s love! Love God and love donuts and love America! If you don’t like your donuts round, get out you freedom hating, homosexual cat sniffer! Bob Amba destroyed America and now Runce will save us!
  4. Dunky-Dream doesn’t sell diabetic, gluten-free diet donuts since Runce became President. Five people have died now from mistakenly eating the wrong donut and Runce says nothing! I suppose you want all your Anti-American donuts to be blue too don’t you so Ordinary Americans can’t eat them, only your 1%! Runce is making donuts better for everyone, not like Bob Amba making folks eat all those fancy donuts that don’t even have real sugar in them! Trying to make normal decent folks eat that evil! Thank God and Baby Jesus for sending Runce to lead us!
  5. Blue donuts for Freedom! Runce is trying to make the blue ones evil and replace them all with yellow ones. Stop him before it’s too late! God save President Ronald Ray Runce from people like you! Refusing to eat yellow donuts shows that you hate freedom and disrespect your veterans! You want us all to be muslim communists who only eat falafals or something like that! Those rich black fellows who ate blue donuts on TV during the Dunky-Dream anthem should be fired! Stand up and eat your yellow donuts with pride!
  6. The new Yellow Donut Frosting has a chemical in it which makes us all like cats! Dog lovers unite before They try to wipe us out! You and your nasty smelly butt-sniffers can keep your nasty blue donuts from North Korea! You just want to end freedom and force your blue on everyone! You want to free up the cats so that your Chinese masters can eat them! Defend your cats and buy my special Cats for Runce yellow collars today! Miaows for Runce!
As you may see, there are crazies on both sides of the argument, those identified as the Enemy or Sympathisers of theirs, starts to pick up ideas and behaviours either intentionally contrary to those of the Group or ones the loudest defenders of the Group (or their pet politicians) say the enemy displays – sometimes just as a protest, others to be contrary. Just because they can, you know? Stockholm syndrome is incredible when you notice it actually happening. The Left is behaving in the ways the Right expect them to and vice versa.
Now I have been messing around here a fair bit but I hope you are seeing my points, right? My manner may be less than serious but my point is very serious.
We have Two Truths out there, two versions of the same facts but neither of them is actually accurate. The Left ascribes actions to The Right and accuses them of doing this, that and the other. The Right ascribes actions to The Left and accuses them of going here, there and everywhere. There is some truth to the points of both sides and the current choice for President is far from ideal, there is no denying that one. A failed business man and ex-reality TV star? Not really ideal qualifications for The Big Job now right? Right? Well…let’s think about that one. Recognise this man?
 
tony-blair-9214379-1-402Most of you will at least know what Tony Blair used to be (The Prime Minister of the UK for those who don’t). Not many will know what he does now. Suffice it to say that he’s set for life. I know some of your will see where I am going and say “But no! Kennedy started that!”. You’re right, he got the experiment going but it wasn’t the right time yet. That’s not why they killed him but it also was. Now we’re ready. In 1997 we were ready. The internet was just taking off, social media hadn’t taken off yet but communication was changing in ways no-one had anticipated. What old Tony started was what we could call “Cult of Personality Politics”. We get the young, dynamic and change-bringing upstart who is going to better the world and everyone goes crazy! The year he (they’re usually men) wins, voter turnout had never been higher, nor had hope or optimism. Realk Change is Coming. The heavy boot of the Right is removed and Ordinary People can rise again. Isn’t that wonderful? Only the change does not come. The Bright Young Man turns out be be rather disappointing and the usual crowd of old and boring politicians berate us with wagging fingers for our stupidity.
Then The Right tried it and look what we ended up with. The Saviour from Oppression was always a tactic of the Left but The Right realised they were drowning so they did something amazing; they adapted. The republican party backed a horse unlike any it had backed before. They actually seized the zeitgeist of today and it worked!
Let’s take a step back and think about it;
  1. Ask anyone for their Top 10 TV shows of today and I bet you money that 85-90% of them will mention at least one reality TV show.
  2. Ask anyone for a way to contact them and they’ll either give their email or Facebook.
  3. If you need to locate somebody how do you do it (you use Facebook or Google at least).
  4. What happen when you leave the house without your phone these days?
  5. How many people, hold up your hands – brothers and sisters for you are safe here – admit to their first thought when the power goes out as being along the lines of “how will I charge my phone/have WiFi?” or something similar?
Be honest. I know I have done it. I also know I don’t watch ‘real TV’ anymore because it’s been taken over by incessantly cloned, talentless drones doing exactly what we do every day but in a exaggerated manner and in the presence of significantly more money than you or I will ever see. I admit to getting into ‘Facebook Scraps” and doling out dire warnings online about the dangers of Trump, what the change he is bringing would really be. I admit it, I have done it. I have berated his ‘foolish’ supporters for their short-sighted blindness. I came to realise how pointless these arguments actually were. As vapid as a reality TV talent show star; here today, gone tomorrow. The world, it turns out, has developed the attemtion span and (an alleged fact) memory of a goldfish.
 
I have come to realise that it is not the politicians we need to be worried about though; they’re all going to be the same from here on in because those with the real power have made us want it that way.
Think about it. Politician X does all kinds of horrible things and it gets forgotten about. If a scandal which could threaten deeper investigation and unmask the real villain too soon appears, out comes a distraction, a red rag waved in the public’s face until they forget all about it. They will rage and fight both sides of the argument, they will insult each other, they will be divided and conflicted. Right where they are needed to be. You remember what propaganda is for? That’s right, it’s for control. Let’s finish for this week by upsetting just about everyone or, at least 75-80% of you. Let’s look at how propaganda was developed and used by politicians of the Left and Right over the last twenty years. How neither “side” is winning. Neither side needs to, we just need to keep thinking about sides…Left & Right, Liberal & Conservative, etc. etc…Consider this scenario. It might be fiction, maybe itr’s exaggerated, it may even be the undiluted truth….you tell me. I’m a fiction writer so how could you know for sure?
Phase 1: In 1997, Tony Blair’s Labour government started it. Nominally to prevent upset to minorities but soon seen as overdone, Political Correctness was born. One could not call a fat person fat, a black person black, a glass-wearing person short-sighted. One could not point out the disabilities of the disabled. The N word was relegated to where it belonged. Now a lot of this was good. Racism is NEVER acceptable and never should have been. Sexism neither. It went too far though but that was the point.
 
(Stage 1: Discredit the Left. Success. Left = Big Governement, Nanny State, too much control, letting immigrants take over. Political rights over actual right. War on Christmas and the Church. White people less important than black, other religions less important than Christians, layabouts who don’t want to work, just pop out more children are more important than working people who pay taxes.)
Phase 2: In 2009 Barack Obama became the first black man to be President in a country where black people could not even vote intil the 1970’s and Jim Crowe laws were still in effect until rather recently indeed. He ran on a raft of equality encouraging legislation and policy. The downtrodden and ignored dared to hope. Little did they realise that Blair did this in the UK and had left ofice just two years previously. He had been replaced with ineffective and pointless suits without charisma. Obama’s Presidency, of course, saw improvments in the lives of black people, immigrants and the disadvantaged. It of course had a more Libreral lean to policy. He tried to bring free healthcare to all but failed. He tried to bring reforms to many areas but failed. Like Blair he promised big and delivered little. Many people say he gave America a political correctness greater than Blair gave to the UK.
Phase 3: The downtrodden are no longer ethnic minorities or people of this, that, or the other. Well, actually they are because they still don’t have great jobs, prospects or mansions yet. However, other people are ALSO downtrodden, still not paid attention to and they are starting to realise it. Economic conditions created by banks and other entitities outside of the control of ANY government are responsible but it’s considered wiser for each side of the political spectrum to blame the other. The era of taking no responsibility begins. Assignment of blame is seen as infinitely more important than fixing the actual problem So, a saviour of the downtrodden and the ignored who also have money emerged! He would go on to polarise world opinion and politics like none before him but he would be popular no matter what he did. Why? He and those who are behind him have perfected ALL which we have detailed so far today. They have touched the vein of the people who felt left out by the inclusiveness and fairness of the previous governments. They dislike the ones said loud voices blame. They feel excluded and hurt by not being the center of attention, of having to share the stage with others. They are afraid but they don’t want to show the others that they are afraid; neither side does.
Phase 4: Yet to come. A new young and dynamic saviour will come to rescue us from the excesses the last saviour and his folks. He will save the oppressed and bring us back from the brink of war and we will love him (or her) for it. The the cycle will begin again because they don’t want us getting on. Oh no, that would not be good. We might start actually thinking if we did that!
So my point today?
 
We know that the world is changing but most of us don’t realise how drastically. We have incredibly advanced communication technology but a large proportion of the population does not know how to use it, let alone how it works.
 
We have accusations and, possibly, proof of agencies getting involved in politics and using our willingly shared data to manipulate our perceptions of reality.
 
We have both sides of the political spectrum accusing the other side of ‘fake news’ and the peddling of lies for their advantage. We have more conspiracy theories running wild than ever before but now they are political. In fact, the changing social environment has made everything and everyone political.
 
The population has been truly divided into tribes as never before in peacetime. You are either ‘for’ this person and those who agree with them or you are ‘against’ them, debate has become a thing of the past in this age of absolutes. One cannot be in the ‘middle of the road’ any more.
 
In one generation, we have had one President’s policies raise one group up and his successor’s blame them for all of their ills and drop them back down.
 
Instead of bringing us closer together “They” have pushed us further apart.
 
Conclusion
 
Some of you are writers, you make your living thinking as others do not. Some of you are bloggers, you do the same. Most of you are intelligent and therefore already know how to think for yourselves and this may well not reach the ones who will not. But for those of us who do; Left or Right; think about this; nobody is right because nobody can actually win. Think of the tic-tac-toe problem in the original War Games movie. For Left to win, Right must lose and vice versa. There is never a way to please ALL the people. Change will always be resisted, people will always want to belong to one team or another, it’s human nature. Maybe though, if we pause and ask ourselves this; who is profitting most from the current state of affairs? Then you’ll see who is winning and who is really in control.
 
How can we, peddlers of fiction, function if we don’t even know what the truth is any more?
Then you’ll realise our world of fighting online over stupidities is just stupid. They’re just keeping you distracted from what really matters while you are bashing moslems on a forum; berating a christian on facebook; fighting homophobes on instagram. Your bill are getting no cheaper, your gas no more economical, your salary isn’t increasing, your quality of life is no better, your rights as a human being is not better, your bills are rising each and every year. When are you going to realise? You are not winning and they are not here to help you?

Upsetting the Established Order

“My words will either attract the strong of mind or offend the weak one”
– Unknown
 
“What is freedom of expression? Without freedom to offend, it ceases to exist.”
– Salman Rushdie
 
From the very first draft of the very first chapter, we realised that The Chronicles of Enoch were going to offend some people, perhaps a lot of people. We know that the topics we are going to be handling are some sensitive ones.
 
We ar, however, of the long-held opinion that it is, effectively, the job of the artist to challenge how people think about and perceive what is around them. It is our job not only to entertain but to challenge ideas and lead our readers (in my case) to ask questions; not only about the topics we dramatise, but our words themselves. A true writer wants debate and opposition because that means people are thinking and they are talking.
 
“As a writer, you know you are doing your job well when they try to stop you from doing it.”
– Anon
 
If we are faced with controversy, that means we are challenging what needs to be challenged but, of course, as with everything else, there are lines that should not be crossed and consequences for crossing them.
 
Lines in The Sand
 
We know that we are supposed to defend freedom of expression and challenge societal norms. We know that controversy is part of our reason of being in many cases. We remember those who stood up when no-one else would and wrote what nobody else seemed to dare to.
 
We do indeed have the right to write what we want to, it is enshrined in the values of both Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Expression.
 
I take my stick and point at the sand.
 
Just because you can does not mean that you should.
 
I draw the line and wait for the inevitable questions.
 
  1. Graphic murder and graphic rape. I do not think we should try to force these into the mainstream. I don’t mind offending people so I will just say it; if you enjoy reading that, you might consider asking yourself why. Reading is meant to be a pleasure but taking pleasure from such things is…well…now, horror and gore have their place but pure gratuitousness for its own sake does, in my opinion, not
  2. Graphic descriptions of the abuse of children. Though a horrifying trend and something which needs to be addressed and dealt with, we don’t need to know about it, we don’t need to read about it
 
Now, there are more, probably, but for me, those are the only reasons I would have for throwing a book in the bin and never returning to it. There is a worrying trend these days to represent these things, especially among new writers looking to make waves and use controversy and shock value to get immediate attention for their work but I ask them, is that the reputation you want to have as an artist?
 
Of course, my list of lines I do not cross will be different to other people’s, that is normal and part of the process of learning.
 
Some say religion cannot be touched. Others say that gender identity or race must be addressed and the book’s characters inclusive. Fair enough. I wouldn’t tolerate racism or homohobia/sexism personally so no characters I write who practise that will come to a good end.
 
 
The Controversy List
 
There will be several things which will offend the tender sensibility in Darkness Within alone. Let me tell you about them;
 
  1. The Roman Catholic Church, American Mega Church Evangelism, and most of the ‘Christian Cults’ of the USA were set up and are directly managed by Lucifer and his cohorts. The idea of this was to muddy the message and lead humans away from The Creator in order to prove his point. The demon Sammael is resident in Rome and is the Pope’s closest adviser. Those who follow almost all branches of modern Christianity are, to a greater or lesser degree depending, following the Devil, which is ironic.
  2. The angels are not pure and unblemished beings. Towards humans they are distant and slightly disdainful. The long lists of moral laws we have tacked on to the whole thing interest neither them nor their Father even vaguely. The clothes we wear, the buidling we go to on which day and what we call it is irrelevent to them, very much beneath their notice.
  3. That the US military, as well as the militaries of most developed nations are under Lucifer’s control, Abaddon uses them as a money making machine and sometimes as simple entertainment.
  4. All of our conspiracy theories, fancy fantasies of New World Orders, aliens, faked moon landings, dodgy assassinations, etc are all the invention of the being who came up with internet porn.
  5. A certain US politician in high office , who is replaced by a neutrotic demon bears quite a resemblence to a real politician and may or may not make satirical milage at his expense.
  6. The modern Bible is essentially an invention designed to keep people both confused and oppressed. Lucifer is responsible for most of it, togther with his fellow high-ranking demons. They added bits, removed parts, brutally edited others. They did anything they could to remove any clear message or possibility for confusion.
 
That is just the beginning, though. To me, everything is fair game as long as it does not cross my line in the sand or be designed to specifically hurt people.
 
The Politically Correct Trap
 
Now, before we start, there is absolutely nothing wrong in treating people of any minority or anyone who does not conform to what society calls ‘the norm’ the same way as everybody else. I encourage and applaud those who face struggle every day.
 
Here we agree, right?
 
Good…
 
Being aware of offending and conscious adaptation of your behaviour to avoid that are great but, as with everything, it must be a choice. Let’s be honest, there are ignorant and stupid people in the world, quite a few of them, who are content to blame others for their woes and hold very outdated opinions, not at all up to speed with society as a whole.
 
That is their inalienable right. You cannot force their worldview to converge with yours. There are going to be people who have highly inaccurate opinions about Black people, Asian people, LGBTQIA+ people in all their beautiful variety, Jews, Liberals, Republicans, Southerners, people from any country that is not theirs or hold any opinion which differs to their own….
 
With people existing in their infinite and all-splendoured variety, ignorant, hateful, and stupid also exists, it is unavoidable. They were either born that way or some negative life experiences may have made them that way. You can’t look at them and know.
 
You can protest, you can campaign, you can be involved in activism and work to change opinions on the matter but you cannot force people to agree with you or be unable to voice opinions they feel are justified.
 
That is what led to Brexit, that is what led to Donald Trump (not Krampus)!!
 
Look, I’m in my mid 40’s and I remember when it was fine to make racist jokes on TV and have white actors dressed up as black or Indian people in mockery and it was ok. Gay people were exaggerated and exposed to hilarity. Famous LGTBQIA+ people took the secret of their sexuality and identity to their grave, never being able to come out in public.
 
All that has changed for the better. We’re not there yet but we’re improving.
 
Education, you see, that’s how it works. People believe this, so you teach them that and the smart ones learn. The stupid or wilfully ignorant ones will not.
 
It’s just like school, college, university, etc. Everyone (in theory) attends the same classes, lectures and tutorials, everyone has access to the same books, everyone receives equal exposure to the same material but not everyone passes the final exam and those that pass do not all receive the same grades.
 
You cannot force everyone to pass. No law, no rule, and no amount of careful campaigning or protesting will encourage some people to either increase their grades or pass. They just don’t have it in them
 
You could even say that they can’t help who they are…
 
Now, stop before misquoting me because I am not defending bigots of any kind; judging anyone because of aspects, characteristics or behaviours they cannot help is always wrong.
 
Do you hate your child for misbehaving or placing themselves in danger? No, you educate them and present them with consequences. They tend not to do it again after that.
 
How Lucifer Drove in the Wedge
 
Now you see how he did it do you not? Identify differences and work on ignorance across the board. Make people scared of the different, feed the tribalism. He programmed these fears and hatreds deep into his religions and doctrines. The Dark Ages were one of his greatest victories because he bred a hatred of education and love of ignorance deep into the bones of our civilisation.
 
Before then, wisdom, even the folkesy kind those ‘witches’ had a lot of, were respected and looked up to. Being able to learn and grow was seem as a positive thing. Instead the devil replaced such beliefs that all those things came from him when the opposite was actually true.
 
Anything which could keep humans content and united was forbidden; anything that kept them divided and secretly guilty was encouraged. All the things we had in common were turned into sins and silly rules that were impossible to follow were introduced. Nobody could abide by all of them but that did not stop those who slavishly followed the obvious ones from looking down theirs noses at and feeling superior to those judged not to be doing so.
 
It all boils down to fear ultimately…
 
It was actually rather brilliant when you think about it. Afterall, feeling proud and superior for what someone else has done is an essential part of human nature.
 
Take a look at sports as an example; your team wins and you celebrate and mock supporters of the other team although you contributed nothing at all to the endeavour. It’s the same with religion, your team is deemed to be the correct one so it’s OK to do whatever you like to supporters of the other team when all you do is show up once a week.
 
The same thing can apply to socio-ethnic groups; yours is determined to be the dominant one but what do you do to contribute? You just show up and wear the t-shirt. as it were.
 
Conclusion
 
Controversy is impossible in the artist’s world; we tend to think quite differently to other people and look an explanation of why things are as they are. We tend to think not in straight lines on curves or, at times, more complicated forms. Often we are misfits and therefore have sympathy and understanding of those that society applies the same label to; those that refuse to simply sit down and accept the shoddy treatment they are receiving as “their lot in life”.
 
We see the world as everyone else sees it and decide that is not enough, so we use words, sounds, paints, and other materials to show it in a way be like better and dearly wish that others see it too as they share our hard work.
 
It is no coincidence that artists tend to be the first people to dictator rounds up during his revolution or one of many purges. We court controversy, are rebellious, and like to challenge the established way of doing things. We do not fit in with our heads down and question nothing; we question everything.
 
Nobody likes it when someone starts pointing out the holes…
 
The Chronicles of Enoch, over the course of our research, managed to find an awful lot of them and we intend to pick at each and every one.

Social Media Slavery?

I begin this with a caveat; I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently because I have been excluded from Facebook for what appears to be forevermore…
 
The strange thing I noticed was somewhat disturbing…
 
Now, I am a smoker but one that is conscious that he is addicted to a substance that is not necessary for – is actually detrimental to – his continued existence. I know what addiction pangs feel like when one’s poison is even temporarily denied.
 
I was feeling this same anxiety and what I call ‘the twitches’ when denied access to Facebook. I felt that something was missing and was quite keen to get back to that shared social space. I was even somewhat apathetic towards alternative media sources and also despondent in its absence.
 
I actually found that I no longer knew what to do with my free time…
 
A Surprising Truth
 
To date, 3.5 Billion people, or 45% of the world’s population use some for of Social Media daily. Of that number a massive 68% use Facebook daily, spending an average of three hours a day (that they admit to) on that or other social media sources.
 
That is quite significant and, owing to ease of access through mobile devices, we would guess that the figure is a little higher when it comes to time spent.
 
Add to that figure that 54% of people use social media to research products and services they consider using and 49% of consumers rely on or make use of Social Media Influencer opinion and recommendations and we see that it outranks all other sources of interest and opinion.
 
People, it would appear, live their lives in that virtual space.
 
Don’t get me started on Influencers either, it’s a funny way to get famous isn’t it? Let’s leave it there.
 
“Ok, Boomer” the chorus of inaccurate ironic apathy resounds.
 
A Necessary Evil
 
We, as artists aspiring to fame and recognition must have a social media presence, there is no escaping it. We need to;
 
  1. Engage regularly with a possible audience.
  2. Regularly advertise and expose our work.
  3. Network with other artists in our field, learn the industry and the market.
  4. We need to create and maintain a website.
  5. Run a blog with regular posts (ideally daily)
  6. Participate in on-line social events to gain recognition; contests, competitions, etc.
  7. Create and maintain a professional persona.
 
Among other things. The thing is that we are new to this, all of us, we mostly make it up as we’re going along. We do that or follow the advice of people who claim to be experts, maybe some of them are.
 
You see, one terrible side-effect of our reliance upon Social Media for everything is that we tend to use it as our first and only source of information. It is so easy, with Social Media, to come into contact with inaccurate information and opinion-dressed-as-knowledge and we are, it would appear, inclined to believe it relying on the age-old adage of
 
“well it wasn’t true they wouldn’t let them print/upload/publish it would they?”
 
No-one ever seems to explain who They are and what authority they have over the accuracy of information; we simply entrust them with this great responsibility willy-nilly. If you were to ask me, I might call that a shade irresponsible…
 
Social Responsibility on Social Media
 
Now, let’s be honest, social media is not a nice place. We know well the ‘keyboard warrior’ and troll phenomena which have gained traction over the years. A lot of people dedicate a lot of time to, it would appear, seeking out people who disagree with their opinions so that they can insult those people and anyone else. It is thought OK to verbally attack anyone you don’t agree with or like the look of, use the open to all soapbox to cry out your opinions no matter who they might offend (especially if your opinion is that those people have no right to be offended). It is a place to start rumours, spread inaccurate stories about your hated-persons/group-of choice.
 
At times, that does seem like that is all it is.
 
The corporations that run it are not free from controversy either.
 
 
 
 
 
In all honesty, none of these companies feel any need to actually do anything about any of that because they are safe and certain in the knowledge that we need them now, we cannot go on without them because they amalgamated and crushed all competitors.
 
They are half right though, we need them…
 
Of course, there will be another article on social media and its denizens another time because it warrants a while article of its own, so we will not explore both sides of the ecology of social media here., we’ll come back to that tomorrow perhaps.
 
Conclusion
 
The purpose of this article was to open a few eyes to the fact that we are quite addicted. In spite of all the negative things we know about our poison, we still support and make excuses for it; as if it were a relative who is either violent or an embarrassment in public. You try to smooth off the rough edges that you know, deep down, are there. You hide the black eyes and bruises, you tolerate the social exile.
 
You know it only ever thinks about itself and what it wants no matter how sweetly it tries to tell you otherwise when it’s in one of its good moods…
 
Its built to suck you in and keep you there because there’s a lot of money to make in them there isles and that is part of the reason we are sailing them…

Rolling With the Critical Punches

Criticism what’s it all about then?

“The trouble with most of us is we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism”

Well it is something we, as writers are exposed to daily. We may receive reviews, we may hear news, we have visitors to our pages, comments and conversations on Facebook. All the time. So what do we do with it?

I have seen it in it’s many forms and seen how it affects people, I have seen people fold and crumple under it’s pressure, I have watched them fail. I have seem others buckle, and start to crack only to take the strain and with a growl and a grimace push it off and turn it back. Without pressure there are no diamonds, they say, no steel. Of course there are caveats, there are two forms of criticism;

  1. Destructive criticism (it’s about argument and power, tear the other down to highlight your supposed superiority)
  2. Constructive criticism (try to help the recipient recognise their weaknesses so that they can improve and do better)

Now, we have a few things to consider here, some elements and things weather pressure, manage destructive forces better than others, the same applies to people. I, personally, am of the group who could not care less what people think about me personally but am smart and experienced enough to know one very, very important fact;

“I am not perfect and nothing I ever do will be”

Not ever, ever in my life will I achieve perfection in anything because no-one can, not one single living person can ever be perfect. Therefore, if someone can see something I cannot which I can consider and make my work better by taking on board, why would I not? Tell me, why? Someone walks up to me and explains how I can triple my income by working a little differently am I going to decide, purposely to earn less? Of course not, who would? As I mentioned previously, writing is a long and lonely road. We invest ourselves in our writing, we pour our heart, our soul, our passion into it. We are heavily invested in it, it is like a child of ours. To criticise our favoured child is to insult our very being! However, if our child is engaged in behaviour which can affect his future, her very life, must we not act to save that child? Let’s run with this metaphor;

We, as parents, bring our children into the world in suffering and pain. Some cost us more than others, the pain is more intense. We want our child to live long, be healthy and to be successful. This is all normal. We will spend long hours raising and instructing this child, suffering for him, suffering with her, to be sure they do well. We will often rebuke our child and show them a better path. We may see our child start to go astray but we kid ourselves, we may even lie to ourselves. Mine is a good child, incapable of evil. A day may come when another will tell us, this child is bad, this child did this, he did that, she was doing that, you did not do your job as a parent well, correct your child! We, of course bristle and react but as we sit at home in thought, looking at our child, do we ignore the signs which have been bothering us and see perfection or do we look deeper and see if we need to take responsibility now before it is too late?

Well that seriously did stretch the metaphor but you see my point, do you not? We, each and every one of us, want our work to be perfect, for people to praise it, for readers to be climbing over one another to read it. We want reviewers to fight for the right to sing of it’s virtues. This is our dream and we are, let’s face it, every one of us dreamers, that’s all part of the business..

There are serious dangers, especially in the world of self publishing, in which many of us live, a great many dangers of such arrogance…

I have my method and my discipline when I write. I write, I edit, I check, I edit some more, I edit again, I proof read, I edit again, I print it out and go through it with a fine toothed comb. I then have someone else read it without any prior view. I go back and edit again. I do not stop until my piece is so polished it shines! Why? This represents me, this is me, how can I put in so much effort and it NOT be my best? Well I am not prefect and I, too have let mistakes; typos, malapropisms, tautologies slip through, I am human (mostly) and I err because I do, we all do. However, when I have others point out my errors, what do I do? I accept them, I filter them, I apply that which I see as beneficial and in such a way, do I grow and my writing does too!

We must learn to accept criticism, to roll with it, to go with it and to listen to it. Once we can accept that we are not perfect and nothing we ever produce will be either, we are starting to learn. I welcome criticism because I want to be among the best and accept my lack of perfection also. What about you?

#criticism #critic #growth #improvement #perfection #imperfection #struggle