The Struggling Writer

The chronicles of a freelance writer as he tries to make a living.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Can't we all just get along?

It never fails. Any internet community always has to have trivial issues that divide people and lead to pointless bickering. And there is always some minority that has to adopt the "my way or the highway" attitude.

As I get more familiar with the writing community, the common argument I see is "live to write" versus "write to live".

The "live to write" philosophy is that writing is art and should be pure and unsullied by such things as monetary gain. They love to quote Asimov's "I write for the same reason I breathe" line. At the opposite end we have the "write to live" who see writing purely as a method to make money and if they could make more money shoveling manure they'd give up writing in a second.

The "love to write" people are shocked, SHOCKED, that anyone would take a business like attitude to the creation of art. The "write to love" faction get condescending towards the naive attitude that there is anything other than money in the world. And they fight and moan and pollute forums with their endless abuse of equine corpses.

In the end, who cares? If Pollyana Peters wants to create beautiful poetry that she publishes for free, who is she harming? If Myron Moneybags writes junk internet content or scripts for porn movies, so what? Move on with your lives, people.

People can handle disagreement on one of three ways: discussion, debate, or argument.

In a discussion, each side presents their views and that's it. There is not right or wrong. There is no attempt to convert. Person A drives a subcompact because they like the mileage. Person B drives a mid-sized because they like the headroom. No harm done.

In debate, each side is trying to convince each other. It's civilized and mature, but there is the goal of changing someone's mind. Subcompacts use less gas and produce fewer emissions, so it is wrong to drive a larger car. Mid-sized cars are safer, so it is wrong to drive the smaller cars especially if you have children.

Arguments are pretty much screaming and namecalling. If you drive an SUV, the terrorists win. If you don't drive an SUV, the terrorists win.

So in a nutshell:
Discussion - I'm OK, you're OK
Debate - I'm right, you're wrong
Argument - I'm right, you're an idiot

I enjoy discussion and like hearing other points of view. I dislike debate. I detest argument, particularly on the internet. The anonimity factor magnifies the emotions involved and I have seen flamewars of truly staggering proportions. I have walked away from communities (no writing communities so far) where everything gets drowned in the constant roar of argument. I stay out of political and religious forums because very, VERY few people can discuss these subjects calmly, so it's sad when a trivial subject adopts religious importance.

I don't usually rant here, but I've just come across a lot of examples of this today and it's sucked the life out of me. Hey, another excuse not to write ;)


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