Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Starting Conversations Considered Harmful

     (Perhaps not quite as harmful as the GOTO statement – apologies, Professor Dijkstra – but then, not everyone is willing to abandon that, either.)

     Not long ago, I learned of a group styled the Conservative-Libertarian Fiction Alliance:

     Welcome to the Official Website of the Conservative-Libertarian Fiction Alliance (the CLFA for short). The CLFA is the destination for lovers of fiction and freedom. Visit for the latest news of fiction for consumers ranging from religious conservatives to atheist libertarians and everyone in between – in short, everyone who wants less government control and less SJW authoritarianism, and who loves a good story!

     It sounded like a good idea; after all, “Politics is downstream from culture.” [Breitbart 1:1] –The group boasts a substantial membership, including a couple of well-known writers, and it seemed a good place to look for resources and do the occasional, gentle bit of self-promotion. So after a brief inner struggle, I fought down my anti-joiner inclinations and even though it required me to join Facebook, which I cordially detest, I signed on.

     There’s some substance there, though less than I’d hoped. I did find a cover artist there for Love In The Time Of Cinema, so it hasn’t been a complete waste of time. Mostly it’s just one more Facebook group of persons who find one another generally more agreeable than not swapping recommendations, repartee, and recipes.

     (Yes, recipes. As far as I can make out from my admittedly limited experience, sooner or later every Facebook group will feature recipes for this, that, or the other thing. I’m hoping one of the members will suggest a tasty alternative to the pina colada for my summer indulgence. I've seen nothing so far, but the summer is young.)

     However, it seems that during my brief tenure there, I’ve done something a few other CLFA members dislike: I’ve started a couple of conversations of which not everyone approves. One was on worn-out motifs in urban fantasy; the other was on overtired elements in science fiction. In both cases, a substantial fraction of the responses was “Why are we talking about this?” Another, smaller group held that “We shouldn’t be talking about this.”

     One of the reasons I was reluctant to join Facebook, even though it’s the only effective way to participate in CLFA, is the legendary contentiousness of its members. I have no particular beef with people who like to argue, but there are certain categories of argument that puzzle me. One of them is the sort that runs “Why are we talking about this?” We, whoever that might be, find it interesting enough to add comments. If it bores you, why not simply decline to participate? Surely no one is forcing you to do so.

     Then there are the volunteer censors: “We shouldn’t be talking about this.” Why not? What’s offensive about the subject? That’s a stroke I’d have expected from the Left, not the Right. Anyway, those who are offended by a particular topic have the same option as those who are bored by it.

     Finally, one member posted the same response to each of the two threads I started: “I’ve sold a whole lot of books about this.” Okay, that’s nice, and we’re all happy for you; I am, anyway. But does that mean that others with different preferences ought to keep them to themselves? No one’s trying to invalidate your books; success, as they say, is its own justification.

     I’m no stranger to controversy or contention – Liberty’s Torch should be ample proof of that – but I’m baffled that a site explicitly devoted to “freedom-friendly fiction” should have members more interested in dampening or shutting down the discussion of a subject than in pursuing one that piques their interest.

     I posted a version of this at CLFA’s Facebook site. This will make the maximum degree of irony possible: Someone will suggest that I shouldn’t have done so, and we’ll be off to the races once again.

     UPDATE: The reactions to the above have caused me to delete my Facebook account -- for the third (and probably the last) time. I suppose I should have known better.


Dystopic said...

I've been a long time member of that particular FB group... didn't even know you were in there. They must have removed the post in question, as I don't see it.

Francis W. Porretto said...

Possibly, D. Or possibly it was auto-deleted when I left the group and deleted my Facebook account.

Malatrope said...

I've never had a FB account, and never will. Social media in general has convinced me that most of the homo sap population is despicable, loathsome, stupid, and contagiously nasty. Fie upon them!

Dystopic said...

It's too bad you left. Yes, FecalBook is a cesspit. But there are some fiction groups for Conservatives that are... better. If you get a hankering for giving it another go, let me know and I'll point you to the better ones. They are hidden and private.

Francis W. Porretto said...

No, D, I'm returning to my "don't be a joiner" roots. It will probably cost me sales, but I'd rather not have to bother agonizing over the reactions to every pixel that comes out of my keyboard. It's too much like work. Besides, Facebook is a time sink, and I should be writing.

Jack Imel said...

I think your phrase "time sink" is the most concise definer of my main complaint against FB... even though I'm not a joiner, either. FB has good potential value. My wife keeps track of friends and relatives (and she has got a lot of 'em) ...her method of knowing who needs prayer and who needs a spanking. But its usefulness demands time ...and robs one of worthwhile creativity.

Pascal Fervor said...

Fran, my old friend, there will always be trolls. By definition they seek to introduce controversy in any arena, but they are especially drawn anywhere people find comfort. The definitive goal of the CLFA would draw them like ants to honey, making your experience not paradoxical but expected. Decent people don't tend to screen out scumbags and it works to the latters' advantage. You've even written of it when you explored how Gresham's Law applies not only to money but to every originally decent institution. And your departure from CLFA proves trolls are effective in what has become the widespread use of Critical Theory introduced into every walk of life.

Do you recall the riddle "What is the secret of Utopias?"

It's not until they close the gates that the captives find out that practical jokers sold them on the idea, and that misanthropes are running it.