Initially, my plan for my first blog post of 2015 was supposed to be a look back on the tech breakthroughs of the last year and how I too was affected by the ever modernizing world. But as I wrote, I couldn't help but go to a dark place. 2014 was a year that will definitely find its way into the history books, thought not for the right reasons. Sure, we landed a spacecraft on a comet and 3D print technology came ever closer to allowing me to print my own robot army. But as we marched toward the future, the shadow of our past loomed ever closer until it was no longer our past, but our present that was full of regrettable actions, shedding light on just how far we have yet to go before we can truly call ourselves a civilized society. Not even a full week into 2015, we were hit with yet another tragic and divisive event. Yes, small groups will come together in solidarity against hatred and violence, but there will be more who will see another reason why their side is the right side. Why their hate is justified.
2014 to me, seemed like the year of extremes. Everyone, it seems, was offended by everything and everyone was offended that others would be offended by things that did not offend them. It became not only dizzying, but dangerous to the many who dared speak their mind, only to find themselves arrested, or to have their personal information published online, or in the worst scenarios, physically attacked and even killed. The term social justice warrior was coined, and in a turn straight out of a classic dystopian novel, it became a bad thing.
Understand that I am not pointing fingers from the lofty position of someone who has spent the last year fighting injustices and working toward the utopian tomorrow. No, on the contrary, I am writing from the perspective of someone who was in a position to say something, but mostly opted for the head in the sand approach. I avoided engagement with those who would argue social injustices on social media and I refused to share my own views on hot button issues. Yes, I did on occasion make a sweeping private post that made clear my views on intolerance, but what I did not do was tell someone, "What you believe is damaging and here is why."
Why? Have I not previously discussed the fact that as an author of science fiction, I have a responsibility to address the issues that hold our society back? I have. I do this and have done this with every book I have published to date. But let's be honest. How many people are reading my books? Let's be generous and say thousands, which is but a fraction of the millions affected by civic atrocities, let alone the billions that call this planet home. Going farther, how many of those thousands do you think are sitting down and deliberately looking for a message or meaning that will somehow change their lives and open their minds? Likely that number is none, given that I write fiction, not self-help. Wouldn't it make more sense for me to state my views in plain speak here or on Twitter and Facebook?
Probably, but quite frankly, I was scared. I was scared to point out that friends and family members had narrow or extremist views. I was scared that if I said something publicly that someone disagreed with, that I too would have my personal information compromised. As bad as that is, the worst part is that I dared call myself an optimist, yet took the cynical view that what I said didn't matter. That my arguments, whether off the cuff or carefully backed by research, would not make even a dent in the armor that is the personal convictions of others.
Where does this leave me? Where does this leave any of us? What do we need to do to find a balance between subversive literary themes and becoming a social media extremist? Between an optimist and a realist? Well, the honest answer is that I have no freaking clue. But I refuse to stop being an optimist. 2015 has had a rough start, but I for one, plan to do what I can to put us back on the path to sweet robot utopia, one small and insignificant step at a time. Does this mean that I'm going to turn this blog into a platform for my uber-liberal agenda? No, of course not. But I do intend to speak up when I feel that doing so is appropriate. Still, don't be surprised if from time to time, my posts consist of nothing more than adorable baby robot pictures like some futuristic Buzzfeed article. After all, this post is all about finding balance.