We Are Turning Ourselves Into Cartoons – A Lament Of Society

I wasn’t sure whether to say anything about this, not because I thought many people would read it but, and I’m being completely honest, I’m afraid of upsetting anyone. I lie awake panicking if I think an email I sent sounded a little harsh. However I decided to write this because I’m a bit worried about aspects of Western civilisation and I wanted to purge my thoughts to see if I felt any better afterwards.

You see, I feel like we’re turning each other – and ourselves – into cartoons. Republicans are racist hicks, feminists are screeching harpies, Muslims want to bomb everyone and liberals want to help them, and it’s not always those on the other side projecting – sometimes we take little things too far, all of us. We aren’t meaning to, we get stuff wrong (or not, it’s subjective, I don’t have all the answers), but when the entire world is arguing with each other defences rise and we’re less likely to see rational points of view. Don’t get me wrong, I know history, people have always done this to opposing groups, but I feel like we’re capable of so much more right now and we should be trying to get there.

Maybe, instead of characterising everyone, we should take a step back. You might disagree with a certain person over one thing, but might they be right about another? When you don’t like the way one group is behaving, does that mean we should do the same? I try to think of things on a scale of reasonability (is that a word? It is now). Like Eddie Izzard’s fashion circle of ‘looking cool,’ where one side is uncool and gradually increases into coolness until they once more ‘look like a dickhead,’ we’ve just got to watch how far we ramp things up.

Whether we want to admit it or not, the world does need sorting out, so it’s absolutely necessary to look into issues such as how people of colour can be targeted by police. We can also be more aware of how we treat people of other races and learn as we go. But when it swings back round to claiming rich white people have no problems at all, that’s characterising again. Everyone has problems. Sure, they’re problems some of us might be jealous of (I am definitely not rich), but they may have come from an abusive family for example.

Likewise, you might truly have pride in your police force and see only good men and women trying to do their job, and you wouldn’t necessarily be wrong. But is it also possible that those good people might struggle against outdated institutional problems? And in fact, like any group of people, there are negative and positive influences, and some downright unpleasant? The head of the Met said recently that the police were definitely more likely to stop a young black man than a white man, so we have a way to go.

Likewise, I believe in the basic message of feminism. I believe we have had a struggle to be heard and are still ironing out some issues in the West. I faced difficult circumstances at my own part time job recently and was afraid to rock the boat by speaking out, so I would never say that women don’t face certain issues. However we shouldn’t characterise an entire gender just because we feel it was done to us.

We need to bear in mind how different we all are and stop lumping everyone who meets certain criteria into certain categories. It’s human nature to simplify but it’s holding us back. It’s too easy to have a fixed set of behaviour rules in our heads and apply them to everyone, but maybe instead of telling people what they should be doing we should try calming down and listening. Everyone’s a stereotype until you get to know them, and sometimes they turn out not to be monsters after all.

Below is a TED talk by a former member of the Westboro baptist church. I feel she makes some really important points and it’s time to listen.

Can A Youtuber Be A Cult Leader?

I’ve been researching YouTube communities for a few weeks now for an upcoming book and found myself pondering a surprising question. Before we dive in I’d like to remind everyone that I don’t have the answers, just an overwhelming curiosity. Also some of the videos contain naughty language, so be aware.

Communities exist because, as we know, YouTube is a vast website where thousands of videos are uploaded every second and, without individuals of common interest pulling together and promoting each other, they’d all be lost in a vacuum. The thing is, people are people and, no matter how much we’d love to, we don’t really get along – at least certain people can’t with each other. I’ve noticed each community (Booktube, Storytime, Ranters, Vegans… oh God, the Vegans… we’ll come to that) will have its antagonists or people who just don’t agree with the way others are doing things, the others often take sides, and sometimes it leads to the disintegration of the group and sometimes not. It’s the same with any large mass of people, online or otherwise, it’s just a new platform for all this to happen.

There’s another element to online disagreements though, one which is both fascinating and disturbing: can a YouTuber become a cult leader? It sounds completely daft but more and more I’ve wondered at the possibility. There is a general fear that impressionable people can be lured into cults via the internet, though whether there is any basis in fact is another matter.

One YouTuber years ago jokingly (?) attempted to start his own cult and, interestingly, he’s a person many have since had genuine concerns about. They worry that his young fan base is easily taken in by what he tells them and so on. But does that make it possible for him to be a real cult leader? In order to decide that I suppose we ought to define what a cult leader is.

The following video demonstrates the common ways a rational person is manipulated and transformed into a follower:

It seems pretty crazy and far-fetched to think someone could manage all this by uploading videos onto a website, right? But some are convinced it’s possible. I suppose we can look at it two ways. When we don’t like someone, we tend to view everything they say and do through the worst possible lens. For example, the lady in the video below felt a YouTuber was disrespecting disabled people and, once she approached him via social media, he didn’t respond well and neither did his followers.

It’s never nice to be spoken to in an unpleasant manner, in real life or online, and it can be mentally upsetting particularly for the very young or those with chronic illness. The seeping in of negativity from online to everyday life once seemed ridiculous to people, but the potential real world damage is becoming clearer.

The lady below points out several entirely plausible things that qualify him as a potential cult leader, and she’s not the only one, but is it also possible she’s seeing them because…well…she doesn’t like him? Or is she right?

And yet… a YouTuber forming a cult doesn’t seem completely impossible. Back to the vegans.

About a year ago troubling aspects of a group known as Raw Till 4 became evident. Led by a very angry pair known as Durian Rider and his girlfriend Freelee (or Diddly Rider and Free Pee as one dissenter refers to them), the Raw Till 4 diet promotes eating large quantities of raw carbohydrates until 4 when you can… eat cooked carbohydrates? I’m not sure. They set up a vegan festival in Thailand where anyone could go and discuss all things vegetably and raw, before in-fighting and accusations of sexual predation (apparently projection on Durian Rider’s part) caused the entry rules to become stricter and stricter, and those on the fringe were denounced as ‘fake vegans,’ until only a hardcore few meeting all the requirements were allowed to attend. Some began noticing the health advice, among other things, was perhaps not up to par:

However the thing that most worried people was the video of a young girl, 16 at the time, defending the pair. She has a history of eating disorders and apparently blindly followed the pair’s teachings. Notice in the video below the moment she brings up concerns from her doctor and Durian Rider tells her to “ignore your doctor, just listen to the king and queen.”

So yes, I don’t think it’s beyond the scope of possibility. I think we ought to be aware, though, of hysteria and making things fit to our way of thinking. Adam Curtis says, after all, that the internet is “an echo chamber, reflecting our beliefs back at us.” But that doesn’t mean it can’t happen…

How To Reach Your Word Count Goals

Good day my little cocktail cheeses. I made a tiny video which is hopefully full of good advice on how to reach your goals when aiming for your daily word count. Enjoy, and feel free to visit my youtube for story readings (mine and other people’s), tips and general oddity.

P.S. yep my hair is gone. I have entered the Jazz age!

How To Get Story Ideas – Tips For Creative Writing And Authors

Hello my little slightly burnt quorn sausages which turn out OK once the surface has been scraped a bit. I trust you are well?

I made a little video of tips and advice that I’ve gathered from other sources as well as what works for me, so any writers out there will hopefully find this useful.

P.S. the T Shirt is by Betty Rocksteady, whose novella was published by Eraserhead Press the same time as mine.

7 Advice Podcasts For Writers Of Weird Fiction And Horror

I don’t know what I’m doing! Sometimes I think I do but, more often than not, the further into this writing game I get the more I realise I know far less than I thought. However help is at hand in the form of people who know a bit more than I do making words into microphones. Take their hand (don’t kiss it, it’s probably sticky) and follow them down a dark corridor. Or a well-lit one, whichever seems nicer.

Speculate!speculate!

Billing itself as the podcast for writers, readers and fans, Gregory A. Wilson and Bradley P. Beaulieu have been referred to as ‘the best interviewers currently podcasting about genre fiction.’ They’re also joined by Michael R. Underwood and all have a good background in writing weird. As well as in depth interviews they review books and discuss writing techniques and publishing.

Bizzong The Bizarre And Weird Fiction Podcast

If you like silly and daft you’ll feel at home here, but there’s a lot of information too. Frank Edler interviews a different weird writer each episode to discuss their work, life, and zombie Elvis.

The Horror Show With Brian Keenexkeene_horrorshow_podcast-cover.jpg.pagespeed.ic.K9Jc-hqB_E

Brian Keene seems like a nice man. He and his friends discuss horror fiction as a genre, the various news and points of interest facing horror authors and, well, pretty much anything else. It’s like having a nice cup of tea – except when they talk about something unpleasant, then it’s like having an unpleasant but interesting cup of tea.

This Is Horror

This is also an informative podcast! Authors discuss their personal work, outlining stories, getting published, getting self-published and everything it entails – pretty much anything a horror writer needs to know.

The Outer DarkTheOuterDark1

Winner of the ‘This Is Horror’ award 2015, guests are interviewed about their books and writing techniques followed by ‘news from the weird.’ This is any information weird writers may find interesting such as anthologies looking for submissions.

Dead Robots’ Society

Soothing and amusing, they chat with a guest on subjects ranging from beta readers, selling yourself, emotional arcs and mankinis with heels. deadrobotssocietypodcast

The Horror Writer’s Podcast

Zach Bohannon and J. Thorn ‘discuss all things horror’ including an interview with the director of The Invitation, horror news and interesting TV. Bless their cottons.

Ta dah! Fill your ears with facts and interesting titbits and may it help you on your journey. Don’t forget to pack a lunch!

Deep POV—What’s So Deep About It

Hello my little munchkin fruit parcels. This blog post was sent to me by writer and artist lady Betty Rocksteady and I found it helpful, so I think you will too:

 

Discover what deep POV is and and how to use this popular viewpoint in your fiction and stories. Give viewpoint characters deep POV.

Source: Deep POV—What’s So Deep About It

My Liebster Award Questionaire (And Nominations)

Hello! The other day my blog was nominated for a Liebster award. I may not have known what it was but I was very pleased as it made me sound intellectual, thus I purchased a pipe, a smoking jacket and crisps.

In actual fact it’s awarded to blogs with less than 3,000 subscribers. I must answer eleven questions given to me by Angela D’Onofrio and nominate 5-11 other bloggers, giving them 11 questions to answer which are at the bottom of this post (and they must then do the same). Here goes!

  1. What was one of your most random, unexpected inspirations? Probably the ones late at night when half asleep. It’s a cliche but ideas always come to me from dreams or sleepy thoughts.
  2. Which book made you realize that you wanted to be an author?
    I always wanted to write, or so my mum says, but the first time I clearly remember thinking I wanted to write my own books was after reading The Witches by Roald Dahl. I was so scared reading about all the horrible things that happened to children that I really wanted to make people feel the same.
  3. Is there a book that you absolutely love that’s the exact opposite of your “usual fare”? (Example: I hoard high fantasy, but have read Augusten Burroughs’ “Running With Scissors” three times.)
    I love Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, all of the sisters fascinate me. Actually it’s quite a gothic story so maybe it’s not so out of character. I laughed like a fool when I read Jenny Lawson’s ‘Let’s Pretend This Never Happened,‘ you should read it.
  4. Do you ever craft playlists for your writing projects?  (Please share some of the songs you’ve used, if you do!) I go a bit obsessive when it comes to music and writing. For specific projects I often hit on a song that keeps me going and play it on repeat. Sometimes it’s a playlist I find on youtube, but either way I keep the headphones on so I don’t drive anyone batty. Once it was this 20s jazz playlist on youtube. During the story A Piece Worth Millions it was anything by or including the vocals of Anneka Snip, such as this, and while writing Rainbows Suck I listened to Space Boots by Miley Cyrus. All in all a rather eclectic mix.
  5. Which authors do you read when you need to fine-tune your own writing voice? If I need assistance with personal style I try to stick to straight-forward prose about off-the-wall things. I love poetic writing but it’s just not me, so I might choose Alice In Wonderland or Leonora Carrington.
  6. What would your dream workspace look like?
    The Occult, 1920s room at Talliston House, Dunmow, Essex (but with a computer).

    The 1929 Occult Study at Talliston House
    The 1929 Occult Study at Talliston House
  7. Obligatory Writing Beverage of Choice Question! (Bonus points if it isn’t actually stereotypically coffee!)
    Diet Coke! And tea.
  8. CDs or MP3s (or, hey, vinyl or cassette)?
    MP3s. I love the idea that our possessions float in the ether.
  9. What’s your favorite Disney movie? (The former aspiring animator in me NEEDS to know.)
    I’m not really a Disney fan, however at the time I loved Beauty and the Beast, probably because it’s a fairly depressing one. I also quite liked The Little Mermaid. I loved Watership Down more than Disney (apart from that terrible song) because I enjoyed the violence and how much it upset other children. I also went through a phase of watching the Japanese Godzilla and it’s sequels over and over. I was an odd child.
  10. If you had to model your entire wardrobe after any fictional character, who would it be?
    I can’t make decisions so I’ll just say the gothic/rainbow/circus outfits worn by many of Neil Gaiman’s characters.
  11. Is there a theme which persistently creeps into your work, whether you want it to or not?  (Please tell me it’s not just me.) I’ve noticed my tendency to stuff as many bright colours in as possible, plus I seem to be currently pre-occupied with social media. It fascinates me how a person can be famous whilst sitting at home, and how much we bare ourselves to others.

There we have it! My nominees to answer the questions below are:

Leza Cantoral

Eraserhead Press

The Year of Halloween

Anastasia Catris

Betty Rocksteady

And my questions for you are:

  1. When did you first realise you were drawn to the strange and odd
  2. What do you love most about the strange and unusual
  3. What are your favourite books/art pieces/films/TV shows etc
  4. What do you want to say/show by blogging
  5. How easy do you find it to get an audience, and do you have any tips
  6. What are your creative/blogging goals
  7. Who inspires you, famous or not famous
  8. What’s your strangest memory
  9. Do you have a routine when you need to think up ideas
  10. What are you most proud of so far
  11. Have you ever had strong or unexpected responses