Sharing Ain’t Just For Caring Anymore

So let’s talk the internets.

When the internet first started blowing up, I remember being terrified of the consequences. The constant reminders that, “Your kids could have friends they’ve never even met,” just made it worse. Specifically, I was afraid that, because of the lack of necessity for us to leave our houses, it would make us a generation of mole people. And, while my pallor may perhaps be a result of my lerve of the online, I somehow think this here series of tubes has been more a positive influence on society than a negative.

The usual arguments, some of which I myself make, still apply: It makes people intellectually lazy (why memorize anything when it’s merely a Google search away?); it divorces people from the society around them and makes them more “active” electronically instead (why get the blisters from marching against something in reality, when you can just sign up for a Facebook group?); it makes people slaves to its will (I’m sure I’m not the only one who gets clammy palms from a temporary glitch in my connection). Still, the collaborative nature of the internet is what I think is the overall positive, and here’s why.

I’m actually kind of a purist when it comes to all things paper. I cherish newspaper-printed fingers and my boxes and boxes of books. And, while I am saddened that most people aren’t likewise emotionally linked to their wood pulp collections (meaning numerous journalistic institutions and publishing houses are being torpedoed by…well, people like me), I find the nature of the blogosphere fascinating and highly positive on the writing community, in that it’s a serious community effort.

What I mean is that, in order to get anyone to read your blog in the first place, you have to read other blogs. There is no existence within a vacuum in the online community; there is no take without give. I know that it should be the same way in the literary community in general, but I’ve found the bubble-creating nature of academia to be counterproductive to this. Once friends of mine who’ve entered the academic pursuit of studying literature did so, they had to specialize, to work at their craft, and to therefore somewhat abandon the explorative nature of the beast. While studying writing, you are (naturally) encouraged to write; while studying literature, you are encouraged to read. However, there is no rule that says that, before you have anyone at the magazine to which you’re applying read your stuff, you must read that magazine (and others), give criticisms/insight to them, and see if they respond. Don’t get me wrong: It’s a damned good idea to do so, but it’s not a necessity.

Yes, this encourages amateurs to get in the game. And, sure, there are talentless hacks (*cough cough*) that invade the process, but they exist everywhere in the literary community (hellooo, Nora Roberts!). I’m sticking to my guns, though: I believe bloggers will be an unexpected benefit to the literary community at large.

Plus, hey, free movies. Beat that with a stick.


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