Rhona Canoy /
SO… The editors of this esteemed newspaper made the grievous mistake of asking me to be a regular contributor to their Op-Ed page more than a year ago. In all honesty, I didn’t have to think much about accepting the invitation because I was raised in a writing environment and took to the habit very early in life. In paying more attention to what I write about, I have completely overlooked analyzing my perceptions on the actual act of writing.
Erroneously, I thought that most people back away from the thought of publishing unless it is an effort that is required for academic pursuit. That perhaps the idea of permanently throwing one’s thoughts out into the public arena for all to chew on and possibly violently spit out is terrifying. That’s what I thought. Boy, was I wrong.
When I discovered the power of the word and how it affected me, I was quite young. Actually in the first half of my first decade of life. Learning to read gave me the opportunity to be anyone I wanted to be without being declared clinically insane, go to places where I wanted to be without physically leaving the comfort of my home. By the time I was six years old, I had travelled the world — climbled to the top of Mt. Everest with Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, been 20 thousand leagues under the sea with Captain Nemo, spent hours in the courthouse with Atticus Finch, lived in the Swiss Alps with Heidi, been the only female knight of King Arthur’s round table, was Marie Curie’s lab assistant, slid down the rabbit hole with Alice. Among other things.
Equipped with this multiverse inside my head, I took pen to paper. I suppose, like every child, I needed editorial approval which was readily found at home. My mother, my original grammar Nazi, pointed out my spelling and sentence construction errors (which amazingly were few) and eventually was no longer needed by the time I started going to school. For content, however, I submitted my work to our resident attorney who demanded integrity in my writing, whether it was fiction or an entry in my journal. And so my high level of expectation from other writers was born.
Fast-forward to the digital age. Darn! Everyone publishes now. And I mean everyone. People don’t realize that status posts on Twitter or Facebook count. Social media as a writer’s platform has allowed literary idiocy to reign supreme. We should have some rules, don’t you think? Okay, maybe the grammar Nazi can retire. Let’s be a bit forgiving in that area. But content? People don’t realize that what they choose to write about is revelatory of their mindset, their values, their point of view — in effect, who they are. Who we are.
Someone once said that writing takes a lot of courage. Of course, it does. It requires the writer to be informed, to be experienced, to have purpose. And it requires the writer to bare his or her soul to the reader. Sadly, in this day and age when all the information available can be had with a click or a swipe, people are choosing to be ignorant, to remain ignorant. And everybody believes in their entitlement to publish.
I haven’t quite decided whether to be greatly amused or greatly alarmed by what I read… anywhere. Newspapers, social media, tabloids, school essays. Readers seem to have lost the ability to chew on information and spit out the worthless, the tasteless, the poisonous. And the ability to discern fact from fiction? Let’s not even go there. Listen, I’m not saying that fiction has no purpose except to entertain. Lots of psychology, political tactics, human behavior can be studied through fiction and then held up against real life for validation. I often wonder what authors have gone through in life to make their fantasies so rich.
And yet most readers are narrow-visioned and narrow-minded. Often, because they shamelessly and unhesitatingly publish on social media, I am saddened by how a single opinion or piece of information becomes viral simply because readers blindly agree with what is being said. Or perhaps because that particular writer has put into words what they themselves cannot properly express. And then turn around and publish what they have editorially approved. Ctl+C Ctl+V. Copy paste. Let’s not get into Select at this time, although that is the most questionable part. We live our lives copying and pasting. Probably because it’s easier. Probably because there is hardly (if any) accountability.
Wouldn’t cloning cut through the crap and get it done in half the time?