Agree to Disagree

On social media, people post a lot of different things. Sometimes things we agree with; sometimes things we don’t.

When it’s a site like Facebook, where in theory we’re “friends” with the people whose posts we see, reading something we strongly disagree with can lead to the desire to correct their misperception. After all, they’re our friend, right? We want them to know right from wrong.

But to them, maybe what they’ve posted isn’t wrong. We don’t all agree on everything. If everybody thought the same way, the world would be a rather boring place.

It’s unlikely that you’re going to change someone’s mind by telling them they’re wrong. Unless it’s something factual, and you have the information to prove they’re incorrect, you’re dealing with a difference in opinions and beliefs. Those are neither right nor wrong in a general sense, only right or wrong for each individual. Telling a friend their opinion or belief system is wrong is more likely to change their mind about being friends with you than about the topic.

If it’s a case where there’s a huge discrepancy between your opinion and theirs, it might be a sign that the friendship really isn’t viable. Back in 2015, when the US legalized same-sex marriage, I posted things on Facebook cheering for the change in law. A friend of mine private messaged me to berate me for posting pro-LGBT+ things on my own Facebook wall, and made it clear that they strongly disapproved of any such thing and would “have a problem” with me if I shared anything like that with them in the future. I ended what was, at the time, a 29-year friendship because I refuse to have intolerance and hatred in my life, particularly in a venue where my offspring might see it.

But if it’s a milder thing, is it worth risking the friendship just to try to convince them you’re right? Of course it’s okay to express your opinion even if it disagrees with theirs, but unless you feel so strongly about the issue that you’d rather lose the friend than the argument, it might be best to agree to disagree.

Watch What You Say Online

It’s ridiculous sometimes how much of our information is shared online, and how much is taken over by others. Ridiculous—and scary.

Pretty much everyone who’s ever online has been told to be careful what they share, but being careful has different meanings to different people. I had an experience over the summer where I’d posted something about people I knew, using pseudonyms and believing I was posting privately. Someone saw the post and reported it to one of the people mentioned—even though I never mentioned that person’s name. Somehow, the person who reported the post put pieces together, pieces I didn’t even realize existed, and found out who I was referring to.

People were hurt by that, and six months later, I still feel horrible. Not only did they see something I’d posted that they were never meant to see, but one of the people involved had children. The person who put the pieces together could just as easily have been a predator. Thank goodness that wasn’t the case, but it definitely gave me a wake-up call about being far more mindful in what and where I say things online. (As soon as I was told what had happened, I contacted one of the moderators of the forum where I’d posted and asked that the posts be removed, which they were.)

Online, people share a lot about their lives. Information. Pictures of their families. What’s going on at their job. We might think we’re taking steps to protect ourselves and the people about whom we post, but you never know who might see it and decide to dig and find out more. There’s no way to completely protect everything we post. All we can do is be even more careful than we think we need to be.

Or just not go online. But I think for most of us, that’s pretty unlikely.

Hate Doesn’t Solve Problems

A lot of people in the United States are scared right now. Actually, from what I’m seeing on Facebook, I think a lot of people in the world are scared.

I’m not a very political person, so I’m not going to go into the whole issue of our newly-elected President. What I am going to get into, though, is looking out for one another.

Even before the election, people supporting the President-Elect were ranting against those who didn’t support him. People were committing acts some would consider hate crimes, and in some cases law enforcement investigated those acts as such. Now that the election is over, those things are happening even more, and the hatred runs on both sides of the situation.

Maya Angelou once said, “Hate, it has caused a lot of problems in the world, but has not solved one yet.” Hate is certainly causing a lot of problems now, everywhere from businesses to city streets to schools. Even in kindergartens.

You don’t have to like everyone. You don’t have to agree with everyone. But we live in a world where different races, ethnicities, religions, sexual orientations, gender identities… Okay, the list of ways in which we are different is so long I know I’m going to forget things. But the point is, our world is not a place where everyone is the same. It isn’t a place where everyone *thinks* the same. And that’s part of what makes it a wonderful world to be in.

So please, practice acceptance. Tolerance. At the very least, practice neutrality. If you can, help and support those who are targeted because of a way in which they’re “different.” The safety pin, that small object that sometimes holds clothes together and can usually never be found when you need one, has become a symbol for those who stand with people who are being targeted.

This blog is a safe place. My Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr…all safe spaces. Heck, if you see me on the street and need someone to have your back, just say so. (Even though I probably won’t be actually wearing a safety pin, because I honestly can’t find one of the blasted things anywhere in my apartment…)

If you can, be someone safe for others. If you’re in a category that’s a target, I hope you stay safe. And if you can’t be safe, if you can’t stand with your fellow humans, at least please don’t add to the hate. Try to solve the problem rather than causing it.

Some Changes

For the past week, I’ve been working on making some changes in how and where I interact with people online, as well as in the plans I have for projects and other aspects of my writing career.

The good news is that, with my current plans, you might see more Jo Ramsey books coming out over the next few years than in the past. Including the possible releases (or re-releases, in some cases) of the books in my Dark Path, Dark Portals, Dark Incarnation, and Reality Shift series. That’s a total of 40 books, which I plan to self-publish, but it’s going to take quite a while to get ready. I’ve realized that I need to have at least the first 12-15 books completed before I start releasing them, because I’ll be releasing one per month once I get rolling. So… realistically, that might take me until 2019 or 2020. Planning that far ahead is kind of scary for me!

I have a few more projects planned for Harmony Ink Press, and I’ll be trying out a few other YA publishers over the next year or two. I won’t name those publishers, because I don’t want to jinx anything…

On the online interaction side, I’ve been doing monthly video blogs (vlogs) that I’ve posted on my YouTube channel. After consulting with my team of social media experts, a/k/a my 20-year-old and her friends, I’ve decided to do a weekly vlog, which will appear on Mondays on YouTube and will also be posted on my home page here. Starting this Wednesday, I’ll also be posting short story videos (i.e. me reading one of my short stories) every four Wednesdays, and except for the July 8 story, all the short stories will be posted on this site as free PDF downloads. (The July 8 story PDF is available only to new subscribers to my newsletter.) Starting on July 22nd, I hope to post trailers for my published books every four Wednesdays. I’ve just confused myself typing that, so I hope I didn’t confuse anyone else!

I’m trying to be more active on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr, and I’ve joined Instagram. The links to all of my social media pages/profiles are on the sidebar of this site, so if you’re on any of them, please feel free to check me out, friend/follow, or whatever.

Since 2009, I’ve been a dual author. Jo Ramsey has been writing young adult fiction, with the first book coming out in 2010; and under a different pen name, I’ve been writing adult romance, with the first book in that category coming out in 2009. I put a lot of energy and effort into the adult romance pen persona, and wrote way too many books, and now I feel that it’s time to step back from that. (I won’t give out that pen name here; some of you may know it, and I ask that you keep it to yourselves. I try to keep this blog appropriate for visitors as young as 11 or 12, and that pen name is definitely NOT appropriate for those ages!)

So I’m going to be putting in a lot more time and energy as Jo Ramsey than in the past, and I hope my readers (and publishers, and people who kinda know me) will excuse me for having neglected this side of my writing career for a while. I’m looking forward to reconnecting with people, connecting with new people, and basically going back to my first love, writing young adult fiction.

And I have help… my, um, not exactly human research assistant will be chiming in on Facebook from time to time, so I hope you’ll friend me there and/or like my page to see what he has to say.

Judgment

Or judgement, depending on how you were taught to spell it. (I believe either way is correct, though I don’t know everything…)

Anyway, one thing I’m noticing a lot online is people judging others. Whether it’s about their clothes, their weight, their hair style (or lack of), whatever. People judging total strangers about things that don’t impact anyone other than that individual.

Why?

That’s a serious question. I know everyone judges in some ways. I’m not immune from doing it myself sometimes, though I try hard not to judge harshly and to keep my opinions to myself if I’m not asked for them. But why do some people think it’s not only okay to think “Wow, that fat person shouldn’t wear that dress”, but to post it publicly on social media and blogs?

Why is it okay to say harsh, hurtful things to people you don’t even know, when you’re sitting at a keyboard possibly thousands of miles away from that person?

I’ve seen people say, “It’s just my opinion, just words on the screen, get over it.”

Do you know what that person’s been through in their lives? Maybe you calling them fat is going to contribute to putting them back into the mindset of the eating disorder they’re recovering from. You insulting their clothes might remind them that they escaped an abusive relationship and can’t find a job, so they don’t have enough money to buy better clothes. And they may have been conditioned to believe they don’t deserve better things and would never look good anyway. Something you’ve just reinforced.

“Words on the screen” can be as hurtful as words thrown in your face. Sometimes even more so, because “words on a screen” are often coming from a stranger, leaving the target to wonder why they’re so messed up that even strangers can tell and think it’s okay to tell the world about it.

Think before you type. Is it really any of your business if a 300-pound woman wants to wear a crop top? Does it affect you in the least if a man has a tattooed face and a shaved head?

If it doesn’t directly affect YOU, why are you wasting time and energy ranting about it online? Is your life that empty and miserable that you have to bring down other people to entertain yourself and feel better?

That last sentence is kind of harsh, but that’s the only reason I can think of behind the current trend of verbally thrashing other people online. Because I know personally, I’m way too busy to even notice someone else’s hairstyle (unless it’s a really awesome one that I want) or their weight or what they’re wearing. And I’m definitely too busy to talk about it online, unless, again, it’s something really awesome. Personally, I’d rather spread the good than the bad.

I think the world would be a lot better if we built each other up… or at least kept our mouths shut. Just my opinion. Just words on a screen.