The Great Cyber Melting Pot (or I Know A Vegan)
Posted on June 14, 2013
It’s typical these days to read about how intrusive social media is, the privacy issues that come with it, the ads we’re forced to contend with, and then the sheer amount of time we spend on it. Was it always this way? What was the world like before it? When I think back to my grade school years (kindergarten through 6th Grade) and what kind of diversity I was exposed to, we had white kids at my school. We also had girls. Ew, right? And that was it. No, wait. One of them was Native American and kids made fun of her for it because she was different. We’re all assholes as kids at some point, myself included. Junior High introduced an African American into the mix and even an Asian. Were we riding high on the American melting pot or what?
Flash forward 5…or, ahem, 30…years and look at where we are in terms of diversity. I have friends online—some who I’ve met in person, talked to on the phone, Skyped with, or e-mail regularly and some I’ve who never done any of that with—who are white, black, American Indian, from India, Chinese, Japanese, Taiwanese, Filipino, Italian, German, Mexican, British, Australian, Canadian (but I don’t hold that against her), Democrat, Republican, Christian, non-Christian, agnostic, Buddhist, Muslim, atheist, gay, straight, lesbian, bi, trans, young, middle aged, old, vegan… Now that’s a melting pot.
I’ve enjoyed getting to know them and what they’ve shared with me about their experiences (positive and negative), their hopes, their dreams and their culture. Sure, you run into folks who like to hit you up for money and who are, let’s face it, a little on the psychotic side of the tracks, but you learn to take the good with the bad…and how that Block feature works.
Religion tends to be the odd duck from time to time, though. One thing I’m surprised I don’t see much of anymore is the Born Again version of Christianity, at least in name. Maybe the title has gone away or turned into something else. I honestly don’t know. But I remember someone I went to college with—his name was Joel and I’ll be darned if I can remember his last name—and we met in a freshman English class. He was a nice guy, very outspoken about being a Born Again Christian and, as it turned out, lived one floor below me in the dorm. Now, anyone who knows anything about me or has read my blog posts for any length of time can safely surmise I’m not the follower type and am certainly not one to follow blindly.
I’m not saying Joel was following his religious beliefs blindly. I’m saying that at that age, we really didn’t have much in the way of worldly experience, so pretty much any following we did was going to be considered blind based on what we know today. Anyway, I have this bizarre effect on people where, if I haven’t pissed them off from the get go, I perk their curiosity. He sought me out to work on our latest assignment together and when he tried to introduce me to Christian music, I decided to introduce him to the music of Skinny Puppy. He wasn’t a fan. It’s possible he may have even thought I was the anti-Christ or a close relative. He may still be right. The day is young.
Just knowing Joel back then made me think my world was opening up by leaps and bounds. Technically, I guess it was since I’d never known anyone like him, but nothing like how my world is opening today. I even remember having a pen-pal from Australia when I was in high school and thinking how worldly I was. My future husband, meanwhile, was traveling the actual world and seeing things that would take me quite a few years before I’d begin to catch up.
So, yes, I could make the argument based on the time I came from that social media truly has made an impact on my life. Is it worth the hassles associated with it? More often than not. Would I be willing to give it up? Not so much. I discover more about the world, what’s going on in it, and how it all works from the people I’m in touch with than anything I see on the news. See, that’s another great thing about the kind of interaction these people and I have. I don’t need the news to filter what they want to tell me. I can get the real story from the people there who are living it.
That’s the difference.
Now, please, someone create something better than Facebook so I can get these f***ing ads off my screen!
Kristoffer Gair (who formerly wrote under the pseudonym Kage Alan) is the Detroit-based author of Honor Unbound, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To My Sexual Orientation, Andy Stevenson Vs. The Lord Of The Loins, Gaylias: Operation Thunderspell, several short stories featured in anthologies (to be combined in a forthcoming book), the recently re-published novella Falling Awake, its sequel, Falling Awake II: Revenant and Falling Awake III: Requiem.
7 Responses to “The Great Cyber Melting Pot (or I Know A Vegan)”
June 24, 2013 at 8:37 am
Those of us “of a certain age” (which you, Kris, have decades to go before you reach), born in a corner-grocery world now find ourselves in a Wal-Mart Superstore society. Mostly positive, but a more than a little overwhelming at times.
June 24, 2013 at 9:04 am
I never minded life before Wal-Mart. I don’t go there now, but I know what you’re saying. Thank God the MTV generation only lasted that, a generation. Even you must be amazed and the sheer diversity of people who’ve found you online and read your books.
Patricia Logan says:
June 24, 2013 at 8:58 am
FB has ads? I ignore them completely. I do spend a lot of time on FB but it’s because I use it to promote and sell books as well as forming friendships with people that I feel like I know intimately. Jeff and I probably have 30K PM’s back and forth and at least half of those are “lol”… so I obviously enjoy my FB friends very much. Plus, between you and I, we entertain a host of people and make them laugh when they read our posts so that makes me very happy. It’s like the Kris and Patti show when we get going. How many hilarious threads have we had together? Jeff told me that he looked forward to logging on every morning just to see if you had stirred the pot the night before and if I had responded. I wouldn’t have the wonderful Face of Gay to look at either nor would you have so many contributors. I think all in all, it’s been very positive.
June 24, 2013 at 9:06 am
You and I probably would never have met. I found my first publisher online, which is how Amanda and I met. I can see myself (if that never happened) sitting at home and feeling a tremor in the Force.
“By the prickling of my thumbs, something wicked with red hair in California this way comes.”
Joelle Casteel says:
June 24, 2013 at 2:20 pm
heck, the Kris and Patti show is one of the highlights of my day 😀
June 24, 2013 at 2:55 pm
Joelle Casteel says:
June 24, 2013 at 3:01 pm
For me just past the base of the thumb, I gotta have online. I kinda almost fit in some places in Saginaw, but just barely. I remember growing up in the southern suburbs of Detroit and absolutely hating it. I knew there was a more diverse world out there, my parents wanted to make sure I didn’t experience it. My first trips to Ferndale and Royal Oak helped. I look at my teen and his experience- just in another conservative waste of space of Michigan. Even before he got to be a teen, he was already depending on the Internet and social media for a social life. I look askance at the “intrusion of social media” idea. Sure, Facebook isn’t perfect- having witnessed the so-called feminist group attacking consensual BDSM pages this weekend, but it’s better than not going to be around any like-minded people without driving a minimum of 2 hours.
and btw- if you couldn’t tell from our joking on fb, I’m at least one more vegan you know, although I refuse to be the hysterical, leaflet-handing out stereotype of a vegan. “Cause sometimes it just doesn’t work- reality is not perfect. And sometimes that frozen chocolate banana at Pride is more important than worrying if there’s some milk or milk products in the chocolate 😀