There are definitely times when being on the Internet is the antithesis of joyful. Yes, I’m looking at pretty much everyone who ever thought “social justice warrior” was A) an epithet, and B) something that should have an acronym. Sheesh.
That said, I make it a policy never to argue on the Internet – not because I don’t have opinions I’m passionate about, but because I think taking all the cash out of my retirement account and setting it on fire would be a more productive use of my time and energy. At least the fire would provide light and heat. Arguing online drains both.
But the Internet, believe it or not, can be a force for good. And as an author, I get to participate in a few joyful things that I wasn’t able to before I got published. To wit:
- I got to offer a critique via Worldbuilders; the final bid on Sunday night was $330. That’s all money that goes to Heifer International, and I get to read an aspiring author’s work and help him or her out. Paying it forward…squared. (There’s more cool stuff for auction here, by the way.)
- I was asked to speak to a high school class in North Carolina, and thanks to the magic of Skype, I didn’t actually have to go there. (Though it was like 21 degrees in Jersey that morning, so North Carolina was looking pretty good.)
- I get fan e-mail, which is probably the best kind of e-mail you’ll ever get short of a lottery winning notification (unless sent from an obscure African or eastern European nation). Folks who take the time to send me an e-mail to say nice things about my books are just awesome.
- I helped send Shaun to London last year. That was pretty cool. And really, I didn’t need to be an author for that, but I met Shaun because I was, so there’s that.
- I actually “met” folks like Shaun and Paul and the rest of the S&F crew online prior to meeting them in person. Except Underwood, but only because we share an agent.
- In fact, I got my agent online. Except for that final phone call offering me representation. And the call letting me know that I got a book deal. Some things require a bit more than an e-mail.
- Really, I’ve met a lot of great people online I’ve went on to meet in person, or have yet to even meet, and those folks are pretty cool.
So yes, the Internet can and does bring me joy…now and then. I’ve found the Internet amplifies and intensifies whatever you throw at it before circling back around to you. If you’re angry and mean, it comes back at you in spades. But if you bring some good and joy, then that’s what you get back several times over.
Think about it.
Michael J. Martinez is the author of the Daedalus trilogy – The Daedalus Incident, The Enceladus Crisis and, coming in May, The Venusian Gambit. When not writing SF/F mashups, he spends time with his amazing wife and kid, travels a lot and homebrews. He’s on Twitter and Untappd, but avoids Facebook as a matter of course.