As I sat, internally engaging in the now-familiar debate of whether or not I should include a “trigger warning” for a story I’d hastily written on my phone while my daughter cried somewhere in the background because she couldn’t find her (current) favorite stuffed toy, I was confronted with the harsh reality that we’ve entered a dangerous epoch, teetering on the precarious precipice of censorship, with our collective grip loosening with each passing second.
The most recent waves of flashy bans- like everything with social media, designed to send a signal and modify human behavior- has had a clear chilling effect on speech.
So chilling, in fact, I wondered how I could even write an ad hoc story these days. I wondered how spontaneous inspiration, Zen-like bursts of epiphany, could even be possible in a world of rigidly defined- and policed- differences.
Superficial differences, by the way.
Only the ones truly capable of preying on the irrational aspects of our being and making us easily divisible by tribe. But I digress.
I don’t use the term “chilling effect” lightly, either.
For, we are in an age where true novelists and artists, people who genuinely love their craft and seek to harness its potential for good and redemption in their communities, they must compete with camgirls who juggle their tits and plead for tokens, competing for the crowded mindspace of a generation raised on the dopamine rush of constant dings and flashes. They are treated as pornographers.
This isn’t necessarily a new phenomenon, of course.
The incoherent ramblings of Joyce were read attentively all throughout the world solely because he’d entered into the forbidden territory of the carnal.
But there is a different sort of passion, and even belligerent brutality, to the current attacks on one of the last remaining cores of our democracy. One not seen, necessarily, in the age of Joyce.
We must constantly worry that we’ll be taken off the air. We must seek out legal precedents on the First Amendment, then reduce ourselves to cynical, resigned versions of ourselves when immediately thereafter confronted with the dismal reality that arbitration agreements and the sheer, utter power of the multinationals who’ve hijacked our entire culture have effectively aborted any chance at a defense before it had an opportunity to get just one breath full of our toxic, polluted air.
And this chilling…