I almost made this story the subject of this week’s essay. But I launched this newsletter by complaining about how Twitter’s rageohol-fueled engagement algorithm had made witches and witch-burners of us all
, and I’ve returned to the subject often enough since then. Lee’s take on it is more personal; as a woman of color working in genre fiction, she’s experienced far more and stronger hate-waves than I ever have. But she also points out the compound after-effects of Twitter eating itself.
More and more marginalized creators are being pecked to death from the right and the left, more and more are leaving (or stepping back) because of it, and as a consequence there’s less of what makes Twitter good: new, emerging, marginalized, oppressed or even just clever creators putting organic, farm-to-table brain food in our timelines.
But the worst part, for me, is one Lee just briefly touches on: Twitter, ten years ago, was a place where artists and audiences could interact on equal footing—and audiences could listen in on (or even be a part of!) the back-channel discussions between their favorite creators were having on craft, industry gossip, tacos, whatever. There were cons to that coexistence, but there were pros, too. As artists increasingly retreat to their own spaces, those backchannel conversations become much more insulated, isolated, and cliquey. Emerging, marginalized creators can’t establish themselves in their scenes as easily, and established pros have to work harder to seek out, elevate, and protect the young voices.
As more and more creators shut out the world to focus on their work, that work will be less connected to, and less engaged with, the greater creative community—for better, or for worse.
“The debate about both siderism is an old one,” Lenz writes in her newsletter, and she’s far from the first to point out that media types weighing real people’s civil rights against manufactured grievances creates a false balance that does real harm (and rarely satisfies the bad-faithedly aggrieved).
But Lenz takes a personal angle to this insight—not only from the ground-up, in stories she’s worked on, but pointing out that the pressure to treat a Nazi and his victim as two parties in an ideological dispute comes from the top down.
Normally I only post work published/posted in the last week or so, but I’m making an exception for this one.