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How would you write about the social media, immersed present  [message #69788] Mon, 08 June 2015 03:28 Go to next message
larkin is currently offline  larkin

Toe is in the water
Location: Massachusetts
Registered: June 2015
Messages: 58

This question is how do you write about the present?  Not scientific fiction, the present?    
Let me preface this by saying that I am not anti-tech.  I've been on the computer going back to AOL, in fact I learned to write dialogue by printing out rude chat scripts.  I watched the progression from cell phone, where people walked in isolation eyes straight ahead, to the smart phone that are in fact handheld computers that command people's gaze.  Let's not forget FaceBook and other social media.
This is not the future, it is the current situation and we can expect even more free-floating media on the way.  We all know about camwhores which are also fine, but they are not real. It is a strange world where both sides are ghostly specters to each other and if the fantasy gets corrupted the entire relationship collapses like a bubble. The media we are living in is destroying genuine human qualities.     
These are fabricated entities are competing for space in our minds and they push out deeper thoughts, contemplative moods and personal creativity and love and affection.  We are unwittingly constructing the Matrix.
I can write about the low tech 90's when people still got together to talk, have love affairs and disagreements.  This is where our literature came from. I live in the states and I have a hard time finding anyone who has read a book.  It is very discouraging.
When I write about the future I prefer a post apocalyptic world where all the personal technology has ceased to work and does not present a stumbling block to the story.  All except the tech employed by a tyrannical police state.  
Anyway, ignore all my rubbish and refer back to the simple question at the top.  How would you do it?

[Updated on: Mon, 08 June 2015 03:33]

Re: How would you write about the social media, immersed present  [message #69789 is a reply to message #69788] Mon, 08 June 2015 05:01 Go to previous messageGo to next message
ChrisR is currently offline  ChrisR

Likes it here
Location: Western US
Registered: October 2014
Messages: 136

Writing about "today" is nigh on a hopeless task from a technological perspective. The technology of the world changes too rapidly to be captured in a transient story. In my lifetime I've seen "state of he art" go from party lines to the Princess Phone to touchtone to briefcase phones to cellphones to, within a few years, implantables. At any moment, each of those was the TODAY comm tool. (By the way, how many know why the Princess Phone was the key to so much later technology? Has to do with your home.)

Dig somebody out from under tech, however, and the result can be a human story which changes less rapidly. I'd contend it's why stories set in the wilderness, on farms, at stables, etc., work so well. Apple hasn't changed the way a kid mounts a horse. Sony makes it easier to watch the dive, but the diver still has to climb that 6000 meter ladder! And nerves, terror, and love are pretty much timeless as well.

So write your story about the people. Everything else is just a prop which will soon be just a laughable memory.

Reread Richard III - then watch the 1995 movie of the same, set in a nazified England of the 1930s. Not a line was changed and the film was brilliant. (Highlighted by the singularly most magnificent usage of "A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!" ever spoken.)

Yes, write your story. Let me hear what your people have to say. Let me climb inside them and feel what they feel, know why they do what they do, what they love, hate, fear and desire. Then put them into a costume of time and place, and I'll love your tale.
Re: How would you write about the social media, immersed present  [message #69790 is a reply to message #69789] Mon, 08 June 2015 11:06 Go to previous message
larkin is currently offline  larkin

Toe is in the water
Location: Massachusetts
Registered: June 2015
Messages: 58

ChrisR, you got the idea of what I was getting at.
What is startling is how fast cell phones and social media caught on.
A basic story can be about 2 people interacting.  Let's say it's a long distance love story.  One rises in the morning and checks messages and before he gets out of bed, he may start making quick responses to late night arrivals. 
A day can be filled with texts, graphics representations and video communications.  These communications are not limited to a current paramour but comprise family, work, civil responsibility, entertainment, exploration and sexual expression.. Did I leave anything out?
It is not unusual to go into a fast food establishment and see a family or a group of students where each member in looking down into their device, engrossed in communications that are isolated from each other.  The overall effect will be and is isolation.
The main character's long distance paramour's experience may be identical or even uniform.  Here is a person that he has never met in real life but has engaged video communications that are highly sexual and he feels a real passion for.  Each person may or not be what they portray to each other which means the substance of the relationship is on shaky ground.  When these phantom relationship collapse, the participants quickly move on.
The problem with handheld texting is that it is rendering down the language like Orwell's "Newspeak"  It is chatty and uninventive.
It is not so much that I am against this world, I am calling attention to it because the more immersed into it we become the less able we are to see it.
The one thing I haven't covered in this highly complex situation is the loss of anonymity and the intrusion of the State...
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