Writers, First Do No Harm
There was a post on The Stir today which was incredibly offensive and served no purpose except to mock an idea and upset a segment of their readership. Facebook has finally added additional gender descriptions, and rather than report on them so that the general public knows about the change, The Stir chose to preface the news under the heading “say what?” and then proceeded to make up what they deemed six more choices that Facebook forgot.
By the way, it’s 2014.
Hyperbole is usually utilized to point out the ridiculousness of a situation, so the only thing that readers can gather from The Stir’s decision to print this is that they are against people being able to feel comfortable online. That they believe that people being able to label themselves with a proper pronoun is ludicrous. In other words, The Stir, Fox News, and my evangelical neighbours are amongst those last holdouts who support removing someone else’s ability to do something even though in doing so this action does not affect them.
Because whether or not someone else takes advantage of these new choices on Facebook in no way affects anyone else’s Facebook account.
This is the very definition of small-mindedness.
But it brings to the surface sort of the most important guide a writer can use before they post anything online whether that be on Twitter, Facebook, a blog post, or a comment. Take a page from doctors and first, do no harm.
Image: Adrian Scottow via Flickr
Writers needle, sometimes drawing blood, just as doctors do. But when we do, it should be to make society healthier in the long run. We shouldn’t cruelly poke just because we have the tools to do so. We should slide those needles in order to wake people up, make people think, and draw them out of their comfort zones. And yes, sometimes we do that through humour, but we should make sure that the humour is actually funny and serves a purpose. Because when humour doesn’t serve a purpose, it becomes a mockery. And mocking has more in common with bullying than it does with comedy.
So, Facebook, thank you for adding more gender options. It was a move in the right direction to be more inclusive. Because inclusivity rocks.