This week I read a blog post which asked, among other things, whether social media encourages us to be ruder or more aggressive towards one another. Does it? Flicking through the comments section, it seems quite a lot of people believe the potential anonymity of the web allows free expression of rudeness without accountability.
Of course, sometimes people are rude, occasionally shockingly so. On 15 March, I saw the words slung at Allison Pearson by a handful of Twitter followers who disagreed (strongly, it seems) with her Telegraph article on euthanasia. Clearly, it’s not all right to scream obscenities and wish ill health on a writer and their children, no matter how much you disagree with their views.
Even so, I am not yet convinced that the internet — or any part of it — is any worse than real life. Yes, there’s bullying and rudeness, just as there is in the playground and at the school gate (and sometimes little difference between the two), but there are also mountains of kindness and support.
I don’t need to point you to the charity websites, or discussion forums, to show you how online communities can help people; the sites are there in abundance, but for new (or old) writers who may find online publication a bit daunting, there are plenty of good places to try.
On Twitter there are millions of writers; here’s one of many lists of friendly, supportive folk to follow.
There are also loads of welcoming writers’ groups online, where generosity and kindness can be found by the bucketful. I’ve listed a few groups below, where everyone’s welcome to join in, none of it costs a penny (unless you fancy buying some of the goodies), and there’s no pressure to perform or compete — it’s all for fun.
Four Five huggable writing spots:
- Fiona Robyn’s incredibly welcoming and relaxing nanofiction community, Writing Our Way Home,
- Calum Kerr’s brand new National Flash Fiction Day (UK and there’s an international page now) which has a set of regional online offshoots (does that make sense?!),
- Johanna Harness’s Twitter #amwriting website,
- JM Strother’s #fridayflash community,
- and (eek!) nearly forgot NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, a.k.a. November).
All you have to do to join in the fun is write, and be nice.
So, are we horrible?
What are your favourite writing communities?