The Renegade Press

Tales from the mouth of a wolf

I was recently told that my writing has the ability to cause great harm. According to one visitor to my site, my mindset is damaging and shows a proclivity towards destabilising social order and pushing boundaries. While it is a compelling argument, and it is true that I do try to disrupt societal preconceptions; to say that I am a destructive force within the blogging community seems a little far fetched. Don’t get me wrong, I’m flattered that my work could affect someone to such a degree that the felt the need to contact me in an effort to degrade it. I just believe that those in glass houses should not throw stones.

A hush falls over the crowd as a collective sense of anticipation builds. There was an undertone of malice laced through those words. You can almost taste the tension in the air. Hell hath no fury like a writer scorned…

…True. But a wolf doesn’t concern himself with the opinion of sheep. I’m not bothered about the judgement or belittling bestowed upon me by the ignorant or close minded. So rather than descended into a petty diatribe about why someone offering bullshit advice as a life coach should be careful about criticising others for giving people hope, I thought it would be better to take the high road and comment instead on the paradoxical logic that leads people to make such assumptions.

Telling a writer that their work is damaging to the mindset of the reader is merely a poorly conceived assumption that the writer’s purpose or intent is exactly as you perceive it. And that every single consumer views a piece just as you do.

We live in a world of unprecedented exposure to art. Gone are the days where great artists created works to hang in prestigious galleries, or musicians crafted masterpieces to be played to amphitheatres of patrons dressed in their Sunday best. Even literature has become a living, breathing entity that moves through trends and creates successes and swallows failures.

Nowadays the creative arts are just a click of a button away on our computers and phones, allowing us to constantly immerse ourselves in the new and exciting. Music and movies can be streamed, literature can be packaged as an eBook or weblog, and art can be created or captured through photo sharing applications.

The benefits of this are obvious. Creativity is all around us. One can connect with an author or artist half a world away and be educated and enlightened by the works they produce. As an artist we can accrue an audience of similar minded consumers who we would have never had met without this widespread coverage. The audience that I have amassed here at The Renegade Press would not have come to fruition without having the ability to expose my works to the world through social mediums. Yet while I am grateful for the exposure, I am also aware that we are blessed with a curse.

The abundance and availability of art has created a devaluing of the work in the eye of the patron. Society has developed an insatiable lust for the new, bold, and creatively brave, meaning that artwork doesn’t undergo the same maturation process it once did before becoming a masterpiece. A song, film, book, blog, or painting is viewed, appreciated, then forgotten with the swipe of a thumb or the refreshing of a browser. Rather than creating works to last a lifetime, we now create pieces to capture an audience for just a fleeting moment.

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This lust to discover and consume, coupled with technological advancement and mankind’s desire to feel valued has allowed anyone to create and share through social media platforms. In our efforts to fit in or perform, we have unwittingly become venomous critics and hypocrites ready to disparage others to make ourselves appear greater.

Take me for example. I am a writer/author who has created a website through which I can create pieces of social commentary for a readership that chooses to coddle my creativity. Yet there are times when I will read through the blog posts of a like-minded writer and think that their work is sub-par in comparison to my own. Sometimes I will even pass judgement on them for making a stand for what they believe in. I’m not proud of that fact; it’s hypocritical of me to make such absurd assumptions. It’s ridiculous that I could believe that no one anywhere could find value in another writer’s words, or that anyone anywhere would derive the same meaning from it that I do. In those moments I’m standing inside my own glass house constructed through creativity hurling stones at my neighbour.

Thankfully, because I refuse to voice such negative opinions, my thoughts and feelings don’t hurt anyone but myself. They make me close-minded, arrogant and a bit of an arsehole without battering the fragile individuality of the artist in question. Yet this conceited judgement is a common practice in modern day society. We critique with bias, misconstruing both our perceptions of ourselves and of others. Teenagers call their peers a slut when they post a photo in their bikini, yet litter their own social media accounts with similar pictures. Musicians call another artists music dreary while haphazardly slapping together shoddy riffs and generic lyrics of their own. And sometimes fuckwit life coaches trying to swindle people with pyramid schemes or get rich quick plots dare to deem the works of another blogger as damaging to their readership. Yep, even the snake oil peddlers in their infinite wisdom dare to throw stones from inside their own glass houses.

So how to we counteract our penchant to throw stones? How do we dispel with this mentality of mass consumption, devaluation, and our proclivity for judgement and volatile critique? It’s actually rather simple. Stop being that ignorant consumer who believes in belittling another person for pursuing their own dreams. Stop throwing stones from within the confines of your glass house. All you are going to do is break a few windows and cheapen your own image.

If you want to be an artist, be an artist. If you want to be a writer, be a writer. And if you want to be a doctor or a lawyer, then be that. Just don’t be a hypercritical arsehole who disparages others for wanting the same thing.

80 thoughts on “Glass Houses

  1. pixieannie says:

    I particularly like your reference to pieces disappearing with the swipe of a button. I agree wholeheartedly.

    It’s a difficult balance as I find myself looking back over the last few months of my writing journey. The older pieces, brushed under the carpet like long forgotten fluff and detritus. It’s simple. I write it all in a book now and can flick through, delight myself and see my progression. It’s what makes me question whether I should continue to blog.

  2. Sessela says:

    The age of anonymity makes it even harder to hold anyone accountable for their hypocritical escapades. Thank you for this great piece of writing!

  3. canadaslim says:

    Abraham Lincoln once wrote that “you can please all of the people some of the time, you can please some of the people all of the time, but you will never please all of the people all of the time.” No matter how hard you may try there will always be those who are determined not to like you. Forget about them and instead write the truth as you see it, even if it is a truth only you can see. Write because not writing feels like a life unfulfilled. Write because it isn’t there and you give it life. It makes not a shred of difference whether you have ten followers or ten thousand. Just write for you. And you will find that if your writing is true to who you are then it will touch the lives of others. Never underestimate the power of one.

    1. Excellent response! I’m going to re-blog this on my website. I agree whole-heartedly, very well-written canadaslim, Cheers Nicole

  4. miladyronel says:

    Ignore the trolls – they live under bridges for a reason. Instead do what makes you happy: if it’s chasing butterflies with mischievous pixies do it, no matter what anyone else thinks. And write about it – though with the flick of a thumb it will be but a memory for the reader, it will stay with you.

  5. kylegroup says:

    Very thoughtful essay, Chris–and as I have learned over a lifetime of challenging the status quo, keep moving on. We need more voices like yours in this crazy world!

  6. Charles G. says:

    Great post! Yes, the internet also brings the whole “Bad cop” angle that many people play just for their own pursuit of dreams as you mention. This freedom of art communication makes it difficult to distinguish honest critique from attention-getting rants.

  7. CommotioCordis says:

    “My mindset is damaging and shows a proclivity towards destabilising social order and pushing boundaries. ” Ok, please allow me this raucous BAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! Seriously??? Someone was offended for these reasons? That’s just sad and shows a proclivity towards weak mindedness and, well, generalized asshattery. Keep writing. I think your mindset is just perfect and destabilising social order and pushing social boundaries is necessary.

  8. Great Post! Not a fan of people using the internet as a way to anonymously cut into anothers writing. Its not helpful to anyone.

  9. tmezpoetry says:

    I say feel for the poor fellow whose plight is to change others. How frustrating and non rewarding that must be!

  10. realme86 says:

    I would say ignore them. It is true our words carry a great responsibility however people also have a choice to read or not read it.

  11. I genuinely appreciate the fact that you address your own potential to throw stones. It’s natural to compare others other work to your own writing or values, but to voice unwarrented concerns is rude. Comparison of your own work to others’ can be damaging on either end of the spectrum depending on how you handle it. I enjoyed your response to it.

  12. “…my mindset is damaging and shows a proclivity towards destabilising social order and pushing boundaries. ”

    Ha! That’s fabulous. I’ve only managed to get myself accused of withering crops and shaming the ancestors.

  13. Icy Sedgwick says:

    I have to wonder what your detractor hoped to achieve with his/her comments. Did they expect you to stop blogging? If so, was their problem simply that they didn’t want to hear what you want to say? If that’s the case, surely it would be easier for them to walk on by when they see your blog. That would be like me walking into a shop whose clothes I didn’t like and demanding them to close down to suit my whim. I could always just, you know, not go in there. People have the right to not engage with someone but instead of turning the other cheek they seem to think it’s more important to make everyone conform to what they want the world to be. It’s nonsense!

  14. …but, I love the sound of breaking glass.

  15. “What society will say” has hurt the society more than anything else. Raise the voice and it will echo soon…..

  16. Guy Kawasaki says what made Apple great was to be evoke emotion. Love it or hate it, it reaches someone. They have discovered a part of themselves through your work. Unexpected emotions teach us unexpected things.

  17. emariemon says:

    I am so glad that you made this post because it points right at the problems of trying to write anything ever. It is very hard to be honest with yourself and write what you want to write when there are so many people out there to take everything the wrong way or to assume things about your writing. I have always loved your posts not only because of their wonderful content and your beautiful use of the English language but also because I can tell they come from the heart and are unimpaired by what others think. Keep up the emptying of your mind and heart. It is beautiful and I love it.But as long as you love it really that is all that matters.

  18. “People don’t have ideas; ideas have people.” –C.G. Jung
    People will do anything, even kill, to defend their cherished ideologies. In fact, they do everyday. Happy writing!

  19. jrhamrmon1377 says:

    Hmm…where to start. Ah yes. As a writer it is our job to elicit thought, to challenge the social order. Certainly, we’re going to be thrown under the bus. Sure we’re going to cause “great harm”. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter, if we did our jobs right, and carried that burden called truth.

  20. I’ve been known to push a few boundaries myself, though overall I am usually conventional in faith, political stance and life in general. I am for life coaches, the good ones anyway. I tend to encourage people and appreciate the same, most do.

    I am curious now, and want to read your previous boundary pushing blog, though I will read with caution haha. You’re right, we all live in glass houses and should not throw stones, rather respond accordingly as you have done. Debate, not belittle.

  21. Bravo! Our society and the world could do well with change. To wake the ham sandwich up and live life not Matrix living in virtual reality. Fyi despise that movie.

  22. Nice, deliciously twisted irony. I am sort of glad you decided to toss that little stone anyway, despite admitting to the glassiness of your own house.

  23. Bliss says:

    This is the key factor in why I hate Facebook, and do not use it as a social media platform. Everyone has such strong opinions online, and yet in person it’s all sweetness and acquiescence! Writing is one of those creative forms that can be truly vulnerable, the writer truly puts their soul on the line in every piece. Therefore, criticism can hurt. Yet, opinions are valid and feedback is crucial for our development as writers. I guess it’s about finding that delicate balance between saying, “This is my viewpoint, but I can see yours” and downright belittling someone’s craft.

    1. Lucky Sketch says:

      Hi Bliss, I totally agree with you. I believe Facebook is just feeding the narcissism in us.

  24. cocoorange says:

    Love. R-E-S-P-E-C-T. We should practice this wayyyyy more.

  25. Tony Single says:

    Brilliant essay, and I completely agree. We do need to stop seeing other people as impediments or stepping stones to our dreams and goals. It’s this “Darwinian” mentality that harms us more than what any writer could ever choose to write.

  26. thebrunetteinthepinkscarf says:

    This is a wonderful post! You write very well and I presume you enjoy writing…use those comments as fuel for your next achievement! 🙂 Negativity and undermining from people unfortunately happens, but so does karma! 😉 Think positive and keep writing, you have many supporters that are here for you!

  27. Lucky Sketch says:

    Sorry it took me some time to digest the whole post. Yes, I actually agree with you. Today is somewhat a great time for artists; creators and viewers to mingle, share ideas, teach, inspire and learn since everything is just a click away.

    My virtue is to create things that makes me happy. If others agree with it and be happy too, then that’s a good thing. If other’s are not, then they have to deal with it. Well, then, they have choices to ignore right?

  28. I completely agree with you. We are all entitled to our own opinions and views. We are all entitled to freely share our thoughts via all forms of expression. And as much as I love engaging in an intellectual & witty debate, I believe that there is a fine line between conversing our differences and flat out critical “word vomit”. If your response to another’s work isn’t encouraging or debatable, then shut up (blunt yet effective).

    P.S. Keep pushing those boundaries.

  29. fatmanlive says:

    Writing is an art, to raise any emotion by something that you have written, is showing you have that art.

  30. Linda says:

    Food for thought, indeed.

  31. Anke says:

    A work of art should always make those perusing it think and react. If people lose that ability we are truly f***ed. And while we should be careful about the sizes; the amount of stones we throw, I believe it is neccessary if we want to grown as individuals. The key being that we realise that we – too – sit in our respective glass houses. And learn from it.

  32. Jogging through porridge says:

    I was only thinking along these lines the other day, sadly I was sat reading post on someones blog (someone who had clearly stated they were new to blogging) and I was sitting there going through it saying to myself how boring it was, your posts are too long winded and never really get to any point… Which was totally unfair of me as we all had to start somewhere! And so what if I find it boring! I’m obviously not the target audience for that blog 😔 and what’s to say people don’t read mine and think mine is boring / pointless 😳 but like you I haven’t voiced what I’ve just said I never commented and said “this, this was boring you didn’t need to write this” because frankly that’s rude! ✌🏼️

  33. Oh I just love it!! Direct, true, brilliantly composed and can I just say-Some people are total tossers.

  34. Adaku says:

    I love this! Bringing in the artist’s perspective is so on point. We often forget that indeed these are works of art and should be viewed as such, either resonating with it, educated by it or moving along.

  35. “A song, film, book, blog, or painting is viewed, appreciated, then forgotten with the swipe of a thumb or the refreshing of a browser. Rather than creating works to last a lifetime, we now create pieces to capture an audience for just a fleeting moment.”

    I loved this. I think this is very true. We have become so use to being able to speak our mind freely, and at that instance that I think sometimes people forget to stop and think about what is on the other side. Who will be reading your comments? What will they think? What does it say about you? And do you truly mean what you are typing in that moment of anger, have you had a bad day or week or month, and are you taking it out on others? It’s why they say that if you write an email in angry you should save it for an hour, then reread it and see if you still want to send it. I think the same holds true for many other things.

  36. vjearle says:

    I say to provoke controversy, you must be doing something write. Complacency and agreement are far too overrated.

  37. None Other Then Hannah says:

    honestly I like your writing, and what I’ve found with the world wide ‘wah’ community is simple focus on those that praise you and not the obtuse comments, easier said then done yea but you don’t need to justify yourself doll, *pinches digital cheeks* 😀 I’ve been hazed by the net in the past like you wouldn’t believe (or maybe because the net is that sad) and I’ve moved on a healed with the help of my faith and family…hope this finds you in good spirits, take care

  38. Whoops, you’ve gone and damaged me. My entire existence has been undermined by your words and now I have no conception of who I actually am, except by viewing myself through the lens of your opinion! :p Seriously, though,I love this piece in so very many ways… Especially where you admit to being prejudiced against others’ writing, but are polite enough to keep it to yourself. I have a tendency to do the same, unless I come across someone who is markedly better at it than myself (*cough*you*cough*). Then I just go into a spiral of self-judgment and doubt, followed by a general quarter-life/existential crisis… or, I used to, anyway. I’m slowly getting better at valuing the worth of others without devaluing myself. Anyway, before I ramble anymore and turn this comment into its own adjunct article… I basically just wanted to say that you’re an amazing writer, and that if anyone is “damaged” by reading your stuff, it is because they chose to process that way. Your job as a writer is not to make everyone feel safe and special – you’re a wolf, after all. You raise questions, and if that unsettles someone, that means that there is something there that needs to be unsettled and examined, not hidden away under a mound of pacification and quotes about self-worth. Keep howling, and let those who are frightened hide… The rest of us are singing with you. 😉

  39. lyvingbetter says:

    Leave it to a life coach to say such a thing. I’ve heard it says that you know you’re a success when you have managed to piss someone off…something about you’ve captured the attention of even your detractors to the point of response being a sign that you’re getting through. So congratulations 😉
    We do all want to cast our own stones, but I appreciate that you recognize it and don’t lob them out with wild abandon.

  40. Wish my writing would cause harm. You should run a course …

  41. I have to say this is an excellent response. The social media forum has definitely given access to those who feel it necessary to negatively criticize others. The point that sticks out to me is the fact the criticizer assumes to know the mind of the reader. It is definitely fitting that this post should have been written. It is necessary that we take into consideration there will be those that disagree with what we write. I agree that we need to keep moving forward when we read such negative reviews of our work. If every successful artist (whatever field) had stopped because of the negative criticism, we would have no art, writing, songs, etc. I agree that because of our human nature we tend to throw stones from our glass houses. Thank God, Jesus didn’t have a standard for salvation except to come as you are and believe. For those that tend to put themselves on a pedestal, I say we pray for them to come to reality.

  42. So very well stated. Thank you for expressing this wonderful and bold truth- as I perceive it. Brilliant!

  43. Lisa Meister says:

    My grandma had the worst voice in the choir, yet chose to sing louder than the rest. When I joined a choir of my own, she told me to sing to God and to not listen to anyone else. Wise words to live by.

  44. Sara Wright says:

    How very much I appreciated this post and the questions it raises. There are always folks who get their kicks out of attempting to belittle others. How pathetic especially for a “life coach”! What marvelous irony.

  45. Dwordslayer says:

    Simply brilliant..That your words could generate such an emotional response..fantastic!

  46. “I try more and more to be myself, caring relatively little whether people approve or disapprove.”
    ― Vincent van Gogh

  47. Liz says:

    We are products of who we believe we are ❤

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