The Wisdom of David Gerrold

I save a lot of posts on Facebook. Of these, I save more posts by David Gerrold than anyone else.

Online, Gerrold comes across as educated, opinionated, humble and wise. He has no patience for bullshit and sets the bar high in terms of what he expects from those who post on his wall. If you aren’t well informed and possessed of an open mind, you risk getting tossed out the door, no apologies.

He is a single parent and the father to an adopted son, he has immersed himself in the subjects of how to parent and how to communicate, and has argued with others online since it was possible to do so about gay rights, science fiction fandom and who knows what else.

I don’t agree with everything Gerrold says, but a lot of what he has to say is worth studying, writing down, reflecting on and remembering.

(All of this in addition to his day job as a novelist and screenwriter, the later job going all the way back to the original Star Trek.)

Thus:

David Gerrold. Facebook. Monday, December 21, 2015, 11:24 AM:

  • If I post a thought about how I had a good time with Star Wars or anything else, it is not an invitation for anyone to tell me that they did not. I am not interested in why you aren’t having fun in your life.
  • (The above practically echoes a comment by Sean K Reynolds: “If you don’t like something, and someone posts about liking that thing, you don’t have to go out of your way to crap on it. Grow up.”)
  • Q. Why are some people committed to negativity, even to the point of toxic involvement?
  • A. (Also another “Q”): Who hurt you? The reply: “My father never explained anything.” –this from someone who kept asking for explanations for everything.
  • Hurt seems to be a much larger element in the construction of the human psyche than joy. Too many of us walk around as if we’re alienated from our own ability to feel joy. So the only intensity left to us is anger. The question, “Who hurt you?” is an opportunity to acknowledge the source, or at least one of the sources, of hurt.
  • Self-examination…can be therapeutic.
  • (Gerrold’s conclusion from the EST courses he was taking): Yes, you’re a jerk. But that doesn’t mean you have to behave like one today.
  • (Also) Stop focusing on yourself. Don’t worry about getting your shit together. Even when you get it together, it’s still shit. Focus on contributing to others. Focus on making a positive difference somewhere. You don’t have to solve the whole world, but you can solve what’s in front of you.
  • And this is the insight about toxic behavior. It’s selfish. It’s about “me me me me me” and “I want mine” and “you’re in my way.” It’s not about contributing — it’s not about giving, it’s about taking.
  • …to get it…where it impacts…the choices you make…that’s a whole other thing.

Gerrold makes the same point that Mark Taylor made (to you) at Candlekeep: it’s about contribution. Online or in person, it’s about contribution.

This idea is echoed by James Lee Burk when he says “if (a person) writes for the love of his art and the world and humanity, money and success will find him down the line.”

When Gerrold says to “focus on contributing,” he’s saying that to contribute requires effort. This seems counterintuitive–I mean, how hard can it be?–but you know from experience how tough it is to really contribute, to generate at least one forum post or piece of content per day that’s actually useful or that leaves things a little better than otherwise.

It’s the online equivalent to being actively engaged in a conversation.

In between active contribution and being toxic, there’s plenty of room to cruise along, which is what most people seem to do whether online or in person.

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