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  • J.B. Schaefer

Are You a Keyboard Warrior?

Updated: Jan 18, 2022


When I first wrote the dystopian novel series Banned And Cancelled, I understood that there would be some who liked my book, some who did not care for the story, and others that would judge the book by its cover. Yes, I knew the title would ignite those that live their life looking at headlines and memes without diving into the details of their contents. Naming the book, Banned And Cancelled, was my literary practical joke meant to grab attention and inspire conversation.

The Banned And Cancelled Series is a story that begins with the protagonist asking a question on social media, "How much more are we going to let them take?" Of course, the character was speaking to a virtual audience, without expecting an answer, but rather sharing his frustrations to the world. Subsequently, the character was apprehended by "The Party" which is a government that was desperately trying to create a utopia where everyone achieves an equal outcome.

The problem depicted in this dystopian series mirrors reality today where we as a society too often falsely equate equal opportunity with an equal outcome. They are not the same but are often confused by those that experience adversity or hardships. The fact of the matter is, we must accept that people are exceptional at certain things and absolutely terrible at other things. There should be no barriers that prevent you from finding what you excel at, but finding that area of expertise and practicing the kind of determination it takes to achieve it falls squarely on your own shoulders. This is not something that many want to hear. We are all created differently, and those differences serve to help as well as hinder our own personal lives. I wish I could sing, but I do not have that gift. Instead, my skill set is writing and I use that in all aspects of my life.

Recently, my book's social media site has been attacked. Not attacked by those who have read the book, but critically attacked by those that perceive the book is filled with "right-wing talking points." Yes, the book today can be perceived as conservative in nature, but if the book were written thirty years earlier; it might be attacked by those on the right side of the political spectrum.

Anyone who has written a book, a song, or even built a business needs to be tough enough to accept criticism. My writing is not for everyone, and critiquing the story line, grammar or even the book cover is fair game. However, when writing a review or giving your opinion, should it be expected of the critic to actually read the content before critiquing based upon assumption alone? Should they have read more than the first chapter if they explained their displeasure about an entire work of art? If they only voiced their opposition to the first chapter, that would be acceptable, but instead, they were triggered by a title and what they perceive the entire book described. Now before I continue, this book is a fictional series that talks about "what ifs" and ultimately creates a fictitious outcome.

This brings me to my point detailing two brothers who have a completely different ideology from myself. I'm not talking about a "leftist agenda" versus "the right". I'm talking about treating people with respect and dignity understanding that our personal experiences create a difference in opinions. Both of these individuals found the Banned And Cancelled social media page, became enraged at the title and a marketing post announcing the book, and continued to viciously attack anyone who made a positive comment on the book. They refused to find common ground, slandering people they have never met in person while assuming the worst. Emboldened and hidden securely behind a keyboard they continued to find ways publicly to share their disdained for anyone who might think differently than them. Inadequately, they tried to tie their perceived advisories to American politicians who also believe differently than them. Using foul language, petulant rants and threatening connotations; these two spent a week of their time and energy to voice their displeasure over a fictional book with an imaginary tale that cautions the reader about an overreaching government, while also seeking out fans of the series and attacking them personally.

It was explained that the book was created with the intention to provide entertainment and allow the reader to place themselves into the extraordinary plight of the protagonist while having the ability to realize how actions or inactions in questioning those in power can be very impactful to our future as we know it. Yet, this explanation did not satisfy their hunger to blot out anyone who thinks differently than them. It is my hope that if the reader takes any message away from the story, they will be able to step away understanding that no matter your political belief that all people should be treated with respect and dignity. The tyrannical Party portrayed in the dystopian series is not meant as an endorsement or admonishment of either side of American politics, but rather a cautionary tale about unchecked power. Of course, as I have learned throughout life, is that many do not want to understand each others' differences. They do not desire respectful discourse. They want to be told they are right. They want to live inside an echo chamber. They want to win at all costs.

No book should ever be censored by the government, nor should speech (even hateful) be controlled. However, after trying to reason with these two keyboard warriors, I had to finally stop wasting energy discussing that there is more common ground than not and finally Ban and Cancel them from being able to spew their hate-filled rhetoric on the books page and attack and insult those who have actually read and enjoyed the series. My justification for this action is that the book's site is much like my house. People are more than welcome to do whatever they want in their own house, but if they come into my house, they have to be respectful to everyone in it otherwise face the consequences of their actions. Critiques, and even insults, against myself are one thing, but to attack people who are merely readers of the series is entirely unacceptable.

It makes me wonder, would these people act this way in person? Would they be able to articulate why they are filled with so much hate in a face-to-face situation? Are they only emboldened because they feel safe behind a keyboard? What went wrong in their life that they felt the need to come to an author's page about a fictional story, and try to attack all who enjoyed the books imaginary story? I truly hope they and others that do these same things get the help they desperately need. I hope they can find some peace and validation in their life to look at themselves in the mirror without exuding their hatred onto others in the world.

After giving them more than enough time to try to convince anyone who would listen, I had to finally put a stop to the negativity on issues that were not even related to the book. I then received an email with the first sentence stating, "I WIN."

Did they really win or did I? Does it matter who won a game of "I gotcha"? Does our society win when we continue to focus on the divide versus the common desires we all want? This plays right into the storyline of Banned And Cancelled. "The Party" relishes a divide among the people because they can exploit this divide and remain in power. The longer they are in power, the more control they have. I personally believe the winners are not those who take to social media and argue amongst each other. However, the winner is the government who remains in control while 'We The People' take up their talking points. Of course, the second book of the series details a civil war that describes this very scenario. And guess what, The Party is still in control with good people being hurt the most.

In this shattered world, you can either assimilate or be one of the countless individuals finding themselves BANNED AND CANCELLED!

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