Cacophony of Gossip, Fabrications, Deceptions, etc.

March 13, 2014

Once upon a time, not so long ago, a newspaper (or three) delivered information to your doorstep (or you grabbed a copy from a kiosk on the way to work). You might have listened to snippets of news on the radio during your commute. And if you lived long enough ago, in a large enough community, you might have also received (or picked up) an afternoon paper.

You might even have read a weekly or monthly news magazine delivered to your mailbox or selected at the newstand. But, except for Uncle Walter or David Brinkley on the evening news that was it. A finite number of words, pieces of paper, and broadcast signals, devoted to delivering information each day.

Now, thousands of mainstream “newspapers” and “magazines” (some of which no longer have print editions) post information online. Access to international news organizations for an enlightened perspective on the inanity and inaccuracy of U.S. media reporting is a few keystrokes away. You can read about the same event from a dozen different perspectives eliminating the concept of “objective” reporting from your vocabulary.

And, then there’s the blogs, many offering better researched, higher quality reporting than the once-respected standards such as the plagiarizing New York Times or the right-wing-slanted Wall Street Journal. This is especially true for obscure topics or ones that require significant, educated analysis to understand their subtleties.

(Of course some blogs are just soap boxes for ill-formed, unsubstantiated opinions, but that’s another post.)

If you don’t want to cycle through numerous publications or constantly refresh the ones you’ve chosen as your standards, Twitter and other “streams” offers you instant access to almost everything published – including rumors, innuendoes, parodies, satire, and outright falsehoods.

Now, rather than accept what some (usually white, middle aged, male) editor decides is newsworthy, you can select the sources that provide the information that’s of interest or is useful to you.

Unfortunately, this inundation of material has created numerous problems. The primary one is the proliferation of misinformation. U.S. and foreign media outlets too often pick up false rumors and parodies and pass them off as facts. How many times have some celebrities’ deaths been reported, before, and decades after, their demises? How many iterations of the same urban legends have been disseminated via Facebook, G+, and Tumblr?

No one is fact checking even though resources to do so are readily available such as Snopes and about.com’s Urban Legends (as well as others). Even previously reliable sources have posted and printed inaccurate and, sometimes blatantly false, information.

Anyone who shares knowledge gleaned from the Internet, whether with just friends and family or with hundreds/thousands of Twitter followers and Facebook friends, should take responsibility for the accuracy of what they disseminate. But, too many tweet, tumble, and pin articles based only on the headlines or someone else’s post, never verifying or sometimes even reading the actual content. And, not only is a picture no longer worth a thousand words – it provides no proof. (See “John Adam” aka action figure “Cody” above.)

Those who don’t get confirmation from more than one “reliable” source, just pass along false information (sometimes inadvertently, at times deliberately) and add to the cacophony of gossip, fabrications, urban legends, deceptions, constantly recycled old news, etc. increasing the dilemma for everyone.

Of course, the second most problematic result of information inundation is the sheer volume of data now available. (Although not everyone can retrieve everything, a fact driven home by academic friends pleading for someone to share papers they can’t access because of their location.) No doubt, one could spend every waking moment reading online reports, updates of reports, analysis of reports, and localization of reports or trying to confirm whether the article posted on your favorite site bears any resemblance to the truth.

So, where do we draw the line between well informed and news junkie? How do we tune out the lies and innuendos to find something resembling the truth (assuming we aren’t angry old white men just looking for confirmation of our right-wing nut job fantasies)?


Just because you read it in a book…

March 5, 2014

No one asks a mystery writer how many people she’s murdered. But, readers too often assume a writer of erotica has personally performed every sex act she writes about. Worse, as today’s guest blogger Beth Wylde discusses, they sometimes try to emulate what they read.

Just because you read it in a book…
by Beth Wylde, author of Broadly Bound: Broad Horizons

Fiction is fabulous. I was a reader long before I became a published author or an editor and I still have a voracious book appetite. The bill for my monthly book habit rivals that of a long-term addict. Words are my drug of choice.

My taste in fiction is also quite broad. As long as it is well written I will probably read it, no matter the genre or pairing. But, one of my criteria for a fictional story (even though fiction means the story is not true) is that it contain a bit of realism. Just a bit, otherwise I’d be shopping in the non-fiction section.

I know what you’re thinking: fiction is fake. Why should it be realistic? How can it be?

While it’s true that there are no such things as werewolves, vampires, or sex-enslaving aliens (or at least I haven’t met any), with a little research, an author can present the subjects in way in which the characters will be believable in a story.

I read for enjoyment, as an inexpensive way to relax. I want to be entertained. Nothing infuriates me more than weak characters, half-assed storylines, or an attempt to disguise abuse as BDSM. I want kick ass heroines and men who don’t feel the need to hide in the closet. I want action and drama and my HEA, no matter what. Sometimes the truth has to be stretched a bit to achieve that.

This is where our job as readers comes in.

Authors are first and foremost entertainers. We write stories for our readers to enjoy. Sometimes our characters do things that real people should not attempt. Some of you may be laughing right now, but I worked in a hospital for 13 years, three of those in ER Radiology on third shift. People chasing the orgasm do some stupid things in bed, on the roof, in the backseat of their car, on the kitchen stove, etc… (you get my point).

Hell, there is now an entire show dedicated to sexual escapades gone wrong and the subjects don’t always walk away laughing. Sometimes they don’t walk away at all.

Just because you read something in a book, especially BDSM fiction, does not mean you should run out and try it.

Your girlfriend may suck like a Hoover but when she is gone don’t try to use the vacuum as a stand in for her. She’ll come home to find you missing some valuable parts.

It’s never a good idea to put an animal up your ass, no matter how small it is or how amazing someone tells you it’ll feel once you get it in there.

There are certain household and easily found chemicals that should never be used as lube or arousal cream, and I mean never!!!

For those times you want penetration, and there are no toys handy to help you out, be very careful what you decide to use as a substitute. Bottles of any type are never a good choice, especially if they are glass or are open at the top. The vacuum effect can happen here too and it won’t be an enjoyable experience unless your desire is for major, internal surgery.

Don’t take someone else’s sex meds if your dick works. A loving partner will understand that you need recovery time and a ten-hour erection is not a fun thing, or so I’ve been told.

There are other incidents I could mention but those remain at the front of my mind. Overall it is the reader’s job to use caution.

I always add in personal touches to my stories, especially my BDSM ones. I write about things that fascinate me and turn me on. I do my research if it is a kink I have not personally experienced or had the nerve to try yet, but sometimes my characters still push the envelope of what is safe and sane. If you read about something kinky that interests you, even if you know the author does her research, you have to do the same.

Ask someone you trust, who has experience in the lifestyle, to guide you. Go to a munch, watch a demo, take some time to visit a local club and just observe for the evening. I’ve found people in the lifestyle to be unusually welcoming. I think part of that is because they have been the subjects of prejudice for so long they welcome those who are truly interested and want to learn.

But, don’t pick up an absolute stranger, go back to their house, and let them tie you up and beat you. (Don’t laugh. I’m not making these examples up.)

You won’t find ‘do not attempt this’ warning stickers on most fictional books, if any. The fiction category label is all the warning a reader should need. So go out and enjoy a good book, just remember in the end that it’s entertainment, not a how-to manual. If you enjoy reading BDSM stories, please pick some by authors who actually know how to research in that genre. If you need some good recommendations just email me. I promise you won’t find any poorly written, abusive-boyfriend-disguised-as-a-Dom, fanfic on my list.

About Beth Wylde:
Erotica author/editor Beth Wylde writes what she likes to read, which includes a little bit of everything under the rainbow. Her muse is a flighty smut bunny that believes everyone, no matter their kink, color, gender, or orientation is entitled to love, acceptance and scalding HOT sex! You can contact her directly at b.wylde@yahoo.com, visit her website or join her yahoo group.

Beth’s books range in genre from paranormal to contemporary and in pairings from lesbian, bi, het and beyond.

About Broadly Bound: Broad Horizons:
Welcome to Broad Horizons, the world’s first and only strictly GLBTQ BDSM entertainment facility. It’s opening night and the owners, Dani and Maryanne, want to invite you inside for a first hand look at what they’ve created. With ten themed bondage rooms, a main stage with several smaller performance areas, a second level observatory, two bars and a dance floor, plus a few extra surprises, your pleasures are only as limited as your desires. Tonight’s event is by invitation only, so bring your RSVP, your proof that you’re over twenty-one and your imagination because this evening almost anything goes.

Buy it at Excessica.