After my post on the dangers of “Gray Goo” Media, serdar had his own detailed response. His response is worth reading – he also has some alternate ideas to my wishes worth considering – and he then notes it’s important to explore why and how we like things over specifics. He then proposes a most interesting exercise.
Sometimes I imagine we can cultivate this by way of exercises. Get together a slew of people who have divergent and vibrant interests, sit in a circle, start with one person, and have that person talk about some specific aspect of a specific thing that gets their attention. (“The reason I like Emma: A Victorian Romance is the attention to detail.”) Then the next person picks up from that thread. (“Something I like that has attention to detail… but here’s what else I like about it, the fact that it is a deeply humane story.”) And on to the next person. (“The thing I like that has a humane element…”)
This idea intrigues me enough that I’m thinking of using it under various circumstances, and suggesting it to other groups like a local book club, cons, etc. I also find it illustrates an important point about sharing media.
A lot of what we like about media can get very specific. I relate to this character, I like this specific story element. The become, intentional or not, exclusionary. If someone does not take to a given element or character, people have trouble connecting to you – indeed, a passionately stated enthusiasm can seem to be exclusionary. We don’t want to offend someone saying “not for me.”
Instead this method is about the commonality of how we relate, not what we relate to specifically. We discover our shared interests not in media specifically, but what we are interested in and how we share that. A group of people can each be passionate about good worldbuilding, and discuss how they love it, while completely not being interested in everyone else’s choices.
This may not save the world, but it gives us a lot to think about. Maybe it’s a method that can lead we passionate people to help others bridge gaps and find common grounds, which we could certainly use more of.