(The following is the introduction to a forthcoming publication.)
This is not a story about Michelle Shocked.
This is a story about…
Let me ask you something. What was the last news story you read? How closely did you read it before you reposted it? Did you even dig down one level to discover the source, or did you just pass it on, hoping that the next person would do your research for you?
If you’re like most folks, you probably just went ahead and shared the link. You figured the next guy could figure it out, especially if it pulled at your heartstrings. Like a firefighter who rescued a cat or a guy who stupidly left his dog in a hot car. There’s one of those guys every summer; they never learn. Or maybe it was an unbelievable expose of racism or homophobia. Some humiliating tale of human fallibility gone viral on YouTube. And it made you mad. Real mad.
So mad you couldn’t even think straight. The headline probably read something like this:
- Solar Panels Drain the Sun’s Energy! Halliburton Does Own Study.
- Health care legislation requires that U.S. residents be implanted with Microchips
- Kansas Restaurant Kicks Gay Man Out, Tells Him “No Gay Eating Here”
- Drag queen blamed for floods that killed dozens in Serbia, Bosnia and Croatia
You know, something incredible and awful.
As if real news like this isn’t enough:
- Ebola Virus Spreads to Sierra Leone
- Inmate’s Botched Execution a ‘Horrible Thing to Witness’
- 300 Schoolgirls Abducted in Nigeria
- Force-feedings Continue for Guantanamo Bay Detainee
Are you getting the idea? OK, I’ll spin it down even further.
This is a story about hate. Not H8.
It isn’t cute, but it sells. Ad farms know that you are more likely to get involved in a story if they can catch you up in a swift current of righteous indignation. You don’t need to read past the headline. You just need to click.
Everybody lies; everybody benefits. Except you.
How do they do this? First off, they get you to fork over all the information they need to figure out what you like to hear. Media analysts harvest your clicks and register your likes and dislikes. They track your favorite music, restaurants, poets and skin-care products. Pregnant? Your search engine knows. Need a new car? Check the sidebar on your Facebook feed.
These metrics experts distill your personality and put you in a room with other people who are exactly like you. It’s handy, sure, but what you give up in privacy ensures that you will only see what you like. And you will only like what you see. You will all sign the same types of petitions and receive the same style of news. You will all get mad about the same thing at the same time.
But look out – because your social media friends with their tabloid torches and pixeled pitchforks can turn on you quickly and randomly. History has spoken on this topic: vigilante justice is rarely just.
The underlying message: Keep your head down.
The darker message: You created it. And now it’s coming after you.
It’s a brain-stem gotcha that doesn’t rely on Nielsen Ratings.
“A click is a click,” Ryan Holiday explains in Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator. It doesn’t matter whether you clicked on a well-researched story or a sensational headline that asks, “Is Barack Obama Gay?” Even when the answer is, “Of course not, silly,” it doesn’t matter because… you clicked. And if the analytics did its job, you shared the story as well.
The consequence is obvious: Truth gets smacked down by Reality news every time. And art? Let us speak with reverence of the recently deceased…
Prizefighters, gather round. In this corner of the ring: truth, art, and free speech. In the opposite corner: reality, content, and censorship.
The title of this bout: Truth VS Reality.
It’s a story about what happens to someone who chooses fight over flight. It is, in every sense, a demonstration and an invitation to join Michelle in what she calls her ‘copyfight.’
It’s a story about 10 Indelible Women that Michelle desperately wants to share with you – and why she won’t.
I want to be clear about one thing. While I’m using Michelle’s story as a foundation for my own agenda, defending her decisions and explaining her personal life are not the focus of this book. She follows her own path. All day. Every day. And nobody tells her what to do.
She once told me that she couldn’t explain what was going on because she was too busy living it. I said, you go… I’ll write. But it would be a lot easier if you would Stop Doing Things.
She didn’t stop doing things, and she isn’t even going to slow down long enough to illuminate this path.
Which means I’m gonna answer a few questions for you right off the bat – cause she sure ain’t.
1. Question: Is Michelle gay?
Answer: “I am not now, nor have I ever been, a former lesbian.”
2. Question: Is Michelle crazy?
Answer: “I am not crazy.”
3. Question: Is Michelle a Christian?
Answer: “Me? I’m just a garden-variety born-again-anarchist-punk-rock-charismatic-spirit-filled-fire-baptized sinner, but aren’t we all?”
4. Question: Was what she said at Yoshi’s taken out of context?
5. Question: Does she use social media to calm the waters?
Answer: “Theoretically, I’ve done the opposite of ‘protecting one’s self’ on social media – been waving a red flag in front of a charging bull.”
6. And one for myself, because I know you want to know.
Question: Perrin, are you gay?
Answer: Yes. And proud. And I’m sick of being misrepresented and exploited by corporate interests and pseudo-queers whose fake indignation fires up real hate towards innocent people – the actual queers on the block.
That being said, let’s strike the first match.