Surviving Times of Turmoil – The Writer’s Responsibility

A lot of people think that what a writer does doesn’t involve responsibility or an awareness of the world’s events. Particularly with fantasy there’s often a notion that fantasy is pure escapism and that blogging is self-indulgent. On some level that could be considered true but there’s a lot more to it than that. Here’s 5 reasons that writing is important, even more so in times of crisis such as recession, wars and disaster:

1. Writer’s (in general) tell the truth.

While I’m not saying that this is true of all writers, all the time, sometimes there’s so much hype and discussion on a subject that it’s hard to see the facts. Truth may be relative but on the whole, often writers will be more inclined to be honest and to highlight social issues on the level of the people affected. For example, poems such as: William Blake’s – London talk about poverty and the effect of monarchy from the level of what the poem’s speaker sees. That is not to say that no writers are without bias. Every writer has their position on a subject even if it’s as balanced as possible. The point is that they are willing to voice what they observe about society.

2. Writers can improve understanding.

It’s very easy for people to judge situations quickly without knowing more about the case. How you write affects the quality of interpretation. For example, if a news story was written as: Giant meteor headed towards Earth, the story sounds imminent and dire but if it’s written as: Meteor may hit Earth in 20 billion years time, the story changes in urgency.

KT Meteor

KT Meteor (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Similarly the use of adjectives to create hyperbole is frequent in news stories and can dramatically alter a readers perception of events and fault. One of a writers’ responsibilities when giving information about events is to consider how the information may be received and what way it may be interpreted. There’s a lot of power in words particularly once they are formalized into a news story and the wealth of false information on the internet shows just how easy it is to get the facts wrong. Similarly `the facts’ are often interpretable and there are always arguments and issues to consider before coming to definite conclusions

3. Writers can increase empathy

English: World Skin - Maurice Benayoun Virtual...

English: World Skin – Maurice Benayoun Virtual Reality Installation – 1997 “A Photo Safari in the Land of War” Français : World Skin – Maurice Benayoun Installation de Réalité Virtuelle – 1997 Un safari photo au pays de la guerre (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now, this one is just my opinion although there is a study highlighted in this news article Guardian – Fiction and Empathy. Like mentioned in the previous point, the fact that this is a news article doesn’t mean that it’s 100% accurate or true and to fully understand the argument you would probably have to read the original study and to review arguments of the study. Personally, I believe that several types of writing not just fiction can improve empathy but I also think that’s it more complicated that just being specifically concerned with empathy. Fiction writing can show possible events and highlight the possible thoughts and feelings that someone may experience during an event. While this is all hypothetical work, the imagination is a powerful tool and it’s often through a sense of simulation that empathy is developed.

Even if you don’t like reading in the traditional sense, someone has to write those TV scripts, video game scripts, music lyrics etc…so think of it this way, a kid is watching a fictional TV show in which the kid’s favourite character is being bullied. This kid hadn’t thought before about what effect their words might have on another person but now considers that other people have feelings and can be hurt too. By playing out in their head how they would feel if it happened to them, they understand more how someone else might feel and develop more empathy because of this undertaking of the imagination. Fiction writing and blog articles can also do this, although a lot of this depends on the reader’s interpretation.

4. Writer’s can boost morale

While I’m not arguing that writer’s have the power to change everything and make everything alright, some people just need a little bit of encouragement and support, (particularly writers themselves). Similarly during the economic recession a lot of negative thoughts and feeling can get on top of people and writer’s can choose to feed it more and create more or to boost morale. As I’ve said before what suffers the most during a recession is hope, but there are positives to be found. For example, in times of recession, it has been said that creativity increases as people seek refuge in creative expression.

5. Language is the foundation of everything.

Language is something that we use all the time and every day and so it can be taken for granted. We read, we talk, we think, we listen but language is more than that. Language builds our whole perception of the world and enables us to be self-aware. Without language, there would be no civilization, no culture. People take language for granted but it is far more integral than most people are aware of. Philosophers have tried to understand and unravel the mystery of language for many centuries and still where language begins and ends in the human brain is still not clear. Whether we create language or are created by language is debatable? Whatever you do believe about language, don’t underestimate its value. In times of great woe and adversity, writing is a form of communication that can encourage, support and raise up those around you.

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