Most people will only be nice to someone if they can profit from it.
You’ve seen it. You know I’ve seen it too. So have all your friends and all my friends. Christians often say that God’s love is “unconditional” and for years that didn’t make a lot of sense to me. It didn’t sound very appealing because the phrase "unconditional love” implied there was such a thing as conditional love. Theoretically, conditional love shouldn't really exist. For love to be real it has to involve giving to someone else with a motive other than profit. But what people were trying to say is that we CALL a lot of things Love, Affection, or Caring, but it's not the real deal. “So-and-so is my best friend, my bestie best bestie”—until it benefits me to take something from them, bump them out to get a bigger platform on social media, or judge them to increase my own standing. “So-and-so is my spouse and we are unbelievably happy, praising each other all the time”—and they divorce a few years later. “So-and-so is my new favorite author or musician or actor”—until a while later you’ve never heard of them or even actively want them to quit producing material.
The list could go on forever, but I won’t bore you with it. There are so many examples of manipulative behavior that feigns closeness but serves yourself. Best friend, praising someone else, or calling someone a favorite are forms of showing affection. And in this case conditional affection that evaporates in the face of a new opportunity. By contrast, a relationship with God or with anyone who really cares about you is sincere. However, ire, rage, and hostility can also be emotions that are insincere. Most find that hard to believe because they assume if something is negative it must be true! Perhaps it’s the personal threat of negativity. It makes us insecure, certain that the emotions are genuine because our vulnerability is genuine. Well, we might really be vulnerable, but that doesn’t mean that our critics mean what they say. Their criticism and accusations, like their love and friendship, can evaporate in a minute if they suddenly feel it’s expedient to be fond of us. 😉
For instance, it’s common these days to use absurdly intense labels to describe others, like racist, terrorist, or Nazi. People are shocked by literally everything. Almost everything is the next great threat to society and an emergency. But this does not mean that the people saying this really mean it. They are just getting all worked up because it helps them achieve their goals. They have Conditional Negativity, which is just like Conditional Friendship--a thing of the moment. This behavior creates great cynicism about any publicly stated opinions. For example, they might describe Russian president Vladimir Putin and a typical pedestrian on a small-town street corner exactly the same way (namely as a terrible danger to mankind) although Putin invaded another country and the typical pedestrian merely said something they didn't particularly like. As far as they're concerned the pedestrian is just as guilty of killing people as Putin is because they don't care what those words really mean. Frequent exhibitions of overblown, obviously motivated reactions on every topic make us just roll our eyes and feel that we can't believe what anyone says even if it is true. We now assume all the emotions shown are fake. It can be hard to trust people and to believe they have real feelings about you or about anyone else.
I didn’t think of it at the time, but when writing City of the Invaders I felt very far from the issues it explores and that’s something I’m proud of. I wanted to be free of ulterior motives when writing a very charged type of storyline. So I picked a scenario where I was an outside observer, unlike the protagonist Katia who is deeply tied to all the conflicts in the narrative. It’s an urban story, about subcultures within a mega-city and about a rather nasty divide that simmers between two groups that are always at war but have a lot in common. This story is likely to remind people of politics in real life and to create strong feelings. I knew readers believed I was personally invested in it (for instance, the little tidbits about performing on stage came from my real experiences, didn't they?) And if I had been invested, it wouldn't have been a good story at all. But things that tied into something I'd done weren't important memories of mine and the broader-reaching plot was remote from my preoccupations. As I look back on this book, I realize it was really pretty good. When certain situations are very complex, the worst thing you can do is to have too many opinions. A tale about a big city on the brink of war, written by a girl who always lived on a peaceful farm, was about as much creative distance as was humanly possible! 😛
My name is Katia. I’m the one who doesn’t fit in.
It’s 2335 and people on Earth have been fighting in two clans for centuries. We’ve got colonies all over the solar system now—you know, those cities on Mars people have been planning to build like forever? I wish I had been born out there because they have no fighting between two groups that are essentially identical and won’t admit it. True, EC can read and don’t handle technology and for the Invaders it’s the opposite. But that's just a cosmetic difference over two sides who are similar in every other way. If you say that, though, you'll get in big trouble.
I don’t live in one of those outer-space colonies. I live on Earth. And in the portion of Earth where I live, the former imperial regions, everybody is EC or Invader. Except me. Did you notice I haven’t told you which one I belong to? That’s right. Because I belong to both of them. And that means I really belong to neither. I’m the “weird kid.” The outcast. The one who does everything wrong.
I'm not sure if they think getting involved in gangster politics and accidentally wrecking the opening night of a theater production counts as wrong. But that isn't going to keep me from doing it.
And there will be more updates.
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Young Adult Fiction Writer
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