Back from the Internetless Wilds! I think it was good for me to spend a week or so in enforced Internet withdrawal -- I actually didn't miss it (much), and it gave me an opportunity to think a lot and not
have other people's thoughts getting in the way (as they sometimes do, on the Internet).
The post I made before I left
touched a nerve with a lot of people. That really wasn't something I meant to do. Like I said in the comments, I'd been thinking about the gen thing for awhile (the better part of a year, at least), and tossed off a mention in a post without really thinking about it -- that's what I get for posting on not enough sleep, in between packing. Anyway, though, it was a good thing to have space to think about it for a week or so with that conversation at the top of my mind.
And I'm still thinking about the various points people made. Two particular points struck a chord with me:
commented that fictional romance is typically an idealized version of actual romance and people are okay with that, so why isn't it equally okay to write an idealized, romanticized version of friendship?
• And several different people made the point that emotionally-intense friendship fic is affirming for a lot of people (it certainly is for me) and dismissing it also dismisses a lot of people's own experience with diverse kinds of love and affection.
Which is not to say most gen fic is a strictly realistic depiction of friendship or other platonic relationships, but then, most romance isn't particularly true to most people's experience of romance IRL, and that's certainly not going away anytime soon. (Nor should it.)
And I do feel like friendship tends to be an afterthought for most people, in media and
in real life, even though we need
social bonds to other people and function best as part of a community, whether a geographically connected community or one that we self-select. We aren't really designed to feed all our social needs, emotional and intellectual, off a single person, but we live in a society that valorizes romance and tends to suggest other kinds of relationships are disposable afterthoughts.
That was one of the reasons why I liked Legends of Tomorrow
so much, incidentally -- because the non-romantic relationships got their own mini-arcs, and most of them got nearly as much narrative weight as the show's love triangle.
And one reason why I latched onto the Jack-Peggy friendship in Agent Carter
so hard is because it really nailed the whole feeling of an experience I've actually had, an intense bonding experience causing a sudden falling-into-friendship with somebody you never saw that way before. In my case it wasn't antipathy to friendship, it was more like indifference to close friendship in a matter of hours. I remember wondering in the beginning if it was going to fade, because it was a startling feeling to go from being near-total strangers to almost as close as family in a single day -- but it didn't; we're still close friends 20 years later. So I know you can have those intense, transcendental experiences in relationships where romance and sex aren't involved; I know you can fall suddenly into friendship the way people fall in love, because I've done it.
And besides, even if I hadn't -- and even if friendship wasn't one of the biggest driving emotional forces in my
life, which it is -- I still know that human relationships are endlessly complicated. I think fiction should reflect some of that complexity, and I love
getting to explore it myself. Sure, it's often idealized to hell and back, but that's what cranks my engine, and romance gets to have that all the time, so why not
do it with gen?
People mentioned in the comments to the last post that they get affirmation from this kind of fic (in an "I am not alone, there's someone else out there who feels this way too, there's someone who's had these experiences too" kind of way). I certainly
did, when I first discovered that gen h/c was something that existed on the Internet. And I like the idea of being able to help offer that feeling to other people.
Basically I came back from my wilderness isolation feeling much more like "screw it, I don't care what anyone says, I'm going to write what I want." And I made the conscious decision not to worry about it as I have been. Because, honestly, in the grand scheme of things, there are WAY bigger things in the world to worry about than whether I might be ~teaching bad lessons~ by writing about people loving each other in a socially-unapproved way. Besides, fandom also contains unrepentantly titillating rape fic (I've written some of that too, believe it or not, back in the day of anon SGA fic memes), underage, and basically a whole WORLD of things that are not okay in the real world, and I don't think fics like that shouldn't exist, or that they don't have valuable things to offer people who write and read them. So I cannot and will not bring myself to believe that a PG-rated gen fic about people cuddling each other is something to feel terribly guilty about -- not for me, and not for anyone else.
ETA: I really do appreciate the intelligent and reasonable discussion in the comments to the last post. You guys made thoughtful points, and it gave me a lot to think about.