This has been a week in America where I have spent a great deal of time just... listening, and listening to all sorts of perspectives from a variety of different people who care as well, and who have different platforms than I do. And trust me, I'm often tempted to rant and rage, but that wouldn't effect anything. Not for me. (And not for many who ranted and raged this week and then decide next week to be outraged about something else.) No, if you are like me, you should say what you have to say through story. Rage is like a flash in the pan. It burns hot and bright, but then is quickly gone. But real passion and zeal for effecting social change, or getting the message out about something - whatever it is you might have to say - is best done by changing people's hearts and minds. And that takes time. I've rarely known anyone to truly have their heart or mind changed by a Facebook rant, but I've known many people to have their entire worldviews shaped by the stories they grew up reading. It's slow, it takes time, it's the long game. But to be a storyteller is to plant seeds for the future. Stories are effective, too, in a way ranting at people is not because you get around people's natural defenses with stories. A rant is like a lecture. Being ranted at makes you immediately feel either defensive (if you know you're going to disagree with the person) or self-affirmed (if you know you're likely to agree). It's rare to be able to read a social media rant with a true open mind, and the moment you trip over a phrasing or "fact" that rubs you the wrong way, your hackles go up, and you're likely to not listen to a word the person is actually trying to say from there on out, because you're already coming up with how you're going to refute them. And the ranting itself is usually done angrily, and using social media while angry is never a good idea. A wise person told me a few weeks ago, "You can't argue with someone who is angry or afraid. It's like arguing with someone who is drunk." But stories... there's usually not a lot of anger or fear that goes into writing (or reading) stories! Stories are written thoughtfully and artfully over a long span of time, and the art itself helps cushion whatever message you're trying to communicate, as well. People rarely read stories with their defenses up, so stories become much better vehicles of effecting real heart and mind change. It is through stories that we can communicate messages that can change our culture.
So you can keep your social media rants. That's fine, and that may be what you feel called to do. But I know my place and my call. I will be slowly churning out stories that contain redemptive themes of justice, love, sacrifice, and the truth that all mankind is created equal and endowed with inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.