An article has zipped around the polyamory community in the past week. An advice columnist answered a letter from a polyamorous reader. A lot of people didn’t like the answer the columnist gave. No, I’m not going to sound off about it. What I want to do today is talk a bit about my own hopes for when you in the poly community choose to make your voice heard on issues. In our culture of instant communications, we get responses quickly to almost anything we put out there. Email makes feedback easy and fast. Now, I think this is great, but I also think there’s a drawback. I mean, who hasn’t shot out an off-the-cuff email in a fit of pique that you wish you hadn’t? When you respond to people in the media about polyamory, it’s important to keep a few things in mind:
- The person is likely to know dick about polyamory.The Dan Savages of the world are the exception, not the rule. Expect your mainstream journalist to be mainstream. The mainstream is not well-educated about Polyamory.
- If you respond at all you will make a strong impression The polyamory community isn’t very big. If you respond, instead of being one of hundreds of letters, you’ll be one of dozens at most. Perhaps in time this will change, but the pool of poly people that spend a lot of time speaking up on issues is still small.
- If you want a polyamory to be seen in a positive light, you must present yourself positively. I’m sure this isn’t really necessary, but if you’re going to write someone in the media about how poly was portrayed, be a grown-up about it. No name-calling, no insults to intelligence or education. Be polite. Be well-spoken/written. Pretend you think grammar, punctuation and spelling count, even if you don’t. If you’re writing a writer, nothing will make you look like an idiot faster than a poorly-spelled, badly-punctuated vituperative block of invective. Save that kind of thing for the warm up, but let your final draft be calm, factual, kind and reasoned.
We’re in a unique and exciting position in the poly community right now. We have a lot of power to influence how poly is perceived. Isn’t that cool?
Me? I think it’ll be good for all of us if we use that power wisely.