No no wait! Don’t unfollow yet!! Hear me out! I know, I know we all hate those uptight people that get their panties in the tightest of bunch at the slightest provocation. I’m not going to say you should love them. I’m not planning on turning this blog into some type of manifesto either. Let’s face it, it’s already pretty impressive I even know the word manifesto.
But you know…maybe it’s o.k. for these people to exist?
Ok here’s the deal. One of the most common response I see to criticism of fiction or even essays on the basis of moral beliefs, is: If you don’t like it then don’t read/watch/listen to it… As in don’t purposely expose yourself to material you will find objectionable and then whine about it. Cause that’s annoying and in the age of rapid-fire social media, often useless. Except, well, that argument is sort of self-defeating, isn’t it?
What I mean is that if peoples’ opinions about a particular piece of media are likely to upset you, you don’t have to read/listen to/watch them either, do you? It sort of goes both ways. And just as you may have been unwittingly bombarded by these remarks and felt the urge to respond, someone may have felt compelled to watch a show for instance, that everyone is talking about and really wanted to immediately share their opinions because it made a strong impression.
Hey, I get it. I hate seeing shows I enjoy get bombarded by bad reviews and slanderous comments before they even air. It annoys me to no end when general discussion on an anime focuses in on some minute or generally irrelevant aspect and misses out on the greater and often much more interesting thesis of the show. And it’s just plain tiresome to see people aimlessly bitch without ever giving any real support or context to their gripes.
But it’s also kind of great, maybe even important.
To me having both the freedom and means to share your personal beliefs and opinions on any given subject is truly a thing of wonder and marvel. It’s not without its pitfalls, I understand that. I think some people may have grasped the power of unfiltered communication without quite catching up to the implied responsibility, but even as such, I still prefer this to the alternative.
I understand that having to wade through an increasingly vast pool of inane and malicious comments to get to anything of substance means that we are getting closer and closer to having opinions of worth completely drowned out by the general noise. But at least, they’re still somewhere to be found. It takes a lot of effort, one that I and most people won’t put in, but one chance in a billion is still greater than zero.
I also believe that the market won’t be swayed so much by general opinion as it will be by cold hard cash. The “negative” (or positive but this is rarely the case, let’s face it) opinions you are seeing about a show you enjoy are going to be completely irrelevant if that show brings in viewers. In fact, they might even help its popularity through notoriety so the joke’s on them really. Heck, you might want to encourage them to do more.
And yeah, I would really prefer to live in a world where the internet, one of the most powerful communication tools we’ve ever created and an actual step forward in human evolution, was not dominated by petty, unresearched or just plain mean comments. I do believe we’ll get there. Communication, as in actual transfer of information, is pretty essential to our survival and sooner or later we’re going to have to naturally adapt to do so in an efficient way. In the meantime, well… there’s a learning curve.
However, suppressing the bad in this case, also means preventing the good. Relating to each other and sharing ideas isn’t as easy as it sounds, it takes practice and we all fail at it sometimes. If we don’t let people try to do so, they’re never going to get any better at it.
I’m not quite so naïve as to think I can change those people who carelessly scream out random and unconstructive criticism at the slightest provocation. I also know that I’m lucky enough to have readers that simply don’t have these impulses. As my wishy-washy writing style is likely to be unbearable to those stronger and more impulsive personality types (I think…maybe). But just for my own comfort, I’m going to layout my general engagements for living up to the responsibilities of online communication.
For one, I will try to never tell you not to speak. However, I do reserve the right to completely ignore your opinion if you refuse to tell me what it’s based on. I also maintain the right to disagree, but I will tell you why. And I’ll still like you. Some of my best friends disagree with pretty much everything I say. By the way, you never have to apologize for disagreeing with me. I take the fact that you took the time and effort to seriously consider my stand and come up with your own as a compliment. No one ever bothers to officially disagree with idiots after all. There’s no point.
I will keep on sharing completely unfounded and purely emotional reaction and opinions, but I won’t pretend they’re anything other than flights of fancy. I won’t ever define you by your tastes in entertainment. I might define you by the way you react to other people based on their tastes in entertainment, but I’d have to actually know about it.
I will get unreasonably protective of my friends. I just will. You might as well know about it now. If I get randomly offended, I’ll tell you. If I offended you, tell me about it.
As long as you actually have something to say, I will do my best to listen. I may need a bit (or a lot) of explanation occasionally, but I promise to ask for it, so you won’t have to aimlessly guess. And besides that, if I have a random moral stand that’s important to me, I’ll share it, but I will be as careful as possible never to impose it. And that’s it really.
Like I said, I know you guys are already super amazing and have been doing these basic things, and much more all along. I’m sharing these so if I slip up, you can call me out and help me stick to who I want to be.
Is there any golden rule you go by when dealing with moral or emotional reactions to media? Do you just keep them to yourself to avoid any trouble? Are you fed up of hearing everybody’s slightest discontent with every little issue? Do you think all the negativity is doing more harm than good? I personally veer towards the other extreme because of my particular background and experiences but I admit the point is very arguable. Endless echo chambers of aimless indignation aren’t doing anyone any good… In any case, please let me know 😉