Tuesday, December 4, 2012
The Internet: In Defense of Fans, Respect, and Content
I'm an opinionated guy, and I really don't care who knows it. I think people are ridiculous to call out other people for their opinions and act like those opinions are invalid. Look, I get that some people, for example, do like rape jokes. I get that. I get how it might upset someone who has been raped or whatever else... but there should never ever ever ever (ad infinitum) be any censorship on what you can say. Does that mean that what you can say is always in good taste or legitimate or even a good thing to say? No, absolutely not, but it does mean that you have the absolute right (at least where I'm standing) to say whatever the hell you want to say regardless of who you are, where you come from, or anything else besides. That means EVERY opinion is valid. And you have no way of disagreeing with me because that's simply the truth of the situation.
Now, I get that people want to kick white guys who have opinions in the 'nads. I get that. I feel that way sometimes too, and it's a natural response to what a lot of people see (in America) as white male privilege or whatever it is that people think these days. Now, I'm sorry to break this to everybody, but not every white male is privileged, and some have a really hard time being anything at all. Everybody has it hard. Don't look at me like that. Everybody has problems and issues and where we're born has a huge impact on who we can be and who we are... but even that isn't concrete. Look at the scumbag rich kids and the wonderful people who came from nothing... or the wonderful rich people and the scumbag poor. All types exist and generalizing does nothing good for anybody, thank you very much. There are even minorities, women, etc. who have found a ton of success as well who are quite influential. Talking about privilege takes away from all accomplishments and just pushes people further and further apart. And anybody who doesn't see that is blind. Period period period.
We need a system that looks at everybody equally not judging them by sex, race, age, gender, or whatever else... but instead judging on the ideas that people have and how much they're trying desperately to help or hurt. And that should really be the thing to look at. I think our culture is far too sensitive for its own good. People get upset at the drop of a hat. "Oh, you're persecuting me!" "Oh, you're not sensitive to my triggers!" "Oh, you're a white male, what do you know about problems?" And the thing is people really just need to take a chill pill. If a dude or gal says something that you find stupid, upsetting, or annoying, don't anonymously message them saying how terrible they are and how they need to be more sensitive or grow up or whatever. Who the hell is that helping? Seriously? I mean, ask yourself a question before you type a message or try to make a point. The question is, "Am I helping?" If the answer is no, then maybe you should just step away from the computer. If you don't understand the situation... if the situation does not directly affect you... just calm down. Sometimes people do need to put in their place for putting out harmful or stupid content... but who judges what content is harmful or stupid? Can you cast that first stone of thinking you're better than somebody else? And if you do decide that something is bad, objectively or subjectively bad, then go about ripping that person/content apart as intelligently and respectfully as possible. Constructive criticism is a must even if they don't listen to you. Parody and satire, jokes and comedy... these things work quite well at proving a point. Dry humor or sarcasm can go a long way as well.
Constructive criticism and understanding are the only ways we can grow and evolve as humans and as a species. But just bashing someone because you don't like what they've said and all you want is for them to stop talking? Well, that complete and utter bullcrap, and anybody who thinks it isn't really needs to calm down and reevaluate their lives. I'm disappointed in people being upset about words, white-knighting and trolling and being anonymous just to say things you couldn't say to someone's face in a million years. Don't say anything online you wouldn't say to that person in real life.
The internet has led us, all of us, into becoming this army of anonymous douchebags. Each one of us with our own opinions, our own thoughts on every subject, and each one of us trying to make ourselves heard. We no longer have a voice telling us to be decent people to each other because everybody on the internet is faceless. And the faceless environment makes it easy to forget that each and every person on this internet is a thinking and breathing person. They have their own lives, their own loved ones, and their own things that make them happy. Just remember that the next time you want to rip into somebody for saying that they didn't like a video game or movie you did like or whatever else.
But I have to say that sometimes I see such good people on the internet, and such great things as well. I have seen people who didn't particularly like the ending of a particular video game that came out earlier this year (*cough*MassEffect3*cough*) donate a ton of money to a charity and send cupcakes to the developer of said game just because they wanted a different ending. How can anybody say that that isn't constructive, particularly when those same people put down constructive complaints in a forum format? And then there are the people who do such great art and writing on the internet. A novel called John Dies @ the End as well as any given article on Cracked.com are some great examples of great writing on the internet. And these things wouldn't exist without the internet. There are careers that wouldn't have taken off without the internet, great careers of people who make some absolutely fantastic content.
Hell, even look at fan-art. You can find some wonderful pieces of fan-art and tributes online... which you'd never even see if not for the internet. I've see so many great and wonderful art for things such as The Binding of Isaac, Star Wars, Dishonored, any video game or book or movie you can possibly mention... and many other things besides. Hell, even series I don't particularly like can give some great fan-art like Homestuck as long as you avoid the porn.
And you want to know something? I respect every person putting out decent content on the internet, and those people have every right to say whatever the hell they want to say. I don't care about triggers or being sensitive or using the wrong choice of words. And I do use the wrong words sometimes... and you know, sometimes that screws me over a bit, and I'll apologize profusely, but I will never take it back. I can't. What's done is done and you can't regret it. You've made your decisions and you have to respect those decisions and what you've learned from those decisions. Respect what you've learned from the good moments and the bad without censoring yourself or listening to the people who tell you that your opinions or writing or art or whatever are wrong (unless they can objectively state where you have gone wrong). But even then, if you enjoy what you do, just do it... don't get bogged down by negative crowds or think that positive reactions are always good. Because sometimes the masses can be just as right or just as wrong as the wind... which is to say not at all.
And maybe this whole thing makes no sense. Maybe it never will. But a rape joke can be funny to some as long as it's a joke. And people need to stop thinking that that is never the case. Rape is never good to anybody... but you know what kinds of crackpots I see on the internet? I see people saying that only rape against a non-privileged woman from a white man is legitimate rape... and I wonder if people even understand anything anymore. Rape can be from anybody and to anybody, and it's never right. But again, making a joke out of it, however bad taste it is, is not rape nor is it saying that rape is a good thing. It's just a joke. And people have to get over themselves. Censoring is not the answer. What should I say? Should I say I think that rape should never even be said as a word? No, I won't. Do I think that some twelve year old screaming about raping his friend while playing a video game is a terrible thing? Well, I don't see how it is. The kid isn't actually raping anybody or saying rape is good in any kind of understanding way, so...
And what else can I say? I don't like censorship. I think it is completely and absolutely wrong in every form. I don't like people being douchebags about telling people to shut up or stop creating content just because their opinions don't sync up. And you want to know something? I've been guilty of this. but I've been guilty of saying it to people's faces... and I was wrong about the issue, something I can say right now easily and without complaint.
Finally, I want to tell a little story about my girlfriend. Now, I freaking hate bringing her up in this context, but she's a person I know who is sensible and creative on the internet. I've seen the way she's operated on the internet, and I use her as a shining example of how to internet... if that's a thing. She creates a ton of content online, most of it being really good in my opinion and in the opinion of many others. I'm sure she has detractors as well, but doesn't everybody? She does some wonderful photography which I know I've linked to before on this blog, but she also does fan-art as well as her own original stuff which is mostly intensely clever and fun to look at.
She has made lasting friends online. She treats all of the people who look at her content, either the fan-stuff she does from time-to-time or her photography watchers, or just the people she chats with about common interests... she treats them all the same, with respect and as any decent person should treat another human being. Think about how rare that is to say. I actually know a person who is decent to others on the internet. Wow.
I started going out with her almost three years ago because of our time together talking online... not our time in person because despite going to the same college we barely ever saw each other in person before dating. Our discussions about the weirdest and most interesting topics imaginable is what brought us together... not only common interests, but common thoughts and wonders, dreams and goals. We spoke and I respected her, the way she spoke to me, and what we talked about. While I don't agree with her about everything (and what couple does agree on everything?) we make sure that we can compromise without insulting one another most of the time.
And I will never insult anybody who comments on this blog however dumb their comments are because I want to explain why I believe the comments are stupid or ignorant or why I disagree rather than just throwing around insults or taking down content because somebody disagrees with me. It's the same reason I never take down comments either because people are allowed to say whatever they wish, but expect a debate if I disagree. I like healthy debates. Or expect to be ignored if I'm tired of stupid comments. I do that sometimes too.
I don't really have much else to say. I see the internet as both a healthy environment and an unhealthy one depending on what you wish to get out of the internet. If you look for fights and to call people wrong and to denigrate everybody and to get people to censor themselves because you simply don't like seeing something or their thing... then you really need to reevaluate your life. I mean, seriously, just stop looking at the content if it bothers you so. And if you see problems arising with their content give constructive criticism, not hatred spews. And mostly don't comment on things you know absolutely nothing about acting like you have a PhD in internet commenting. You don't and you never will. Allow the internet to be a fun place where people can vent and enjoy themselves and write or draw whatever it is they so desire. Don't look at it if you don't like it. Don't read it if you're not interested. But don't throw a hissy fit if it doesn't fit into what you think the world is or should be. Just let people be people and let everybody respect each other, okay?
And mostly, don't tell me when I should be uninterested in something. Look, I happen to find the Star Wars: Battlefront III cancellation details interesting because I loved those games. So, don't tell me that it should all just stop because you're not interested in it or think it shouldn't be discussed because you don't like discussing what should have been. That's your opinion (obviously in an editorial format, it has to be)... and you are completely within your rights to think that, but why speak for everybody when it is clearly your opinion and not hurting you, the industry, or anybody else in any discernible manner? It's just talking and discussing and being interesting all at the same time. I dislike when people who have a decently good readership give nonsense opinions that they think everybody should follow. Oh, you think I'm being hypocritical? Maybe. All I'm saying is that people should be more decent to one another though and have more patience and not get angry. And all that editorial is saying is "I don't want to hear about Battlefront III because it might upset my mind to think about what could have been or could be rather than what is. I don't like dreaming or wondering about good content because the only thing that matters are my crappy shooters that actually exist, not thinking creatively at what could be done. Because what actually exists is the MOST IMPORTANT THING IN THE WORLD OBVIOUSLY!"
And I disagree with that kind of thought.