An article got linked to me a couple days ago from a personal friend, and he was curious as to my thoughts.
So, now with some time to process the article, the responses, and my own experience… here are said thoughts:
On the surface, it sure seems like the article “gets it.” Because, yeah, it seems like creators are under near ceaseless attack on-line. Whether it’s Activision developers being assaulted with death threats because of balance changes, George R.R. Martin being told to have a heart attack and die already, Bioware writers receiving messages hoping that they lose their jobs and go hungry and homeless… No one, in any medium, is safe from what seems to be a tidal wave of hate and negativity.
Hell, my own experience upon taking over the writing duties at Exiern was filled with gems such as these:
“I wish I could go back in time and kick your mother in the uterus.”
“How can you be such a faggot and not have AIDS yet?”
“Please leave the gas on in your oven tonight.”
But with all that said, I do think the article misses the mark. I think the focus of its accusation is too narrow. I’m not sure the Internet is so much at war with creatives as the Internet is at war with pretty much everybody. Go to YouTube, Reddit, 4chan… anywhere your heart desires, and you’ll see petty anger, mean-spirited sniping, bullying, jackassery, fired like a shotgun from a cracked-out blind man in the middle of a crowded shopping mall.
The Internet is really the new social frontier, and much like all frontiers, it is a largely lawless zone where people can act with complete impunity, and will do so with alarming frequency… especially as what few “laws” are in place tend to be administered arbitrarily and with very little consistency from one place to another.
What helps me get through the muck is to remind myself that this sort of abuse is hardly new, and it’s not really all that much worse now than it was even before the Internet. People haven’t lately developed such hateful behaviors; history provides reams of evidence that is most certainly not true. We’re no more hateful or spiteful than we were even 400 some-odd years before when Shakespeare was being heckled as a hack and charlatan.
The only thing the Internet has done is given the average man/woman the means to readily and more often demonstrate the general asshattery of our collective societal consciousness, and the audience to make it a much larger issue than it deserves to be.
Yes, it’s a lot easier to say, “ignore it” than to actually do so. Hell, I’m not sure it is possible to ignore. But what you can’t let it do is run you off or make you stop doing what you want to do.