Friday, November 12, 2010

Feeding the Trolls

First of all, to those that care, I did not do well in the video contest. Three contracts were given out, none of them were to me, and I was granted the consolation prize of an Honorable Mention... me and thirteen other videos.

Yeah, I'm disappointed, but no more than I am when a video doesn't do well. I'm also disappointed that I won't be able to redo the video like I'd wanted with more time, and more breathing.

Here's what really upset me, though:

God, I'm so glad this didnt get picked up. Shes trying so hard to be ZP by deliberately nitpicking apart a wildly popular show. YOUR personality seems bland and uninspired. So please, whatever your name is. DO NOT I repeat, DO NOT QUIT YOUR DAY JOB. But you probably suck at that too.

Yeah. I got another troll.

I kind of love trolls in that yo-yo-ey way of being simply delighted that they've offered themselves for the stomping, but utterly crushed that they're simple enough to try to get a rise out of me.

Oh well, these days I must take my fun where I can find it.

I'll post my reply to him at the bottom, and you're welcome to check out the thread and see for yourselves, but right now I'm not going to go into the conversation and battle o' wits (such as it was). I'm more interested in the idea of trolling.

I mean, really? What the fuck?

When did basic manners become optional? Why do people go out of their way to malign the characters of people they don't know? I mean, I run my  mouth off on the internet all the time, but I try to stay polite. Even when I'm being mean I'm generally polite.

That basic conversational skill, the ability to say what you mean with manners and a smile, is increasingly rare these days, and I have to say, I miss it. You can say that it's two-faced. You can tell me that "being real" is more important. But we're all secretly delighted when someone puts someone else in their place with grace and charm. How about this exchange:

"It's not as good [a party] as last year."
"Yeah? What'd they have last year?"
 Shindig, Firefly
Bitchy right? But still, we laughed at that line even as we winced at Kaylee's discomfort, sympathizing with that feeling of being out of our depth. And we laughed even harder at the follow-up line, which did the same thing, but not to a protagonist:

"It must have taken a dozen slaves a dozen days to get you into that dress. Though from what your daddy tells me, it takes the space of a schoolboy's wink  to get you out of it."

I mean, burn. And here we mark the line between "nice" and "polite." Neither of those examples were in any way rude. They refer only obliquely to the issues at hand, but at the same time, allow both parties to keep face (if they choose) while drawing that "Don't Fuck With Me," line pretty clearly in the sand.

This is a lost art. It's easy to pick out in media, but how often does it happen in real life? Well, almost never. The art of conversation is pretty far into its decline, and the art of banter has followed in lockstep.

Which means that when people (especially people with the anonymity buffer of the internet) encounter something they don't like, they have only the skills to express their discontent in the most crass and yet banal of terms. In other words, they get mean and rude instead of one or the other.

I really don't know why this started. I could blame any of a dozen things, but any of them would be a cheap shot. I do know why it continues, though: We let it. We allow ourselves to insulate ourselves with that layer of pixels and data, never interacting with the people we speak to. We don't let ourselves view them as people. And if they're not people, they're expendable. They're just a name and an opinion on the other side of the internet, so we don't have to be polite to them.

I'm not going to pass judgment on that idea; I think you know pretty well where my opinions lie on the matter.

I would, however, like to pose a question. You don't have to answer me, but think about it.

Who is it "okay" for you to be rude to? Why?

I was okay with the negative comments. I put up with the comparisons. I waded through the shallowness and mire that is the general public to put something I cared about up for inspection by the unpleasable peanut gallery. Well and good, but now, dude, you've crossed the line. 
You can insult me, you can insult my critiques, fine. When you ascribe to me petty motivations, and a general ineptitude, though, I take some offense. 
As for my day job? I own a gaming store. I balance the professional and the geeky and handle people and companies regularly. I manage hard feelings and embarrassment, the shy, the outcast, and the forlorn. I run a nexus of asocial people at an intrinsically social activity. THAT is what I do with most of my time, and I wouldn't stop for the world. 
I make these videos in my spare time. I make them. I put my heart and my time and my skills into something that I actually care about. I didn't make this video for the contest. I didn't do it for the contract. I did it to express an opinion, to lend some credence to the idea that what is popular is not always good, and that a good concept does not good entertainment make. I did it because television is something that gets sidelined in terms of quality and effort, and I object to that. 
My name is Sharon. I'm the Opinionated Critic.
Tell me, who are you?
Happy watching, ya'll.

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