Well, not the whole internet, just some oddly specific parts of it.
I’ve heard many times that the reason there’s so much negativity and meanness online, is that people feel more comfortable behind the safety of a keyboard, as if it’s some kind of shield which renders their words harmless. While this seems to be true for the trolls and for participants in vicious comment wars, I’ve always felt just as much of an awkward mess on the internet as I am in real life!
This usually isn’t a big problem for me, since I don’t really use social media, but now that I find myself actually wanting to partake in more online activities (blogging/reviewing in particular), I find myself with a self imposed issue.
The first example I can think of in regards to my internet anxiety is YouTube. I’ve used the site for over a decade now, and in that time, I’ve left a grand total of 3 comments on videos. And it physically hurt to do so each time. I really enjoy and would praise most of the videos I watch, but I’m too scared to leave a comment saying so, even on my favourite music, which is what I mostly use the site for!
YouTube watching is a casual thing for me, so it doesn’t matter too much if I don’t comment (though I would like to), however, it leads into two things that are important to me.
1.) WordPress Blogging
So in the short time that I’ve had a blog, I’ve noticed that everyone I’ve interacted with has been incredibly… really nice.
I’m not the most experienced internet user, and I knew nothing about the blogging community, so when I started my site, I just expected to get a bunch of mean comments telling me I sucked. So far though, people have been completely supportive and helpful! This is probably the most approachable and friendly internet community that I’ve ever observed. And yet… despite such a positive experience, I’m still terrified to leave comments on other people’s pages!
I have left a few comments, but each time it’s taken at least 5 minutes of typing, and rewriting, and worrying, and overthinking about a simple sentence such as; “That was a great list!”
Every time the same thoughts crop up; What if I don’t have anything useful to say? What if I sound silly? What if I don’t make sense? What if they don’t want a stranger to interact with them? What if they think I’m being rude? Am I too informal? Am I too formal? Do I sound like a bot?
This continues until I’ve edited my original comment down to the safest, most basic sentence imaginable that probably isn’t particularly interesting to read.
Realistically, I know that this is probably an unfounded fear. I can’t speak for other people, but personally I think it’s nice to receive comments, it makes you feel like someone connected with, and heard what you had to say. I really enjoy reading other people’s blogs, and I would like to let them know how good their posts are! I guess the only way around it is to practice, the more comments I leave, the less of a big deal it will become eventually. I’ve managed to do a few more than I used to, but I need to keep trying!
2.) Film/Games/Book Reviews:
So this is a slightly different field, but deep down, it’s related to the same core fear as before.
My husband and I watch a lot of movies. They’re something we both really enjoy and appreciate. He’s also read an insane amount of books, (far more than I have, despite me trying to write one!) while I’ve been an enthusiast of video games.
After watching a film, or finishing a book, or playing a new game, one of the best ways to keep the fun going is by talking about it! Especially if it’s something you really enjoyed, then of course it’s exciting to discuss what you thought of it.
I’m no different, and I would absolutely love to write reviews, like I did on Halloween this year.(https://worldsworstwriter.com/2021/11/01/halloween-horror-films-ranked-reviewed/) However, this provides a similar (but worse) anxiety to leaving comments.
From what I’ve seen, book reviews are probably the most approachable. I can only speak of my time on WordPress, but I’ve read plenty of book review posts on here, and in line with my own experiences, everyone commenting has been really nice, which is great to see.
The other two though, (films and games) I find a lot more intimidating. Perhaps I’ve just been looking in the wrong places, YouTube & Twitter to be precise, but there seems to be a sense of elitism, and a whole lot of arguing, from those two communities.
I’ve lost count of the times that I’ve gone on Twitter to see what people are saying about a movie or a game, just to be bombarded with comment wars, insults, and fighting. It seems like if a person likes something and leaves a positive review, there’s always someone there to tell them how awful that thing is, and that they’re completely wrong for liking it. But it goes both ways too, and at the same time, when someone leaves a reasonable, but negative review, there’s someone there to tell them that they’re wrong for not liking it. Nobody wins!
That wouldn’t be too big of a deal though, after all, there’s nothing wrong with some healthy debate, or discussion about why you enjoyed, or didn’t enjoy something, that can even be fun by itself. There’s nothing wrong with disliking something, there’s also nothing wrong with disagreeing with someone, it’s impossible to agree with everyone 100% of the time. The problem, is that so often these discussions turn nasty. Belittling people for their opinions, swearing, cruel insults, and even threats at times.
One current example is the rivalry between Marvel fans and DC fans. I’ve seen people writing the most awful things to each other just because they prefer a certain company. Personally, I’ve loved Marvel films, and I’ve loved DC films, so it sucks to see so much hatred between two sides who really, aren’t all that different. It’s not even necessary to like both of them. It’s totally fine to have a favourite, but it is really, truly worth it, to tell someone to harm themselves just because they like a certain film?
That’s unfortunately not the only example, fan wars exist for just about every property you can think of, and they’re usually pretty vicious. Sometimes they can be more abstract, relating to whole genres or styles instead of specific things. I might be getting a bit pretentious at this point, but it’s saddening to see people tearing each other down, or feeling superior to others because of their taste in media, and it really makes me discouraged from (and terrified of) sharing my own reviews of my favourite things online.
I’ve mentioned a few times in different posts how much I love ‘bad’ things. I love Battlefield Earth, I love Foodfight!, and I LOVE The Room (It’s one of my all time favourites). I also love a lot of ‘good’ things that are generally well thought of. I imagine that if someone looked through my IMDB ratings, they would think that I have awful and weird taste (Which is fine, I’d take that as a compliment!). But what I do fear, is the judgements and comments that people might make about me as a person based on that weird taste.
Am I really an awful, terrible person because I love the Star Wars Prequels? Would I really be a better, more intelligent or worthy person if I exclusively liked things that are acclaimed?
I’m not going to change the internet by complaining about it, so really it’s up to me to change my own mindset instead if I want to post reviews or comments. And I do want to. I love films, games, music, books, etc. I love stuff. And I love talking about stuff. To me writing a review or an analysis is a continuation of enjoying the thing that you watched/played/read, but on top of that, it would also be a way to keep up practicing my writing when I get stuck on my current story. It’s very different than what I usually do, but I think it still counts as writing, in the same way that these blog posts do. Lastly though, it would be a way to get more confidence. Having the confidence to post something you’ve written online, without worrying if people are going to hate you for it, would be a pretty good goal I think. And the only way I’m going to get there, is if I
Just Do It!Shia Labeouf (2015)
Anyway, I’m sure that most people online aren’t like that. I understand that people are seriously passionate about things they love, so am I, but that can be a good and a bad thing sometimes when it goes too far. As usual, it’s probably just a few bad apples that are spoiling the bunch. But sadly the few angry people are always more visible than the majority. Though like I said earlier, there’s a chance that I’ve just been observing all the wrong websites, and maybe a place like Letterboxd is more calm?
I’m sure I’ll find out soon, since I’m going to push myself to do it, the same with leaving comments! Either way, I’m grateful for how wonderful the WordPress community has been so far, I used to be as scared of blogging as I am now of reviewing, and it’s given me a lot more faith that the internet can be, nice. So, thanks to all of you on here!