The Internet Critic Conversation

Okay, here’s the premise: Daniel (D) submits image/story/cartoon to website. Random site user (C) decides to leave a comment on it. Here’s how it invariably falls out. Keep in mind that this has happened to me many times, with many different people.


C: This is bad. Just bad. Idea has been done a million times. Obviously you don’t know what you’re doing.

D: That’s a little rude, not to mention unhelpful. You’re giving me no ideas on what to improve. Every idea has been done a million times, so you might as well say this about every bit of art on the site. Finally, if I don’t know what I’m doing, perhaps you could be kind enough to enlighten me? If this is all you have to say, then just leave it alone.

C: Well, this being an ART/LITERATURE/PORTAL SITE, I don’t feel I have to hold back on what I say. You need a thick skin around here, so don’t get so butthurt. GOOD DAY SIR

I then discover that C has blocked me from further contact.


Now, I really don’t care what people like this think of my work. Obviously they don’t have any real opinion; they just want to break stuff down and feel superior to someone. As you probably already know, I get like that myself.

No, what pisses me off is the childishness of it, the lack of self-awareness. Don’t they realize that I too, am allowed to say what I want on these particular sites? Don’t they realize that just because they can say what they want, it doesn’t mean it’s going to go over well? And don’t they realize that blocking me because I called them out on their shoddy critique shows a pretty damn bad case of butthurt on their part?

I know, I know. “Just ignore them,” you say. Normally I do. The last time this happened, though, the criticism was leveled at the concept of the work, which I did not create. The idea belonged to the man who hired me for the commission. I wasn’t personally offended, but I felt compelled to stand up for my collaborator. Bear in mind that I did not use any offensive language. I simply said that it was rude to slam the idea without offering any positives. The “critic” then whipped out the tired old speech about their right to say whatever they want, and added that my art wasn’t even that good anyway (no details of course). Then I got blocked. It all fell out exactly as it did above.

The only analogy I can think of for it is that it’s like watching a grown man stick his tongue out at you and mean it. All you can do is squint incredulously.

You’d think I’d be used to this sort of behavior by now, but I’m not. My attitude toward humanity is like that toward a bad movie: I keep hoping that it’ll get better somewhere. It never does, though, and my mind is continually boggled. I mean, they can’t all be this stupid, can they? Can they??

I’d better just relax. Anyone have any Oxycontin?

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Profound Musings from the Caped Crusader

The other day I read a forum argument on some random website (I don’t even remember the name). It was about global warming, government buyouts, the death of the middle class, that kind of shit. Everyone has an opinion on world affairs, but are sorely without facts because so much is withheld from us, so it was more amusing than anything. The way I see it, we’re all riding on somebody’s else’s train, and it’s up to us to adapt and take back control where we can.

Anyway, the argument impressed me for remaining civil and intelligent, qualities that are…lacking in most internet discussions.

Here’s the sad part, though: the guy I sort of agreed with had this big-ass signature on all of his posts. I didn’t read it right away because it was a long quotation. When I neared the end of the thread, I looked at it closely. It read like some retarded campaign speech. Know who the quote was from? Wanna guess?

Batman.

Batman.

I left the site after seeing that, disgusted, confused, and flabbergasted. What the hell is going on here? Fucking Batman — I’m so sick of Batman! Why are Americans so deeply in love with Batman? When did he turn into our national fucking hero? Moreover, when did he become historically significant enough to quote in political discussions? He’s not even real!

“Well,” you might ask, “who would you quote instead, Mr. Smart-guy?”

PLATO, FOR GOD’S SAKE! SUN TZU! FDR! THE KINGS AND QUEENS OF EUROPE! Even George W. Bush. Yes, I said it. Quoting any of these people would be more dignified, and garner more respect, than lifting a line from a fucking COMIC BOOK. I’m sorry; but seeing the source of that quote sucked all the credibility from the discussion, and I ain’t returning to that site again.

Now you might think that a dope like me, who wants to draw cartoons for a living, has no call to judge others in this way, but I would never enter a political argument armed with quotes from Bugs Bunny.

Another thing you might think is that I’m overreacting, playing up my anger for the sake of entertainment, but I’m not joking around here. This sort of thing really worries me. If the intelligent people in this country look up to fictional character who dresses up as a bat, I don’t want to imagine what the dumb people worship. You think fictional quotes are valid? Then I’ve got a good one for you:

“We’re in a lot of trouble!”
–Howard Beale

Think Outside the Hug-box: Inkvite

I love Inkvite. I’ll keep saying it until the day another portable, online, collaborative writing iPhone app breaks onto the scene.

Some folks are mad at me though. I gave their Inkvite entries 1 star, and they felt compelled to send me messages telling me to get off my high horse, and that maybe Inkvite isn’t for me, and such and such, and such and such, and blah blah blah.

I know how it feels. I had thin skin once myself. Hell, I still do, if you can find the right spots on me. So, if anybody is curious (though really it’s just to kind of lay out the system for my own benefit), this is how I rate entries in the Inkvite library:

1 star: This goes to attention whores and whiners. Any story whose title includes “CONTEST!” or “All About Me!” or “Plans for my next story!” gets this. Childish complaints about poor reviews or app faults get this as well. These are not stories. These are self-serving blog entries, and they get in the way of the good stuff. The people who post these wastes of time will argue that they’re “appealing to their fans,” but I think they’re just young ‘uns making the same mistake all young ‘uns make: overestimating their size in the Internet ocean.

2 stars: This is a rare one. I don’t usually give this rating. If I do, it’s to those stories written with budding, rudimentary skill. The last thing I want to do is damn a writing sprout with faint praise, though, so I’ll usually just avoid rating their stories at all.

3 stars: The teacher’s rating. I’m no English major, but I’ve read enough to know when a story’s got technical problems. Missing commas, run-on sentences, inconsistent tense (this is a big one), and conflicting collaboration can put serious drag on a good story. I give three stars to stories that have the engine of creativity chugging inside them, but which glare with niggling errors, like a muscle car with a bad paint job.

4 stars: This is my most common rating. It goes to stories that are written with skill, thought, and care. I know that the limitations of the app make writing a masterpiece a rarity, but when a writer has fun putting together a good story, the reader can tell. Those writers always get 4 stars from me.

5 stars: I give five stars to stories that do things I can’t do. There’s a lot of things I can’t do, so I give these out a lot. I greatly admire the writer who makes a story laugh-out-loud funny, or end with a clever twist, or develop into a unique scenario. Such admiration supersedes any other gripes, so even if a surprisingly smart story has grammatical problems, or ends with a sickening plea for followers, I’ll still give it a 5.

I know. Getting a bad review for anything can hurt. I know that. So here’s my ironic solution: don’t read ’em. Have fun writing, make good stories, and if that isn’t reward enough for you, the fans and followers you’re hoping for will still show up eventually. But you have to trust that your work will speak for itself. We can’t all be PewDiePie – and by God, what a horrible world it would be if we were – so you really shouldn’t waste your energy putting brand before production.

That being said, I still believe in speaking one’s mind. The world – and that includes me – still has to speak up about what it likes and what it doesn’t, so I’m going to keep putting up my reviews. You don’t have to agree with them. You don’t even have to look at them. I don’t mind. After all, my true philosophy is that we should really just be happy doing what we love to do.