Preface: Y’all. This post kinda had some weird real-world developments at the end and so I didn’t go back and edit it for cohesion like I usually do so please forgive me.
I’ve been thinking about how we criticize things on the internet lately and how it’s affecting our political discourse. Let me start by saying I AM GOING TO CALL MYSELF OUT TOO, so if you feel targeted by parts of this post then know that by the end, I target myself too.
Of course, I’ve always hated the, I hate this popular thing every loves, is it just me? start to a criticism. You see it a lot on Twitter because anyone can write that kind of tweet and I see them all the time. Whenever I see that stuff I feel like it’s low hanging fruit. Like, it seems like the whole point of that type of criticism is to get people interacting with you. The majority of them will actually be, “OMG! I KNOW! ME TOO! THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR SAYING THAT!” And every one of those I see I roll my eyes and think: You fell for it.
I was following someone on Twitter who I love because she is very popular for being full of wisdom and love and heart and she writes and talks about spirituality and feminism and she ADORES Harry Potter (got her popularity from a podcast about it) and yet…YET…she tweeted during intermission of Dear Evan Hansen and said “Intermission of Dear Evan Hansen- literally cannot remember the last time I hated a piece of art so much. Stay tuned.”
I’ll be honest with you, the harshness of that tweet caused me to unfollow her immediately on behalf of the people who love DEH. Now, I love the cast recording of DEH. But, I recently read the YA version of the musical and I’ll say it kinda made me not feel as strong of an urge to go so see the musical because I had built up a little bit of a different story in my head with the songs and I liked my story better. All of that is to prove that I don’t adore DEH at all. I love the music, but…you know…I’m not going to spend money to go see it on stage any time soon because once I read the full story I didn’t like it as much.
BUT. I know a lot of young adults who ADORE it. I know several who cried going to see it for the first time. And I have a feeling that the girl I unfollowed has a large percentage of her following who fit the same category as the young adults I know who loved it. So when she tweeted that I just felt the pain I’ve felt before when people I admire trash the things I love. So even though I have no emotionally strong attachment to DEH, I unfollowed her because I felt hurt for her fans who do.
The thing is – I made myself go back and finally read her “review” and you know what? I agreed 100% with her criticism. When I read the book and separated it from the music I love I thought Eh…I don’t know about this one. And she put into words a lot of the problems I had with it! So her criticisms – I think – were very valid, but starting valid criticisms off with such aggressive hatred just sat wrong with me.
Now to my bigger point: I think people (including me) on social media like to use that type of low-hanging fruit to get attention for political commentary too and the same thing happens, you lose the eyeballs of the people who maybe could benefit from your criticism but using that harsh attention grabbing message off the bat.
It’s like using a clickbait title to get someone to click when the article kinda doesn’t go in the direction the title implies.
There’s a lot of great criticism of Bernie Sanders going on right now, but it’s all introduced with these tweets or statuses that start with something like, “I know this is going to anger the Bernie Bros but…” And it bothers me because – if you LOVE Bernie Sanders you are going to HATE being called a “Bernie Bro” and you’re probably not going to keep reading.
And I’m not trying to act perfect, this is a very common move of mine. This is why I know it too well. I like to get response from people who agree and so I’m guilty of starting criticism off with “I HATE THIS ART PEOPLE LOVE” or “YOU FANS OF THIS POLITICIAN ARE GOING TO HATE THIS” type of attention grabbing starts too. I’m certain if you’re a FB friend of mine you could go back and see TONS of statuses where I’ve done just that. But the more I’ve seen it lately and the more I realize it gets good attention from your echo chamber but others maybe tune you out, I’ve been thinking it all needs to be reconsidered.
A good example for me is I was trying to write a status criticizing some of the ways Pro-Life people argue against abortion. I could not start it without, “I know I’m a non-believer but so I’m obviously not the one people are talking to here but…” which was probably going to turn away people who are believers because it sounds condescending. And yet, I could NOT figure out how to start it WITHOUT that stupid line and so I just didn’t write it because I thought, If you’re not smart enough to figure out how to post this without belittling believers then maybe you haven’t put enough thought into it yet.
So I put it back into my brain to let it sit a little longer.
And I think that’s what we all need to practice doing. At least those of us who like to use our social media as a platform. If we honestly want to have legitimate discussions with people who might have differing opinions, then we need to not start off but pushing them away just for dramatic flare. This girl on twitter actually made some REALLY good points and it had me wondering why DEH won a Tony, didn’t anyone else see the things she saw? I didn’t see it but the book sat weird with me so I definitely felt like I would see things the way she did. But she was SO inflammatory with her hatred that it almost made me get defensive about a show THAT I HAVE NEVER SEEN and that I wasn’t even sure I liked either after reading the book. But her first tweet upset me just for people who loved it and if I hadn’t forced myself to go back and read her criticism, I would have never found the words that kinda described my weird feelings about it after reading the book.
I actually decided to respond to her about that, to tell her I wasn’t bothered by the criticisms but by the first tweet, in an attempt to kinda see if she understood that but I just got a notification that she responded back to me and now I’m just spiraling like, “Should I have never tweeted at her?” I just felt like she’s so spiritual and wise she might understand my point and now I’m second guessing this whole entry because maybe my point is dumb and I’m just too sensitive? Maybe we should all just criticize however we see fit?
UGGGGGG. And now I’m trapped in my own head (WHY DID YOU TWEET AT HER KIM? WHAT WAS THE POINT?) but before I saw her response I think I had a good point to this post so instead of just deleting it all I’m going to leave it here without editing it because I know my spirals and I need to reset a bit because I’m feeling defensive now. And my plan is to figure out how to direct my day so I don’t spiral too much further from where I am now. OPERATION DISTRACTIONS, BABY! LET’S DO IT!
Welcome to the head of a manic with acute anxiety responses to specific social triggers. This post did not go where I intended.