On fandom: free content and entitlement
In light of recent events (read: that kid that took on a personal vendetta against the aph hub) I started thinking a lot about how the coddled tumblr mentality is killing all the current fandoms in general more than the emergency of new shows to fawn over does.
Let me explain. But first I’d like to link some of my favorite posts:
Let’s make one thing clear first: I was a smartass, whiny teen once too, completely unaware of how ridiculous I was being. Remembering myself at 16 - I want to crawl under a rock, let alone at 14!
In 10 years time I will probably be embarrassed of how I am now, at 24, too.
So this is not meant to pick on kids. That would be hypocritical and useless. This is about how this website glorifies a particular aspect of a dependent and self-centered state of mind, and how coddling and not-addressing it (links 1&2) affects the creation and consumption of fanworks.
The key is to understand two basic truths:
A) EVERYTHING HAS A PRICE
B) THE WORLD IS NOT TAILORED TO YOU
A) This is simple: the world works by equivalent exchange - you receive a service when you pay money for it or give something of equivalent value in return. And you have to receive money or goods in return for your work.
(in fandom - these goods are feedback, but we will get to that later)
Now, that is something you learn when you grow up. When you are a kid in your parent’s house, they and the rest of the family do everything for you. You live, eat, receive medical attention and education for free. The only thing you are asked in return is to study and do some house chores from time to time.
Of course not always it’s perfect, and some kids are put under a lot of pressure to do these two things right, but honestly? - It’s appalling how many posts complaining about setting the table I’ve seen around here. Children are more spoiled and consented now than they’ve ever been. And being as coddled as they are, when they grow up they don’t understand that, unlike their parents, the world doesn’t exist to make their life easy and that they can’t expect to receive perfect services without giving anything in return.
Strangers on the internet just don’t love and care about you enough to do that.
Nobody is going to sacrifice themselves specifically for you without receiving anything in return.
B) So whenever you see and receive free services; such as a group of fans running a page to help out other fans, dedicating hours and hours of stressful work to it; or an artist that draws your favorite character, or a writer that just wrote that particular AU that you always wanted… you CAN NOT EXPECT IT TO BE PERFECT. Specially perfect FOR YOU, in PARTICULAR.
You want something to be done perfectly according to your tastes? - Do it YOURSELF.
And see for yourself how hard it is. Get off your ass and force yourself to work for free, for yourself and others, and then try not to care when you start receiving callout posts and anons complaining about how something that you did, doesn’t sit right with them.
I already spoke out about this once, but basically, as a free individual: You can make constructive criticism, you can complain if you’ve been wronged and ask for a reasonable explanation, but you can’t demand changes. You can’t expect others to take your words into consideration just because it’s you.
And if you don’t treat people with the respect that they are due, you will only wrong yourself.
Because there’s nothing as discouraging as working your ass off just for the sake of doing a service to others and receive callouts, demands and bullying in return.
It’s almost as bad, or even worse, as the silence.
And here’s the other point: if you consume free media or services, the least you can do, is show appreciation.
We live in an age when kids seldom thank their parents for making them food or buying their clothes. And if they do, it’s rarely sincere. There’s a collective sense of laziness towards showing gratitude. Everything is a given, as if these commodities just appeared out of thin air.
Well, hours, sometimes even days, of people’s work is not a given. As a quote in Link 3 goes:
“We create for ourselves, but we post it for you”
- There’s nothing more discouraging for a writer than feeling like they are shouting into the void - except, of course, outright non-constructive criticism.
- There’s nothing worse for an artist (again, except said criticism) than when their work is faced with indifference. And that also applies to half-assed acknowledgement.
A freind of mine once said “when people like but not reblog my art, I feel like they are telling me it’s not good enough to be shown in public.”
It’s very simple to leave a review or a singe word of praise when reblogging someone’s work. Just give it a try and you’ll light up their world.
And if you feel like it’s some soft of effort on your part, think about the effort they put into making it for you.
If you don’t appreciate the effort of others… people will just stop making that effort. Stop drawing your fanart and stop writing your stories.
- And finally: all these community blogs that work their ass off to help artists and writers, to help keep the fandom active and provide information and promotion services: it’s hard work too. They deal with a lot of people and a lot of stupid issues every day.
The least we can do is, from time to time, show some appreciation and understand that they are human, they make mistakes the same way that you do. So if they make mistakes, don’t whine and insult them like a spoiled brat, get off your ass and help out or have at least some respect and accept that not everything is ever going to be to your taste.
TL;DR: if you consume free content
- a) Don’t make demands: you are entitled to nothing except what other’s are willing to give you.
- b) Accept that not everything is going to be perfectly tailored to your tastes.
- c) Show some appreciation in return!
That’s your part of the exchange.