I wear a device
To aid my hearing
Dislike of their voices
Often I’m poor at concealing
Those who are speaking
Talk of my ignorance
But I prefer my stance
Sometimes I choose to
Switch it off
After all their
Silence is golden
Ignorance is bliss
There is a real problem in the BJD hobby (and elsewhere, but this is about the BJD online community). A lot of people seem to think that it’s their right to judge others for every little thing they do. This judgement is entirely arbitrary and, as far as I can tell, is based on some personal code of “how things should be” that is devised by the people doing the judging. I’ve seen people in this hobby get attacked for practically everything. People get judged and harassed for their choice of company/sculpt, wigs, eyes, faceups, clothing styles, resin colour, size of their collection, photography skills, sewing skills, how frequently they sell dolls, when and how often they buy new dolls, anything and everything to do with BJD-related Etsy/eBay shops, the race/gender/sexual orientation/ability/religion of their characters and even the names of their characters. I’ve personally been attacked for a number of things on that list; however, beyond stating that, I’m not going to make this about me specifically. I’ve already been attacked enough, and I know defending oneself – either angrily or rationally - is yet one more reason for people to attack someone in this hobby.
It’s okay to dislike things and it’s okay to have an opinion. It’s even okay to state your opinions. Nobody is forcing anybody to like or approve of everyone’s choices, and nobody is saying everyone has to pay lip-service to all their fellow hobbyists. My point is that there’s a difference between stating an opinion and using your opinion as a blunt object to beat someone with. For instance, I don’t like Fairyland dolls because I find their aesthetic unattractive, but I’m not going to say that people who do like Fairyland have weird tastes or that they’re just jumping on the popularity bandwagon, and even if I really dislike a specific Fairyland doll, I’m not going to say “X has the ugliest MNF of all time. Eew how could they own such a thing?!?” Expressing opinions becomes a problem when it moves away from a statement of dislike and becomes an outright judgement of someone else’s activities/choices, or becomes a personal attack on someone. Sometimes, it’s better not to express such personal views if there’s a possibility that it could harm someone. Remember that old adage: “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything.” Sometimes, silence really is golden.
There are a lot of people in the hobby who defend these so called “confession blogs” and say we need them in the hobby. Personally, I don’t think that we need them at all. Warning people of scams or posting lists of recasters and recast sellers is one thing, but these blogs go way beyond calling out recast sellers and bad sellers in general. They’ve become the go-to place for people who feel the need to bash and abuse others for every little thing they don’t like. I’ve seen people attacked en masse in these confession blogs, apparently for no other reason than their desire to enjoy their dolls and the hobby in their own way. Most of the stuff posted in these blogs is rude at best and criminal harassment at worst. A lot of it is bullying, plain and simple. Many of the confessions themselves are vile, but a lot of the replies are even worse. Outside the context of the internet, if a person said some of those things to another person, there could be serious consequences. I don’t see how the majority of the stuff posted in these confession blogs – either confessions or replies - is necessary to the online BJD community in any way.
The confession blogs aren’t all of it, either. There is also both anonymous and non-anonymous hate mail sent directly to people’s ask boxes here on Tumblr. I know you can disable anonymous asks, and it’s even possible to disable asks altogether, but some people might like to have the choice of leaving all the features of their ask box on. A barrage of hate mail may force people to give up that choice in order to protect themselves. How is that fair?
Now, I suspect there’s going to be somebody out there who’ll say, “But, it’s just an anonymous confession or anon message! You shouldn’t let it get to you. It doesn’t matter what someone hiding behind anon says.” True, people’s opinions shouldn’t matter, but, you know what? It does matter. When somebody’s opinion crosses the line and becomes a personal attack, it matters a lot, and here’s why. The important thing to focus on is the action itself and its impact on the recipient, not the fact that the act was committed by someone who is anonymous. 'Anonymous’ is still a person. Behind that barrier of anonymity there’s a thinking, feeling individual sitting at their computer who has maliciously targeted another thinking, feeling human being with the intention of embarrassing, shaming, insulting or hurting them. Anyone who thinks this is nothing, that people shouldn’t worry about it or that it’s ‘no big deal’ really needs to take a step back and evaluate why they believe purposefully embarrassing or hurting someone could ever be considered okay. It is not okay. I can’t think of any hobby-related context in which public shaming and the intentional infliction of emotional harm is okay.
To me, anonymous hate is doubly insidious. I think it’s far worse than hate mail sent by people who do it under their own username. With anonymous hate, the recipient has no idea where it’s coming from. The person you thought was your ally could, in reality, be one of your anonymous haters. Anon hate creates a lurking undertone of fear in this hobby that is unacceptable, and can leave recipients of anonymous hate wondering what the next thing will be that their attackers will target them for. Living with the feeling of having to look over your shoulder constantly can take all the joy and fun out of the hobby. It doesn’t encourage sharing and friendly exchange if people are worried about being scrutinized and judged for every little thing they do. Who wants to share anything new or unique when the fear of being attacked for it is hanging over you?
All my life I’ve struggled to understand why people target and bully other people for no reason other than that they are different or that they’re doing something unusual. I suppose it’s any number of things from jealousy, anger, feelings of their own inferiority, to just plain hatefulness and mean-spiritedness. This isn’t a problem confined to the BJD hobby, either. I’ve seen this in other online communities, and I’ve seen it in real life offline. There are very few safe spaces, and that is heartbreaking to me.
What I wish is that people would stop and think before firing off a hate mail message (anonymous or not) or a confession to one of these blogs. I wish people would put themselves in the place of the person they’re targeting and consider – honestly consider – how they would feel if they were in the recipient’s place. I wish they would think about how scary it is to open your messages and find hate mail there, or to see confessions about you reblogged on your dash by your followers. Consider how it feels to have your name dragged through the mud, your reputation ruined, and your peace of mind crushed. No matter how many times you tell yourself not to worry about it or that it doesn’t matter, it’s hard not to think about the fact that a person or people out there thinks so little of you or dislikes you so much that they could hurt or shame you on purpose without caring how you cope with the aftermath.
I expect this rant is going to draw a lot of criticism and hate. So be it. I will not be responding to any hate mail or angry responses to this post. Reblog this if you want to.