I really hate complaining. Of course, everyone does it from time to time and we don’t mean to be annoying when we do it, but when I see someone complain or even read things I sent of me complaining, I can’t help but get ticked off. Typically it’s not enough for me to go full on and decide “I want to rant about this at two in the morning for a bunch of people to read tomorrow at noon” and I kinda just get over it, but as of these past few weeks I’ve gotten annoyed enough to decide to make a topic off of it and maybe have an intellectual rant about it. Probably not, we’ll see. Let’s get this started shall we?
The best thing about the Internet is that everyone has a voice. If you have an idea or something you want to express, there is nothing stopping you. Simultaneously, the worst thing about the Internet is that everyone has a voice. It’s an obvious two way street and more often than not annoyances and negativity make their way out everywhere. Anonymity is a powerful tool to give to anyone and is part of the reason I write under a pen name while keeping my real name more or less private from the public. With anonymity you can say, more or less, whatever you want without consequence. I don’t dislike this idea, as it’s one of my favourite aspects of the Internet considering as of these past couple years I’ve become more or less super restrictive when it comes towards saying things about my real life both with Internet acquaintances and in public places like my Twitter. It’s fantastic that people from all over the world can talk to each other and form common interest without ever knowing personal details about one another. But, on the other side of the coin, that also gives people who want to express negativity not only the perfect means to do so but the perfect place to get used to doing it.
The early time of the Internet, and still in more niche parts of it which I’ll get into in a moment, had a media reputation of being horribly toxic. I’d be genuinely surprised if there wasn’t a single local press that around the early 2000’s didn’t cover an outstanding case of toxicity online. Anonymity before anything else became a tool of destructive speak rather than constructive discussion and that’s how it will always be. Of course, that’s what the world has grown accustomed to, and it was clearly to be expected and isn’t surprising when a new AI turns into a being of pure hatred purely because it was open for anyone to use and influence. I think to a degree it’s overplayed that negativity clings to everyone on the Internet and negativity is definitely given more attention than positive things, but I do think that because of this excess of coverage around negative subjects that it creates a sort of atmosphere where negativity is easy to get used to and in some ways becomes encouraged. With negativity floating around everywhere and being the primary aspect associated with the Internet through traditional media, it becomes a little easy to focus on and in some ways makes it so people not only get used to negativity but maybe even be an attraction to people who enjoy general negativity in their lives.
Of course, anyone who explicitly tries to ignore negativity on the Internet will more or less succeed to varying degrees, but niche groups of people here more or less have a much harder time with being a part of that community and also purely ignoring or avoiding all negativity. Things like the community for the hit game from 2015 Undertale continue to be the most toxic fanbases I’ve ever seen and without a doubt the game’s fans are of more a niche group as people who express themselves mostly on the Internet. With that said, the anime fanbase is also one which is without a doubt niche and by no means is it an exception to the trend I just mentioned. The anime fanbase online, in some instances, really sucks.
I don’t think I’d be going out on a limb much to say that anyone who’s been in the online anime community for a reasonably long amount of time has seen negativity or the problem that I’m about to mention. While I could sit here and explain why negativity isn’t the greatest thing, I’m going to safely assume everyone understands that those kinds of atmospheres can be generally worse for online communities (or just communities in general). Something I extremely dislike with any community I’m in, is a persistent need to classify everything other members of the community enjoy as bad. If you don’t like this specific anime from 1988 then you have horrible taste and objectively you are wrong if you say you enjoy something created within the past ten years. I’ve seen this mentality damn near everywhere in this community and rather than complain about how I dislike this and how these people should just leave the community all together and leave us alone, I want to propose the following: Stop complaining and enjoy.
The reason I brought up Undertale a moment ago isn’t just because the community is genuinely horribly toxic from literally every single instance I’ve encountered, but that it’s also one of those communities that share a similar problem of a lot of people refusing to enjoy anything new. Fan games that contradict the original story? Fan covers of songs? Theory crafting about the lore behind the game? Screw all that stuff, it’s almost as if some people want to have fun with something they had a positive experience with. This mentality is what drives so many people away from the game; a game that many people, including the people who refuse to enjoy anything, loved and in many cases were moved by. I’m not saying anime suffers from a problem quite as drastic as this, but the overwhelming annoyance of people persisting these points is there.
Ask yourself, would you rather have a hundred experiences that all except for a handful were more or less sub-par while some were horrible and others were amazing, or would you rather have twenty experiences that all except for let’s say five you hated with a burning passion? While I may be overgeneralising or speculating too deep, and the either or situation I just gave was obviously hyperbolic, I feel that the reason I’ve seen so many people just generally unhappy with everything is a few elements. Firstly, an overly consistent series of negative experiences with the medium in a row. Second, an overly critical view on every production after that spree of negative experiences. Lastly, an overly high set of expectations for productions in fond remembrance of when productions were still enjoyable. This seems the most likely to me just off of observing the people who are experiencing it, but it’s all extremely speculative; I want to make that very clear.
Step one: Let’s say we, either intentionally or accidentally, hit a wave of shows we heavily disliked. We just watched School Days, Glasslip, Mayoiga and Mekakucity Actors all in a row. Naturally, we’re going to have an overall more negative outlook in that moment about anime. I know this is likely the case because I’ve been subject to this myself. I used to do a thing where I would pick ten shows and watch them all in a row, as a sort of way to cut down on my massive plan to watch list on MAL (which as of today if infinitely smaller) and a lot of the time I would accidentally hit these patches of shows were I would watch a lot of bad things in a row and as a result expected the next one to be bad just because of how things were going. Negative experiences create a negative mindset and if you keep hitting these negative things over and over and over, you might adopt a belief that you’ve seen all of the good anime that was left in the world.
Step two: Naturally through being in this community you will learn to view at least some things critically. This isn’t because the online anime community is necessarily enriching, but rather because the demand of “critical” discussion (whether that’s genuine critical discussion or makeshift yelling of opinions using poorly grounded statements as arguments) is massive in this community. Whether or not you engage in it is almost unavoidable at least to some degree, and you will learn how to ground at least some of your opinions in some form of critical thought. With that said, it’s easy for any one person to get swept up into a state of almost hyper critical thought. Doing things like paying attention to every little detail and in the case of those who have a difficult time enjoying damn near anything, picking out every little flaw and hardly putting into consideration how a positive aspect might balance out or out-balance the negative attributes. By focusing so much on each thing that rubs you the wrong way rather than at least looking at every event equally, you’re bound to dislike more productions. Period.
Step three: Eventually get so tired of watching “bad shows” due to the previous two steps that you begin wanting something of a similar quality to your favourite shows to even consider them good. To me, this is the last step and the only place I can see the mentality of disliking a majority of things in general being made surviving. At this stage you’re surrounded by nothing but things you dislike, you don’t bother watching airing shows anymore because you assume they’ll be terrible and from you experiences they are; overall you trap yourself in a state where you dislike everything. This is me just assuming, of course, but I refuse to believe it’s just because people choose to hate everything they consume and rather want to point out what might cause this mentality, because I’m sure I’m not the only one who used to see an overwhelming amount of people like this.
But what I have to say is to stop this. To stop the need to view every inch of something critically, to stop having high expectations, to prepare to be disappointed and be surprised when you’re not, and to watch shows a majority of other people are enjoying just to enjoy anime for a bit. To be, it’s extremely obnoxious to see people whine about how something slipped up slightly and therefore is garbage, or that something is shit without ever explaining why it’s shit. This happened a ton with Re:ZERO with extremely few people defending their opinion that she show was awful and when they did often used fallacies as their entire argument. Out of the hundreds of different voices I saw on Twitter who disliked Re:ZERO, I can only recall two people who decided to actually defend that point of view in an understandable way.
I’m tired of seeing “It has X therefore it is bad.” It’s slice of life therefore it’s bad. It’s by Kyoto Animation therefore it’s bad. It’s cliché therefore it’s bad. I encounter a refusal to enjoy productions just because of a single factor more than I see people enjoying productions despite a whole list of flaws. Part of me wanted to pull a whole A Modest Proposal moment at the end of this post but I don’t even know where to begin because I can’t see the continuous need to show your distaste towards everything without ever showing why you might think that way and dismissing the opinions of others. The impossibility to enjoy things seems almost counter intuitive to me.
Rather than pull out a full on insane satirical proposal, what I’m more interested in knowing is why stay in a community full of things you hate if you aren’t going to grow to enjoy any of it? Why continue adding toxicity to the community if you have nothing helpful to add? Why continue harping people when you aren’t getting reactions anymore? While I was writing this post, I had a small exchange with a fellow writer of sorts, Kori, (someone whom I heavily disagree with on several topics but nonetheless still like talking to) and they said something that I can now see as the best argument as to why this kind of mindset doesn’t make any sense to me: “Enjoying things is fun.”
And they’re right. Enjoying things is fun. Enjoying things is why I continue to watch anime, it’s why I seek out shows that make me smile and have fun more often than shows that will pull out my heart and make me cry to death. I can’t help but wonder, if you’re not here to enjoy shows anymore, if you’re not here to interact with the community in any meaningful way, if your very presence seems more like a meme than something genuine, why are you still here? If you can’t find an answer, why not stop complaining and enjoy a new show? Being so negative all the time has got to be a pain, after all.
Wowsers this post took a long time to get out. So as of late I’ve been hardcore struggling to do my job as usual and I’m not entirely sure, but what I’m pretty sure is one of the reasons as to why is that I’m a bit dissatisfied with way I’ve been approaching these last few topics; even today’s I’m still a little iffy on if this is the way I want to look at it. With that said, I think I’m going to try out a few new approaches to topics soon and next week I want to sort of “revisit” an old topic I wrote about last year to try out that new style. Well at least it will hopefully be out next week… Nonetheless, thanks to everyone who read today’s post and if you have anything to say on the topic I always read every single comment or my Twitter is a great place to get a hold of me personally! You can also follow me there if you want to see what I’m up to when I take almost three weeks for one post. I’ll see you all next post that I will try to get out next week!
The featured image for this post was drawn by pixiv artist 結城辰也.