I use social media every day, and yet I realise that I don’t actually post all that much to it myself. As sites like Twitter have matured and gotten away from what they were when they first started out, I kind find myself much less inclined to wade into that perpetual trash fire. I just feel bad for the people who have to interact with it as a part of their livelihood.
Where has all the anonymity gone?
This is no revelatory statement; but people talk to one another online in a way they’d never dream of speaking to each other in real life. And yet, as the layers of anonymity of the internet fall away, the toxic attitude and venomous statements don’t seem to be going with them.
Back in the day (a fantastic prelude to any statement primarily being read by millennials and Gen ‘Z’ers), the prime example of people being shitty on the internet was classic Xbox Live. Open mics in games of Halo, Call of Duty and Gear of War welcomed the saltiest bunch of morons, spouting out any and all kinds of vulgarities they were able to muster.
Given, most of these were children, either psychically, mentally or both. You’d hope that they were just kids who had yet to develop the social and empathetic skills thought to be needed to function in civilised society. Given free reign with no oversight to be as foul and horrible to one another as their own imaginations would permit.
You’d think, as those kids matured, they’d realise what was appropriate and what wasn’t. I guess growing up has become an outdated concept, because today our professionals, our politicians and our leaders use social media as a platform to sling crap at one another every day. They make scandalous statements and generally act no better than those tweeners raging about their Halo games a decade ago.
The craziest thing about it all to me, is that anonymity of a gamertag is gone. People’s real names, real faces and locations are often plastered all over their profiles and yet they have no qualms about thoughtlessly attacking others online over and over and over again. Some of them even have that stupid little blue tick on their profile and still act the asshat, not realising just how many people their behaviour is reaching.
And yet that’s the stuff that floats to the top, despite the many people out there trying their darndest to inject a little more positivity into the internet, the stupid algorithms on Twitter that make it so more than half the posts on my timeline come from people I’m not, nor have no desire to follow. All of it drama and bickering.
I should probably get to the point that inspired me to write thing thing in the first place.
The Backlash against Team Four Star
There’s a company out there called Team Four Star, I don’t know if you’ve heard of them. They’re a bunch of comedians, creators and voice actors who made a name for themselves by creating a web series called Dragon Ball Z Abridged. I was (and still am) a big fan of DBZA, but the weight of that project made it so episodes came out infrequently, to put it lightly.
But because I enjoyed their series so much, I wanted to see more of what they were doing, and ended up becoming a fan of the guys behind the show more-so than the show itself. Just over a month ago, Scott “KaiserNeko” Frerichs and Nick “Lanipator” Landis put out video announcing that they were cancelling DBZA.
The backlash to this news… well, it was a lot.
As fan of these guys, seeing the sheer volume of nasty, unsolicited, personal attacks they were getting from their supposed fans bummed me the hell out. I like to think of myself as a level headed, observant person. And from my perspective, the cancellation of DBZA had been in the cards for a while.
As far back as the final full episode in September of 2018, there was an air of finality and a somewhat 4th wall breaking speech from Goku about accepting change and not getting upset about things ending. I mean sure, there was a banner at the end saying they would return with a season 4, but even from then, a year and a half ago, I felt like the writing was on the wall for anyone actually willing to actually pay attention.
From then, the guys talk of their struggles with increasing copyright claims against their channel, their own struggles with motivation and inspiration for the Bojack movie and their idea to move into their own 3D animated “ShortZ”. The eventual announcement video of the series cancellation could not have come as any less of a surprise to me. It was obvious that the guys were struggling and in the end, moving away from DBZA was the most sensible thing they could do.
I was just personally happy that the series went out on such a tremendous high as it did with the three parts of episode 60.
There were a lot of people out there who did not share my sense of empathy, understanding or plain common sense though and went at TFS hard. The people who would come out in droves and say DBZA was better than the original anime were now the same people making ludicrous statements like TFS “using their fans” to get popular and then dumping them as soon as they were big enough to do without it.
Because yes, they worked on something for free for over a decade just to trick you into following them so that they could make money…
My stance on social media
This is really the first time I put my own thoughts outs there in any extended capacity. Because I feel that trying to defend them in any capacity will either get drowned out or feed the butt hurt people and just extend the arguing.
And as much as I have loved a lot of the stuff TFS have put out; DBZA, their gaming channel, their D&D games and their short lived anime channel (Four Star Bento) being the main thing that got me back into watching anime and writing about it here on my blog… All of their announced future projects fall flat for me. They’ve got a ton of new animated and scripted live action content just come out, and being very honest for the moment; none of it is really grabbing me in any way.
I’ve thought their two Dragon ShortZ have been okay and weak, and the trailers for their live action series “Unabridged” looks like a low budget web series with a cast of wildly uneven acting ability. I mean, that’s because that’s exactly what the series is.
But outside the confines of this blog where I feel like the wider context of my feelings on the creators has been made apparent, I’d never dream of repeating those feelings on social media. It’s obvious that the team are enjoying the new challenge, relishing the opportunity and are doing the absolute best given their budget and abilities.
Will I watch any of this new content from them? Probably not. Will I vocalise these thoughts in in their faces? Of course not. What possible benefit does my criticism pose when plastered as a Twitter comment? Absolutely none.
Which kind of sums up my very old headed stance on social media: “If you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything dumbass.”
There is a time and a place to express displeasure of something on social media. When you’re @ing a faceless corporation of studio, whose social media is run by a trained team of faceless people. I don’t mind making a sarcastic comment of expressing my displeasure on how bad a CGI blue hedgehog looks or a monolithic company like Disney who discarded emotion a long time ago.
But when you’re lashing out at individuals, who have been as open and candid as they possibly can be, it feels much more like you’re approaching a stranger in street jabbing your finger into their chest and telling them they suck and their life choices are wrong.
I get that people get upset about their entertainment, but we’re so inundated with content from so many different directions that planting your flag in on particular hill, sitting down with your arms and legs crossed and pouting about it seems like a waste of time and energy. If you don’t like something, then focus your attention on something you do like, there is more than enough of it out there.
Summing it up
I kind of feel like I already got my particular head space about the whole thing out there already. The “right to criticise” is something I’ve touched upon before. And while I agree with the concept in spirit, the vast majority of people who use it as a foundation for attacking creators are misunderstanding criticism with just being a salty dick.
I feel like, to criticise something, you need to come at it with some level of respect for the people you’re talking about, and the current social media environment has trained us to act as hostile and as antagonistic to one another as possible. Some people need to be dunked on with no remorse, but more often than not, the people getting the sharp end of the stick are content creators, sportsmen and the social justice fighters.
And at the end of the day, most of these people are just trying to do their job, yet they’re the ones most vulnerable to a unsolicited online onslaught. And that’s an act I simply refuse to allow myself to be a part of, and the downside is the social media community I used to love being a part of has pushed me out to observe it from a distance, shaking my head at it remorsefully.