For me, personally, I gotta admit. I'm done. :\ I'm done trying to make fandom a good and welcoming place for people to be, or make it more of a place I want to be. I'm done worrying about whether everyone is having a good time, and trying to make it so that happens. I'm done thrashing against the norms of contemporary social media and combating passivism and trying to save things, or affect things, or make things happen. I'm tired of responding to negativity or even holding space for it.
The reason I am even still here is because I drove over 6,000 miles across the US and back [sure, for a variety of work- and family-related reasons, but] and loved SPN on my terms, and no one else's; and because on my way home, I had a really, really good time with brightly_lit and septembers_coda.
That paragraph up there probably sounds really bitter--and honestly, I kind of am, a bit--but now I'm here for me. I'm gonna read everything I want, as much of everything I want, and I'm going to leave ridiculous, rambling comments on everything I love. I'm gonna post about everything I love, and fuck whatever other conversations are going on out there about whatever is wanky and negative today in fandom.
And you know what? These past two weeks have probably been the best time I've had in fandom in a really long time. I LOVE YOU GUYS, and I loved reading all of the summergens in a single fell swoop, and I loved reading all your Big Bangs you linked me, and I loved getting to go back to fic I promised I'd read in FEBRUARY, LOL. I'm loving my rewatch and I love recording my love for my audience of one--me. (But I definitely don't mind sharing it, either. :3)
I don't know what autumn will bring, because when we're in season there are weekly opportunities for people to be negative about 9000 different things. But I'll figure that out then! The only other part that's left then, is fic.
Fic is hard because I feel like, by necessity, it requires conversation. It seeks connection. I write for two, sometimes three, reasons. 1) I really fucking love SPN. 2) I feel something, and I desperately want to know if anyone else feels the same way. (The optional 3) is that the mechanics of craft and writing make me wet, and sometimes I just want to play with those.) I'm probably not alone when I say that when I write (or for those of you who art, art), I'm putting myself out there; it's Vulnerable Position #1.
I mean, all of my most personal thoughts and feelings are in my fic, not in my blog posts. XP And I'm sure it's the same for many of you, because we're a community of creators and that's often just how we roll.
Sometimes it's really great! I am so thankful for fandom, because it is feedback where there would otherwise be none--literally none. Connection were the alternative is, again, literally nothing.
Sometimes it's not. Going unacknowledged, or being passed over, sucks. Because it makes you feel like, lol, EVEN ON THE INTERNET no one has any idea what you're talking about, or they don't care, or they're secretly side-eyeing you. And because negativity and sarcastic one-line zingers are trendy right now, that feeling is only greater. I know that I don't feel particularly good about putting my work, myself, in that kind of environment.
I also think that sometimes (not always--there are some pretty severe flamethrowers out there) silence is worse than flames. If someone is directly mean to you on the Internet, it's usually pretty easy to just say lol, okay. Wevs, bruh. But silence can be insidious, because, well, we're all creative people which means we all have pretty active imaginations and the Internet can be, verifiably, a really mean and hostile place. It's not always just in your head, unfortunately.
Like, the Internet is mean. That's real. XP That's like the yes, demons are real and so is the ghost in your closet and also that weird bag you found that was filled with animal skulls real.
So here are two things I believe the shit out of:
1. I believe you should thank your readers/viewers for every comment you receive. Real talk, I have a really hard time coming back to work by someone who never responds to comments on their work; or only does so selectively; or arbitrarily. And it's not coming from this space of feeling like my comments are God's gift to man! Lol, no.
Thank-you comments are acknowledgement of connection. They are conversation. It's a way of telling someone--just like they did for you, in enjoying your work--hey, I see you, I feel you, and I thank you.
And I'm going to take a moment to use myself as one example, because, yeah, I do notice when someone doesn't respond back to feedback I leave. That's just the way my brain works. And because my brain is the way that it is, I interpret that silence as dismissiveness. I interpret it as me having said something wrong or hurtful about their work, and they don't want to tell me I fucked up. I interpret it as a silent retraction of my welcome to read and comment on whatever comes next. Like the next time will be like, oh no, here comes Kalliel again; she didn't understand that my cold shoulder last time meant I wished she'd go away, oh no.
And I recognize that that's extreme and overblown. And because of this I do usually power through and continue leaving feedback on work I enjoy, even if I'm not sure the creator actually enjoys my feedback. But it doesn't feel good.
So really, thank-yous are in your best interest as a creator. I mean, I feel like I can speak pretty universally when I say that people would like as few boundaries between them and their reader/viewership as possible, right? When you respond to comments you're doing yourself a kindness, too.
You don't even need to say anything intense! Just, "Thank you for reading! I'm so glad you enjoyed this." Like, you can literally copy/past that line.
This isn't to say that comment-thread conversations and more in depth engagements with comments to fanworks aren't fucking awesome and totally the dream, because they are. But if that's not you, that's not you; and that's totally okay! (Though I'd like to take this moment and note that madebyme_x is super, super great when it comes to having really great comment-thread convos about fanworks. <3!)
Expressing gratitude for feedback received, though? We're all thankful; take the time to show it. If you don't have time in one moment, then wait, and get back to it when you do. <3
Sometimes it can feel overwhelming when you realize you need to respond to three comments all at once. But it's helpful to remember that it doesn't need to happen all at once. And responding can be a way of making those comments all the more special to you--taking that time and thinking wow, this person read my thing. And they told me. Maybe you're not the kind of person who gets 893 kudos--I know I'm not!--but you don't have to be. Saying thank-you is a way of taking time out of our modern, zany, accrual-driven lives to really understand how much three small words can mean: I love this.
And if you're truly not thankful when people read your stuff, because you're God's gift to fandom, haha, fuck you. :D
2. I believe you should comment on everything you finish reading/viewing.
Like don't lie. If you didn't like something, don't feel obligated to say that you did! Just...put it away, click back, and find something that's more your style.
But if you derived pleasure, peace, elation, joy, or idk, ejaculation from something someone made, let them know!
The most hilarious thing fandom does, I think, is when Joe LiveJournal posts something, doesn't get any feedback, and then says, "ugh, fandom is so dead. No one ever leaves any feedback." Even though you're looking at them thinking, LOL. YOU NEVER COMMENT ON ANYTHING, EITHER! AND I KNOW THIS, BECAUSE WE'RE NEIGHBORS, WE BOTH LIVE HERE. I CAN SEEEEE YOUUUUUU. And the thing you just said is true because everyone is exactly like you, Joe! XD
And I know. Commenting is a lot of work and after a long day of surviving, it can feel like a whole lot more work. It can be especially hard if English isn't your most comfortable language, or if words aren't how you best express yourself, or if you're feeling so many things about the fic or art you just enjoyed you don't even know where to start.
All of that is okay. It is so, so okay. <3
You can save your feedback for when you have the spoons to do it. Even though English tends to be fandom's lingua franca (thanks, imperialism), I honestly think a creator would be just as jazzed by a comment in Czech as in any other language. You can literally say "I'm feeling so many things about this piece I don't even know what to say!" Or you can just say, "I love this." You can copy/paste that on every single thing you read or look at; so long as it's actually true, that's all that's needed.
But if just saying "I love this" leaves you unfulfilled, but you're never sure what else to say, hmm... Let's crowdsource~
FRIENDS! When you make something (fic, art, icons, graphics, vids, anything and everything), what kinds of things do you like to hear? Favorite parts? Quotes of favorite sentences? Comments on character? Style? Color? Composition? FEELINGS? What kind of feedback gives you the warm fuzzies?
Sorry if this post comes off as a little bitchy. I'm afraid of posting this. But I'm also trying to be as honest as possible, and these are the two things I believe in hardcore. These are my don't-drink-and-drive of fandom. My "omg, stop your car and let the ambulance go through, you fuckers!" That's what this means to me.
But anyway, let me hear your thoughts! Whether you agree or disagree with me about anything I've said above, here is what I am most interested in: As a creator, what kind of feedback really makes you smile? :)