Welcome to the Internet where you are not allowed to state your opinion if it’s negative in any form.
I always preach that sometimes a negative opinion is best left to yourself, especially if you plan to use a lot of profanity, no constructive reasons to support that said opinion, or it promotes targeting a specific person, race, sex, etc.
But what about the other side of the coin? What if you had an negative opinion on something but none of the things above applied? Lately, I feel like the Internet is not only a place where people can express themselves, but where we can easily get bent out of shape because someone prefers oranges over apples.
I think the problem here is that if someone were to type that they like oranges instead of apples, you can’t tell how the person is saying it because it’s all typed in text. Are they saying it with an angry tone? Since there is no way to tell, people decide to assume that the person who says it, is being hateful and they choose to either insult, threaten, or lecture the individual.
I try not to be that person who says things like “this movie was trash” or “this game is a piece of shit.” I prefer to say things like: “I don’t like the taste of beer because…..I find it to be bitter,” or “I think that [celebrity name] should go back to making that genre of music instead of this genre because they had more meaningful songs and wrote them themselves”
Even if I take the time to explain myself, give valid points, and use no strong language, I still get pelted with backlash.
Example #1 from the Dragon Age fandom on a Facebook fan page that posts art.
Me: I’m not really in to the shipping of Dorian and the Iron Bull together. I think Bull looks better with the Inquisitor.
Page admin: Then please keep scrolling, we don’t need that kind of negativity here.
Person: You hate Adoribull?! Get out of here you disgusting homophobic bitch!
Of course, I’m all for preaching that you shouldn’t say anything at all if you can’t say something nice, but where on Earth did I say anything in that comment that didn’t meet the definition of nice? I tried to be as nice as possible in my opinion. Also no, I am NOT homophobic, I have several LGBTQ friends that I respect the hell out of. I just don’t like that ship because I’ve got a crush on Bull myself and I don’t particularly like Dorian as a character. I just find his personality uninteresting and his homosexuality has nothing to do with it. Therefore I don’t like seeing them shipped.
Example #2 from the official Gears of War page posting about a trailer for the fifth game.
Me: Personally, I think the series should have ended at the third game. It made sense to end it there. The Locust and the Lambent had been defeated and humanity was at peace.
Person: You should end your life.
Really? So I should go commit suicide because anybody who doesn’t like the fact that the series is continuing doesn’t deserve to live? It’s NOT okay to joke about suicide at any time! I provided a reasonable explanation to support my opinion and you think I should just go kill myself because you don’t want to admit that I make a good point?
I bet people who disagree go through a stage of denial when they come across an opinion opposite to theirs but makes a lot of sense. To express this denial, they just respond in the harshest way possible which is unfortunately, that they think we need to kill ourselves just because we think that game series X should have ended after game 3 instead of there being a 4th. Pathetic.
I thought the fandoms for certain pop stars were toxic. I don’t know what to say except that I guess people get so passionate about the things they love that they perceive anyone who doesn’t agree with them online as a threat that should either leave the fandom alone or die.
But these two examples are just the beginning, here is the most recent that crossed the line. It was when the Cineplex Facebook page (at least I think it was Cineplex) posted something about the 3rd and final installment of the 50 Shades trilogy coming to theaters. I commented that the books and movies were romanticizing domestic abuse and misrepresenting the BDSM lifestyle, thus making it far from a healthy relationship.
I provided examples from the books (I didn’t read those books by the way, I would have lost too many brain cells if I did, but there’s a blog I follow that cites passages from them.) that were absolutely horrendous such as Christian threatening to hit Ana in public if she doesn’t eat, and another where he says he likes women to wear skirts cause it makes them more “accessible” *puke* Above all, I used no profanity and gave valid concerns and reasons to support my opinion.
There were lots of people who agreed with me, but I also received backlash from some people who claimed the usual like some people in healthy relationships enjoy the movies and the bullshit that Ana “fixes” him in the end. But the worst came when someone decided to lecture me that some people enjoy BDSM and should be allowed to do whatever they want. Then he went on to explain that I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about and proceeded to call me a ret***ed feminazi several times (censoring that word because as someone who has been living with ASD all my life, I find it extremely offensive and we can never be friends if you use it in your vocabulary on a regular basis) who voted for Hillary Clinton. After reading the comment more than once and holding my rage inside, I blocked the bastard and deleted my comment. Coincidentally, he had Donald Trump in his profile picture.
Four things buddy:
One: DON’T. USE. THAT. WORD. The fact that there are still people who use it online and offline is vile. There are so many other words you could have used instead. Buy a dictionary.
Two: That is a horrible stereotype, feminists do not want to eliminate men from the planet. What we are fighting for is for women to have the same rights as men.
Three: There’s no way I could have voted for Clinton even if I wanted to because I am not a US resident.
Four: Maybe YOU should do your research on BDSM, because I did and I can tell you that this trilogy is not even close to being a healthy BDSM relationship.
After the harassment I’ve endured on Twitter before finally leaving the platform in late 2017 and the even worse bullying I received in the Ghost fandom, mainly from two individuals who I will not name, (eventually I might break the silence and share my experience of the latter) every time I receive a reply similar to these incidents, I delete my comment before I get more of them, it’s a way to starve the trolls. But, I can’t help but feel that I’ve still lost just by doing that.
Which is why I have resorted to only sharing my opinions here, where I can be as honest as possible and be in control of any comments that pop up. That way if some pea-brained idiot who can’t accept any opinion but their own stumbles on my blog and decides to give me a hard time, I can shut them down without having to remove my own content.
I mean, personally, it’s one thing to get backlash if you just simply say that that video game sucked and was garbage with no context at all, but if you provide some reasons behind your opinion, you don’t deserve that kind of treatment online or offline. If I see people ranting crap about Mass Effect Andromeda, but they are giving context to their opinions, I don’t pick a fight with them.
It sounds like I’m trying to rid the world of injustice here due to the fact that I was bullied from elementary to secondary school, and preach that anonymity does not excuse that kind of treatment. I’ve had my words dismissed as “It’s the Internet” trust me, I always block assholes when they come, but at one point do we realize that it doesn’t undo the damage dealt? Weren’t we wired to be better than that when it comes to social interaction?
There I go being Vulcan again. Well at least I got this one out. That felt great. Anybody else fed up with this in the online world or have a similar experience they want to share?
12 thoughts on “Opinions are Forbidden – Except Here”
There are certainly days where I’m in the same boat.
There are a few factors that I think contribute to how ridiculous it can be to state an opinion online.
Firstly, far too many people view things in a binary black & white way. The example you provided from the Dragon Age Fandom is a perfect example of this. You said you didn’t like a picture and said why. Viewing that through a binary lens would mean that if you don’t love something then you hate it. The thinking lacks any kind of nuance.
Secondly, I’ve noticed a fair number of people tie their personal identity to their interests. I don’t know if this was always a thing and I’m only noticing it more often because of social media, but it seems like people view themselves as the sum total of their interests rather than who they are as a person. Because of that you get a lot of people taking any attack on their interests as an attack of them as a person. This line of thinking is just as reductive as viewing everything in binary.
Thirdly, you have tribe mentality. We (humans) have always tried to form groups, probably because of some survival instinct, by finding similar individuals. In modern society that manifests as us finding like-minded individuals to spend time with. From there a rule set of sorts is established to create order among the group. Challenging the established rules/order causes dissent among the group, which results in members who want to see order maintained attacking the dissenter(s). It’s not just online communities where this hive mind mentality exists either – you can see the same thing in sports clubs, friend circles, groups of co-workers, and religion. This also allows a select few members of the group to hold control over the entire thing.
So when you combine all three you get a fatal combination of someone who can’t engage in a nuanced discussion, has their self esteem tied to their interests, and who wants to see order maintained within the groups they are associated with. And this manifests as the people in all the examples you provided, as well as many others that we’ve all dealt with online.
I don’t know if there is a way to fix it. The whole thing does make a lot of corners of the internet really prickly though.
Sorry for rambling. Feel like I wrote a novel here in the comments.
LikeLiked by 3 people
Don’t be ashamed of writing an essay-like comment. You’re right, I think we are in a situation where people are like either you love it or hate it. There’s no grey area.
I have been guilty in the past of having my interests associating with my identity, and that lead to, like you said, me feeling personally attacked. And at times, yes it’s like we only want to interact with people we have common interests with.
I think that’s what causes us to be offended easily the moment we come across someone who doesn’t agree.
LikeLiked by 2 people
I applaud this 🙂 It is certainly a cruel world out there and I feel like the level of casual malice out there is at an all time high.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thanks, yeah it is. All thanks to the anonymity of the Internet. Like can’t we just have a respectful conversation anymore? Clearly not. Hence, I just stick to sharing my opinions here.
LikeLiked by 1 person
It has certainly gotten a lot worse in the last few years, especially so in the last year and I personally think it has a lot to do with the current politics and a certain World Leader in power. People are seeing how they’re acting and the taboo of treating others that way has shifted dramatically, especially with bigots and men. There is, in general, a whole lot of hate whirling around and everyone is on edge; I’m thinking of your Dragon Age example when I say this in particular. You did nothing wrong but people automatically pre-empted your intentions because that is how so many others are acting right now.
The only thing I can suggest is when you do explain your reason (and I apologise if your example here was merely a shortened version) but be more specific. In the past a simple ‘I don’t like because…’ was enough but again using the DA example saying what you did can be taken the wrong way because that is how homophobes speak. While it shouldn’t be ON you to change your speech patterns because of assholes this may help lighten the stress you’re feeling and that is my only concern, I’m not criticising 🙂 Don’t make it too personal i.e. don’t mention your crush on Bull as that may backfire but most definitely mention your thoughts on Dorian’s personality as I think you’ll find some people will agree.
The problem is that a lot of hate groups are using social media, facebook, in particular, to create more hate. They’re using particular phrases and trigger words and while people might not know how in-depth it is their reaction to your comment suggests to me that they’ve at least begun to recognise their speech patterns. Saying something else about the characters and delving into the relationship shows the difference between a fan who’s played the games and someone who’s just causing trouble.
And my final point; for my own mental health, I’d have quit the group/avoided that page ASAP as soon as I saw that Admin comment. I suggest you do the same. Admins like that should not be Admins. if you’re running a discussion group you need to mediate but you can’t stop all negative comments and yours was nowhere near close to being what I’d call the danger scale. That’s an Admin who wants an easy ride and doesn’t give a flying crap about what they’re actually doing. They’ve also most likely got a steady group of friends and someone pointed your comment out, so they’re not impartial either.
Any place you have to fight to be understood is toxic.
LikeLiked by 2 people
You’re right about that, unfortunately it seems that our current leaders are influencing such behavior. Not just Trump but also maybe whoever just became PM of Britain. Sometimes I wish politics would stay out of this.
Well, I suppose I could have given the Dragon Age one more context that say I don’t like the pairing because of so and so that I’m not fond of Dorian, and put a disclaimer that it has nothing to do with the fact that the particular ship is a gay one. (There’s a gay ship from the Hollow Knight fandom that I like actually) sure that might create some understanding and respect, but I don’t think it will please everyone.
I don’t like how that page admin spoke like that to me. Reminds me of the stories I’ve heard of EL James blocking people on Twitter or insulting them just because they told her that her books were abusive. But you’re absolutely right, they should be able to take criticism, as long as it’s respectful. After reading that story about the girl who was attacked by Sarah Dessen and her fans, that crossed the line. But I’m curious what do you think of the other examples I gave aside from the Dragon Age one.
So people suck.. I think there’s nothing wrong with sharing your opinion. I will say if you are on a specific fan page and you comment saying you don’t like that fandom, sometimes that can be annoying. Let people like what they like. Not saying that you were doing that on the Dragon Age format, but sometimes I have had that interaction before and it’s kind of annoying.
The whole Gears of War thing though….. that’s horrendous. I personally love Gears of War and I love any addition to the game, HOWEVER I would never comment to you with anything negative because I get it. 5 games in a series is that really necessary.
I’m sorry you have had those experiences, but this post is great dialogue to be able to talk about this because you’re not alone.
LikeLiked by 1 person
True, I may not be fond of the Adoribull ship but I would NEVER go on a specific page dedicated to it and express my dislike for it. The page the incident occurred on was more of a general Dragon Age fan page.
I don’t know why but the games that came after the third Gears of War just never appealed to me, but I didn’t deserve that treatment from a jerk like that.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Wow, you seem to have really hit a nerve here. Look at all those productive comments! 🙂
A lot has already been said here, but I’d like to emphasise the first thing you said: People don’t know the tone of a comment, so they instantly assume it was angry and/or negative. I believe that a lot of that can be attributed to the tribe mentality that Frostilyte already mentioned. Everyone not in the in-group automatically is in the out-group and therefore an enemy until proven otherwise.
There has been a study (I can’t seem to find the link, but if I find it again, I’ll copy it in later) that proved that most of the time if something bad or annoying happens, it’s not the fault of the person we are angry at. For example, if somebody runs late, cancels at the last minute or damages something, it was outside of their control. They did not choose to do so.
Similarly, with internet communication, I believe that a very high percentage of comments that we get angry about are actually meant to be friendly additions to a conversation. But we see that it doesn’t conform with our world-view, define it as coming from the out-group, get angry, and respond overly aggressive.
Sometimes, comments rub me the wrong way, too, and I’m about to give them a strongly worded response, but then I stop to think for a minute if there is even the slightest possibility that I have read too much into those words. Most of the time, I come to realise that the comment actually just was someone who stated their opinion in a neutral way.
I don’t know if this helps, but anytime I get a destructive response on the internet (and I have been told to kill myself or stuff like that on multiple occasions), I know that I’ve simply been misunderstood. Even if they don’t know how I meant it, I know it. Although I certainly do not condone such destructive behaviour, this knowledge helps me to not get angry and either stay in the conversation and try to reason (works more often than you’d expect) or just to move on and never think about it again.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Yeah, I never thought I was going to get THIS much engagement! Of course they don’t, I just don’t like how they assume it’s anger. My dad advises me to presume positive intent always. Maybe everyone can learn something from him.
LikeLiked by 1 person
“Presume positive intent always”. That are words to live by!
LikeLiked by 1 person
Don’t worry, whenever I have negative or critical opinions, I rarely ever use profanity nor do I tell people to kill themselves.
It gets tough because it feels like I was never allowed to have critical opinions especially in my offline life. Luckily blogging has been cathartic for me with my different blogs. They can be my thoughts on current events as well as my creative projects or using my other blog for film, documentary, and anime reviews. Sometimes, it’s not even opinions, but I could be mentioning facts and people freak out at me like an uncomfortable historical fact, problematic things in movies, or calling out hypocrites out there. It sucks that I’ve been made fun of for things I like, so I wanted to find ways to have comebacks if I have to against those people.
The example of calling out the unfortunate implications of 50 Shades of Gray was a good way of making a healthy critique. Sorry to hear that you were bullied just for that opinion. I agree that no one should ever use the R-word and it frustrates me how people still use it. Some people have had an issue with me calling The Dark Knight an overrated movie (saying nothing about how the same director plagiarized Paprika to make Inception, but I digress) or why I find Bon Iver to not be my thing by all the hipsters out there.
One of the biggest examples of backlash I got was DARING to critique The Lion King especially when I mentioned the Kimba issue, the bigoted undertones of the hyenas, or how the elephant graveyard was low-key genocide against those hyenas when making historical parallels (looks like those animals didn’t belong to the circle of life by Mufasa’s actions). That person said that I was over-analyzing and how Disney is “innocent” while denying the obvious facts I brought up. There was even a different argument with another person where I actually won as to why the hyenas play up anti-Black and anti-Latinx stereotypes as well as bringing up the Namibian Genocide to prove my point about those bigoted implications and that person said I opened his eyes on that issue. I wish more Disney fans wouldn’t just be in denial or only take things at face value.
Other commenters have noticed this, but it bears repeating. I feel like there’s this dichotomous logic when it comes to having opinions. It can only be this or that, left or right, up or down, so on and so forth. Some of that logic can be dangerous (especially politically) where only one could have this opinion or that opinion. People can have more nuance than that. I swear people are way too invested in their fandoms or opinions to have intelligent conversations and you really see it online. No wonder I backed off of so many online platforms.
However, I don’t want to come across as some self-righteous saint or anything. There are times I wanted to fandom shame people if I research anything problematic in what they liked as kind of an indirect revenge against the people who insulted me. It’s like “If they’re allowed to make fun of what I like, then I’m allowed to do the same, but with as many facts as I can.” After realizing how I’ve been psychologically abused, I wanted to find a way to correctly articulate why I like or dislike something.
I wish the world was a calmer place, but I know it’s a freaking pipe dream.
Hopefully this text block comment wasn’t too cumbersome.