Communities are a great thing, right? Especially online. On surface value, it’s a perfect way to talk to others about a topic that you’re really passionate about and maybe even make friends in the process.
However, I can’t help but be constantly bothered by the sheer amount of toxic mentalities present and encouraged. Especially in social media.
How many times has someone in your life told you that your opinion is wrong? Well, you might think that statement is self-contradictory, but apparently communities don’t think so. These sites are a place where on a constant basis you’ll find people online fighting and arguing over something entirely subjective.
This creates a massive problem with communities, one that goes way deeper than people being assholes.
If you’re still unfamiliar to what I’m talking about and why it’s bad, then let me give you an example using one of my favorite anime and manga series of all time, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure.
For those of you who are unfamiliar, JoJo is a series that is divided into multiple different parts. Each part with its own protagonist and even genre.
Part 3 is an adventure series about making it from Japan to Egypt. Part 5 is a crime drama with many elements involving the Italian mafia. Part 6 is a prison series like Shawshank, taking place almost entirely in a women’s prison in Florida. And so on.
The series is extremely diverse and while each part is connected in a lot of ways, you don’t really have to read the previous parts to understand the current one. It’s almost made for you to read each part in whatever order you want.
Yet, go into any JoJo fan site, and you’ll constantly see people saying that the only way to enjoy JoJo is by reading each part in order. No matter what.
The fans even have a name for people who skip parts, part skippers. And they are heavily looked down upon in the community.
Just try saying that you watched or read JoJo out of order and get ready to get lampooned on by dumbass JoJo fans saying that you’ve committed sin.
Of course, this causes huge divide among the community. And it especially discourages newcomers from getting into the series because of the extreme gatekeeping from the community. It also makes fans like me not want to interact because having a different opinion to the rest means getting harassed. It creates all sorts of negative experiences and even makes you start associating the series with the toxic community.
This is the type of mentality I’m talking about, the “you can only enjoy things the way the majority enjoys it” way of thinking. Of course, this can also apply to stuff like having an unpopular opinion. And it’s not exclusive to JoJo, just look at any fan site for any popular franchise and you’ll see people constantly bullying others for enjoying things a certain way. In this internet age, and in these communities, having an opinion that differs from the rest means getting tons of messages written by anonymous users giving you their three page argument on why your opinion is wrong.
A lot of this reminds me of the book 1984 a world where everyone thinks the same and whoever differs from the rest mysteriously disappears. Cause at the end, this is what these online communities want, a world where everyone has the same opinions. Or maybe they just want to piss people off, who knows.
This is the problem I have with communities and it’s the reason why I don’t really follow any of them. However, one big problem is that this isn’t just present in internet fan sites like Reddit. No, this whole “enjoying things how I tell you to enjoy them” is something that goes way beyond that.
All over the world, we’re facing an ever growing crisis of reading deprivation in kids and teenagers. Less and less kids want to read every year, something that has been proven too heavily effects their grades and education and in the long term and can even affect how successful they’ll be in life. As stated by Malcolm Gladwell in the book: Outliers: The Story of Success.
So how does America respond to this international crisis? Something that could very well jeopardize the future at hand.
Well obviously, they blame the fucking phone.
Okay, on one hand, I do think that social media and smartphones are partially to blame for this crisis. However, saying that it’s exclusively the phone’s fault is at best a gross oversimplification and at worst foolishly ignorant.
Every year, all children in the world are forced to read various classical books for school. This is to create reading habits in them, so what kinds of books do you think they read? Well, if it were me, I’d give them tons of creative novels, ones that would inspire their imagination like Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, H.G. Wells. Or even better, just let them read whatever the hell they want, that way, they can explore their own interest and find what type of books they like. But no, instead they have to read dumbass bullshit like The Lazarillo de Tormes.
It just makes me wonder when teachers will realize that nobody gives a rat’s ass about a five-hundred year old book that’s impossible to understand without a dictionary from the 16th century.
In my opinion, this is where the main problem of the reading crisis lies. From a very early age, kids have this kind of shit shoved up their ass, and not only is it shoved as far back as humanly possible, but they also have to take notes of the book, and then take an exam asking you questions about the most specific details that no one cares about.
No wonder kids and teens don’t like reading, school and sometimes even their parents have turned it into a boring and tedious job. Kids never even get to pick which books they want to read. Whenever they show interest in something that we consider no good, we take it away from them and give them a text that to us is the right book to read. Even if they hate it and want to drop it five minutes after reading the first page.
This all goes back to the communistic idea that we all need to enjoy the same types of books and if you enjoy certain types of stories then you’re objectively wrong and these books need to be shoved up your ass further until you learn to like them.
You know, it’s in moments like these that I’m reminded why the Soviet Union was born for a reason.
Some people have asked me before what I would do to make more kids and teens read. And, in my honest opinion, I feel that if we stop forcing kids to read, stop telling them that they need to read certain books over others, heck, if we stop saying that books are this amazing and important thing and instead treat them like another form of entertainment like movies or video games, letting kids discover what they like and what they don’t by themselves, then in a complete ironic twist, more people are going to start reading.
However, the day that people change will probably never happen as scapegoats like social media and video games continue to be the blame-it-all of society.
And the thing is, in part I understand why the phone is constantly blamed. All it takes is to look around public places like parks or college campuses to see how many people are just scrolling on their phones. Something that has been linked to higher risks of depression and anxiety in kids and teens.
In fact, Social Media takes the aforementioned mentality and takes it to the next level by involving politics and social issues.
I still remember when Captain Marvel came out and people were not happy. There was this huge controversy were people who didn’t like the movie were deeply criticized and harassed online. Saying that if you don’t like the film that means you’re sexist or a white supremacist.
Even the main actress of the movie, Brie Larson fanned the flames of this shit, saying that the opinions of white men in their 40s don’t matter and basically repeating the same sentiments stated online.
It was this gigantic shit-show of people yelling at each other for having different opinions. Only for the movie to make a bazillion dollars and then people stopped caring.
The whole situation is some of the most childish things I’ve seen play out live. At its core, this is a controversy where people were upset because others didn’t like a movie about superheroes. Yes, there were some out there who were trolling, trying to get attention by pissing off others. But a lot of them just genuinely didn’t like the movie and because of that this extremely toxic environment was created around it. One were you can’t state your opinion of the film online without someone from either side yelling at you for it. Calling you names and even branding you as these horrible things just for not liking a film.
What I’m trying to say here is: if you like the movie, that’s fine. If you don’t like the movie, that’s also fine. Yet for some reason we feel the need to villainize the other side, to call them all sorts of slurs and insults for not having the same opinions as us. And this of course, just drives a further divide, one that will surely eventually lead us to the world of 1984.
So, no matter where we go, we find this same mentality, one where no one is allowed to enjoy things just because they do.
Of course, things don’t have to be this way, so how do we combat this mentality? How do we move past this shit so that more people can enjoy something like reading? Well, there’s honestly not much that we can do. In my opinion, the only course of action that we can take is to factory reset humanity and try again from the dinosaurs. Because right now, society is the literal definition of the “fuck, go back!” meme.
All joking aside, there really is no way to stop this. People that do dumb shit will always exist no matter what we do, so in my opinion, the best we can do is to just be aware of it. Don’t let others tell you how to enjoy things, don’t argue with other people online over stupid subjects. When using social media, be sure to have this in mind and don’t let the negativity get to you (In fact, I would just drop social media altogether.) Read whatever you want to read, enjoy whatever you want to enjoy, and in the words of Big-Time Tommie: “Fuck all the haters.”
Thank you for reading all the way to the end, this post is pretty different from the rest, so I hoped you enjoyed reading about something I’ve been wanting to talk about for a long time.
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