April 2nd, 2010

chalice well

ESSAY: My RSVP to Anonymemes--Just Sayin' No

Did you know this was a thing? I didn't know it was a thing.


Blogger X creates a journal and invites others to post—anonymously—about a shared Internet community. Emboldened by virtual invisibility, participants complain vehemently about everything from over-eager moderators to which fics get the most comments authors are attention whores. At least, that's what I discovered when I was "friended" into one earlier this week, checked it out, then sat blinking in surprise at my monitor.

 Superiority wafted from many posts like nicotine off smokers who can't smell their own stink.

 I skimmed the first of a reported 8 pages (and counting) of comments before exiting the site and deleting the link. I felt nothing so dramatic as shock or fury; more a general distaste and confusion. I mean… huh?

 Other than fostering herd conformity—when did this become fun?

 The attempt at possible catharsis, even criticism, reads as spite. Worse, this one resulted in a mod resigning, popular authors reconsidering their contributions, and a pall of assorted hurt, discomfort, or simple confusion dimming the original community.

 So let me take this moment to decline any future invitations to an anonymeme. Your mileage may vary, but as for me?  

1)       Anonymity is for cowards. People pretend it engenders "honesty," but when has sincerity ever worn an invisibility cloak?

2)       Everyone you complain about did something, or you wouldn't know them. Skillful or stumbling (often a matter of taste), they work to maintain a community. They dare expose their own work—their creative progeny—to an audience that might and apparently does scorn it. In a world of passivity, their efforts merit, if not praise, a minimal gracious acceptance.

3)       To complain about these efforts reeks of ingratitude like rolling one's eyes at a received, handmade gift (even if you didn't want it).

4)       It also encourages people to keep a low profile and thus not draw fire. Is that the community you want?

5)       Quality of writing is relative. Was the chapter you just read by a 35-year-old journalist, or a 12-year-old newbie? Just because you don't enjoy a piece or subgenre of fiction doesn't mean it can't improve someone else's bad day.

6)       Speaking of bad days? You never know whether the person you so gleefully mock just lost her father, his job, her dog. You don't know if they're ill, or struggling financially, or heartbroken from a failed relationship. Your comments might twist the knife in someone who is already wounded. Are you truly willing to take responsibility for that? Because if the words came off your fingertips, they at least are your responsibility.

7)       Whether you believe in any form of karma, "do unto others," the rule of three, The Secret style law-of-attraction, or Gandhi's "Be the change you wish to see in the world," anonymemes take you in the wrong direction.

 And then there's the GIF Theory (again, see the fandomwank wiki)

 Hence my RSVP for any future anonymemes invites.


 I'm not saying I'm a better person—people exist on these communities who make me look like Voldemort. I'm not saying I can't act superior, descend into spite, or otherwise embarrass myself with the best (or worst) of them, no matter how hard I try not to.

 But I do try.

 And I put my name on my words.