Share Your Stories of Toxic Fandom & Cyberbullying
January 9, 2019 at 12:17 pm #27226
A very wise quote from a very wise lady, Julie Newmar who played The Catwoman in Batman. From her book, The Conscious Catwoman Explains Life On Earth.
“It’s important to stay on top of your dreams, the preludes to what you want. Teach yourself by way of writing to yourself. Very soon…something emerges you’ll need to know. I cannot tell you how important it is to have your gift in hand, in front of your eyes, written down as words. You’re halfway there then. Your dreamer comes first…your thinker second. Write it out – take the most important third step. Then do it! The purpose in your life – and the most wholesome it is – is to experience fullest glory”
~Julie NewmarJanuary 9, 2019 at 2:11 pm #27228
Okay here we go. I shall go hide now.
Before I go into this all, I went online in search of answers. The first thing I did was look up a definition of cyber bullying. This is a quote from wikipedia, that literally matches all the definitions:
“Cyberbullying is when someone, bully or harass others on social media sites. Harmful bullying behavior can include posting rumors, threats, sexual remarks, a victims’ personal information, or hate speech.”
The definition is something I have read over and over in hopes to back myself up, because being bullied all my life for my apperance and behaviour, plus my need for attention as a kid (being the only girl out of four siblings, two brothers which had ADHD and learning disabilities and had most of the “attention”) caused severe trauma and triggered something I did not know existed until I was 28 years old.
I have been in fandoms basically all my life. Mostly Tv Shows. Back in the “old” days, when the internet was first introduced, these fandoms gathered on forums to discuss and connect. Instant Messaging was a tool to create a more private opportunity to get to know people essentially from all over the world. It was mostly a chill place, because there were show based //flights//, but it hardly ever went further than heated discussions.
All that has changed with the introduction of social media. Tumblr was among the first sites that gathered a lot of attention for a place where blogging about fandoms while simultaneously connecting people and enabaling users to send anonymous messages. It was intend for harmless fun, but quickly turned into a tool for people to go off and hate and cyberbully other people. I was among the people who received and answered with hate, mostly as a defense mechanism. It still is when my own paranoia kicks in and I am convinced everyone is plotting against me.
Over the years more and more services popped up, such as ask.fm, curious cat etc. It is now easier to spread hate and threat people, knowing no consequences would follow as it cannot be traced. It is a topic and it applies sometimes, but to me it mostly does not apply within the EOE “Family”.
The first and most upfront issues with all the EOE fans is the lack of communication. A lot of cases that are labeled “cyberbullying” are per definition NOT cyberbullying. Disagreeing with someone, pointing out facts or giving info out to explain something is not cyberbulling. It sure causes tension, but in no means can it be labeled as cyberbullying. I do not want to dismiss the case of real cyberbullying happening, i have seen my friends go through it and I myself have received threatening messages and encouragement to commit suicide, but in most cases it really is a miscommunication. Another thing that happens quite a lot is people airing out their frustration in a “safe” environment. It is in no way possible that as a single human being you are able to like everyone else. People are bound to clash. People are bound to fight. Airing out all the negative stuff, whether it is “right” or “wrong”. For some people it is an important part of letting go of things. It is not meant to harm anyone. It does, if the safe place turns into an unsafe one and the “neutral” third person causes chaos. I have seen it happen and other people receiving hate for it. Ironically enough the “neutral” one is the one who gets away as the hero, when in reality they are the far opposite from it. Causing non existant conflict is awful.
On the other hand fandom is a place where someone can meet people with common interest all over the world in an environment that seems safer than the outside world. A lot of times in my greater area, people do not have similar interest. Making connections through a screen with someone on the other side of the world is the greatest gift. It enables us to make far greater connections and getting to know other cultures. I personally have travelled around the world to meet people and have them introduce me their country. It is to this day the best upside when you travel. You can surround yourself with someone who knows their way around and the language. A lot of people are still skeptical of internet friendships. The fear of scams is still present. Thanks to providers like skype and google hangouts it has definitely reduced the chances of scamming people. All that makes it possible for someone to attend a concert alone, knowing faces you know will be there, because you have seen them talk to you before, even if it was through a screen.
To come back to my initial statement: the definition of cyberbullying must be rethought within the EOE “family”. Communication must pick up. I am aware that a lot of people with mental health issues found their way to EOE. I am among those people, but it does no excuse the fact that miscommunication is they key point of the situation right now. Nor the ability to make room to get to know someone.
I have felt the brunt force of that. I am a person with severe mental and socisl issues. I usually act though and strong in front of strangers, because it is easier to intimidate people than show my true colors. I do not communicate how I feel at all. I blow up at the littlest things, because I might misunderstand and I lash out. On the other hand if someone manages to gain my trust enough that I call them a friend, they usually see that i am quite the opposite from my “outside” persona. How I am damaged goods, but with a very protective heart. I am someone who fights for equal treatment and stating true opinions. All the perceptions of me, and my own of others, happen due to lack of communication. No one took the time to understand each other and I personally never resolved the conflicts i made up in my head. I do not blame anyone for it, as I know a current issue of mine is not being able to approach people. I never got the chance to apologize and explain myself and the unresolved conflict grew beyond meassures. Especially when people threaten to drag other people into the mess.
This is one of the reasons that I founded a group and surrounded myself with people, who gave me a chance to get to know me. I personally “survive” in a fandom when I have a safe space. I know people and I can be sure they know me and my quirks. Apperantly that is an issue for a lot of people as they feel excluded and immediately jump to conclusions that someone must have talked bad and spread lies, which usually is the complete opposite. Groups stick together since they know each other and for people with social anxiety it helps them to have an easier time at a social gatherings. Saying that these groups are excluding others is not necessarly true. They just do not have a desire to approach strangers since they are surrounded by a saftey net. Yet the strangers never approach as they feel not welcomed. It is miscommunication. Not bullying. Making assumptions based on an entire group because of one person is creating a sterotype. Cliques are a part of humanity. Seeking leaders is part of humanity. Calling them all bullies is wrong. I am sure there are cases, but IMO no group should be judged unless all the dynamics have been understood. Which is hard for “outsiders”, but not impossible.
Last but not least, another huge problem in the fandom is jealousy. The people most targeted are the ones who happen to have made a conncetion with a certain someone or gain attention etc. Jealousy is something hardly anyone ever can dismiss. For a few it just happens that they lash out and attack people. That is a common issue in a lot of fandoms. The hate on people who gain a lot of attention are the ones receiving the most hate. There is not really anything that can be done, as the jealous people usually use tools to anonymously air it out to people. The only way to prevent that is to get rid of any form of anonymous access to limit the room for such people to spread their hate.
So, to make things short:
Dear EOE Fam,
Talk. With. Each. Other. Discuss your views with someone who disagrees, accept it when people try to communicate facts. If they happen to be wrong, tell them. Nicely. Someone disagreeing or maybe rightening your statement based on facts is not bullying in any form. If it was, all of our parents and teachers would be bullies as they point it out a lot.
Dear Create Change,
maybe try to find someone who will take the submission, consider them and confront the accused person and give them room to explain themselves. It would do good if you encouraged the communication between two struggling individuals. Most conflicts would be resolved easily. They would not be dragged on with subtweeting and assumptions adding fuel to the fire.
Me.January 13, 2019 at 1:23 pm #27236
I was contemplating to write a comment for a few days now.
Ever since I, again, came in contact with Cyberbullying during the latest EOE Vagabond tour in December, I have been following and searching social media for reasons as to why people would do such harmful things, and if they’d be a way how to identify and prevent cyberbullying.
I was lucky enough to have had the opportunity to go to my first concert earlier in 2018 and was welcomed with open arms.
Never have I found a community so loving and caring.
Or so I thought.
It became clear to me that there’s a lot of jealousy, elitism and too little communication pretty early.
There were big and small groups all coming together over the love of Art.
I’ve never been someone that is very active on social media regarding posting and tweeting, nor with interacting with other people despite a like here and there.
And maybe today, that ’s, for once in my life, a positive thing.
Fandom never meant much to me.
The only thing I have been invested in from an early age was Grey’s Anatomy, and neither my friends nor family liked it that much.
And since „people from the Internet are bad“ it didn’t occur to me to find people who felt the same way as I did.
But of course, you get older, technology advanced and new Possibilities were created.
And through that, I finally got back into EOE.
And thank God I did.
Even though things have changed tremendously for me in the past months, good and bad equally, I couldn’t be living a better life than I try and do right now.
Even though Drama is all around, I’m trying to keep myself as far away from it as possible.
Surely it doesn’t always work out, and sometimes you just get invested into a topic which you can’t just simply let go off, but I think I’m doing a pretty good Job.
And still, to this day, I receive anonymous hate.
The difference between me and my younger self? I know what I’ve got and what others think is true or not.
And if the person who’s the „victim“ that is talked about in these messages doesn’t see himself as a victim or tells me that he feels like it – I guess I’m good.
Reading through Social Media, but especially while reading through this thread, I’m shocked at how innocent people can make themselves look.
I’m not saying I’m perfect, but at least I admit mistakes I’ve made and apologize if I hurt someone.
We will never be able to identify an anonymous Bully, and the ability to hate while hiding behind a screen won’t make it easier.
But seeing everyone put on their nice, sensitive, angelic mask makes me feel sick.
Or would you think everyone who commented in here never said anything hurtful in their lives?
I don’t think anyone of us could answer this question with a no.
Think before you speak.
Reach out to the person you would want to send hate to.
Ask someone for help, or as a mediator during the talk.
Don’t just hurt someone because you’re in a bad mood.
Don’t just hurt someone because you don’t have anything else to do.
Just don’t hurt people on purpose.
Bullying can never be excused.
But not enough communication can’t be either.
And if I’m completely honest, we all make our own lives harder than they have to be.
I’m not saying it’s a piece of cake to brush off any hate or to just „get it together“.
But I’m saying that we are in charge.
We can control how we act.
We create our own reality.
Of course, it’s hard work. Of course, it takes a million tries, and most definitely is it a very bumpy road, but bumpy doesn’t mean impossible.
It just means that we have to learn to adjust and maybe tune our vehicle.
And if we realize we have to do the latter, there are millions of people who know exactly how to and can help and lead us the way.
As I already mentioned in my Twitter comment, every behavior is a result of what we’ve learned throughout life.
Every word we say, every way we choose, we once got taught that that’s the way to react and act and therefore continue to use it.
Cause what else are we supposed to do?
How are we supposed to change our way of acting, if nobody shows us how it’s done differently? Not knowing better isn’t an excuse, but an explanation.
Same is suffering severe mental (and/or physical) health issues.
It can be an explanation but doesn’t excuse hurting people on purpose.
But neither does fighting hate with hate.
As soon as you start answering with hateful content, ignore, gossip or even threaten, you’re no better.
You just became a bully as well.
Fandom can be such a great thing.
You get to connect with people from all over the world through one share of interests.
I have found friends I don’t ever want to miss ever again.
It opened doors for me, I never would’ve dreamt of.
It helped me find myself, grow, mature and reached me so many things I probably wouldn’t have known if it wasn’t from fandom.
It can make you feel like home, make you feel like you won’t ever be alone because there will always be someone who got your back.
Fandom in itself is one of the greatest things.
Sharing a passion with someone who just GETS you.
Don’t let this experience, this gift, be destroyed by people who do not know better. Don’t let anyone ruin this for you.
You’re stronger than this. So much stronger.
There is no way we could ever stop bullying.
It always was and always will be a part of humanity, but that doesn’t mean, that we cannot change the way we act on it.
It doesn’t mean we can’t choose how we react and talk to, or about an incident.
It doesn’t mean we are a slave to other peoples words.
This is our life and we get to decide.
We get to sit in the driver’s seat.
So don’t let someone take over the wheel. Two people driving one car cannot work.
Be kind to one another.January 18, 2019 at 5:51 pm #27255
Thanks for your thoughtful post, Kaitlyn. You’re absolutely correct that fandom can be a very positive experience, creating fun and often nurturing communities of like minded people. Unfortunately, social media has allowed some mean-spirited people to turn it into a negative experience for many as well. Your approach of being polite and respectful, even when offering constructive criticism is always the best way to go. And we totally agree with your approach of not engaging with people who post negative messages. It’s just feeding into the overall problem. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts about this issue.
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