liz_marcs (liz_marcs) wrote,

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The Problem with Anonymous Memes...

I have a confession to make.

*hangs head in shame*

I've been checking out btvshate.

In my defense, anything and everything I've posted has been with me signed in and under my own name. Mostly, I've posted if something I'd seen made me laugh, made my jaw drop, or if a thread seemed (to me anyway) to get too mean so I could at least throw in a more moderate opinion.

I admit that I'm interested by the psychology behind anonymous memes. There always seems to be an evolution to these things and the pattern repeats over and over, regardless of the subject or targets.

First, these memes seem to start with someone stating what they think are unpopular fannish opinions, which...well why do that anonymously? You're stating an opinion about a television show and fictional characters. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense that there'd be a lot of fear there. So people disagree with you. So what? I know I've got people on my FList who disagree with me about plenty of fannish opinions, but we all seem to get along just fine.

Still, some people feel uncomfortable expressing those opinions. Fine. Not important and no one gets hurt.

Then the knives come out...for the actors. Now this makes you blink just a little bit, because, damn, the gossip gets nasty. Still, you figure, "I'm sure these people have had a whole lot worse said about them. I highly doubt they're going to care about anything said on an LJ blog by anonymice."

We then move on to the "bashing other fan cliques" portion of the program. *sigh* Welcome to 2002–2003, where the grudges are still fresh and the same-ol-same-ol assumptions are being made that if you don't like "X" you must, by definition, like "Y."

Sadly, there are people still operating in this mindset. It makes me laugh like hell, on the one hand, because they're still arguing about the same damn thing even though the point is painfully moot. It makes me sad on the other because it's a reminder just how nasty online fandom did get at one point.

And then, we hit the "jackpot" (and I mean that sarcastically), when individual people get attacked. It's not enough to say, "I think so-and-so is overrated and here's why," which would be fair. There are plenty of people who think I'm overrated. Anyone who does fanfic or fanarts or fanvids or fansoundtracks has people who think they're very overrated.

"Overrated" is a fair judgement. Everyone has a right to their judgement. It's one of those things that can't really be defined and it comes down to personal taste, more often than not. It's the ultimate reminder that not everyone loves you and that you better grow up and accept it. Sometimes you just rub people the wrong way. It doesn't make you a bad person, it doesn't make them a bad person. Sometimes it just is.

Now, I can see people wanting to anonymously confess that, especially if they actually might like the people in question on a personal level, or if they had a bad experience with that person in the past and don't want to get dragged in the middle of a wank-fight.

But, when people start using the anonymous shield to call people "bitch" or "crazy" or just get personal and nasty...

Whoa, whoa, WHOA! That's sooooo not cool.

And yet, at some point, these anonymous memes really end up devolving to that point.

It's one thing to take the freedom and run with it. It's something of another to take the freedom and beat someone else over the head with it in public. This isn't expressing frustration with someone or a group of people in a FLocked post because their behavior has gotten up your nose. This is just downright meanness of spirit.

Damn. I might have to turn in my "mean girl" badge, hunh?

But what really interests me is this: Why bother with anonymous hate at all?

You can do plenty of "hate memes" that are fun and where no one gets hurt that aren't anonymous. I did a book hate meme in March. othercat gifted us with literarysnark. fanficrants can get wanky at times, but considering the traffic there, I'm just surprised it's not more wanky than it is.

Hell, on the fan front, I remember sometime last year there was a spate of memes about "What's your unpopular fannish opinion?" that were not anonymous and were actually kind of fun.

Plus, people post unlocked and open rants in their private LJs all the time. I've seen occassional nasty happen as a result, usually because the various sides are arguing a point or have gotten sucked into the cycle of wank. It's not too often that I've seen over-the-top nasty happen, and even then everyone is at least using an identifiable username.

I guess my issue is this: if you're a person who ends up being discussed in an anonymous meme, it's hard to defend yourself. You know nothing about the person or persons commenting, you can't figure out their point of view, you can't even discern their real opinions. It's hard to respond in any manner that doesn't make you look childish, because you're forced to make assumptions about the other person or persons that may not be fair or correct. At least if someone uses their LJ name, you can at least visit their LJ and figure out their point of view so you can respond in a reasonable and sane manner.

Not sure about the purpose of this post, really. Just ruminating in my head, I guess.

Whatever your opinion of these hate memes that are springing up like mushrooms around LJ, you have to admit the psychology behind it is pretty interesting.

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