I’m going to get on my soapbox for a minute, I hope that you don’t mind. There’s something that’s been bothered me for the last few days and I feel the need to say something about it.
Last week I published an article about distressing a Fujifilm X-E1 to make it look old and worn. I knew that there would be strong mixed reactions to it. I was actually surprised that, of all the comments and emails I received, about 60% were positive and 40% were negative. I thought the reaction would be more negative than positive, but it turned out to be the other way around. More people seem to like it than not.
What bothers me, though, is that every single negative reaction that I received, either as a comment or email, had a personal insult attached to it. Each and every time, the person who had something negative to say also said something mean, intentionally being hurtful. In one case, the person was clearly bigoted, and their words were laced with intolerance.
I was expecting negative words. I don’t have a problem receiving constructive criticism. In fact, in photography, constructive criticism is essential for improvement. I learned this decades ago in Photography 101, when we would have “peer review” in class. I’m very open to criticism, as long as the person means well and has the experience to back up what he or she is saying.
What I received was not constructive criticism, but destructive criticism. The words written to me were deliberately intended to tear me down. These people didn’t like what I did, so they decided to verbally destroy me. It wasn’t enough to simply say, “I don’t like it.” Or, “It’s ugly.” Or, “I find it to be dishonest.” No, what was said was more akin to, “I don’t like it, and you’re a pathetic excuse for a cotton headed ninny muggins and your breath stinks.” Or something along those lines, but with stronger words.
It seems like more and more that it’s not enough to simply disagree with someone. If you don’t like or understand what someone did or said, the first response seems to be to discredit the person by verbally thrashing them. It seems that, instead of trying to see things from that person’s perspective to understand it, what happens instead is people tend to become abusive with their words. It’s like they cannot handle an opinion or thought or action that is different than their own.
If you gave 10 photographers the same subject to capture, they’d each come up with a different picture. Each one has different ideas and experiences that effect the outcome of the image. Each person is unique, so their process is going to be unique. Their perspective on the subject is going to be different. Each person sees the world through their own lens.
Can you imagine if each person verbally assaulted the others for having a perspective that’s different? Can you imagine if they were calling each other nasty names for not capturing the image in the same way? It’s absurd, but that’s essentially what’s going on. Everyone has a different perspective on things based on their own experiences. It would be better, instead of shutting down someone for having a different perspective, to attempt to see things through the other person’s lens, to try to understand that person’s opinion, thought or action. Walk a mile in their shoes first before coming down all judgmental-like.
I’m having a difficult time understanding why someone’s first reaction to something that they don’t like or understand would be anger and wrath. This isn’t anything new, though. When I had my old photography blog, I wrote a camera review and someone didn’t like what I said, and they wrote, “If I see you on the street I’ll punch you in the face!” Now I don’t think the person was entirely serious, but what would make someone have that kind of reaction to something that, in the big scheme of things, doesn’t matter whatsoever? Why so quick to anger?
What I do with my camera is my prerogative, just as what you do with yours is your prerogative. And what I do with Fuji X Weekly is my prerogative, because it’s my blog. That’s why you don’t see those negative, hurtful comments. I deleted them, because I can. Don’t like it? Go make your own blog, and handle those kind of things in the manner that you wish. If you have some constructive criticism, by all means offer it. If you have destructive criticism, you are wasting your time, because I will not put up with it. Take your anger and mean spirit elsewhere.
We should all be more kind to each other. We are all humans. Nobody is perfect. We’re all broken and awkward in some way. We’re all on this road of life together. Let’s be kind. Let’s be helpful. Let’s build each other up instead of tearing down. There’s no need to be mean. There’s no need to be bigoted. Nobody is better than the next guy. Everybody makes mistakes. Everyone has their own reasons for things. This world needs more love and less hate. More understanding and less prejudice. More civility and less rudeness. More forgiveness and less resentment. More helping hands and fewer middle fingers. We can accomplish this together, if each one does his or her part.
Okay, I’m off the soapbox. Now back to your regularly scheduled program….
Good post, and I also lament the lack of civility online. The internet has made it easier for people who like to launch unfounded personal attacks to do so, but those people have probably always been there. They are that kid in the playground who bullied the smaller kids. Or the feral teenager who vandalised historic buildings or community spaces. Now, as adults, they haven’t achieved much in the world and they blame the world for it.
I’m sure that some of these people are school yard bullies that are now adults, but I think it might be just the anonymity of the internet combined with the improbability of actually coming face-to-face with those online strangers that make people feel comfortable to bring out their dark side. I’m sure many of them would never act that way in person. It’s as if the internet facilitates Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I would ask that people think twice about the words that they are typing to strangers, and consider if those words are mean or nice, hurtful or helpful, hateful or loving, and choose the high road and not the low road.
“This world needs more love and less hate. More understanding and less prejudice. ”
you are absolutely right, but nevertheless you should block all that people who have been so ashaming rude to you. they simply don’t deserve to get your always phantastic and interesting blog posts anymore.
I also will distress my X-E1… 😉
Thank you for your comment! Be sure to share photographs of your distressed X-E1 when you are finished.
Such are the numb minds on social media that hide behind a keyboard..
I am confident that their keystroke creativity is inversely proportional to their photographic creativity !
It seems cowardly to hide behind a keyboard. I want to share a story, though. There was this rock band that had a message board on their website. One fan who posted regularly was often mean and rude, so much so that the band wrote a song about him, calling him by name, asking him to refrain from being so nasty. Several years later, for reasons completely unrelated, I corresponded with him and, in person, he was the nicest guy. So I think the internet, because of the anonymity and vastness, allows people to show a side of themselves that they would never face-to-face. I’m just asking that people show more kindness online, to reconsider the harsh words that they are typing.
I’m going to let this comment stand because it proves everything that I said in my post. As the saying goes, “It is better to be silent and thought as a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.” You, sir, spoke and clearly removed all doubt. In this comment and the other one that I deleted, you made many assumptions about me, and you were wrong across the board, continuing to prove yourself as foolish. Perhaps before you judge someone, you should get to know them first. The point of my post was to encourage love and kindness and discourage spitefulness and hate. You ignored the message and doubled down on your hate and intolerance. You made your ridiculous point, you showed the world your true colors, and now I’m asking you to leave and never visit this blog again because you are not welcome here. Any more comments from you will be deleted. And, by the way, you can thank me sometime later for my service in the U.S. armed forces and the medals that I earned. Now please take your foolish rage someplace else, nobody here is interested in what you have to say.
Sometimes somebody writes something ( on the internet ) that is true. You just did . .