Confronting the Community: A Word on Online Discourse
Long ago, when I registered on Facebook in 2010; I was a part of many online communities; mostly related to gaming and metal with some Pakistani chat groups I joined to learn and practice Urdu and help a friend promote his startup. It was a fun time with discussions, comments, and laughs but, I was green back then and a lot less cynical while being less tired of the modern world.
Fast-forward to now when I am older, busier and more experienced with the nonsense, double-standards, elitism and other talents of the millennial person aside from everlasting narcissism and a shockingly thin skin; I come to this platform to say SCREW COMMUNITIES! Admittedly I got a bad personality in most cases but doesn't everyone else have traces of it online?
However, my recurring issue with communities is not mainly the above, it is rather the fact that 8/10 of them are filled with human-shaped vegetables with no own opinions or perspective; instead, full of forced views (that are nurtured by most members, therefore, creating a false sense of belonging akin to cults) that ranges from "opinions" to false nostalgia to things they never experienced (but are required-by-law to and if not; just nod and smile) creating an echo chamber devoid of any original thought or idea. Finally, I would like to say that by far, the worst online communities are related to gaming and metal; 2 media I choose to enjoy and walk the other way; recommending this to my readers (if I have any.)
Bring on the Hate Mail
To start this scathing review of the human need to belong to something, I will send a pizza box full of C4 to the LAN party of the gaming community; a place of absolute cringe, idiocy and worst examples of validation-solicitation-syndrome (VSS) outside of a dating site. Gaming communities are mostly based on nostalgia; 75% of it being fake and dramatised where members are simply not allowed to criticise 8-16bit games along with a few examples of contemporary ones such as Mafia City of Lost Heaven, Final Fantasy 7, Half-Life 2 and Metal Gear Solid. (Titles that didn't age well at all nor were any good to begin with; now write me some bad comments)
This trait obviously, suppresses independent thought and variety in posts which degrades into "Remember X" or "Like if you did Y in Zelda;" begging for likes and shares. It is worth mentioning that I didn't attack anyone nor did I initiate negative discussion; all I did was leave a comment stating that 8-16bit eras of gaming are not that good with a few justifications ranging from lack of other options, little-to-no quality control, excess nostalgia and ending it on a positive note listing off some examples of games I DO enjoy from that period (how they did it better and still hold up;) receiving insults and cliched arguments with directions to play Call of Duty. (Which I don't require since I do that anyway)
Pretentious as I may sound here, but this is a Pavlovian response where their screeching is validated by likes and approving comments ("I belong here, I am a true gamer too" says the 15 y.o kid who didn't experience said eras of gaming due to not being alive then, yet claiming to be nostalgic for obsolete, outdated consoles he only saw on YouTube regardless.) The above display of comedy is present in most gaming discussions however, it is worth mentioning that members of PC gaming groups focused on shooters are more mature and will engage in a productive and positive discussion.
Rusty Metal - Keep it False
So, what do we see? We see a vegetable plot where sentient turnips voice their displeasure at a foreign thought while trained potatoes leave them approving comments and likes; such plots are also present and cultivated on the manure of old, washed-up and mistaken for "good" metal bands within their fancy palaces bought with inescapable media exposure revenue.
Music, I believe is a medium that evolved for the better when it comes to metal where sub-genres are keeping the sound fresh and new. An example of this is melodic death metal where albums are more powerful and memorable as bands play outside of the paint-by-numbers zone set by terrible, boring bands who only got big off a gimmick, i.e. Slayer and Venom, later on, populated by equally talentless, boring bands that saw what the former did and wanted that Dollar, i.e. Pestilence, Death etc. Just try to say that OSDM (Old-School Death Metal) bands are not that good or the Big 4 of Thrash Metal suck (of course as an opinion in a civil way) and you will get a horde of senile old guys who still think its 1986 alongside their whelping VSS-ridden war puppies jumping down your throat.
The audience here regurgitates the same, tired "NU metal sucks" rhetoric while mocking newer bands (which is OK; of course they also have that right) but they rarely give any reasoning for why they say that; one more aspect that all metal communities have. The whole idea of "metal cred" and calling people posers for the most trivial of reasons was always cringy to me; mostly because this was directed at bands that tried to establish themselves in a more creative way. Metal doesn't have to be about fake, Sunday school-hating teenager's version of Satanism, "shocking" gore on album covers and bad songs about Lord of the Rings after all.
Who said we can't have metal or heavy music in general about say being tough and fighting back (Hatebreed, Five Finger Death Punch) historical wars and heroes: (Sabaton) while being punctuated by melodic overtures and inspiring guitar solos?! Why is it that metal elitists make it a legal requirement to worship someone like Metallica without any justification (no criticism allowed, of course) yet its open season on someone not fitting the unwritten conventions?! If criticisms are to be made, it should be on everyone; no safe zones, sacred cows or amnesties.
So far, we have seen that online communities always have sacred cows they worship and not only that, but they try to create and push a "true" religion around it; forcing pamphlets down the audience's throat while claiming there is something wrong with those disagreeing with them. Communities, essentially are cults which we willingly enter under the pretense of "finding like-minded people" (a "metal brotherhood" in my case; so I thought back in the day) leaving either zombies ready to attack on command or with faith in humanity at -1000%.
After eating an entire medicine cabinet's worth of migraine pills from a rage-induced headache from talking to angry carrots, you can't help asking "why did I do that?!" As I did. The obvious fact here is that people ruin everything no matter how fun and positive the subject matter is. Instead of convincing me to give OSDM a try, metal communities jump down my throat calling me a poser and in some cases, an attention junkie for daring not to follow the unwritten metal 101.
Instead of realising that different people like different things, gaming communities transform into a mouthpiece of ScrewAttack and talentless, retro-fetishising gaming YouTubers they watch; hence the conversation is not really WITH the person on the other side; rather the PR department of the above; with the call center regurgitating retro game references while giving you a brain tumour with 8bit music when you get transferred to another such clown.
Overall, communities suck because they turn people into validation-craving sheep with the false sense of belonging for which, they snap and attack foreign thoughts not reflecting or agreeing with theirs. They replace all individuality with forced standards from an unwritten contract you metaphorically sign (in their mind) if your interest happens to be whatever the community's theme is.
If you are a metalhead, then you are contractually obliged to worship Slayer and vice versa; regressing your thought into what your fellow members want and do rather than what you like and life is too short to spend your free time (lack-there-of) getting talked down to and lectured.
Finally, communities attract the worst kinds of people 65% of the time (others being lured by the same bait I was) who go there because they tick all the boxes (becoming an admin in the process) while making the online space a shrine to their gamer/metal cred, for example. Enjoy the medium and walk the other way is my advise regarding online communities in 2018.
© 2018 Jake Clawson