We Are Not Our Stories · 11:43am
Warning! Warning! Long-as-fuck-and-extremely-serious blog post ahead!
… ahem. To reiterate. We are not our stories. We are more than that, and I feel sorry for anyone who can’t tell the difference.
Writing is an infinitely private and personal act. Like any art form, it’s an expression of ideas – a means of communicating thoughts that are otherwise difficult to communicate. Sharing these innermost parts of yourself with strangers online is risky; after all, you’re baring your soul to them and there’s nothing stopping them from taking advantage of that. The more heartfelt your work, the more it reveals about yourself and the harder it becomes to share it with others.
But that’s something many people seem to forget.
Yes, you’re sharing a part of yourself with the world, but it’s only ever a part. There’s always more that remains unsaid. If you read a story I’ve written, you may gain a slightly better understanding of who I am, but it’s not even close to the same thing as knowing me as an actual person.
Nobody has the right to judge another author on this site based on their stories alone, and anyone who thinks they do is ignorant. You can judge their quality as a writer, sure, but far too many people see these fics as a reflection of the author’s actual personality. That’s just wrong.
Many things have surprised me about this fandom since I first joined nearly a year ago, but perhaps the biggest surprise is the way innocent stories can draw such hate from bronies who otherwise preach the message of love and tolerance. I was aware that such things could happen in mainstream media, but I never really saw it at work before. Now, though, I can watch hatred work in real time. It disturbs me.
Nobody has ever been hurt by fiction. People are only hurt by the reactions to and intentions behind fiction. If you read something offensive, the words haven’t hurt you; the intention of the author to hurt you has hurt you. And if you read a story you don’t like, you don’t like it. Plain and simple. Nobody says you have to. It hasn’t damaged you in any way, and it will only be a problem if you continue reading it.
Nobody is forcing you to read anything on this site, so if you don’t find something enjoyable, just close it and find something else. If you consider a story damaging in some way, you have the option to stop reading it and start avoiding it at any time. Unless the author has gone out of their way to personally cause you suffering somehow, they’ve done nothing wrong to you and don’t deserve to be treated as though they have.
If you don’t like a story, fine. But the author is not the story. The story may be an expression of who they are, but they’re still completely separate entities. It’s not that complicated. Hating a story is not an excuse for hating the person who wrote it; that’s a petty, spiteful thing to do and reflects on you more than them.
Other people are not failed attempts at being you. In real life, you will occasionally meet people who prefer different hobbies than you. You yourself may despise said hobbies, but as long as they’re not forcing them on you, they’re not hurting you in any way and you’re by no means justified in treating them cruelly as a result. Passionately hating someone who enjoys writing HiE fics or something just because you yourself don’t like them makes about as much sense as my hating the entirety of my school’s basketball team just because I don’t like sports.
Sounds pretty stupid, doesn’t it? Now imagine if I started spamming the members of said team with hate mail, used my blog to denounce them, and loudly proclaimed to everyone listening that I despised them and thought they should go die in the hopes that they’d disband the team. Doesn’t that sound a tad excessive?
That’s the kind of thing I see on this site all the time, yet people seem proud of doing it. They gloat about it like it’s a major accomplishment. It reminds me of that woman my mom works with who once wrote to the Prime Minister asking him to ban hockey in Canada because she thinks it’s too violent. She’s never been hurt by it herself, but she still doesn’t like it and resents people who do.
I think the most famous example of this would have to be ROBCakeran35’s My Little Dashie. Some people love it. Some people hate it and have apparently dedicated their lives to ensuring that no one they know ever mistakes it for a good story, mocking it at every turn. I myself don’t like it, but I end it there. I don’t go out of my way to cause trouble.
I believe that the purpose of writing is the expression and sharing of ideas and that the measure of success is not how popular or well-liked you are, but how satisfied you are with what you do. If you read a story and find something in it that you appreciate, that’s fine, but if you don’t, that’s also fine. The story hasn’t hurt you, nor is it hurting anyone else simply by existing. The purpose of a story is to share ideas, and these people just happened to agree with and enjoy the ideas expressed - that’s why so many liked it. If My Little Dashie has truly emotionally affected so many people, why would you want to take that away from them just because you yourself were left empty after reading?
Words can’t hurt you, guys. All words do is offer a way of communicating thoughts. Some you’ll agree with, some you won’t. They can help you to better understand yourself, but they can’t damage you. The damage only exists if someone chooses to react in a damaging way. Why would you hate someone for thinking differently than you?
Despising authors for their stories makes no sense to me, but neither does despising stories in general. When I dislike something, it’s the absence of like. This active hatred just confuses me.
I’m notorious amongst my friends for being a very biased shipper. For example, I can’t stand TwiPie or AppleDash. This doesn’t give me the right to personally attack writers of these ships or demand that they justify their thinking differently from me. If I were to loudly begin insulting every such fic I found and wishing for the author to suffer based on that reason alone, I would come across as a jerk incapable of forming coherent thought or logical reasoning.
If you don’t like a fic, don’t read it. It can’t hurt you if it’s unread. It’s only when you allow it to influence you that it causes any sort of harm. And try to remember that authors are not their stories. Most of us are actual, real people with actual, real feelings. When we’re insulted or mocked for what we’ve written, you’re hurting actual, real human begins whom you don’t even know well enough to begin judging.
I mean, sure, I’m writing a story about pony cannibalism, but that doesn’t mean I’m a cannibal. It just … I should probably stop now.
Tl;dr version: DON’T BE A DICK TO PEOPLE JUST BECAUSE YOU DON’T LIKE THEIR STORIES.