This is Gary.
You know, it's a weird thing for some stranger on the internet to call you a douchbag. And weird is the word I want to concentrate on here. I'm not looking for sympathy, I'm not insecure in who I am or what we do, I'm not fishing for compliments. But it's weird.
I started an ask.fm profile and have been real active on it. It's fun. I appreciate it when creators I admire participate on ask.fm. It's fun to be asked questions. Hell, that's Duckfeed Live. I worry sometimes that I'm tapped between all of the shows but I can usually tap into some sort of resevoir. There's a lot of me in here.
Some guy called me out on ask.fm about prefacing my opinions on games with the fact that I'm not conflating the game with the people who like it. He suspected that Kole and I actually do feel superior to people who don't share our opinions on this pop culture fluffem. When I called this guy out for his dickhead armchair psychoanalysis, he fired back with more personal insults, and I dunked on him again.
This is rare. I'm honestly not complaining about it. If we're going to grow, we need to be able to jayz.gif this shit off our shoulder. But I can't tell you how strange it feels.
Podcasts are a weirdly intimate medium. And to this guy, I'm not a stranger. He knows not only about my opinion on Tomba! and Metroid Prime, but also my divorce, my recent break up, my piece of shit father, my negligent upbringing, the time I pissed myself in class, my insecurity about getting a college education so late in life, and my relative poverty. Anyone can know these things. I'm not ashamed of them. And vulnerability is strength and intimacy is compelling. I don't regret being open.
Ask.fm is totally anonymous. I don't know this guy at all. The only thing I know is he doesn't like me and thinks I'm arrogant. There was some sort of gamefaqs thread recently where a poster, after a litany of things they didn't like about Kole, said, "the other guy, he's just a straight up d-bag." This guy is a stranger. Some Bonfireside Chat fan has seemingly made it his life's work to correct our vocal tics and he's like a game of whack-a-mole. No matter how much I respectfully decline his advice, he pops up somewhere else to needle. I don't know him either.
That's where the surreal comes in. Enemies are intimate. The few people I've ever actively feueded with or disliked, I've known very well. Right, wrong, or whatever, their reasoning for not likging me came from a place I could understand. There was history. It was fair.
With this, it's a mystery and it's hard to abide a mystery about yourself. What's the goal? What is their history that they expect anything from me but contempt for non actionable, insulting feedback? Jealousy? Problems at home? What's going on in this rando's egg?
Here's what I think: I think there are people who see the world around them, even to the level of other people, the way sculptors see blocks of marble. These are people who obviously like the shows (you don't listen to nearly 3 hours of New Vegas chat that you hate just to spite the podcasters). They think, on some level, that they can use the chisel of their voice to chip away the parts of me that they don't like until what is left is perfect for them.
I've talked before about how this sort of criticism isn't plausible because that version of me is not going to work for some other listeners. Those listeners will like me less now that I meet Rando Von Fuckface's standards. That's true: shave off the edges of something, it's likely not worth consuming anymore.
However, the more important point, or the one I want to make right now at least, is fuuuuuuuck that guy. Just because I'm lucky enough to make part of my living podcasting, and because I've helped build something bigger than me, doesn't mean that it's open season on me. It's not an open invite for strangers to tell me how they think I can be a better person or critic via driveby insult.
It honestly was sort of a turning point, even if it wasn't the meanest anyone's ever been or anything. For some reason, something has clicked. I'm no longer putting up with such nonsense.
This isn't to say that considerate, considered feedback isn't welcome. It is. But I'm not about to be bullied into changing the show for a vocal minority, and I'm certainly not going to take self improvement tips from a stranger. I have friends and family and lovers for that.
Rando? You have no power over me.