Very recently, I posted the message thread of me (and a friend, but mainly me) basically going off on one. At the time, it was entertaining to me. But today, I got called out on it. Not unkindly, but – importantly – not undeservedly. A reader whose opinion I respect got in touch and pointed out, in essence, that while my going off on one at Doctor Who was obviously not meant to be deeply thought out and so on, it does do something that I can’t really defend; it contains no redeeming quality.
The point, in short, is that if I wanted Doctor Who to get better (and I really do), then what I did won’t do that. Even moreso, for anyone who reads that ranty conversation, it won’t let them know how or why (or indeed much of anything) the show is bad (beyond the fairly obvious). Which…kinda isn’t what I’m going for. Half of the point of this blog’s aim is to make good criticism; critique with thought, consideration, and merit (even when it’s negative critique). But, aside from possibly giving someone a giggle, I have to admit that I posted the thread because it got my views across in a way that was…well…easy. Easy to write (because I just copy-pasted something I’d already written without thought), easy to make (15 minutes in photoshop), and easy to post (2 minutes on WordPress). I’m not saying that everything with merit has to take time. But in all honesty, it probably will. And I was, on some level, trying to get a point across (i.e. Doctor Who Season 9 has had some really shoddy writing) without taking the time, or effort to really analyse, or explain myself.
At the end of this message which called me out, this friend and reader also attached a link, which makes his point very well:
(As a side-note, this is panel 4 of a comic story, and it’s worth reading in full. As is Zen Pencils full stop, his work is truly excellent.)
That was a little punch in the stomach and psyche. Because that comic is right. Being a green-hate monster, briefly, in private, isn’t great – but is…well it’s kind of acceptably-unacceptable. It’s a thing that will happen, that probably won’t cause damage; everyone gets frustrated. But being a public troll is bad, even if it makes you laugh. Turns out that ‘this made me laugh’ isn’t always a good enough reason to do something. Who knew. And while you might argue (as I did, with myself today) that my ranting isn’t really ‘trolling’ (and compared to parts of the internet, it’s really not), that’s also not an excuse for the behaviour. By posting such a thing, in the context of a blog that tries to elevate reviews, criticism and my writing to the level of ‘something with merit’, I run a risk of sabotaging my own aims. I won’t go as far as to say I *have* sabotaged my own aims (irreparably), or have caused long term damage, because I think it’s unlikely that I have. But I did introduce the risk of that, where previously there was none (or less). And I’m glad that someone took the time to communicate that to me. I umm’d and aah’d about removing the ranty-conversation post, but for the time being I have decided not to. Not least because if I do, then this post makes considerably less sense.
So. Over the last year, I have thought a lot about the idea that being wrong is okay, and that making mistakes is 1. Inevitable. 2. Not the same thing as you being a failure. 3. Really fucking important to realize when you make them, so that 4. You can try to change things, in order to not make that mistake again. In the last year, I have been trying to promote this ideology in my own life. When I started, I thought “yes, this will be hard, because I don’t like being wrong. But I’m prepared, and this will be good for me, and I can anticipate what this will be like”. It turns out…I was wrong. Oh the irony. Being called out when you are wrong is hard – but not really the difficult bit. Turning round and admitting that the person who called you out is correct is much, much harder – but still not the difficult bit. The difficult bit is, once you have realized your mistake and owned up to it, then trying to alter your behaviour so it doesn’t happen again. And it’s really fucking hard. But, unfortunately for the part of me that very often just wants to say ‘screw it’ and give up on the idea, that’s not actually enough of a reason to not keep trying. It turns out that saying ‘life’s not fair’ is really easy. Actually trying to live, and act, and actually integrate that is really hard. But only the second one will ever allow you to make your decisions/ambitions/behaviours/life, or anyone else’s, better.
So I was wrong. And now, because of that, I have to try and do better. Again. So thankyou friend and reader, you considerate, caring fuck.