It’s been a disheartening few days in more ways than one. In the past two days, I’ve been fighting online battles both on Twitter and on this website among a lot of other tragedies that have been going on in the world as well as our own SPN Family. I sat down to write an apology for the events of the last day and came up with this call for unity instead.
Before I share this crazy lament of the state of the SPN fandom today, I will say I’m sorry. I apologize if I’ve offended or if I’ve done something that didn’t meet approval. On behalf of the Winchester Family Business, I offer apologies for anything a WFB staff member has done that my have offended, even though offense is never the intent. It’s impossible to please everyone, but we don’t do anything with the intent to attack or bully. If the intent construed otherwise, well, read what I have to say below. Thank you.
In a World of Civility
The online culture has become a litany of one ugly incident after another, so much so that many don’t realize how much damage such behavior is doing for everyone involved. Cyberbullying, harassment, personal attacks, lynch mobs, it’s all happening for reasons that go beyond the realm of common sense. It’s all happening in a world where the basic concept of civility has been forgotten.
Websites like The Winchester Family Business on a daily basis can find tirades in the comments about trivial things and often attacks against others for just merely offering an opinion. This isn’t just a WFB problem though. Even the Washington Post or the New York Times is littered with expressions of hate and intolerance over the most basic comments. There are few safe havens online anymore. In a world of civility, all opinions are respected.
Then there’s twitter, which is an absolute mess, no thanks to our controversial Twitterer In Chief. You don’t get the whole story with 140 characters. It’s a medium that has been both a blessing for “Supernatural” and a curse. It’s given us accessibility to the actors and creators as well as other fans, it’s given us a chance to spread the “squee” and the love, but it’s also intensified the ill tolerance and mistrust of others as well as intense bullying. Backlash for even the most trivial thing can be swift, fierce and often soul crushing. In a world of civility, SPN fans give the benefit of the doubt.
For all that’s promoted of the #SPNFAMILY, aka Always Keep Fighting, You Are Not Alone, Family Don’t End With Blood and other inspirational slogans, some fans still find it necessary to attack others online, at times thinking they’re fighting to protect someone or doing the right thing. Often times people join a mass attack on twitter instantly without getting the other side of the story or giving benefit of the doubt. Once upon a time, information was spread in a balanced and well-researched fashion, all sides presented in neutral terms. Those days of Walter Cronkite are long passed though and the age of fake news rules. In a world of civility, people know all the facts before acting.
People are too quick to see the worst in each other instead of the best. People are too quick to take a 140 character comment as an attack rather than a misconstrued statement. People are too quick to forget that in the anonymity of the internet, there are real people on the other side. Parents, children, grandparents, respectful citizens with respectable jobs and/or families that are just trying to get by in this crazy and often depressing world. They’re good people but they just said something you didn’t like. That is not grounds for condemning someone. In a world of civility, we try to put ourselves other people’s shoes before we act.
Humans often make mistakes yet online those errors are never forgiven. This is especially true with the #SPNFAMILY. As a matter of fact, years later those errors are still brought up, usually when someone is in full scale attack mode. People are also rarely polite when bringing light to the error too, as if the act was intentional. The internet never forgets. One slight and you are scarred for life. In a world of civility, people forgive and forget.
Being critical of the show doesn’t make someone a bad fan. That doesn’t mean they hate what fandom represents or hate the show. They’re just not happy with creative direction. It shows they care or at least are paying attention. The worst insult to a creative work is to walk away and not critique. But downright attacking someone as disloyal for being critical of “Supernatural” isn’t fair. Attacking someone who can see no wrong in “Supernatural” isn’t fair either. In a world of civility, we respect each others likes and dislikes and move on.
There are no bad fans. Everyone has a different motivation, a different way of interpreting things, a different way of reacting. Some people are positive and upbeat, others are cynical and skeptical. Some are enthusiastic, others are disillusioned. It’s hard to live by a code of “treat others the way you’d like to be treated” when they’re sparking some anger inside of you but tolerance is part of being human. In a world of civility, you think twice before acting.
There’s so much heartache and madness in the world right now. It’s heart crushing when this type of madness dominates your escapism from the real world. #SPNFAMILY is supposed to uplift and inspire, not bring you down. I don’t give a damn if anyone is a Sam fan or a Dean fan, bi-bro, Wincest, Destiel, etc. To me, we’re all “Supernatural” fans. If I prefer one character over another, that doesn’t mean I hate other characters. It means that due to life events, I relate to that character more than another. That doesn’t make me a bad fan. In a world of civility, we celebrate everyone’s uniqueness.
I can hear the “You don’t practice what you preach” accusations flying right now and the cynical cries of hypocrisy. You’re right. I’ve been guilty of every one of these things and more. But I’m no different than everyone else. I can only strive to do better and learn from my errors. I’m going to fail, but I’m going to succeed too. I’m always going to keep trying. It’s how we as humans make the world a better place. In a world of civility, we always keep fighting for each other, not against each other.