This week’s episode is going to be a little different, mostly because I’ve been on my ass post-COVID booster, while onboarding to a new (non-esports) job. Full-body soreness isn’t fun at all, and coupling it with a migraine I was firmly in “doing nothing” mode when I probably shouldn’t have been.
Instead of the usual structure, I just wanted to take a couple things and throw my opinion out there. If I’m honest, I’ve seen some other Substacks I like to read do the same, and why not?
Price of admission
Read this thread early this morning, and really had a good think about it; I think that esports isn’t immune to it, and in a lot of ways, the addition of livestreaming might be worse for it. It’s tempting to want to think that you can pull off getting big without having to push through scrutiny, but unfortunately that’s reality.
I’m not in the camp of it being justified at all, it’s just still there, and trying to imagine it isn’t just makes you ill-prepared to deal with it. I’m also not going to act like it doesn’t happen disproportionately more to women and visible minorities, and there’s definitely a scale of difficulty in doing that defense and pushback.
I kind of liked where the thread went because it made a lot of sense to me in terms of mitigating the worst of it, and why some people crumble. The idea that you can find success from other people is nice, and it motivates a lot of people to try to find stardom or fame in “doing content.”
I’ve also seen players fall into the same trap, where their skills are what make them valuable, but when that isn’t consistent, and they don’t have the support of people who can buttress their psyche up, they just crash and burn. It’s kind of tragic.
I know I sound pretty blasé about this, but it’s only because I identify really sharply with it; I absolutely am terrified of “Internet fights”, and the idea of “taking on” a legion of critics (especially prominent ones, who amplify things to their followers) is probably last on the things I want to do.
The idea that “losing” involves losing what I’ve built for myself, and I think that’s why some people fall into the quicksand a bit: the more they struggle and try to out-argue (in good faith) people who want a response (in bad faith), the more they suffer.
The kind of response visa mentions is only really possible if you have the confidence that you know people have your back, and that the bloodlust for internet fights isn’t going to jeopardize your whole career. Do you have friends? Do you have a squad to back you, even if you’re going to take a hit?
That’s a hard thing to build, because it’s against every instinct that people cultivate while trying to grow a better, bigger audience. Suddenly going small and focused when your instincts are telling you to scale, and maintaining each individual relationship (after you’ve sifted through the people who are actually worth your time) requires tact, self-awareness, and resiliency.
If you’re the type of person to be panicked about this type of response, you might not have those things.
If you’re the type of person that’s already built it up, it’s perhaps why personalities can make really dumb gaffes on Twitter: they aren’t risking anything, and aren’t going to see any long-term effects when their spot is cemented already.
Fujoshi's Island @DauragonThe cowboy bebop thing is pretty funny but it really exposes how much netflix just doesnt make any fucking sense. Like not even looking into info it that deeply: a few weeks ago they were tweeting about how it basically was setting the data centers ablaze, now it's canceled.
This tweet is about Cowboy Bebop’s live-action adaption, which had a narrative of success, then was cancelled about a week after those stories dropped.
Again, when you’re looking at people who create their own ecosystems and paradigms, you can’t really think critically solely with the information being presented to you. Netflix’s numbers aren’t public, and neither are your favorite Twitch streamer’s. Your favorite team’s contracts are under lock and key, and it’s hard to tell whether you’re being told a lie or not.
Are things actually successful, or are you being told it is, to trick your FOMO?
At the end of 2021, I added this to my Pocket to-read list, and I’m only getting around it now. Any newsletters that talk about fandom in a personal way are fascinating to me, because as a marketer I often feel a bit conflicted; on one hand I’m here because I love the connection I’ve made to this thing, and want to make it better, but on the other hand, it comes at the cost of manipulating and exploiting certain things.
One quote that stood out to me:
We don’t get to choose not to be exploited or observed, because we’re just another demographic. We don’t have a say if people want to use fanworks for their art installation. We don’t have a say if people want to ‘infiltrate’ fandom and present their results at tech conferences. We don’t have a say whether big name gossip bloggers rely entirely on volunteer run update accounts for content.
Fans have inadvertently become a resource, both for creative content itself, but also as a free marketing tool. In fact, fans are considered better marketers because fans are internally motivated. Jackie Huba coined the term ‘customer evangelists’ to describe these ideal fans. According to her, the fans that are the most devoted, productive and influential make up only one percent of any given fandom.1 These are the people that need to be hyper-targeted, who will bring the most value and who will be self-motivated to promote your products because of how much they believe in it.
The next bit, though, goes into the 1% of fandom that “will be a pure, unsalvageable tire fire”, which I think we’re going to be rapidly approaching for a lot of people who are trying to ape off of what Tumblr communities pioneered in the late 2010’s. We’re just starting to see how bad things can truly get with the first adopters, and now we’re going to round the corner for the terrible imitators.
I’ve also been reading a lot of Default Friend lately because she does a great job of sifting through culture war stuff while also having a reliable home base in certain online communities, like Tumblr, Second Life, and other online spaces.
This latest piece in general was a good look at something I wasn’t affected by, but a lot of girls were. Seeing the psychology at work is illuminating, and DF has a really interesting writing style (self-deprecating?) that has inspired me to be a bit more loose myself.
The new job is going well; I’ve been trying to detangle a lot of anxiety from having something stable again, and having a defined weekend for the first time in years is… strange. Working from home, freelancing, contracting and event coverage have always made it a thing I have to purposefully take, and now I just… get it?
Hope you guys have a good two weeks. Follow me on social if you haven’t, and tell your friends about the newsletter if it’s good for you.