The Poison of Fandoms

First off, I want to say thank you to all those who still visited my blog, in spite of zero posts last month. A life of work and sleep leaves you little time to juggle all of the other parts of your life.

My last post was about Twilight Sparkle of MLP. I’ve watched more of the show in bits, and though she is still my favorite of the main/mane cast for personality, my most favorite characters are the setting’s rulers. However, this post isn’t about that.

I’ve been a part of fandoms, starting with the Sims, for seven years. I found out later on it was a grave mistake. Every fandom I’ve joined, especially those with a large following, proved itself to be a cesspool of poison. Essentially, there were rules about what made you a “true fan”, certain opinions were not allowed, and admins of certain areas proved to be extremely biased. Knowing this, it was very much against my better judgement to join a Facebook group for MLP, but in my new love for the show and excitement for the movie, I did. Within two days, I resigned. I suppose that’s a record.

The reason I left is, apparently, a fictional movie about ponies is serious business. So serious, any posted spoilers about said movie warranted banning any member who did so, and the admins, unsurprisingly, refused to consider they could be acting unreasonably (then again, I suppose that’s to be expected from someone who considers being the admin of a Facebook group a job). Remember, we are talking about a film of animation. Not poverty, war, hunger, homelessness, crime, abuse, or any other truly serious issue. A film aimed at under-aged girls. I love cartoons, something I’ve made very evident over the years, but it is not that serious. And I say this having bought an MLP shirt from the kids section at my job because it could fit me.

While the bright side is I wasn’t alone in my opinion (other members of the group agreed and were probably shortly kicked out, and members of the Disney group I’m in agreed that was out of line as well), it saddens me how difficult it is to find a community of any fandom that is rational and tolerant. It seems the only exception to this rule are small communities, which truly is a shame. Having had my love of so many things murdered by their fandoms, one of which I ranted about for a good while, I certainly didn’t want my merely one-month-old love of MLP to fall to the same fate, especially not at the childishness of Facebook warriors in a group I was a part of for two days, and with the movie coming out so soon. I left before my love for the show could take a heavy hit. But I can’t say I’m not disappointed with how poorly things turned out. Perhaps it was deserved for allowing my excitement to cloud my better judgment against joining the group to begin with.

I realize it is the internet, and social media websites in particular are notorious for being wells of addictive, yet poisonous muck. As much as I dislike it, it makes me understand the stereotype of people in fandoms being anti-social recluses with little going on in their lives. It’s a painful thing to admit, possessing so many loves of so much light-hearted media myself, but the toxicity I’ve found across so many fandoms isn’t allowing me to deny or be confused about why the stereotype exists. After all, why would someone who is content and enjoying their life feel the need to be controlling over something so trivial? The internet permits a huge amount of imaginary power, and power is addicting.

Of course, in the end, fandoms aren’t needed to keep a love of something going. I still have every intention of seeing MLP’s film and I am still very much fawning over the show. While the show’s lessons are occasionally questionable, perhaps the admins of that group missed the second half of the title: friendship is magic. I’m sure Twilight Sparkle, the princess of friendship, would be disappointed.

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Let’s Talk About: Twilight Sparkle

Wait, what?

Yes, I mean the main protagonist of My Little Pony. I had zero intention of ever watching this show, but my boyfriend is a fan of it and urged me to watch it. Eventually, I gave in and watched the first episode. I was instantly in love with Twilight. But I don’t like what happens to her.

Let me make my annoyance obvious. In the episode summary on Wikipedia, she’s referred to as an anti-social pony. Anti-social.

I hate this. I despise introversion and being reserved are seen as negative traits. Why? The second episode revealed why these events were necessary. That doesn’t help because it still portrayed Twilight preferring her alone time as a bad thing and her preference only changed because of an emergency matter (I’m not going to rant on why Celestia thought it was a good idea to form an entirely luck-based plan instead of be directly upfront with Twilight, or I won’t shut up). I know it’s a common thing in cartoons for lifelong bonds to form instantaneously, and I’d absolutely expect that in a cartoon with friendship as its theme. Except maybe that’d be a reason to have the friendships form more realistically instead of in such a cliché way. I love my best friend like she’s my sister, but I sure didn’t feel that way a day after meeting her. But cliché formulas are also common in cartoons, especially ones intended to have lessons taught through the episodes.

I probably seem strange to have a rant about this. After all, I have a best friend and a boyfriend, so why would I be bothered by a loner character learning about the “magic of friendship”? Easy. I just said it. It only happened because of an emergency matter. No relationship works like that! Friendship and love (of all types, not only romantic) are amazing things, but they don’t happen instantly (before you argue with parenthood: oxytocin). Strong bonds don’t form overnight in any situation. I am more outgoing than I used to be, but that took years. I wasn’t suddenly no longer an introvert or reserved because I met my best friend one day ago. Guess what? I’m still introverted and reserved, and I still despise most people, something working in retail has actually made stronger due to being in constant contact with people. Whatever percentage the number three is of the human population is the percentage of people I like having around.

These two episodes would’ve worked better as a season finale, not a season beginner. I could almost understand these traits being portrayed negatively if Twilight was evil, but she’s not. In fact, despite being obviously unhappy about being sent to the festival/party, she was polite to the others while trying to get away from them as quickly as possible, and if memory serves, she did help when one of them almost hurt herself by accident. She’s not mean, and wanting only her books as company doesn’t make her mean, bad, or evil.

I’ve yet to watch another episode because this kind of treatment with introverted characters puts me off watching anything more of whatever media it is. However, I went through her character list on TV Tropes and it seems, for the most part, she still keeps her introverted personality and she does slowly change over time instead of instantly. That sounds much better, though it doesn’t change my opinion about the first two episodes. The downside is, if TV Tropes is accurate, she rivals Pinkie Pie in exuberance by the latest season. I hate to admit it, but I find Pinkie Pie annoying, as I greatly dislike overly energetic characters who behave like they’re drunk on happiness. Of course, I doubt I’ll get as far as seven seasons anyway. It took me over three years to get to the fourth season of Sailor Moon, and I’ve only watched three episodes of that.

If I do continue watching MLP, I’m hoping to find Twilight’s friends aren’t the pushy type who will continuously try to “pull her out of her shell” and nag her half to death about “opening up”, and will instead respect her wishes if she wants to be alone to study, read, or whatever else. I don’t think it’s wrong (however cliché it may be) for loner characters to go on to learn about friendship and love, or even for their personality to eventually flip a 180. I do think it’s wrong if the path that gets them there portrays that part of their personality as an issue and to be dealt with by forcing them into such situations (as with Twilight) instead of letting them develop willingly. And for heaven’s sake, I hope Celestia is more direct and upfront instead of continually being cryptic and secretive, but since when have mentor characters ever done that? But that’s a whole different rant for another day.

Siblings: Fantasy VS Reality

First, it seems I’m terrible at keeping up with my blog’s anniversaries. After May 22nd, my blog turned five years old. Maybe I should start making a yearly scheduled post for that.

Now, on to the topic at hand.

A stereotype of only children is they are spoiled because of their lack of siblings. Some people think it’s selfish not to give a child a sibling, and some only children do grow up to say they wish they had siblings.

I’ll be honest. Hearing these things makes me cringe, especially the former. Why? Because they’re idealizing having a sibling.

I don’t think people who consider it awful for a child to have no siblings, or who wish they themselves did, realize having a sibling is no guarantee of not being selfish or never being lonely. I don’t believe they realize that sibling could very well be someone they don’t care to have in their life. Having a sibling does not automatically mean you have a built-in playmate/best friend for life.

My mother had two children while my father had one, so I somewhat got to experience being an only child while growing up when I visited him. I much preferred the only child life. Just about every positive reason stated for having siblings never existed for me.

Taught me how to share? My sister and I only shared if forced, and I hogged my things because she continually lost or broke them. My mother forced me to loan her my baby blanket for the kindergarten (I was 8). At the end of the year, she never retrieved it, so it was thrown out. My 8-year-old self was furious because that blanket was one of my favorite possessions. But the reason I argued (and lost) against her borrowing it in the first place is I knew she’d lose it. As an adult, I still hoard things, and part of the reason I tend to buy excessively is that I can finally live without worrying where my stuff will disappear off to.

Playmates and best friends? Again, not unless forced. Otherwise, we either played alone or played with our school friends. My sister and I fought constantly, and the only time we got along on our own was to (figuratively) beat somebody else down, which usually meant drive the adults crazy. I remember people used to say we’d grow up to be best friends. At the ages of 23 (me) and nearly 20, that ship has sailed. Our relationship as sisters borders on dead. My best friend and the person I call my sister are the same person, but she’s not genetically related.

Never being lonely? I don’t even want to talk about this. All I have to say is loneliness due of no people is no better or worse than loneliness because of people.

Teaches eldest siblings to be responsible? First off, I want to hang the person who came up with the notion that oldest siblings should be live-in babysitters. If someone asked me why I want nothing to do with parenthood, the answer of “being forced to babysit my sister” would be in the top three. “Babysit” was essentially the short way of saying “everything your sister does is your fault, no matter where I am in the house”. My sister never got in trouble unless I also did. This didn’t stop until I moved out of the house, which means even at age 13, my sister was deemed “too young to know better” and I was “supposed to set a good example because I was the oldest”. Why was I supposed to enjoy this again? Ironically, babysitting other people’s children as an adult wasn’t an issue for me. Perhaps it being voluntary has to do with it?

I know everyone is entitled to their feelings, but I wish people would stop thinking “siblings = automatic BFFs” because it truly does not. Siblings are essentially hit or miss. If you’re fortunate, the stereotypes are true and you luck out. If you’re not, you get a situation like mine, where your sibling only talks to you to start an argument at four o’clock in the morning.

There have been brief periods of time where we do get along, but they’re sporadic at best. I’ve said before if I wanted to be a parent, I’d be “one and done” because I’d have zero desire to put up with what I went through with my sister. If my hypothetical kid was really so lonely, I’d let them adopt a pet. Really, I did have a cat for a few years while growing up. Much better company.

Classism?

I had a very interesting “discussion” earlier today… if you can call someone throwing around insults like an elementary schooler because you don’t agree with them a discussion.

It seems it’s considered “classist” by some people to suggest it’s best to wait until one can afford to have a child before actually having a child.

Now, I do understand how that statement can be taken wrongly, but most people who say this are referring to being capable of, at the very least, providing for a child’s basic needs – food, clothing, and shelter – before having them.

Apparently, however, even that suggests a prejudice against poor people. Never mind I’ve most often heard that statement from people who know the hell growing up without enough food to eat really is.

Before I continue, let me say this: I am well aware situations can change over time. This statement refers to those who do not have any children, not someone who already is a parent, or whose financial circumstances crumbled after their children were born. No, this refers to someone who is currently struggling and, for whatever reason, chooses to bring a child into their struggle and, as a result, struggles to provide for that child, or ultimately cannot provide for that child, because of what their situation already was.

With that clarity out of the way, I truly fail to see how suggesting it’s best to be certain you can fulfill a child’s basic necessities before you actually have a child is “classist”. Even if you can provide nothing more than basic necessities, you are still able to provide for that child. It’s the bare minimum, but it’s still enough to keep the child alive. Somehow, no matter how many times I explained this, it was read as me saying “if you’re poor, don’t have children”. Interestingly, I never mentioned a particular social or economic class. That assumption came out of the mouth of the people arguing against it.

Let me use myself as an example. I don’t have any children and I don’t plan to. If, however, I somehow changed my mind on that and decided to have a child… that child would die. That sounds morbid, but the job I have cannot even provide me with shelter for myself. So, where would I attain shelter for my child from? Now, I could provide food and I could provide clothes… but where would I put them? I could keep the child in one outfit, so that takes care of the clothing necessity, but that child will become hungry over and over. Without shelter, where will I store the food? Or do I buy food every time the child’s hungry since I can’t store it? And where does the baby sleep? Where do I bathe this baby? Uh-oh. This is a problem. My child has no shelter!

Now, knowing full well I have no capability of providing that child with something so fundamental, why would I go on to have a child? Answer: I wouldn’t. Because I know I can’t!

Yet, that’s “classist”. Now, here’s the trick question: Did I say I wouldn’t have a child because I was poor or did I say I wouldn’t have a child because I could provide food and clothes, but not shelter?

Time’s up. The answer is: Because I couldn’t provide shelter. Everything in that paragraph refers to the child’s needs and my incapability of meeting those needs, or at least one of them.

And that is the gist of it. If anything would prevent someone from providing the basic needs that keep their child alive, no matter what that reason is, to willingly bring in a child into the world while fully aware of that knowledge is irresponsible. My belief isn’t that poor people shouldn’t have children. My belief is anyone who knows ahead of time they cannot fulfill the most basic needs of a child shouldn’t go on to have a child until that changes. Economic class be damned.

However, let’s say for a moment this is “classist”. What difference does it make? At the end of the day, there is a child whose needs cannot be met by their parent(s). Somebody must feed, clothe, and give shelter to that child. If the parent(s) cannot do it, the child will either die of neglect or be relinquished from the parent(s) for that neglect.

There is a somewhat popular meme that says when people talk about getting a pet, they are constantly reminded of the responsibilities of owning said pet, but when people talk about not having a child due not being able to provide for said child, they are told they’ll “figure things out” or “God will provide”. I have heard more times than I care to count there is no “perfect time” to have child, but the idea of hoping things will just fall into place seems like a dangerous gamble to take with a responsibility that’s obviously much larger than a pet. If that gamble falls favorably, that’s wonderful. If it doesn’t, there will be consequences and the child will undoubtedly suffer the brunt of them.

Of course, in the end, it’s not my business and the responsibility of providing for that child is not mine. However, I think about this because, despite my lack of desire for parenthood, I don’t like the idea of any child being neglected. It is in no way fair to force a child into a situation where their needs cannot be met, and “life isn’t fair” should only refer to unavoidable events. Children should and deserve to be born into homes where their needs being met isn’t a worry.

To speak specifically about poverty, if someone is poor, but can still provide their child’s basic needs, there is not a problem. That child is fed, clothed, and has shelter. There is no issue here. If they are, unfortunately, too poor to provide those needs, there is a big problem. The message is not “Poor people shouldn’t have children because they’re poor.” The message is “People who know they cannot provide for a child’s basic needs shouldn’t have children because they can’t provide for the children’s needs.”

And if that is indeed classist, so be it. I care much more that a child’s needs are met than someone pointing a finger at me and screaming I’m classist. Of course, I would not tell any person they can’t have a child in the first place, no matter what their situation currently was. As I already said, it’s not my business and it’s not as if anything would stop them anyway. I only hope, for the sake of their child, they are certain.

I Called It

I was sent a very interesting article this morning.

EA’s Origin Might Delete Games From Your Account Without Warning

I knew it. I knew it. I absolutely knew it!
Really, what else could be expected when you have no option besides virtual possession of your buys? The user the article speaks about got the removed game back, but only after going through a big hassle to do it. EA did not want to give back that game. They basically only did it because that user was persistent. And as the article notes, other users had a similar problem.

If a company decides to pull your virtual purchases, you have to hope you’re stubborn enough to fight to get them back. Otherwise, you’re out of luck. This isn’t illegal. You have no real possession of that product. The extent of your ownership is a server you have to log into. The company can take them back whenever they want and if you don’t possess the energy for persistence, your only option is to get over it and move on.

Granted, it could’ve been much worse. This user lost one game. The server could’ve been hacked or shut down, meaning all their games would’ve been lost. Something tells me that story is somewhere on the horizon, and it’s getting closer.

Now, tell me again digital download only is the best.