Did you know that it’s possible to love something without wanting to destroy everything else in the world? Yeah. Neither did the internet.
A Shrinking from Expansion
I would love to blame the internet for the rapid tribalization of humanity into ever smaller and fragmenting groups, but lets face it. That’s humanity in a nutshell. As we as a species become more global we cling together into tiny tribes. We hang to each other to create a core “us” that can fight and face the global “them”. While I can’t blame the internet for the human mind, I can blame it for letting people get violent and hateful over a damned TV show.
A Difference of Opinion
Let’s face it. I enjoy some television and film. I’m a huge MiSTie from way back and I can ID episodes of ST:TNG by single frames. The problem is, I don’t see it as something to fight over. Someone doesn’t like Next Generation? Ok. Fine. Great. I like the Original Series too! Don’t like Star Trek? Ok. I’ll be the first to admit it can be goofy as all get out. I will freely admit that MST3k isn’t for everyone. It’s two hours of watching someone watch a movie. The average person isn’t going to get, or WANT to get that.
The problem is people that don’t understand that others can have a contrary view point, and that said view point doesn’t make them wrong. My friend Paul and I are both Trek fans. He hates the new J.J. Abrams movies. I love them. We’ve never really argued about it because we’re friends and we’re naturally going to feel differently about different things. Neither of us is right or wrong here.
Joel Vs. Mike
A great example of the destruction those kind of arguments can cause is with the MST3k fandom. In 1995, Joel Hodgson left Mystery Science Theater 3000. The show’s head writer, Michael J. Nelson, stepped up to the plate and replace Joel as the host. For me and my friends it was a thing that happened. We were a bit upset about it, but we kept watching and the show survived for another 5 years. We didn’t have internet access so what happen next shocked me.
The MST community online was as shocked as we were it seemed. Little did I know that while me and my friends were sitting back and repeating to ourselves it was just a show, the online communities erupted into flame wars that not only split the fans into two camps but destroyed friendships and ruined lives. It was years before the whole thing finally settle down and by then the damage was done. I want to remind you at this point that all of this was because a television series changed hosts.
I wish I could say this kind of thing doesn’t happen any more, but it does. Often between fandoms. Often people are emotionally hurt in these situations. Sometimes physically. All of this because they have invested so much emotion into someone else’s property. I’ve been witness to forums breaking apart over tiny issues blown out of proportion. And the amazing thing? The thing that I believe at the bottom of my heart? None of this would happen if they were talking face to face.