In case you’re late to the party concerning all the drama that’s gone down on #HorrorTwitter over the past few days, I’ll try and quickly recap, before digging in deeper.
In a nutshell…
- @RareHorror got called out for sharing art, but not crediting the artists.
- They pushed back with their reasons why they didn’t want to.
- More people joined in to say “give artists credit.”
- They got defensive and overreacted, and continued to act poorly, making the situation much worse.
- They experienced the mob.
I should preface by saying that I, in no way, shape, or form, condone the way @RareHorror behaved, nor am I defending their actions. I actually found it very frustrating that they wouldn’t stop. I knew they were making it worse, and I knew everything that was going to unfold as things escalated, as a result of it.
However, their bad behavior does not excuse bad behavior by other people in the community, of which I find disheartening. I think many people are only able to see the surface issue, failing to see beyond it, because this fiasco has been oversimplified.
Let’s explore this situation, point by point…
1. @RareHorror got called out for sharing art, but not crediting the artists.
This of course, is a much larger issue that’s been around long before @RareHorror, and will continue to be a problem long after @RareHorror. Putting aside much more complex issues concerning: IP, trademarks, copyright, plagiarism, what’s fair use and what isn’t, we’re simply looking at independent artists.
Independent artists who take photos, design fan art for movies, or in the case of what was the specific catalyst for this meltdown, actual hand-crafted, tangible art and goods, that are then sold on sites like Etsy.
While @RareHorror didn’t overtly do anything wrong initially per se (in terms of intent), they failed, perhaps unwittingly, to be considerate of the actual artists who created the works, in which they shared photos of. They weren’t claiming the work as their own or anything so sinister, they just failed to credit the artists, which understandably, is very frustrating for artists, who constantly deal with this problem in general.
Again, putting aside legal issues, which confuse people enough as it is, we’re talking about simple attribution, out of very basic human kindness for giving creative people credit for their work.
2. They pushed back with their reasons why they didn’t want to.
It was mostly a matter of preference and methodology, one that @RareHorror had implemented for 5 years. Innocently, and ignorantly, they would simply post cool photos of art, props, etc. that they found on the web, and share them alongside basic text like:
“Found this cool thing on Etsy.“
Which at face-value, seems perfectly innocent and perhaps even more thoughtful than how most people share on social media, except definitely not for the creators, who have to fight brands for attribution all the time. They would of course prefer a direct link to the specific piece so that people can find it, but would settle at least for a text credit in their name or pseudonym, so people can look them up.
There’s absolutely nothing unreasonable about that, but @RareHorror hadn’t ever considered before, or didn’t think it was a big deal, and at least until now, had never experienced being challenged so aggressively by it.
@RareHorror’s argument was basically that they didn’t like adding links, because it made the Tweets more spammy, like ads, and less organic, which Twitter tends to suppress more than Tweets that look natural. There is some grain of truth in that, but it obviously doesn’t outweigh doing the right thing.
Additionally, @RareHorror was also trying to sell promoted Tweets on their website, which in and of itself, isn’t wrong in any way, but some speculate that this explains everything. Of course, it doesn’t, not really. Just because they’re trying to make a profit, is not evidence that they are. I highly doubt it actually, which means yes, of course they’re really a horror fan, mostly doing this for the fun and passion of it. I find it really hard to believe they would have maintained everything for so long, had they only monetary motivation.
3. More people joined in to say “give artists credit.”
People joined in to share their opinion on the matter, and rightfully so, perhaps the people most personally affected by these issues, like other creative people, who have the same frustrations as @stabandstitch, whose art it was that was shared in the original Tweet, and is completely innocent of any wrongdoing and totally justified in their feelings.
4. They got defensive and overreacted, and continued to act poorly, making the situation much worse.
Having done their thing a certain way for so long without major issue before, they were quick to be dismissive, cocky, and then downright rude, calling people names.
This was obviously the most inappropriate reaction, but at the animal-level, perhaps a natural one, to defend oneself, especially with the obvious lack of experience and practice one needs to get better at handling backlash as a public (especially online) figure.
It was this poor behavior that definitely started the snowball effect and then…
5. They experienced the mob.
This was the point of no return. Once a mob is formed, it’s next to impossible to stop it until there’s an ultimate outcome of defeat, whatever form that might take. A mob is never a good thing, and usually attracts a lot of nasty people, that can confuse and overshadow the original intent of good faith justice by those who raised the issue in the beginning.
It’s like a riot, that may have started with a friendly protest, then incited a lot of anger, and then ultimately, becomes something else altogether, with people joining in who perhaps don’t really even understand the original issue or care; they’re just taking advantage of the situation for their own gain and entertainment.
Before you know it, everything is burning, people are using the event for their own agendas, and giving the original intent of justice a bad name. This is the same thing with SJWs (social justice warriors). The real people that matter for a cause, are the ones that are actually affected by it and doing real work (victims, activists, and lawyers), but then bad apples, mainly through the likes of social media, add their voice into the mix and bastardize it.
I doubt all the creative and kind people that were legitimately invested in protecting artists, are also patting the backs of those who have behaved just as badly or childishly as @RareHorror, if not worse, laughing at them, name-calling, making parody accounts of them, trying to DDoS or hack their website (presuming — this is what usually happens with mobs — but I did get verification that people were attacking them on their website), and generally just campaigning to punish someone, hurt them, get their account deleted (or fired from their job if the mob knows their real identity), either by triggering Twitter to do so, or just by bullying them until they do it themselves (which might be the case here — I’ve now verified this).
I don’t care how “bad” someone is, I have no respect for people that choose to use that as an excuse to also behave badly themselves. One of the most basic lessons we learn as children, is that two wrongs don’t make a right. We’ve completely failed to recognize the most important aspect of this entire event. It wasn’t artists who didn’t receive attribution for their work, it wasn’t how embarrassingly one of our own chose to behave, it was how we collectively behaved as a community, as a mob.
Maybe, just maybe, if we would have behaved more compassionately, this would have turned out better than yet another person just “going away.” While I sympathize with creators who don’t get the acknowledgement they deserve, this probably wasn’t a traumatic experience for them. And while @RareHorror clearly brought this on themselves, it took hundreds of people to decide they wanted to show up and teach this person a lesson.
Psychologically-speaking, do you not realize how incredibly asymmetrical this is? What this eventually turned into, as all mobs inevitably do, is no less than bullying, and @RareHorror is very likely hurting quite badly. An actual person, with feelings, is essentially having their well-being reduced to a meme.
While @RareHorror clearly appears to have failed to learn any lesson in the short-term (though I still have hope that they’ll learn from this event in time), we, as a community, forgot one of the most basic lessons of all, kindness. Being kind to someone doesn’t require that they’re kind to us. Kindness isn’t a condition of someone being worthy of it, it’s a choice about how we want to be.
I’m not expecting many, or even anyone to fully agree with me here, but I think it’s the objective truth underneath the more dramatic, superficial aspects of this whole affair. Here are some other links of interest and different viewpoints on what happened…
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