A lot of celebrities, writers and showrunners have recently left Twitter and other social media due to the disturbing amount of inappropriate and unprovoked hate they receive from countless strangers. This is my plea for them to return.
Throughout the past couple of years several prominent celebrities have left Twitter. Some of the most notable people I’m talking about are those like Firefly and Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon, Teen Wolf and Criminal Minds creator Jeff Davis, and most recently star of Agent Carter, Hayley Atwell.
While the reasons for their departure have varied, some not even giving an explanation, the common denominator has always been the amount of negativity they receive for the decisions they make with their careers. Whether that be how they play a character or what they decide to do with the fate of one character, or even the entire show, people have reached out to them with an insane amount of cruelty and duress only possible because they can stay “anonymous” online.
It breaks my heart to see these creative people leave their communities on Twitter, and it is for that reason that I have penned this letter to them and those like them:
I write to you, as the headline and lede suggest, because you have left social media and I’m a firm believer that we need you back. Whether your most active site was Twitter, Facebook, or
the increasingly popular Google+, you used to have a presence there and now you do not, and for very good reason.
I absolutely understand the concern and why you may have left. With all the negativity you felt during your time online it’s kind of hard not to understand it, especially when you’re being yelled at for the choices you make on the shows, movies, or books you create, by people who you didn’t realize existed until they made their presence annoyingly clear to you.
And I know when you become the creator of something that gets popular online, you’re bound to meet some people who disagree with your decisions. The modern colloquialism “hater” comes to mind, and that term isn’t far off from the truth for a lot of these folks.
Of course, there are some civil people who can disagree with the creative decisions you make and try to tell you as politely and eloquently as they can, but then of course the haters of the world make themselves louder than everyone else. They are the people whose mission is to make their disagreements so known and so loud that you no longer see the reason behind their words. Their motives — or whatever sound explanation they had — have been so tainted by hate that any thoughtful criticism has been lost to the void. I’m sorry about them, I truly am.
To you, that’s likely all the internet has been filled with — but I know you don’t need me to remind you that they don’t matter.
I’m very well aware that you’ve likely heard this argument a thousand times, or rather you think you have. You think I’m going to tell you that you need to ignore the haters and move on because their words don’t matter. You think I’m going to say something akin to “sticks and stones,” blah blah blah.
But that is where you’re wrong.
I’m not writing this letter to inform you how unimportant those haters are, because you already know they don’t matter. I’m writing this because I wanted to remind you of the people that do matter, and to remind you of the reasons you stuck around and kept a public presence on social media in the first place.
You are artists. That is why I started this letter with that, and that is why the world needs you. You have created a form of entertainment for us, and with your creation has come so many great things. People have escaped to the world that you’ve helped build — they’ve spent hours enveloped by your words — whether those words were a simple screenplay or an entire novel. You have changed people, and even though sometimes all you might see is the negative, I can assure you that you’ve changed countless others for the better.
Those people that supported you and sent you love instead of hate… those are the people who need you. Do you grasp the importance of it all?
Social media is more than just some tool that you use to write a few words on — it’s a connection. Do you realize how rare a thing it’s become to have the creator of a show, novel or any other artistic piece be so active on social media and respond to the people that are consuming their creation on a weekly basis? It’s extremely rare, and the same goes for celebrities who are aware of their fandoms online.
Yes, everyone and their grandma is on the Internet these days. But there’s a difference between someone who’s actually active and someone who’s on the Internet because the social cues require them to be. I’ve seen a lot of celebrity accounts on Twitter that do nothing but post generic updates (clearly written by a PR rep) and never respond to their fans, and that just makes me so sad. They have millions of followers, but their followers are getting generic consumerism thrown in their face when they see a tweet. They’re not getting the connection that they sought when they initially clicked that follow button.
When I say we need you on social media, I mean we really need you there. We need artists to be proactive in their communities online just like we need them active in person, because participating in the community you’ve helped create exponentiates the level of creativity and support in the world.
Consider this: Sometimes the connection to your fans and readers helps inspire them to create their own works of art, which often times leads to their own original art, which then leads to new talent and new careers where they might reach your level and get their own fans, who will then depend on them just as they depended on you. It’s this insane, beautiful circle we need to keep perpetuating and it’s so much easier to do than you might think.
You have no idea how important the act of favoriting a fan’s tweet can be. You don’t even have to reply to the vast majority of people — hitting that favorite button lets your fans and readers know that they’ve been seen, they’ve been heard, and their feelings and love for you and your creation have been validated in the best way possible.
In this day and age we’re so connected that we’ve started to forget the meaning behind the connection. It’s so instantaneous and gratifying that we take it all for granted, but we can’t let that continue. We need to cherish the connections we have. Just because it’s instant doesn’t mean it’s any less important.
You might think of it as a crappy social network that gets you in trouble if you post the wrong thing and gets you yelled at when you kill a character or deny a love interest, but it’s so much more than that. It’s a collection of people who look up to you and want to know you’re looking right back.
Sure, when you do interviews or make statements you can indirectly let your fans know that you care (and trust me, I know you care — I don’t doubt that one bit), but that’s not the same at all as interacting with them personally in a way that artists could have never done half a century ago. Recent examples of artists using Twitter and Facebook for good include J.K. Rowling, Guillermo Del Toro, Stephen King, Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn, and Once Upon a Time writer Adam Horowitz. These five artists let fans in to the making of their work and answers questions from fans on social media, and it’s inspiring to watch.
You have the ability to have on-on-one interactions with millions of people, and you should not let that ability go to waste no matter what negativity you read.
So, please, I beg for you to return. Come back to the communities that care about you so that you can help continue this insane circle. Without you on social media, we start to lose the voices of the artists in the world. And as Taylor Swift once said, “hater’s gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate.”