Why We Should All Care Less

Truly there are people in this world far too invested in the media they consume — I should know, I've been there. On more than one occasion I've found myself fuming with a pathologically stupid rage at a review — but I happen to be an idiot, and I'm of the crazy opinion that reasonable human beings should know better.

This story was originally published in July 2012.

I used to wonder if the shitstorms that follow negative reviews were a phenomenon exclusive to video games — the result of console tribalism, a byproduct of the money we invest in them. But thanks to the release of The Dark Knight Rises, we have proof that is not the case. It's simply the end result of collective stupidity, and every form of entertainment is susceptible. It doesn't matter if the product is interactive, it doesn't matter if it's played on a costly device. If people are passionately invested in something, they will react badly to criticism of that product. If that passion is lathered to a dense, frothy fervour, it can become destructive and innocent people get hurt.

On Rotten Tomatoes today, Editor in Chief Matt Atchity was forced to make this post, a short address to those who had bombarded the first negative review of The Dark Knight Rises with threats, hate speech, all the good stuff. The whole situation, as someone who used to write reviews for a living, was completely painful to watch — it's this sort of silliness that contributed heavily to my decision to not review games on Kotaku Australia. I want no part of this mob, and I have no interest in adding my own voice to that pointless drone of white noise.

But I do have a little suggestion — maybe we should start caring a little less about the media we consume?

As a teenager, and even into my early 20s, I was utterly guilty of allowing the movies I watched, the music I listened to and the video games I played, to define me. In a sense I think that is — if not the endgame — definitely a touching point for the complicated process of fandom. It is for this reason that, as a 19 year old I, without a single shred of irony, believed that The Phantom Menace was a decent movie.

But at some point I — sensibly — decided to stop giving a shit about someone else's opinion of the things I loved.

At its base root, extreme fandom — the kind that motivates a normally lucid human being to verbally attack another person over the internet — is the end result of insecurity. Is this thing that I am so heavily invested in truly worth that investment? Am I secure in my own opinions about this thing? These are the questions you ask yourself and for some weird reason the answers are important to you. Your opinions must be reaffirmed in others. You must target the strange rage you feel towards those with dissenting opinions. And it must be done en masse, alongside those who feel the same way as you.

Why not save yourself that angst? Why not simply care less?

Just care less. Matt Atchity correctly stated there are more important things to get angry about; shouting down reviewers who didn't like the thing you love is petty in the grand scheme of things. But I say that's just a symptom; the root-cause is far deeper. It's the end result of allowing the products you consume, or the hobby you engage with, to define you.

I've been there, and it felt good to just let it go. It's pretty painful to continue taking negativity personally, and it's exhausting to continue being an 'angry person on the internet'. You are more than the video games you play; the movies you watch and the music you listen to should be of little consequence to others, and you shouldn't take it personally when others feel differently about the things you love.

Just let it go. Kill your darlings. We should simply care less about the media we are invested in. The internet, and the world, will be a much nicer place as a result.


    so basically, like what you like for yourself, and give zero fucks about other peoples opinions on that stuff. fair nuff and agreed.

      Care that people have opinions, be respectful of them, just don't be a fucking dick about it.

        That comment is 4 and a half years old. I doubt he'll be reading your reply.

        Accept in this day and age your not allowed to have an opinion if your white, Straight or male even if your not a dick about it.

          Except by making a comment like this, you are sounding like you would be a dick about it.

          And I say this as a straight, white male who:
          * detests stupid words like "triggered" (aka I am trying to make my hurt feelings sound more important than they are)
          * doesn't care if Tracer is gay (because Tracer is a character in a video game, who happens to be gay, and that's cool, it doesn't have to be the end of the world or the biggest news ever)
          * thinks Anita Sarkeesian couldn't form a coherent argument to defeat a paper bag in a debate (because almost all of her points are cherry picked and taken out of context).
          * dislikes the word "feminist" because it has associations with too many negative and radical individuals (if you argue "no, that's not the case, because feminism means <insert meaning here> ", then "gamergate is about ethics in journalism")

          The world isn't against straight white males, even though many seem to be claiming it is - there are just more people who are willing to accept that yes, straight white males do in fact have some inherent advantages. I'm not going to apologise for that, but if I can help address some inequities present in the world that occur for no good reason, then I'll pitch in.

          Last edited 27/12/16 2:00 pm

            you just proved my point, there was no dickish-ness in my comment just a statement of fact and you tried to twist it to fit your point of view and demonise me by making assumptions.
            Which makes no sense in the grand scheme because my point of view is essentially the same as yours.
            Thanks for playing

            Last edited 27/12/16 2:10 pm

              No demonising or assumptions being made. You were complaining "I'm a straight white male and as such I'm not an allowed an opinion." You are allowed to have your opinion, but where your opinion is "I'm being oppressed because I'm a straight white male", I am allowed (also as a straight white male) to tell you that you're being a dick. Especially when you are saying that your inability to express yourself as a straight white male is "statement of fact".

              Unless you're telling me that I am not allowed to have that opinion? In other words, engaging in exactly the same behaviour that you are complaining about?

                I'm backing up amstradhero. As another white male (theoretically bi but really gynephiliac, so I count as straight on a technicality), dnr, you're a dick. 2-1, you're outvoted. Stop fucking whining about how hard the world is when you're a straight white male and you have to put up with people calling you out on your all-encompassing sense of privilege, you self-centered prick.

                  Stop fucking whining about how hard the world is when you're a straight white male and you have to put up with people calling you out on your all-encompassing sense of privilege
                  Awesome... thanks for proving my point... you've been a great audience.

                I love that you dont see the hypocrisy in your statement, not once did i say your opinion wasn't ok, i stated thati am a white straight male, not a dick and that when i express an opinion i cop flak for it which you proved with your comment.
                You then did the exact thing you demonised me for, so buddy you can just fuck right off with your SJW BS.

                  You were the one who immediately jumped to the defensive when I said "you sound like you would be a dick about it" because you said "it's not okay for single white males to have an opinion."

                  My response was "it is okay to have an opinion, but if it's your opinion that you can't have an opinion as a single white male", then you sound like you might behave like a dick. Note that I didn't actually CALL you a dick, just that you sounded like you might voice your opinion in a dickish way given that comment. I didn't actually jump down your throat as much as you think I did - I was more trying to point out that your choice of approach may not actually work as you intended. Apparently this was also the case for me - as you just immediately got defensive and attacked me.

                  That said, YOU were the one who chose to reply to weresmurf's "don't be a dick" comment with an anti SJW BS "help help, I'm an oppressed straight white male" slant. No one made you do that. You chose to play that card, so don't get pissy when people call you on it. You have immediately jumped to aggression, even though I tried to point out "yes, some of these SJW topics" are stupid and ridiculous.

                  I was pointing out that I hate people who attempt to swing the pendulum all the way over to the minority in an attempt to get "equality" - the people who are trying to say "shut up, shut up, shut up, you're a sexist misogynistic homophobe" are indeed at fault for attempting to silence debate and win by claiming poor. But just as equally, your claim that "I can't have an opinion because I'm a straight white male" is utter BS and if you can't see that, then you are in fact contributing to the problem with the status quo.

                  There are overreactions on both sides of the debate - I apologise for coming across as demonising you - but I would hope you can see that your reaction appears to have validated my concern somewhat?

                  Or you can just keep downvoting all my comments and prove how much of a dick you actually are.

                  That works too.

            My favourite is the mansplain.

            Sorry I was trying to have a discussion with whoever but suddenly I seem to have gone careening over a ravine where I'm trying to force my man opinion onto a situation.

            I understand that as a male some may have had negative encounters, but when people are willing to whisk away the discussion as if it doesn't matter it because of the source it makes it super hard to actually want to engage around these things.

            Which is sad because it breeds the kind of contempt that dnr has in that because he's a straight white male he apparently can't have an opinion.

            I think the problem is that some people however are so used to being attacked they feel the need to attack back so that no one could pull something apart, when the intention mightn't be to pull something apart but merely to understand or help make it stronger.

            But if you are so adherent to your opinion the other way that it must be thrust upon others even if you are a straight white male. Your just as bad as those who refuse to listen to your opinion because of your privilege. Because if two people can't make some concession or rational discussion regardless of their respective positions. Then you may as well just talk to each other in obscenities for all the potential you have to change each other's minds about whatever the topic at hand is.

        This comment should be a compulsory part of EVERY child's education. And it should be something we force children to memorise on a daily basis along with numbers, the alphabet and things like tying shoelaces, covering your nose when sneezing etc.

    We should care less about Batman too, he's not even a real super hero.

      he'd so kick your arse for saying that :P

      Haha. I actually used to think the same thing. The joke I always used to tell was "His only super power is his credit card" (Thanks George Clooney). Then I played Arkham Asylum and started reading New 52 and learned to appreciate the Dark Knight.

        Funny as. But it is common knowledge that Batman has no super powers. That doesn't mean he isn't a super hero though.

          At the end of the day, Batman is a wannabe Iron Man.
          End of discussion =)

            One major difference is their approach. Stark is proud of himself and makes his identity as Iron Man quite well-known. He's hardly discrete, offering a more brute-force approach. Wayne, on the other hand, values the secrecy of his identity, preferring to act as a detective, allowing the law to do its part, rather than taking justice into his own hands.

            Now I like both characters (for completely different reasons), but their "rich civillian with gadgets" trait is one of the only that they share.

            On a completely different note, the article is interesting. Sure, it's pretty obvious when you look at it, but that's not to say we're not all guilty of it. I'll try to take it onboard, that's for sure. :D

          I'm confused...doesn't that just make him a hero?

            Well his "super" power would be his ability to utilise his gadgets and do a super job of it! Wakka Wakka

            But seriously, I've heard some arguments that his super power is really he is the peak of humanity, ala Captain America who isn't a super hero either since he is just metahuman, if it comes down to it. But there is also his ability to adapt quickly, evolution metaphor! Using the films as examples, since that's the most common currently, Scarecrow developed a gas, so he had people develop him a cure. Poison Ivy (way back films) enticed Robin and Batman and tried to poison them with her lips, they wore rubber lips. But beyond that, he's just a rich, stealthy dude

              He's not a real super hero, because he's a fictional character. The only thing real about Batman, or any other super hero, is that they are printed on pages of comic books, portrayed by (real) people in movies etc.

      Let me get this straight, you think that batman, one of the wealthiest most powerful men in the world, is a vigilante who spends his nights beating criminals to a pulp with his bare hands, and you accuse him of not being a superhero.

      Good luck.


    What are you saying?

    That we should all care less because there are some who care too much? Or, if you're addressing this specifically to the overzealous, do you honestly think they ever read articles like this?

    I agree that not putting too much stake in what strangers say about something - if I like a game that's universally panned, I'm going to play it regardless. But to suggest some sort of insulated apathy towards internet opinion kind of goes against everything a video game blog site is about.

      Damn, lack of edit button. Grammar fail 4th sentence.

        Couldn't agree more. Why be a games journalist then? This article is so stupid. But then I've come to expect that from Mark Serrels.

          How dare you criticize Mark Serrels. That is the stupidest opinion in a long list of opinions on the internet...omg I'm being sucked into a paradox....tell my wife I love heeeeeeeeer....


      One of my favourite all time experiences in World of Warcraft was grouping with a particularly angry, rude, know-all player whose guild name was "It's just a game".

        Don't know why that appeared as a reply, must have ninja-clicked on my scroll down.

    Phantom Menace <3

      < 3?

      I'll assume you're grading it out of 10, and that is an entirely unacceptable score. Phantom Menace, unlike the other 2 in the Prequel trilogy, at least had some redeeming elements. Your score is way too low, therefore you, and everything you stand for, is garbage to me, GARBAGE I say.


        Love not hate my friend, it's all about the love...


      For all its flaws, I still like Phantom Menace. Same with Revenge of the Sith. Both had enough redeeming moments and enjoyable scenes for me to forgive the rest. Attack of the Clones was the only one that failed to entertain me.

      I used to feel guilty about liking the prequel trilogy when so many other Star Wars fans hated them with such passion. These days I don't care. I get that disappointment is difficult to deal with, but the amount of hate is just stupid.

    It's not so much that we should care less, but that we should act more like reasonable adults. Which is a challenge for some of those in the community, because they are still children - literally and figuratively.

    This is not a phenomenon exclusive to entertainment media. If you don't like the same sportsperson, if you think someone's hairstyle doesn't look good, someone will hate you for it. It's a society-wide side effect that when you try and drum into people that they're somehow 'special' (even though 99% of the population prove everyday that they really aren't), they believe that their opinion is automatically corrrect.

    A well timed post I think, and not just because it relates to something that happened recently. I think we're all a lot more prone to getting whipped into a frenzy. Maybe there's things that deserve attention and maybe there aren't. But whatever the case, we're giving those things the wrong kind of attention and making ourselves look bad in the process.

    Let's go back to enjoying the things we enjoy and remember why we enjoy them, instead of putting so much stock in the idea that other people have to think the same as us all the time. They just doesn't happen. Let's be more willing to agree to disagree.

    We all have those moments in your friendships or relationships where you just don't see eye to eye. Staying mad about that stuff isn't healthy, for you or your relstionship. Let's try and take that on board with the bigger stuff too. The internet has given us a conduit not only to express ourselves but to read the opinions of other people who want to express themselves. As I've said before, we're not using that power constructively.

    I think the biggest driver of the behaviour is that if people who are wrong will get their way if we don't shout them down. What we need to ask ourselves is, does that matter? Some guy reviews a movie, if you're so sure he's wrong, he hasn't stopped you seeing it for yourself, has he? Someone says your favourite game sucks, but he hasn't make you unplay it. Maybe my favourite book is a bunch of pseudointellectual wank, but my well worn copy is still going to be among my treasured personal items.

    I think it would be nice if we all got along, but wouldn't it be boring if we just agreed on everything? Let's start learning to accept when being "right" just doesn't matter that much.

      My reply to these situations when I am faced with people trying to convince me they're right and I'm wrong is just "Suggestion noted".. I've heard your point of view. Unless you're a complete mental fucktard, often it even makes sense, but if it doesn't match with my opinion, it's not gonna change my life in anyway, except that next time I go to watch that movie, or play that game, I just wont be doing so with them!

    why do people care about RT and other IGN reviews in the first place none of hte major revies site are objective . If review sites were activily objective then Modern Warfare 3 and Blackops + World at war would only ever get 5/10 for average and Skyrim would also get a 5 or 6 out of ten for blantant lack of QA. Seriously look back STALKER and it was given terrible reviews because of all its bugs yet Oblivion, FO3 and Skyrim are always given a free pass (NV wasnt because even though it was published by bethesda, it was made by obsidian).

    Word of mouth is the best you do without just going and seeing/playing for yourself that and dont believe the hype or try to get involved with the hype

      So you're saying your reviews would be entirely objective because you'd give MW3 a 5/10?

    I think a large part of the problem is that, as nerds, we're used to being told the things we love are stupid. Games are a waste of time and making kids killers, sci-fi tv is rotting our brains, all that sort of thing. And we spend years - decades - with our collective subconciouses arguing back. "No, Batman is actually really interesting. Shadow of the Colossus is poignant. Star Trek is /about/ something, has something to say."

    And now most people have come around. Grown women read Twilight, everyone watches Game of Thrones. We've been legitimized, for the most part. But when we hear people saying our stuff is crap, we instinctively fight back - regardless of whether they've got anything to say. (I'm not saying its unique to nerds, just that they're who we're talking about.)

    The solution is, as you say, to care less. We know our stuff is cool. Let's just stop panicking. That's not to say that you can't raise a legitimate problem with a bad review - like the troll review he talks about in the article - but you don't always need to bite.

      Nope, it's just this:

      In full effect.

    YES. I have told many people this over the years.

    As an ex-rabid fan of certain televisual phenomena, I have found that my life is far more balanced and a lot more satisfying when I gave up living and dying for my entertainment.

      Also Firefly sucks. (troll...?) ;)

    Religion and superstition are fading away, but it seems many humans have a genetic need to be batshit crazy about something. Enter their replacement: extreme fandom.

      Its not a replacement, its the same thing.

      There was a study done a while back that showed that Apple fans have the same brain reaction about apple products that religious people have about their religion.

      Its the same thing with North Korea, the people used to follow the Dear Leader in the same way as a religion.





        I AM!!!

          Well... it wasn't easy... but i fapped.

            lol - tits of gtfo

              Alright, I'm giving all five of you a timeout...
              Go and sit in the corner for five minutes and think about what you've done...

                That was only four of me... WHY MUST YOU PUNISH THE INNOCENT!!!???

    I just don't have the energy to waste on being angry at things that are supposed to provide me with pleasure and relaxation. It kind of defeats the point, doesn't it? Sure, I'll have a bit of a whinge when something's annoying me, but I won't devote too much time to it.

    I'd much prefer to put my energy into something constructive and entertaining.

    I'm all for differing opinions, as long as they are backed up with informed, well reasoned arguments.
    "I disagree that movie x is superior to movie y, although movie x does have some good things in it, they aren't as good as movie y , and here are some valid, researched reasons why I feel that way"
    "Hurr-duurr , your movie sux and your face suxxx!!! LOLOLOLLLL!!!111

    One of the places where this annoys me the most is the whole android vs apple war in every review comments section. Each to their own, their are different types of products for different people.

    Like El Kapitan said, this is not a phenomenon that's isolated to any particular area. This can happen to anything in your life that you happen to like.
    To simplify, say I like a particular shade of the colour red. Someone comes along and tells me that they don't like that shade of red and that it looks bad (ie. too slutty, too angry, whatever description they want to give). The major reason I could find to be offended at this is not that someone doesn't like what I like, it's how this reflects on me and my taste in colour. It forces me to think about what I like and why I like it. It also makes me think of how others will see me if I'm advertising my tastes like this and all they see is something bad. Why would I want that image to be broadcast, I want people to like me.

    Mind you, this doesn't all happen on a conscious level. Our natural reaction is to defend what we like, and by extension who we are. I suppose if we stop defining ourselves by what we like, this wouldn't be a problem.

    Got my tickets for tomorrow. Can't wait!

    I give Mark's article an 8/10. While incredibly well written, it starts in typical Mark fashion by reflecting on an earlier period of his life and it would be nice to shake things up a little and maybe talk about a period in the future, perhaps 10 or 20 years from now with flying motorbikes and laser nostrils.

    The whole concept of extended identity is not new.
    I whinge about the recent kotaku reviews because in the past Kotaku has been a reliable reference point for me. Arguing over a 0.5 that way or this way gets a bit stupid.

    I'll also point out the same thing I did when that one reviewer gave Witcher 2 a 4/10. The reviewer knows exactly what sort of response they are going to get when publishing something so extreme. Its up to the reviewer to make that larger effort to placate people with a different opinion by making a bigger effort with your article.

    I understand the point Mark is trying to make, however the whole article comes across as a complete generalisation and really only touches on a specific type of person/s.

    If you're saying we should care less about the media we're invested in as well - then why would any of us bother to come and read Kotaku? At the base level, we would play the games and never invest any further interest in to them beyond that.

    But really, it seems as what you're trying to say is that understanding and tolerance is bred by age and maturity as we learn to let go of petty indifferences and disagreements about what could be considered "relatively trivial". Which in some cases, can be correct - but ultimately, it's objectively based on the sole individual and their experiences/growth as to their own development of opinion.

    Great arcticle Mark.
    There are a few problems however.
    #1 - Common Sense - There isn't any. The human race, in general is a population filled to the brim with stupid, angry, bitter, fanatical, mindless zombies with a pack mentality. Yes this is a generalisation, but stereotype exist for a reason.

    #2 Pack Mentality and Fanaticism - In today's culture there is little distinction between religion, race, sex, favourite boy band, favourite car brand, favourite technology brand and other general "fanboy-ism" etc etc. People will continue to be angry and even violent to defend their favourite things. Adding to that, people seem to like what others do, and therefore will defend what others defend. Or in some cases jump on the bashing bandwagon for the same reasons.

    I have absolutely NO idea. I cannot imagine being that passionate about something to get so worked up about it. I'm a very opinionated person but I'm also very patient. And like you said, Mark, I don't care. I "get over" things quickly. If I don't like a movie, I don't see it. If I don't like a game, I don't play it.

    I can't imagine what goes through a 14 year old girls head when she skips school, sits for hours outside a hotel and then screams till her throat hurts just because she saw 2 seconds of Justin Beiber walking past.
    Or someone believing so strongly in their supreme being of choice that they would kill in his/hers name.
    It's no different with movies and games, except at least in this medium it tends to be idle threats from an online community, hiding behind fake names and email addresses.

    Unfortunately I think this behaviour is too deeply seeded in human nature, and history proves this time and time again. Racial hate, sexual discrimination, it all ties back to the same problem .
    If people did't get so worked up about things, we would have wars over religion or trolls and flaming on forums over the ending of a video game....
    If someone can explain this bizarre and unfortunately common behaviour to me - please do

    Strange article for a site that promotes and discusses such media.

    Opinions are like assholes. Everyone has one and most of them stink... I hate Nolans Batman, you dont. Lets move on with our lives... MEH.

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