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Blogging negativity: is my anger holding me back?

Last month I came across a new blog post in my WordPress reader called Your Jealously is Showing. This was written in response to an article by Ian Sherr published on the CNET website on 06 June 2019. In Meet the angry gaming YouTubers who turn outrage into videos, the author discusses how some content creators are using anger to increase their views and influence across the video platform.

There was nothing particularly surprising about this event: I browse through posts while on my morning commute and regularly come across those arguing against a claim made by a journalist. I admit I’ve even written such articles myself occasionally. But there was something about these two that made me uncomfortable. For the past few weeks since reading them, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the online community, where my own blog fits into it and whether my own anger is holding me back.

Meet the angry gaming YouTubers who turn outrage into views, CNET

The CNET article mentioned above does have a point. Sherr wrote: “Now the gaming community is manufacturing outrage videos. If you’re trawling for game news on YouTube, anger is becoming the only emotion you’ll experience in your recommended feed.” The platform is an economy built around attention and participants are rewarded for viewer engagement with ad revenue. We’re hard-wired to be attracted to drama, and so it therefore tends to be the subjects that fuel fear and frustration which generate more clicks.

However, I didn’t see too much of this widespread negativity when I opened up YouTube’s gaming channel as a test while drafting this post. But what I was greeted with instead wasn’t much more welcoming: an onslaught of brightly-coloured thumbnails covered in exclamation marks and capitalised titles quickly reminded why I don’t often visit the site. Each video tries to shout louder than its neighbours in a clamour to get noticed and the result is a place where it’s difficult for me to feel at ease.

Even WordPress has become more like this in recent years. The reader used to be somewhere you could go to find bloggers’ unique thoughts on their hobby or stories about special gaming experiences, but now it’s full of the same news headlines repeated over and over (E3 recently hasn’t helped). Developments in the industry are regularly met with outrage and discussed using expletives in posts often designed to be controversial – one of the reasons why I’ve chosen not to provide a link to the site mentioned at the start of this piece.

It’s said that negativity breeds negativity. That event last month has made me realise that this pessimism is starting to spill over into my own work and it’s now habit to reach for the keyboard when I’ve seen something that angers me. Sure, I’ll always try to trace the original sources and see the data behind news reports for myself; but this type of post is becoming too easy to write while more light-hearted and optimistic pieces are beginning to get more difficult. And that’s kind of scary.

I make a point of trying to promote bloggers who themselves promote positivity, sharing their work on social media to help spread the word. So if I can do that then why am I not being more positive myself? I’ve come to understand this year that my anxiety comes to the forefront when I feel as though a situation isn’t changing regardless of how hard I’m working to make it so. When that sense of going around in circles comes about, the negativity starts to bubble up and my reaction to the world around me twists into something cynical.

That’s no good at all. It’s not going to help bring about change and the only effect it has is making me feel even worse. In Sherr’s article, a longtime YouTuber told the journalist that we now ‘have a whole generation of kids who were raised on negativity’ who are trying to become the next generation of gaming commentators. I have to stop myself from being a part of that cycle. It might sound idealistic but I want Later Levels to be a place where everyone feels welcome and the benefits of gaming are shouted about. There’s got to be a way forward to make that happen.

Unfortunately this post doesn’t contain the answers and it’s something I need to think about further. But what I do know is that from this point forward I need to put more thought into the subject of each post and what ends up being published here. If it’s not something that’s going to enhance discussion, help the community or make its members feel good about themselves and their group, then really: is there any point in writing it? It’s an area I have control over that provides chance to stop the circle of negativity.

The planning for the next GameBlast will begin this week and that’s helping me stay motivated about this insight. Gaming can have so many great benefits and everyone deserves to be able to play, so what better place to start the change than with an event which promotes such positive thinking. Thank you for letting me get this off my chest, dear readers – I promise you’ll see a lighter, brighter Later Levels very soon.

Kim View All

Video game lover, Later Levels blogger and SpecialEffect volunteer. Big fan of wannabe pirates and fine leather jackets.

25 thoughts on “Blogging negativity: is my anger holding me back? Leave a comment

  1. Whether it’s blogs or social media, negativity and outrage is just about all you find these days.
    I’m trying to counter it by following an awful lot of accounts just posting pictures and videos of cute, fluffy animals…

    Liked by 2 people

    • I enjoy my bubble. I don’t watch or read the “regular” news any more, the world is just too depressing. Same thing applies to video games, move on from the people, blogs, articles that are a major downer and focus on the lighter stuff!

      Liked by 1 person

    • You can’t stop people from being negative, so the only thing you can do is give your support to the more people who deserve it. And that includes anyone who shares pictures of fluffy animals! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I have to be honest and say I haven’t really seen it in the blogosphere as yet, but I do think I follow a much smaller corner of it generally than you might. Having said that, I definitely know what you’re talking about in the Youtube arena. It was this very issue, that of manufactured outrage which led me to post a few months back on confronting confirmation bias and echo chambers. What I found while writing this piece was that, on youtube in particular, there were two main camps.

    1) The manufactured outrage group, and
    2) The fearful of being critical because they want to be ‘in’ with the publishers group.

    Finding anything in the middle ground was tough. Not necessarily because they aren’t out there, but because this generally speaking aligns to the two main audience types. Those seeking confirmation of their views — in one extreme or another.

    So I try to sit in a more reasonable middle-ground as much as possible, and that meant confronting and understanding my own biases and where they lay at the time as well.

    In any case, what I would say to your post here is just to be careful not to stray from one end of the spectrum into the other. Not that I think you intend to, but just that I think it is perfectly OK to be disappointed or even upset with something. Moreso it is OK to express that point of view. This is a very different proposition from going and finding things to be upset or angry about and actively trying to get other people angry about it too.

    Like

    • “That meant confronting my own biases and where they lay at the time as well.” This line sums it up, I think.

      It’s not about being scared to be critical or never writing another negative word… more about being more conscious of what I put out there. Asking myself whether what I’ve written is how I truly feel about the subject or if it’s just a reaction to all manufactured outrage; and if it is true, then also considering if there’s another side to the argument before clicking on that ‘publish’ button.

      Sometimes the online world creates a sense of anonymity in its users and they feel as though what they add to it is almost throwaway. But nothing online is really ever forgotten, and I want this place on the net to be remembered as an open and positive space. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree that negativity and artificial outrage just for attention’s sake is not a good thing. But in combatting this, we cannot make the mistake of demonising everything that’s criticising or pointing out negative things about something (not that you did that, but I just wanted to point that out). Still, people should stay calm when speaking out negatively about topics, and should back it up with thought-out arguments.

    Journalism (not just about games, but in general) tend to convey a rather negative image of the world, but that’s kind of the point of journalism. It’s their job to point out bad states of affairs. They can’t go around and say “Vienna didn’t burn to the ground today” or “Little Timmy did not fall from a bridge”. Positivity and good things are (or at least should be) seen as the default setting of the world, not something special that’s worth reporting.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agreed: there’s certainly nothing wrong with reporting on something negative! But what I want to get away from is those posts that are an ‘immediate reaction’, if that makes sense. You’re totally right when you say it’s important to stay calm when speaking out and arguments should be backed up with sensible reasoning.

      When you take a step back you can look at any situation, figure out what went wrong, why that happened and how we can learn from that lesson going forward. I’d like to think that’s where positivity can come from even in negative circumstances. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think I know exactly what you are talking about. “I don’t like how the characters in the new Marvel game look. This literally ruined my year!” or “The casting for movie X sucks, I might never watch a movie ever again!”

        Like

  4. I don’t think you can compare the WordPress community to the likes of YouTube, they’re worlds apart in terms of negativity. Maybe that’s because wordpress hasn’t caught up yet, or maybe they just attract different types of content creators.

    YouTube is just full of loud obnoxious idiots with clickbaity thumbnails. The internet shouting factory. There’s a few exceptions and I follow their channels, I don’t subject myself to anything else!

    I just think of the film “Inside Out” where Sadness is constantly pushed back by Joy… Sometimes you need a bit of sadness in your life to appreciate the joy 😆

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh yes, there’s a difference between the level of negativity displayed on YouTube and WordPress. I guess I’m just little sad there are so many articles filling up the reader nowadays all on the same hot subject where the text seems a bit copy-paste, from temporary news sites that disappear before too long. If you don’t look hard enough, this sort of content can drown out posts from people who really care about what they’re writing and want to share their thoughts with the world – the kind of posts that attracted me to blogging in the first place.

      Like

      • I discovered you can follow as many sites as you like because you have complete control over which ones appear in the reader. At least I think so! I seem to recall only setting a handful of them to appear in reader and none of them (except Later Levels) send me an email any more ☺️

        Like

        • I’ve got some tags set up in the reader to help me find new blogs, but they’re becoming less and less useful as they get clogged up by all that news. Maybe I need to get more creative with my search terms… 🤔

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  5. Oh man, I totally related to all of this post. It’s the main reason why I’ve quit Twitter for anything other than auto-tweets and occasionally popping in to see how certain specific people are doing. It’s just too easy to see something unsubstantiated and designed to rile up anger and immediately want to post some sort of knee-jerk response to it. The trouble is, those knee-jerk responses often do “well” in terms of numbers; any time I’ve responded to, say, a games journalist talking ill-informed nonsense about something I feel passionately about, I’ve always got far more in the way of likes and retweets than I do for my actual content.

    That’s not what I want to be known for, and so on MoeGamer I’ve always made a point of keeping time-sensitive news-style pieces to a minimum. I’ve made a couple of exceptions over the years when a particular issue arose that wasn’t being covered fairly — usually by only one side of an argument being represented — but for the most part I try and keep my stuff as “timeless” as possible, so anyone can dip into any part of the site at any time and find something they find interesting or otherwise worth reading.

    If you’re curious, examples of stuff I thought was important enough to respond to in this manner, for context, was the time a reviewer for Destructoid called fans of a sexually provocative (not pornographic) game “paedophiles” (https://moegamer.net/2017/07/08/destructoids-valkyrie-drive-review-is-more-than-just-bad-games-journalism/), the time a game was “banned” by the Video Standards Council for the first time in a very long while (https://moegamer.net/2018/03/12/the-case-for-adults-only-ratings/ and https://moegamer.net/2018/03/19/an-open-letter-to-the-video-standards-council/) and the recent incident where a non-sexual romantic visual novel with educational elements ran afoul of Steam’s incoherent content policy (https://moegamer.net/2019/06/14/educational-esperanto-visual-novel-struggles-with-valves-amorphous-content-policies/)

    In each of these cases, I tried to make a specific effort to remain calm and explain what the issue was without rage, without knee-jerk responses and, critically, with some meaningful research. I’m biased, but I think I did all right with most of them! 🙂 They’re still not what I want to spend the majority of my time doing, though; there’s no point trying to be a “gaming news” site in this day and age, when the best place to get news from is directly from the publisher via a service like Twitter or email subscriptions. There is, however, always a place in the market for in-depth commentary — particularly that which attempts to see what various works are trying to do, regardless of how successful they end up being.

    From the very beginning, I designed MoeGamer to be a safe place for fans of a particular type of interactive entertainment to hang out — but also as a resource for people new to these forms of media to find out more about it without hyperbole or gatekeeping. I love love LOVE introducing new people to the thing I’m into, regardless of whoever they are, and the best way to do that is to be positive and enthusiastic about the things that are important to you. So this is what I strive for every day, as difficult as it might be to remain positive with negativity all around you some days!

    Spotting these patterns happening around you — and to yourself — is an important step, though. From there, you can make a specific effort to shape what you do into the things that are really important to you, and work that you can be proud of. (For the record, you’ve always come across as one of the most level-headed, rational people I’ve encountered online, and your work is always a pleasure to read, even on contentious issues, so I think you’re already doing very well indeed!)

    Good luck! The world needs more positivity. So it’s always nice to see other people wanting to make a change for the better. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Pete, I appreciate the support and extremely kind words! With everything going on in the world right now, I think we could all use a bit more positivity – and it’s lovely to be a part of a community where I’ve met a lot of people who promote a more positive way of thinking. There’s nothing wrong with reporting on something you don’t agree with but it has more impact if you back it up with sensible reasoning and try to see what lessons can be learnt from the situation.

      You can’t stop others from being negative or posting those knee-jerk articles, but you can control what you share and how you make others feel. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • That point about controlling what you *share* is super-important. So many people just don’t think about that side of things, because it’s so easy to just click a “share” or “retweet” button to fire and forget. The assumption seems to be that you didn’t write the thing, so it’s not your responsibility — despite it appearing on your feed and contributing to the overall atmosphere of a particular period in time.

        I ditched Facebook completely a couple of years back because my feed had become devoid of actual conversation and consisted entirely of things that had been shared without thought. I don’t miss it!

        Like

        • If I could get rid of Facebook, I would for that very reason! The SpecialEffect crew organise a lot of their volunteering activities through it and that’s the only thing that keeps me being a user.

          Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve seen this on youtube a lot, they produce content non-stop in the case of TheQuartering who regularly pops up in my feed, something like 2-3 videos at a time. When you look for more insightful critical pieces, the people who post them post weeks if not months apart. Part of the issue is the time needed to produce quality in-depth work rather than “hot takes” and when people want a daily video fix they’ll return to content creators who deliver regularly and quickly. It also amuses me that most of these commentators directly rely upon the very outlets that they denigrate. Many do simple voice-over excerpts of articles published by Kotaku, RPS, IGn, and others. Some of the commentaries they do give are worthy of further feedback, in the case of people like YongYea or Bellular but even then I’ve noticed them slip as they rush out pieces for views, in particular, Bellular (who started with high-quality analysis) is falling. Admittedly he isn’t mentioned in the article but it addresses the push to make new videos that I think drives a lot of these people.
    If you want to look for more in-depth stuff, search for Joseph Anderson, Noah Caldwell-Gervais, Superbunnyhop or Chris Davis (those are all the channel names). All have large followings and do in-depth reviews, critical takes and more. The comment sections are a joy to read as well, even when you find people disagreeing its polite and they set forth their position.
    Ultimately I think it’s also how you decide to present yourself if you write to a higher level by showing nuance and multiple viewpoints you don’t end up getting a google gaggle of outrage. (Hard to do in an age of make everything simple, if it’s complex it’s bad)

    Liked by 1 person

    • “It also amuses me that most of these commentators directly rely upon the very outlets that they denigrate.” YES.

      Thanks so much for the channel recommendations above. I tend to steer clear of YouTube for anything to do with gaming nowadays because of just how many ‘shouty’ videos there are, so it will be nice to check out some content there that’s more detailed and (dare I say it) intelligent.

      Like

    • TheQuartering drives me nuts. Any time there’s even the slightest whiff of a controversy, he’s there with some sort of reaction video — usually, as you say, little more than “look at this article”. In the written space, One Angry Gamer fulfils a similar role, with the added bonus of the site owner being a thoroughly objectionable individual who REALLY doesn’t like it when you disagree with him.

      I haven’t watched any of TheQuartering’s videos and have no intention to, and I make a point of steering clear of OAG. I’ve “done” rage in the past and it never achieves anything; it’s much more satisfying to be the change you want to see, because then when people are resistant to it they look like the jackasses. 🙂

      “This game is bad because [ill-informed and superficial reasons go here]!”
      “Oh, really? Here are 10,000 words about why it’s a lot more interesting than your five-minute impressions might suggest.”
      “……”

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I actually stopped supporting a youtuber I followed for many years because of this. I used to be a patreon support for someone who will go unnamed because I really enjoyed how they told it straight. Their content was always harshly criticizing developers, publishers, games, or gamers.

    What eventually turned me away was how it never stopped. They spend so many years building a brand on the back of negativity that they kept looking for the next thing to be angry about, or so it seemed. I grew tired of it and stopped supporting them and their content in all forms.

    It’s for this reason that I try (keyword there) to be positive with my own blog content. Most of my reviews are more slanted toward the positive side of things and I much prefer writing about games I enjoyed and sharing that with others.

    As you said, you can’t control what others do, but you can control what you post. We’re not likely to make a difference at large, but we can choose not the contribute to the swamp of (sometimes) unwarranted outrage.

    Liked by 1 person

    • If it’s tiring for us to watch someone be constantly negative, I wonder how tiring it is for the person actually creating that content. I can only imagine it gradually sucks away everything you enjoyed about being a creator and that’s a really sad thought. 😦

      Liked by 1 person

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