WARNING: this is one of those, “When I was a lad, I walked . . . ” stories.
When I was a lad, we didn’t have social media. No, no. If we wrote a poem (like the one I wrote about Andrea Lamarine, the “Annie” at our community theater when I was 10), or penned a song (like the one I wrote about Andrea Lamaraine when I was 11), we kept it to ourselves. Because we didn’t have any options to put it out in the world.
We had our parents and friends, our journals, and maybe a school sponsored talent night every year?
Kids can not only write songs about their crushes, they can produce, publish and promote them . . . reaching millions and millions of people if the viral-stars align.
This generation grew up with an audience at their fingertips. (And with the birth of the streaming theater movement, that audience is about to get bigger.)
But you know what comes with an audience?
Not the NY Times. Or even The East Hackensack Times.
Random people with too much time on their hands who aren’t courageous enough to put out content of their own, so they crap on the content of others.
That’s right – for every one person that produces content online, there will always be someone who hates that content, no matter how many other people love it.
The “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all,” doesn’t count online, apparently.
And if you thought Ben Brantley was tough, he ain’t nothing compared to some of the “critics” you can find in the comment section of anything you post.
Tim Ferris, famed podcaster and the inspiration for this book had this to say about online critics:
“10 percent of people will find a way to hate you.”
Robert F. Kennedy said “About 1/5 of the people are against everything all the time.”
And if you post something, these percentages will pounce.
When I was that “Annie-in-his-eyes” lad, those folks couldn’t tell me my song sucked. But today they can. (Honestly? It did kind of suck. I was 11. I think I rhymed ‘rose’ with ‘nose’.)
But here’s the blessing amongst the internet trolls, uh, critics.
If you can take random people writing some nasty stuff about things you create online then you’ll be more prepared for theatrical criticism later.
I expect the next generation of content creators to not care so much about critics. Because they’ve been dealing with nastier ones who pop up every day, for their entire lives.
And yet, they keep putting stuff out there.
What’s so important about apathy towards criticism?
When TheaterMakers create without fear, they make better theater.
Hear Ben Brantley talk about the future of online criticism in this free podcast here.