This is a topic that I have been gearing up to write about since I was a college student 13 years ago working at Starbucks, but none of my friends on Live Journal would have given enough of a damn to make it worth writing. But the topic– it’s the idea that the consumer is always correct and has the right to tell you what they think of your business or the product you’re producing. There’s a terrible thing that happens to regular people (who probably aren’t all that bad in regular life) once they step through the door and become the customer. The same terrible thing can happen to people consuming digital content and they make sure to let the business owner (IE content creator) know. And it was really interesting to me once I saw how consistently these topics overlapped and how much they had in common.
Fast forward to the present and I am lucky enough to be a pop culture writer since 2016 whose work is widely read and circulated on the internet. I’ve adopted the title Digital Content Creator to cover all the bases so there’s no surprises when you see my name popping up in an article about sandwiches, Krav Maga, toys, or my face shows up in a podcast/video regarding why we all want to ship these Avatar characters or want to fuck Pennywise the Clown. And it’s a mixed bag really, when it comes to the sort of feedback you receive when you create content. Some people love your work (thank you). Some people hate your work (eh, can’t please them all), and some people are somewhere in the middle but they sure love to tell you aaaaall the things you’re doing wrong. Oh boy, do those people relish having you take part in your own abuse!
But don’t you dare try to let them know where you’re coming from, you defensive snowflake. That’s against the rules.
Let’s take it back a step and focus more on the the original premise of this article, the one I had wanted to write about since college. There is a highly expired and archaic notion in our American culture that The Customer is Always Right, Everyone is Entitled to their Opinion, You Should Get a Trophy for Providing “Constructive Criticism”, and Remember: Don’t Feed the Trolls.
I guess that’s four expired and archaic notions. But still, we’re going to talk about why all of these ideas are a whole mess of fucking bullshit.
Look, businesses need customers. That’s a fact. Whether it’s someone walking into your coffee shop or the people goodly enough to have your website/blog on their morning rotation of websites, business owners are happy to have that business considered. We are grateful, and I mean it from the bottom of my heart. Thank you so much for allowing me to do what I love doing. The regulars are never the issue. And funny enough, when there is trouble in retail land, it’s usually never a regular that causes trouble, either. It’s a singular greedy person or mentally unbalanced person who wants to come in off the street, demand freebies, and emotionally abuse staff. The Customer is Always Right tells civilians that their dollar is worth more than your standards or the well being of your staff. It tells employees that they don’t matter, that they are disposable, and that they won’t be stood up for.
I remember once in 2007 a man came inside Starbucks and called the cashier a cunt when she did literally nothing wrong. We were out of coffee cake or some insignificant shit. The poor cashier turned bright red and looked terrified. All the customers and staff members, manager included went silent and no one said anything, just looked around like silent zombies. He then proceeded to yell at everyone in the place. So what did I do? Made his drink and told him to shut the fuck up and get out. I barely escaped a write up (my reaction was against Starbucks regulations, of course) but I had zero regrets. Everyone in that store needed protecting and in 2007, I had nothing to lose. I think that all businesses should adopt a “We Reserve the Right to Refuse Service to Anyone” perspective and employees know that their manager will protect them against aggression, harassment, violence, and hostility.
Now– how did that (and this is all my opinion, as is everything on PopLurker because my house) evolve into things like Every Opinion is Valid and Don’t Feed the Trolls? I truly feel like they are related. There is something in our culture that tells us not to stand up for ourselves. There is something in our culture that says “Don’t engage, don’t cause trouble”. So we think we have to lie back silently and accept this emotional violation.
There is something in our culture that tells us that everyone deserves the opportunity to share their opinion. And while everyone has the right to their opinions (truly, what goes on in your head is your business), you have to realize when your fucking opinion isn’t valid or part of the conversation. And that’s what so many people have trouble doing. Read the god damn room.
When you’re a business owner, or in my case, a Digital Content Creator, so many people act like you are an object and whatever the feedback is, you have to lie back and take it. They make a move and it’s an Offensive one. You react in a way where you try to show people where you are coming from and you are accused of being Defensive (or you’re just called a Snowflake). In this Internet Customer culture, they get to attack and you cannot attack back. You are criticized and if you fight back, you’re a bitch who is “feeding the trolls”. But if you let the trolls eat you, they’re winning. They’ve been fed.
There is nothing wrong with protecting yourself against jackasses. Nothing.
Look, this isn’t a literal battle that you can win, per se. If you spend multiple days fighting with losers on the internet who have nothing to do but hatefully consume your content, jerk off to pictures of you and tell you about it (thanks creeps, what am I supposed to do with that information, fawn and drop to my knees?) and then whine that they don’t like it when you wear makeup even though your content is not photo related nor are you presenting yourself in a way where you’re asking for people’s opinions on your fucking face (true story) you’re wasting your time! Don’t engage with those clowns. You probably also don’t want to share any horrible opinions that are cruel, degrading to others, or that will destroy your career. Being a loud, aggressive edge lord isn’t worth losing your life.
These statements I am making are more in regard to when you create content that you love, that you tailor exactly to the brand you’re creating, and people try to tear you down for it. They’ve been so curated to think that they should be stroked on the cock just for having an opinion that the person in question has to appreciate your cruel spirited “honesty” and what, thank you? Be proud of you? Agree with you so that you can have some sort of smug moment of “Yay, I thought the thing was broken and I opinioned them into changing it, go meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!”
I think it is important for content creators to listen and correct themselves if it is pointed out to them that they got a fact wrong in an article or video. I think it’s worth listening when someone makes a suggestion on how to improve the aesthetic of your logo, or website, or simple things you can do to make your videos look better. Among legitimate, thoughtful feedback there might be information in there that can help you. But you know what? If you want to be a person that can’t take feedback/criticism or doesn’t want to take feedback/criticism? Good for you! I fucking mean that. You know your brand. You know your content. And you will see in real time if your unassisted vision continues your trajectory without any outsider input and advice.
You have the right to stand up for yourself. If they can attack, you can attack right back. There is no shame in defending yourself. You are not doing anything wrong if you don’t want to hear it. “Wow, why are you acting so defensively?” does not excuse that they are trying to rip you open. Protecting the content you created and love does not make you a “Snowflake” who “Can’t hear the truth”. Not wanting to be attacked does not make you someone who “wants to live in ignorance”. There are really important things going on in the world and in every day life. Children to care for, a pandemic to avoid, physical and mental health and wellness to maintain, relationships to nurture.
And you know what, not wanting to hear “I hated the way your voice sounded” or “Fuck this bitch chewing her gum” or “Ugh, I hate women who wear eyeliner, I only date natural girls” (to someone who is married and completely not on your potential menu) isn’t something you need to share with a content creator. Like the articles and videos? Thank you for enjoying them! Don’t like the articles and videos or the people creating them? What are you doing here?
Literally, I am speaking for every single person who makes content on the internet from pop culture writing to movie/show reviews to toy reviews to lifestyle to parenting to cosplay modeling to lewd photos and beyond.
So before you need to tell your barista that the center of your egg bite wasn’t quite 165 degrees enough or you slip into a Facebook conversation where two people are sharing a perspective that doesn’t quite suit your narrative, or someone who you met twice in real life in a business setting makes a toy review video where her excited, joyful voice was an octave or so above your precious ear’s level of acceptance, try to think about the room as a whole. Think how the oven may have malfunctioned and that’s why your egg bites were cool in the center this time, and not that your barista is fuck-dumb in the head. Think about the head space or potential strife of the two people having the conversation on Facebook before you stroke your dick for having the ability to spill out an unwarranted opinion. And think about what is going on behind the scenes of every content creator’s home before you blab that this toy review wasn’t good enough or she was talking too fast or fuck her and her gum.
I guess all I’m trying to say here is cut people a fucking break. Don’t consume anything, media or purchased items, with pretension. Hopefully this helps you see a side you may not have considered. If not, I’m sure you’re thinking “this bitch just needs to chill out.”
Either way, thanks for reading.
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