Wednesday, September 17, 2014

What makes it so easy for doll collectors to be nasty online?

A fairy tiff

Whether it's because your favorite doll company has just released a collection you like, discontinued or neglected your favorite line, or updated your favorite sculpt, or another collector doesn't have a collection exactly like yours, posted an off-color message on a message board--what is it about these small pieces of plastic that makes normally well-mannered humans act like crazy people?

Perhaps because of the anonymity the internet supplies the instigator, the poster of a nasty message may be lulled into thinking that the virtual flaming paper bag filled with dog poop she has laid at the collective door of the doll community won't come flying back to her own front step. If she posts as "anonymous," there's no way we readers will find out she is, right?

I try to bear in mind that the doll community is very small. And while we may dress dolls till our fingers bleed, breathing resin dust is only bad for your lungs--as far as I'm aware--not your brain. We can still maintain the power of deduction. We might be able to figure out who that nasty poster is!

What if your message is particularly witty, even if it is harsh or biting? Suppose you aren't a fan of a particular doll company's latest release. You hope by posting clever and biting remarks that you're going to make somebody laugh, or make you popular. But have you put yourself in the designer's position? Have you ever wondered why so many of our artists--musicians, authors, artists, and designers--commit suicide? Might it be because they can't stand so much harsh criticism, including yours? You may think you are adding to the conversation. And I'll be the first to admit: you're certainly adding to something!

Please understand that I'm not talking about reviews--reviews that consider the pros and cons of dolls and outfits are always a good thing. These help collectors decide whether to make a purchase. They help us consider aspects we may not have noticed before. But I don't think there's room for slamming collectors of a particular brand, designer, or doll.

I've noticed an increase of posts on various social media lately that are just flat-out negative. I realize it is a lot easier to be negative than it is to be positive. However, there's the age old saying, If you don't have anything nice to say, then don't say anything at all. To me, nothing is easier than not doing anything. You don't have to type or respond.

And opinions, well, they are aplenty. Isn't there another saying about opinions?


  1. People are nasty about a lot of things online, sadly; it's not just doll collectors. It does seem worse to me right now, but it's been going on as an overall thing for decades. There are people like that in real life, too, scarily enough. I mean complete strangers going all road rage-y type of thing scary. It's happened to me. Perhaps the feeling of online anonymity tips more over the edge.

    I haven't talked about this in the doll community yet, but I am bipolar. I have learned that many creative people are mentally ill, myself included. There often seems to be some sort of link between the two. I'm not sure that anyone can know for certain what makes a person commit suicide. You have my permission to post this publicly. I am not ashamed of having chemicals in my brain not always work properly. I would like to see more people be able to talk about this.

    1. Wow, Barb, thanks so much for sharing. DH is a physician, and he tends to lean towards the thinking that says the stigma of taking blood pressure medicine should be equal to the one of taking anti-depressants, for example, to help balance chemicals in the brain. I too am a little tired of seeing judgement for people reaching out for help.

      And you know, I hadn't made the connection of creative people in the community and the higher likelihood of having some sort of mental disorder. This makes sense, actually--but I wonder often if society as a whole treated creativity and artists a little differently (such as valuing their work, for example, at least enough to keep creativity in schools), how that might affect the industry as a whole, and also specifically, individual message boards.

  2. I'm glad to know that I'm not the only one who still prefers to live by the rule: If you can't say something nice, say nothing at all! And I think you are right, that the 'anonymity' the internet affords is a big factor in the reason some people say things that I think they would normally never say face-to-face. Which really is a darned shame!

    1. I think so, too! I'm not very fond of rules and regulations--I think they overcomplicate life as a whole--but the golden rule is one pretty large exception. :)

  3. Thank you so much for posting this. <3 I have all but stopped communicating socially within the doll community because of the cruel and biting things people toss around. There have been many times I wanted to say something, but it escalates so fast and by then no one is open to listening to calm reason. I'm more than saddened by the way things have turned vicious. I know this sort of behavior goes on in all walks of life and hobby, but for me it appears to be more rampant in recent months. Again, thank you for addressing this topic with eloquent regard. <3

    1. Ah--that saddens me so much to see when creative people like you drop out of the doll community because of this. Really! To me, I love dolls because of what creative people can do. It just breaks my heart to see this!

  4. Wonderful post, and something I had been thinking lately.

  5. Two different topics there almost: Snarky or downright nasty comments... have you noticed that very negative people also tend to be quite unhappy, sad, lonely and won't usually say those things to your face? They get their own feelings of self worth from knocking other people they see as happier, luckier or enjoying the things they wish they had... but they prefer to say those things when you are out of the room, behind your back or best of all on the internet where they can be as savage and vitriolic as they want. I am of the opinion that if their lives are so relentlessly unfulfilling and awful them they deserve pity! It reminds me of my mother sat at the kitchen table with her face screwed up in disgust because some actress she doesn't like is in the newspaper... she will get a biro and scribble all over the actress' face ... WHY, why waste all that energy - and ink - in hating? She wastes time she could be out seeing friends, gardening, having fun, on nastiness. I don't even ask anymore.

    The second issue is the seemingly real link between mental disorders and creative people. Let's face it, flaky behaviour used to be known as the "artistic temperament"! I make my living designing and creating and have also been treated for mental health issues. I am not shy about talking about it, I am also being treated for high blood pressure lately and (like your husband says) see no difference. A good many of the people I have worked with over the years and went to art college with also have been treated for depression, bipolar disorders, etc... Similarly musicians and actors I know.

    I think the thing people should remember when they are critiquing/attacking any artistic work is that for the artist this is VERY personal. Do people take personal pride in the ready meals they help manufacture on a production line in a factory? I am not denigrating those sorts of jobs, they are extremely hard work... but do they take it personally if someone doesn't like the product their factory makes? Possibly not. But for an artist, that 'product' did not exist before you thought it up, the execution of creating it and the ideas that went into making it, all the decisions along the way, those are a part of your inner world. By creating any piece of art you are allowing the world a window into your imagination, usually a very private place! Critique is meant to be constructive and most importantly, to have real use it should be done by your peers as they understand the real aims and the constrictions of the medium you have chosen to work in.

    When I design for medium to large manufacturers, I do not have the same very personal association to the end product as there were lots of group decisions, concessions to manufacturing processes and cost restrictions between my prototype and the final product that hits the market. That softens the blow of criticism, but it is still there to a lesser extent. I am sure the people at Tonner, for instance, need the feedback of customers - good or bad - to continue to grow their business. Creative goals are tempered by the need to cater for a specific market... having said that, it still doesn't hurt to say "I am not too keen on your latest doll" in a nice way ;o)

    1. All very good points, Yve. Thanks for sharing these--more eloquently than my original post. :)

      I think I too often forget how much actually goes in to creating anything. I write books, for example. I had to stop reading reviews on Amazon--well, I try to stop reading them, at least--because while some are helpful (I can figure out what I need to do more or less of in my next publication, for example), others are just sour grapes and nasty. I'm tempted to respond to them like this: "Well, you can do whatever you like in your own book."

      We don't really know the lives of those around us if we only "know" each other by our online presence. How many kids we have, what sort of illness we are dealing with, and so forth--all of those things factor into what and how much we can put into our art and creativity, I think. Then, to have someone else come and piss all over it, just because she hasn't figured out how to focus her own anger and depression into something creative, say, can really make me feel terrible. I too am often tempted to withdraw.

      As far as scribbling over a person's face--well, I had to smile. If only there were an app for that! That would be so much less destructive than responding to art with a flaming, negative, pile of poorly-worded bile--assuming it would stay on a person's own computer. :)

  6. This was a very interesting discussion. I only recently started a doll blog and only have a few followers. I do my blog for me mostly and love that some of those I have followed for a long time can get some enjoyment out of it. I love having this avenue to vent my creative side, but I also don't take well to mean and nasty criticism. (I have not received any so far, but do know that others have)

    Cat, I have been an absolute fan of your work for a long time. I miss your witty posts and just love your creativity with your dolls. It saddens me to know that the criticism you have received from a few has kept you from sharing your obvious skill and creativity. Barb (the evil genius), your comments were spot on with an incident I experienced today when picking up my daughter from school. After we exited the school and approached the area where the buses depart loaded with the kids they are taking home, the car in front of us let one bus out and then crawled with her car in front of the next bus to make sure she beat it into the lane. Usually, there is a crossing guard that blocks the traffic to let all of the buses out first, however, for some reason (maybe budget cuts), the guard was not there. So I stopped and started letting all of the buses out. Once they realized this, they did their normal thing and began exited the school grounds non-stop. There was a van behind me that became very angry with me. He got right on my tail, began honking his horn and you could hear him yelling obscenities at me. My daughter kind of was freaked out. Once the buses passed and I began moving again, he stayed right on my tail. When I had to stop at an intersection for a red light, he became angry again and I could see him writing down my license number or something while we where stopped there. After we began moving again, I turned into the first possible store driveway to get him off of my tail, which worked. My thoughts were that he accomplished nothing with his anger. He would not have gotten to his destination much faster because of the school traffic, but maybe it made him feel better to lash out at me. I wonder if something else was bothering him or maybe he is always that way.

    I, for one, am so happy that I have found this community of creative, talented and friendly people who share an interest with me and are supportive of my hobby. I have been inspired to play more, create more and share more, and yes, even buy more! I hope that the artists and friends I have found on this venue do not stop doing what they do because of the bad manners of a few unscrupulous individuals. Know that I enjoy being able to follow you. That you are an inspiration to me and to many others. Now, I don't have to agree with or like every post I see, but I will continue to admire your ability and creativity on these boards! :)

  7. I'm late to the party, but I'll put in my two cents anyway:

    I'm in my own little doll world, so I had no idea about the increasing nastiness in the doll community. That makes me sad -- collecting dolls is supposed to be a fun thing! Unfortunately, this kind of thing is all over the Internet. I seldom read the comments on Yahoo news articles or Youtube videos because they're so horrible. And I dropped out of a supposedly for-fun beading contest because there was so much rudeness, even (read: especially) on the part of the contest creator.

    One of my favorite Youtube doll collectors is Jason Robert Keef, (and not just because he's gorgeous) and he made such a good point. With all the bad things happening in the world, like animal abuse, why can't people point their anger/ridicule/snarkiness in that direction? It would be a lot more productive. So would donating a dollar to the ASPCA or Batworld or Toys for Tots every time they're tempted to leave a nasty comment, come to think of it. That might make an awesome challenge....

    Also, Cat -- I've missed you so much! Your work is fantastic, and your blog posts are so creative and hilarious. *Hugs* from one Midwestern girl to another!

    1. Saturday, you have some absolutely fabulous ideas here! I think I see a fantastic charity idea--if only there were a way to enforce it, LOL! (I see your future as the doll police!)

      I read your experience with the beading contest with dismay and, yes, horror. Why bother with competitions if you're planning on being nasty? That's terrible.

      I understand that life happens outside the internet, but it feels like sometimes people use the internet like they would a journal. Sometimes these feelings spewed out like venom need to go in a journal: write them down, then burn it. Never look at them again! That way, at least they are out of your system, and you don't take it out on the rest of the world.

      Thanks again for your comment. It's rather timely, in fact--just in time for Tonner's latest release--and the fact that if a doll company doesn't release something that is to your taste, for some reason, you should take it personally. What?? I don't think so! I just don't understand that line of thinking or "logic."

      Part of the fun of collecting is the hunt, I think. If you only have to wait with each new release to get a new doll that you like or even love--that's no fun, in my opinion. So take that opportunity to find an older grail, for goodness sake! I feel a new post coming on. ;)

    2. I would love to be the doll police! What about an ankle monitor kind of thing, like they do with people on house arrest? Or a shock collar? *Evil grin.* Uh oh, I think the power has already gone to my head. ;)

      When toy companies release something I'm not fond of, I immediately think a) That's OK, I can always poke around on Ebay instead or b) Hey, if I redressed and re-rooted that doll, I'd love her! Maybe I forget to complain because I have so many dolls waiting for me at the beauty parlor? Not to mention the 16 pounds (seriously!) of fabric I bought at a fabric sale this month. It's just waiting to be sewn into doll dresses and quilts and pillows.

      PS: Even though she wasn't on Ebay, but at Savers thrift store, I found Perfume Pretty Whitney today, along with Diwali Barbie and Barbie as Velma. Whitney needs a new body and a re-root, and Velma is getting a super sexy makeover with long red hair, but Diwali Barbie just needs a smudge on her chin cleaned off. Thrifting is even more fun than Ebay because I have no idea what will turn up. Still kicking myself for passing on a TLC Sweet Roses PJ for 4 bucks, though...


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