So over the weekend, I decided to binge on Stranger Things 1 & 2 on Netflix. Overall thoughts? Pretty damn good. Interesting horror/mystery/thriller styled show with some of the best written kids I've seen in movies/television/books and some really engaging characters. It also has an overabundance of pointless bully characters, rock stupid adults, and one of the main characters really really got on my nerves. Won't name names... Dustin. The show just drips of Steven King and John Carpenter - which explains why the monsters are all Lovecraft style eldritch abominations and there's way too many jackass characters. But I think it's a good show and I'll happily watch Stranger Things 3.
The series has been out for a couple years now, but I've ignored it on purpose. In fact, I've been ignoring a lot of red hot popular media for a long time now. And I have a bizarre reason... the internet needs to stop telling me how good/bad it is.
Spending the majority of my twenties with easy access to the internet has kinda skewed my perception of how to enjoy something. The late 2000s saw the rise of YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and easily accessible vehicles for people to express their opinions. All in all, I think this is a good thing. Prior to this, it was hard to break through the variable distances and barriers erected by society when it came to expressing your opinion. We are granted free speech and press in this country, but actually getting your message out to people has always been slightly arduous.
But like most shiny new toys, there's always a handful of kids who play rough with it. If you critique or analyze something and find it merely, "Good" or "Not that Good", that's not enough. You need to either hype the thing up as the Second Coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ or castrate the thing with vitriolic hatred.
And it's always like this.
I have spent so long not digging into movies or shows or games because the fans and detractors enter the echo chamber of Social Media to scream to whomever will listen that this is the greatest thing ever and you should like it or this is a pieces of shit and your a horrible person if you like it. I attempt to avoid it all, but the echo reverberating off my PC or phone is just too damn loud. And honestly... I'm so tired of it. I'm so tired of everything coming out in the cinema or Netflix or at my local bookshop or game shop becoming fodder for this hyperbolic nonsense.
To give a current example from the world of Gaming, God of War, the absurdly titled 4th entry in the God of War series (it's a soft reboot, true, but come on Sony marketing) will release to players on April 20th. Media outlets and online critics have already gotten review code and the result is almost unilateral acclaim. The UK's Daily Star opens their review with the line, "Sony's new God of War game is, unquestionably, the greatest PS4 game to date. In fact, it might just be one of the greatest games of the current console generation. (Wright, James April 16, 2018)"
Wow, that is a bold claim... and it's a claim I've hear over and over and over again. For full disclosure, I have not played the game and from what I've seen, I'm pretty sure it's going to be a damn good game. But that kind overwhelming praise does something, at least in my brain. It creates expectations in me, expectations that I should be experiencing this, that I should enjoy this, that it should be on my shelf. Expectations.
And what do expectations get us? Well, remember the Star Wars debacle four months ago? I wrote a whole blog post about it. I could've easily fallen into that stupor - arguably, by blogging about it I did - and I wanted to jump in. It took a lot for me not to. I took a breath and said to myself, "I really liked Last Jedi - even though it has a fair share of problems." And that was it. I shed myself of the expectations the internet was desperately trying to pin on me and enjoyed it.
This is one of the things I've been working on in my life. We all have these expectations and preconceptions regarding life and how we're supposed to live it. When those expectations aren't met, we can either struggle or submit. I will be the first to admit, I choose a third option - don't even try. I'm bad about expecting things will go to shit really quick, but if I don't even take that first step, they can't go to shit. Little do I realize, by standing still, I'm standing a bigger pile of shit. And don't get me wrong, the hyperbole of the internet is not the only source of my inhibitions regarding what's expected of me. It is merely a small notch on my walking stick that I have been hacking up with a knife.
Is there a solution? Hell if I know, but maybe I need to look back and reflect on a few things.
And when I think about it, does anybody remember what social media used to be for? Raise your hand if you made a free Geocities website or a Livejournal page? Who here had MySpace? Correct me if I'm wrong, but did people use those platforms to act as megaphones or loud speakers? This might've been just me and my friends, but we all use those early social media platforms to show everyone what we were up to, what we were making. I used Geocities to show off my comic strips and several of my friends used Livejournal to write stories and fan-fiction. We talked about things we liked/disliked, but more so we used the internet as a place to showcase what we created and what we were enjoying.
I'm not saying things were better back in the day, of course not, but maybe I need to try and drown out the white noise of the Internet's hyperbole by just enjoying what I enjoy and then hoping on to Social Media saying, "Hey, I liked this" then get back to making stuff.