The last week has had me doing a lot of self-reflection, in no small part because of the changes happening in my life and in part because of some drastic family news. Sometimes, when one can’t act, it’s easy to reflect and wallow. I’m not in a mood to wallow much longer, but in that time there were a few things I’ve done that I didn’t care for and wished to make right. I want to be respectful by how I address this apology; on the one hand, I don’t want this to be a call-out post that brings more negative attention to the individual than I’ve already given them, but on the other hand I feel that this is something best addressed openly for accountability. To that end, I’m not going to name the individual in question, but I will forward this to them so they’re aware I realize I was an antagonistic asshat. Obviously they know that I am one, but perhaps it would do them good to hear that I realize this now as well.
When Stan Lee wasn’t screwing over his co-creators and partners by taking credit for their work, he had a few popular sayings. One of those was “If you have an idea that you genuinely think is good, don’t let some idiot talk you out of it.” This was a popular saying held by the individual I wronged, who for simplicity sake I’ll refer to as Sam. His real name starts with an S, but that’s about the only thing connected between these two. That said, it will be easier to talk about these things if I have a name.
Sam had a vision. He was an artist. He was a Youtuber. He was an adventurer. The problem, in my mind, was that he was a novice at all of these things, and he didn’t seem too inclined to get better. I’d use the word “cringe” a lot when referring to his work. He’d compare himself to Youtube greats like Jacksepticeye; I’d… not go that far!
Still, there was some novelty that this individual was influential in these spheres. I had a following on Youtube, but it was focused mostly on mobile gaming and a couple of specific Let’s Plays. He, on the other hand, was a character.
That said, he also had a problematic history. It turned out that my wife had worked with him in a previous job, where she did not have a high opinion of him, including an instance where he was caught drawing on company machinery with a sharpie.
We got along well as acquaintances at first. And on a Facebook post he stated he worked at a place that was hiring at a little more than I was currently making but at almost twice the hours (72 at that time) I hesitated before pulling the trigger and checking it out. You’d think I would have been more grateful for this opportunity, but as they say familiarity breeds contempt and even as I tried to remain friendly with Sam I found myself becoming increasingly grated by the guy.
Now it’s one thing to just not get along with a person, or to find they have habits or personality traits that bother you. But don’t misunderstand, I was absolutely two-faced about all of this. At any point I could have addressed any of this by talking to Sam, or admitting my concerns, or even just distancing myself. Instead, I just kept smiling and nodding and pretending like nothing was wrong to his face, even as a participated in gossip behind his back. I will say, in fairness, there were some concerns that objectively might be considered legitimate; however 1.)addressing them here takes away from the apology and 2.)the time to address them was then, not now over a year later in a blog post.
Sam found work with a better work balance, and ultimately moved out of state to be with his fiance. For the most part, him and I didn’t interact more than this, although at one point I did remove him from most of my social media when I purged all non-family for a short while. We did interact tersely on Youtube for a while. There would be an event in early December 2018 that would kind of spark an internet war between us.
The catalyst was basic: In one of his videos, showing off his newest My Little Pony OC, I responded “What a weird looking Pokemon.” To this, he seriously corrected me, and his girlfriend at the time said something I took to be threatening (and it probably was meant to be, but I could have had a sense of humor about it and dropped it.) Instead, I decided his videos were ripe for parody, so I took that My Little Pony OCs, photo inverted it, and gave it my own name and backstory in an 8 minute video that completely made fun of his art style. The video was, admittedly, rather inspired. It was also exceptionally mean spirited, and targeted towards someone who didn’t really deserve it. It was nothing short of bullying. He, in turn, called upon all of his friends to report me for art theft. I, in return, did a fanfiction video where “my” OC saved Kwanzaa (complete with making fun of the comments and statements he and his friends had said.)
This was a slide from the first video I did. It was exceptionally pointed, and as one can tell, also rather inane. I sure thought it was clever at the time though.
As far as internet drama was concerned, the whole thing was insipid. I clearly enjoyed it at the time. I would later learn, through a couple of his Discord posts, that he was not enjoying it. He was angry, but more importantly, he was hurt. He was not having fun with this.
And in that, I agreed to lock the videos and make them private, gave a half-hearted apology, and that was the end of it.
Except, that really didn’t do things justice. Sam went to bat for me, especially when it came to helping me get the foot in at my current job. He continued to work on the things that he enjoyed and felt passionate about; my concerns about those projects shouldn’t have been such an issue, and as there was no need for me to be critiquing them I should have been more respectful of his goal. If he wanted to believe he was larger than life, that was his right to believe that; if I disagreed, there were a number of ways I could have done so without being a cockwoffle.
So, S.M.N, if you’re reading this – sorry I was such an asshole. I know things are difficult now, that you’re unable to produce videos because your computer crashed, and you are trying to survive as many of us are while also pursuing your dreams. I hope you are able to find a balance that allows you to do all of those things. Don’t give up. Not that you would have, but I feel you deserve to hear that more.
I’m a prideful person who makes a lot of mistakes and also chooses to do some real asinine things, and sometimes it’s important I be called out on them. You deserved better. I should have had the fortitude of character to challenge you on the issues I had and the differences of opinions we held, not on petty attacks and drama whoring. In that, I failed not just you, but myself. I’ll strive to do better.