My thoughts on the dark side of Chat boards

So some of you may have seen @PattiMurins’s blog in which she publicly stands up for herself & the theatre world against those who seem to make it their mission to bring it down or at least target certain performers or shows. If you missed it please catch up on it here, it’s a great read & one I really hope anyone who hasn’t learnt yet, how to respect their fellow man, needs to read. Check it out here…

So I shared the blog post on Twitter & added “I’ve always said if you’ve got nothing positive or ‘constructive’ to say then don’t say anything publicly online!” I wanted that to be all I had to say on the matter but it wasn’t, so i’ve waffled. It was meant to be a short tweet to Patti, but it got too big & then it just made more sense to put it here, because that’s why I made this blog, to talk about things I couldn’t fit in a tweet. So here you go..

I for the most part avoid chat boards because I used to spend all my time fiercely defending the performers/shows I love with people who were only there because they enjoy getting a rise out of others! Even when others get nasty I always tried to stay respectful, but when you’re surrounded by that evil snark it starts to seep in & you find yourself slowly getting darker just to survive. Which is why I now avoid them.

I love theatre, and consider myself so lucky to live in London & see all sorts of shows & performances & if I don’t like something or don’t understand a performers interpretation of a role, I try to show respect & pick out the best bits to comment on, or not comment at all, which probably tells my followers/friends my opinion without being horrible! Yes I have strong opinions and luckily I have friends who I can speak with about them in person. I also know what it’s like to live far away and not be able to physically chat to those who share my interests (grew up in NZ). When in that situation, boards & groups were my only option to feed the thirst of wanting to know all I could and have like minded people around me (online). It’s so important for the genuine people to have an outlet and safe space to chat and get to the nitty gritty & share their love, but I agree there needs to be a way to actually keep it safe. There’s been a few boards or groups i’ve been apart of that have very strict rules, and if you don’t follow them you get warnings & in severe cases banned, but it doesn’t always work because they can just rejoin under a different name. 

Over the years and many fierce debates i’ve come to a point where for the most part, I try to ignore the ridiculous and only focus on the real comments that have been written with care & respect, granted I lose my shit sometimes on people who are just so rude with their comments that I struggle to keep quiet, and almost always regret it because they just get worse when fed. I found though when they aren’t fed or given any attention they yes, may get louder for a period but then they give up & scurry away like the cowards they are. If all the genuine people on the boards just kept the real discussions alive & let the other’s simmer down it’d be a much nicer place & one that i’d feel safe to venture back to. I admit I don’t think i’ve ever posted on there, but that’s because it’s a Broadway board & until recently i’d not made it to Broadway, so only went when people directed me to see ‘nasty things.’ But I know that it’s not all bad & the good that lies within far outweighs the bad. “Fans” should not be attacked it’s the “haters” that need to be taught manners.

I love a healthy debate as much as the next person & there’s certain theatre goers who I know have opinions much different than my own & I enjoy getting to the root of that opinion so I can better understand it & open my mind to it. I respect that you have big love for this person, I have big love for this other person, but it’s ok, we can still be friends. The world would be boring if we all liked the same things.. but the world gets rather scary when we spread hate & lies. People on the boards may be allowed their ‘free speech,’ but free speech doesn’t give you free reign to spread lies & mistruths or rumours. If you don’t know something to genuinely be true you shouldn’t be sharing it or should at least put a disclaimer that it is speculation.

Also i’d just like to add. Some of the people who’ve replied to Patti seem to think that it’s only teens who stoop to the disrespectful & rude comments, but in my experience in other groups for London, it’s often times not just teens who are the snarkiest/rudest & I find it even more disturbing when people with a few years behind them stoop, because they are the ones who should be setting a better example for the young of how to behave in a respectful & appropriate manner! I’ve also seen a very very small few use their age as an attack upon the young to make it seem that their opinion is somehow less or not even worthy of being shared due to their age. Just because someone is young or new to the world of theatre does not mean their respectful & genuine comments should not be heard.

Bravo to Patti for speaking out, i’m so sick of the social media world & performers having to pretend like words, even those on screen don’t hurt. When they are on screen they can often hurt even more because it’s so public & you can feel you have no right to respond, but if they get to say it, why the heck shouldn’t you get to respond as long as you keep it respectful & don’t stoop. I can’t stand seeing people publicly directing there rude & disrespectful comments straight to the performers. For Twitter example. “@…. you’re shit, I hate you, you’re the worst ….. i’ve ever seen in the show.” What does that even achieve except making you look like a complete ass & bringing the performer who I assure you, is indeed human, down. If you didn’t like the performance, find a constructive criticism to make so they could use it to continue honing their craft or just instead focus on people you do enjoy & build them up.. but building them up doesn’t require bringing someone else down.

I’m so fed up of “theatre goers’ dehumanising performers & expecting that because they ‘signed up for the job’ they should take the crap that people so flippantly throw at them. They are human beings with feelings & they do not deserve to be treated as anything less. If you wouldn’t say that to/about your mother why would you say it to a stranger who goes out of their way to bring joy to the masses through their craft? Why?

I’m so sorry to hear that ‘Nerds’ has been cancelled, I can only imagine how devastating that is for Patti, the cast & crew. It is never good when a show is closed or cancelled, we all miss out on something that could’ve been brilliant & brought joy to so many.

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