June 12, 2018

Behind The Scenes: Troll Patrol

"If I saw anyone wearing any of these shirts I'd kill them and myself!"

This is pretty typical of the commentary on our social media accounts (yes, someone literally said this on one of our ads). People are so outraged at the mere existence of graphic tees that don't speak to them that they feel the need to try to ruin our day, and maybe yuck the yum of anyone else within eye-shot.

These trolls aren't even the ones who really do it for me, though. The ones that really stand out are the ones for whom irony is entirely lost as they project an aura of smugness with their rotten behavior. I give you exhibit A:

Although this person commented with her real name and photo for all the world to see her crazy, I decided to hide her name and face, because if she's not going to be embarrassed by her own behavior I guess I'll just have to be embarrassed for her.  Let's give her a nickname though, shall we? How about "Virtue Signaling Is My Cardio".

I have so many things I could say to VSIMC, but engaging with crazy never really changes anything, so instead of sharing my feedback with her, I thought I'd amuse all of you with it.

First of all, VSIMC, verbally abusing an indie designer on the internet is a weird way to advocate for mental health. Why the assumption that I don't suffer from depression myself (I do)? What gives you the right to tell me and other people who share my sense of humor that we can't find humor in our own struggles? Do you have a monopoly on what kind of perspectives people are allowed to have on mortality?

Second, I assume the "timing" reference is regarding the suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. We designed and published this piece before their suicides, but even if we hadn't, it would be in no way a reference to them. That said, being two people that dedicated their lives to creative output, I can't imagine they'd delight in someone using their suicides as a reason to bully and verbally abuse another creative professional about their creative content.

As for capitalizing, I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that you wouldn't be offended by your favorite band writing an ironic song about death and would probably not begrudge them "capitalizing" on their creative content in the form of album sales or concert ticket sales. So I'm going to guess it's not that you're offended by creatives "capitalizing" on their maudlin content; just offended by the medium in which I do it. Maybe if I slapped that same art on a 10-foot tall canvas in the Met I'd get your seal of approval?

Could we have pursued a fine art career instead of something as lowbrow as graphic tees? Probably, but it would also probably be harder to make a full-time living that way, make the content less accessible, and put us in less of a position to do the other cool stuff our chosen path allows. You know, like building a business that enables us to create good jobs in our community with living wages. Provide people who appreciate our work with a fun product they can use as a form of self-expression and a means of connecting with other people who share their sense of humor.

Lastly, what exactly is the goal with a comment like that? Am I supposed to now realize I am a capitalist "fuckwad" exacerbating the symptoms of depression sufferers everywhere and what? I don't know...maybe kill myself? I mean, I am such an irredeemable piece of trash, maybe I'd be doing the whole world a favor, right? Fight suicide and depression by trying to make other people feel shittier and more self-loathing and consider killing themselves. Love it! Your work is done here, VSIMC.

Look, here's the deal: if you see something on the internet that you don't like, the best course of action is to JUST. MOVE. ALONG. I see stuff on the internet all day every day that doesn't interest me; I cope by moving on to other things. I assume the content isn't for me and that the whole world doesn't revolve around me and my personal taste or world view.

If you feel so strongly about someone's content online but want to be, y'know, constructive about it, reach out via a private message or email. There are people on the other side of the screen, with feelings and beating hearts just like you! Presented in the right spirit & tone, we may even have a great dialogue and come around to your way of thinking! Even if we don't, we'll respect you and value your opinion a heck of a lot more if you treat us with the same respect you'd like to receive from strangers, too.

Even if you think it might be fun to try to make a company (or their employees) feel like shit for existing, keep this in mind: Facebook/Instagram calculates the "relevance" of an ad based on how much engagement the ad gets. Facebook/Instagram do not take into account that you're talking shit. They just see comments and count it as "engagement." The more "engagement" an ad gets, the more relevant the ad appears and thus the less the advertiser pays to display their ads. Highly relevant ads pay a lower display rate than ads with low relevance. So if you really want to stick it to an advertiser you don't like, shut the fuck up. By denying them your "engagement" you're not contributing to their lower ad expenses. Plus, you get to look like less of a deranged asshole to the general public. Bonus!

Anyway, I'm going to assume VSIMC is fighting her own battle and that her little tantrum was about her own difficulty coping with whatever she has going on. I hope that she gets the help she needs, but in the interim I've had to ban her from commenting on our ads, because she's just not really contributing to the conversation in a way that interests anyone.

Hope the rest of you are having a more cheerful week than we are!

Peace, Love and Angst,

- Meredith