Monthly Archives: April 2016

Processing Fictional Trauma: 11:59 Edition

Bringing myself to write this article has been more difficult than I was anticipating.

For someone that writes a weekly article on processing fictional trauma, one would think that I’d be more effective at processing my own fictional trauma, but this week was really and truly harder than most for a variety of reasons. Getting to an emotional place where I have enough of a sense of peace that I can put my thoughts together took awhile. But here I am. Finally.

Long Week

I recently read that there are two types of Arrow fans… there are those that casually watch the show each week (or binge every few weeks/months), and then there are those watch the show and read every interview, analyze every episode, and discuss all things Arrow all the time. In this vein, I think that this article will be broken down into two sections, because there are two very real traumas that happened as a result of this episode: The onscreen trauma, and the trauma in the fandom.

SPOILERS FOR EPISODE 4×18

YOU WILL HEAR WHO IS IN THE GRAVE. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

On-Screen Trauma:

Last week’s episode of Arrow finally, after a season of buildup, showed us who is in the grave. Laurel Lance… The Black Canary herself… took a knee. The very idea that a television show based on the Green Arrow would kill off the Black Canary is almost unthinkable. But it happened. And as the writers have promised, this death is real.

Laurel Lance as we know her is not coming back.

I have always had a hard time helping others grieve the death of a loved one. I became a mental health therapist because helping people with their emotional problems comes naturally to me… but for some reason, when someone died, I tended to become awkward and run away from it. When I began working in the field, I quickly realized that it wasn’t just me. A lot of therapists struggle with helping others dealing with bereavement. As therapists, we are ready to help work through things and bring hope to people.

But death is different. There’s nothing to repair or to fix. All you can do is accept.

And that is no easy task.

For many, the death of Laurel Lance, and the knowledge that there is no hope of her coming bimagesack was a truly traumatic blow, fictional or not. While Laurel has been a divisive figure with fans of the show (people tend to love her or hate her), the fact is, she had an extremely powerful story. She survived massive trauma and humiliation – the death of her sister (twice), the death of her longtime boyfriend, the humiliation of their deaths happening while they were cheating on her andLaurel_drinking the hugely publicized nature of it, the death of her next boyfriend who died saving her, her parents’ divorce, her father’s drinking problem, her mother’s distance, plus a slew of near death experiences… She went through a lot. And for awhile it beat her. She resorted to drugs and alcohol because she lost the ability to cope with both her own actions and the actions of others, and as addiction is a genetic disorder, her path to the bottle wasn’t terribly surprising.

But she rose above.

Despite no one wanting her in the life of crime fighting – not her father, not Oliver, and not her sister – Laurel fought back against her addiction, and became a super hero. She may not have always made the healthiest decisions along the way, but Arrow has never been a show about super mentally healthy people. It’s about people battling their demons, and trying to channel them into doing good in the world.

Laurel went from being a drug addict to a superhero. It’s a hell of a powerful story for someone who may be struggling with addiction themselves or know someone that is. I believe that her story brought hope to many, as well it should.

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But now she’s gone.

So in trying to process a death like this… the death of a character whose story had given so much hope to so many, and whose death perhaps feels like a loss of all of that acquired hope, how can people learn to cope? We can go through the stages of grief, sure, and hopefully come to accept it. But how can people come to accept? I don’t proclaim to be an expert on bereavement (remember the awkwardness I mentioned above when dealing with death? Yeah…), but I can tell you what often helps me. And that is finding meaning within the loss.

For many people, losing the Black Canary has led to profound feelings of anger. The show KakaoTalk_20160411_174921011has never been really true to the comics, but killing the Black Canary seems to have gone just too far outside comic canon for some people to handle. I will admit that I don’t know much about comics, and so I can’t make any declarative statements there except that I know sometimes Batman’s Robins die, showing precedent even in the DC comic universe for major character death. But… none of that matters. Feelings just are, whether anyone thinks they should be or not. And anger, as I’ve mentioned in other articles, tends to be an emotion that is almost always accompanying or even masking another deeper or more personal feeling… such as giphydisappointment, hurt, or feelings that trust has been violated (much like Laurel’s season 2 anger was masking her grief, guilt, and insecurity). And I think that for many, those are the feelings that are currently being experienced with regards to Laurel’s death. Many people expected that eventually Laurel and Oliver would find their way back together, as that’s what happened in the comics. Many people felt that Laurel, if not with Oliver, would continue on her own super hero journey alongside Oliver as part of Team Arrow. Many people trusted the writers to continue the story of their beloved character, and feel disillusioned, hurt, and incredibly, incredibly sad that she’s gone.

And that is completely understandable.

I’ve never been secretive about my love of Felicity, or of Olicity. But as someone who still can barely accept even the existence of River Song (sorry Mrs. Lance…) because of my Rose ship, I get it.  It is hard when you finally fully realize that the couple you love is never going to be together, or that the character that you adore is never coming back when you feel that the story would be better if they did. I’ve been there, and it’s brutal. And this is where we come to the meaning making.

Making meaning from loss is a deeply personal thing, and so I won’t even pretend to tell anyone how to do that for themselves. But what I can do is offer some suggestions for helping to start that inner dialogue, or share my own thoughts. Any time I experience a loss, I try to think about what I have lost. What good things were brought into my life by this thing/person/etc? If Laurel Lance was an inspirational character for you, I suggest that you reflect on why. Rather than focusing on the negative emotions regarding her death, work on focusing on how her story positively influenced you. Yes, she is a fictional character, but that doesn’t mean that she hasn’t impacted your life… I know that many characters on this show have certainly impacted mine. Think about ways that you can incorporate things that her character taught you into your life going forward. Just as Laurel used her traumas to try to make the world a better place, see if you can put your fictional trauma to similar use.

KakaoTalk_20160411_174937699

Another thing to do is look at the journey her character took. I usually leave the plot/storyline analysis to the literary folks, but there was something about this episode that I found to be very profound. We’ve always known that Laurel and Oliver dated for years, and that it wasn’t a terribly healthy relationship… lots of cheating, unrealistic expectations, and general dishonesty. We also know that while the show that we’re watching is only loosely based on the comics, it is essentially the origin story of the Green Arrow. And I don’t know about you, but when watching this episode, I realized…

Laurel Lance is the origin of the Green Arrow.

While Oliver Queen and Laurel Lance, the Green Arrow and the Black Canary, will not end up together romantically in the television show Arrow, what is clear is that in this origin story, there would be no Oliver Queen or Green Arrow without her. Laurel kept Oliver safe on that island, she gave him something to strive for, a reason to live. She grounded him and reminded him of goodness in the world during those years away, even if he didn’t feel like he deserved it. Her strength inspired him, and her resilience fortified him.

Oliver Laurel

Laurel’s impact on his past gave him a future. And her blessing and acknowledgement in the hospital means that he’ll be able to accept that future.

While I would never discount anyone’s feelings, I would simply say that for me, showing Laurel as very clearly being the origin of the Green Arrow, priming him to be able to find and accept the help and love of Diggle and Felicity who helped move him even further into his journey, truly honors her character and venerates her within this story.

That sounds like an awful lot of meaning for her character to me, even if they now have to go on without her.

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Fandom Trauma:

If you’re not part of the Arrow fandom, in that you don’t frequently discuss the show with others (likely through social media), then this section may come as a surprise to you. If you are a part of the fandom, then you already know what I’m about to say.

The fictional death of Laurel Lance has brought about so much real negativity between real people online that it is truly staggering to see (and was, btw, a large reason why I had such a tough time writing this article). And this is not, by the way, only coming from one “side.” This negativity is coming from everywhere, and I think it’s time we had yet another very real, very honest conversation about it.

I am a hard core fan of Felicity Smoak, and the fact is, if Felicity had been in that box, you would’ve found me under a table sobbing with a bottle of wine and a stuffed animal, and then after I stopped crying (which would’ve taken a really long time), I would absolutely take to social media to confront the writers about the grievous mistake I’d felt they’d made because I would be pissed.

It would’ve been my right as a fan to do so, and we all have the right and sometimes even the need to express our emotions.

The problems happen when the fandom stops thinking about how to express their feelings in the most constructive and healing way, and instead just becomes plain reactionary.

Expressing your feelings is important. However, if your expression of feelings begins to involve personal attacks on other fans, writers, producers, or actors, or involves death threats, we have officially gone past the point of healthy expression and into cruelty and yes, illegal activity. Making yourself feel better by attempting to make someone feel worse is not going to get your voice heard. It’s not going to get your opinion taken seriously. And no, you can’t convince me that it really, truly, makes you feel capital B Better.

What can help is if we all, as a fandom, take a step back. Take a collective deep cleansing breath (or ten), and attempt to come back to the discussion table with the understanding that if we want our thoughts and feelings to be respected, we have to respect others’ first.

We all have feelings about Laurel’s death, and many of them are strong. I think that many – if not all – of us have that one fictional character that we really attached to, and who really helped us through a dark time. For some people, that character is Laurel. There are some people whFelicity Laurel Hugo really didn’t like Laurel, and she triggered super negative things for them because of things that they have been through with people like her. Both types of people are going to have a significant emotional response to this episode, but it’s important to try to remember that if you weren’t a fan of Laurel, you are experiencing positive emotion, while those who loved her are experiencing loss. Try to be respectful, and remember that on any given week, we might be the one to lose that character that’s near and dear. These writers have proven that nothing and no one are off the chopping block, so be kind to others. You never know when you may want that kindness coming your way.

Also remember that everyone grieves in different ways and at different speeds. Some people will move past this quickly, even if they were stunned and upset at the time, and some people won’t. And that’s okay. Let everyone grieve at their own pace, and don’t judge them for it. You never know what Laurel may have meant to them, or what internal demons they’re fight that day.

The other thing to remember is that, while it may feel like our fandom is at war, a war can only exist if both sides choose to fight. If someone posts something hateful on their Twitter timeline, there is absolutely no reason why anyone has to respond to it. Even if they hashtag it, or even mention you by name, there is absolutely no reason why a response is necessary. None. Unfollow, block, mute, report, move on. Put your energy into engaging with people that will make you feel positively, and do not feed the negativity that others are struggling with. It doesn’t help you, it doesn’t help them, and it for damn sure doesn’t help the fandom.

Felicity Laurel

Finally, the point that I know is made on a regular basis, but I’ll go ahead and make it again because it cannot be stated enough: All forms of entertainment, including television, are meant to enhance your life positively in some way. If you have found that this show no longer enhances your life positively, or is making you feel so emotional or upset that it is affecting your life and/or your overall mood, it may be time to reevaluate your participation in this fandom. There is absolutely nothing wrong with taking a step back from this or any show, or from the fandom, or both. There is nothing keeping you here. You have made no commitment. Taking a breather or leaving entirely can sometimes be the healthiest things we can do for ourselves, both in fandom and in life. I am a hard core Whovian, to the point that I have a Doctor Who quote tattooed on my wrist. And yet, during this last season of Who, no matter how much I wanted to love it, I realized I was getting angry and upset every week. And so I stopped watching. And as much as I miss it, as much as the decision made me incredibly sad, it was the best decision for me. I will watch it when I’m emotionally ready and able… or I won’t. And in the meantime, I have found Arrow which as affected me profoundly and brought great amounts of joy to my life. Closing a door to open a window and all that. There is plenty of amazing television out there, and there are literally billions of amazing people. If Arrow no longer makes you happy, find something that will. You can come back any time you like. We’ll be here.

Always Here for You

The Conclusion:

This week’s episode of Arrow hurt. It hurt more for some than others, and it will continue to do so. If you are struggling to accept this fictional loss, I encourage you to reach out to some safe people to help you process those feelings. If you’re not hurting for Laurel, but are struggling with the recent negativity within the fandom, I encourage you to take the time to remember that those you see expressing anger are likely actually experiencing some level of pain and disappointment, and see if that affects the way you interact with them. Remember that while reacting negatively is the easy knee-jerk thing to do, it’s not always the best thing to do for ourselves or for our fandom.

And remember that, as my boy Donnie Wahlberg always says, if you spread love, love will spread. I hope, Arrow fandom, that you’ll take that advice to heart.

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Exploring and processing fictional trauma and how it related to our real lives is a topic I am passionate about, so if you’d like to chat further (or if you need a virtual hug), always feel free to find me on Twitter at @Chrisha_DWGrrl (fangirling) or @DrFangirlPhD (academics).

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Processing Fictional Trauma: The Walking Dead Edition

MASSIVE SPOILERS FOR THE WALKING DEAD SEASON 6 FINALE.

READ AT YOUR OWN RISK.

Watching the Walking Dead on any given week is a process that requires a fair amount of mental and emotional fortitude. Viewing this show is much like gambling: each episode TWD Feelsbrings both the possibility of getting more emotionally connected to your favorite character(s) (WIN!), or the possibility of watching them die (NOOOO). And the stakes (and our emotional connections to characters) just get higher and higher every episode, and every season. If you’ve been watching since season 1, then at this point it’s very likely that, even if you don’t particularly *like* all of the core characters, you probably have an attachment to them in some way. We’ve seen their story and their progression in this apocalyptic world. That in and of itself brings with it its own kind of connection.

Which brings us to the season 6 finale.

If you are a part of social media related to fandom in any capacity, it was hard to avoid the talk and the hype about what was coming in the finale. I watch The Walking Dead, but I’m img_5332not necessarily a part of the fandom, and yet even I knew that there was a likely major character death coming in this episode. It was hyped to the point of hysteria, and the emotions that people were feeling as a result of that were significant. In talking and processing with both online and offline friends about the coming finale, the most common word used was “anxiety.” People were both excited and terrified at the same time… much as I would expect someone to feel making a giant bet in a Vegas casino. If your character makes it through, then you’ll have a whole new season to watch them grow and progress and maybe – just maybe – carve out some happiness for themselves in this horrific world. But if they don’t… the fictional trauma will absolutely bring about real grief.

I wasn’t able to watch the finale immediately as it aired (I live in the dark ages and don’t have cable. The horror, I know…), so I wasn’t able to watch social media in real time because I’m a spoiler-phobe. But once I watched it a bit later and looked through the img_5337#TWDFinale hashtag, it seemed like people reacted fiercely while the episode aired with INTENSE amounts of anxiety and straight up terror during the final scene (which was confirmed by this video that I watched today). As a matter of fact, that word “intense” was used many, many times by many, many people to describe the emotions they were experiencing while watching. People (myself included) seemed to find Negan to be absolutely incredible… to a RIDICULOUSLY TERRIFYING DEGREE. In Vegas, you tend to know fairly quickly if your bet is going to pay off, but that last scene built the intensity higher… and higher… and higher… until the not knowing was nearly unbearable. I don’t know about you, but even just thinking about that scene makes my chest tighten up, remembering the level of suspense, fear, and dread they’d invoked in me.

And then the episode ended.

And the emotion that the fandom appeared to be experiencing seemed abundantly clear.

Anger

no-Steve-Carell-The-Office-GIF

Arrow Im Going To Kill You

Rick Attack

 

Now, I recognize that everyone is coming to this show with their own views, feelings, and experiences, which means that every viewer has a unique emotional response. Not everyone was truly angry at the end of the episode, and there were people that stepped up to support the writers in the cliffhanger ending and to just enjoy the excitement of that emotional rollercoaster of an episode. But since anger was the emotion I saw most frequently, I do feel like we should stop and talk about it for a bit.

Anger is a strong emotion. It’s an emotion we’re all familiar with, and we’ve all felt. But anger almost always accompanies – or is masking – a different or more painful emotion. Many people choose to express or focus on feeling angry rather than express or focus on an emotion such as hurt, disappointment, or feeling that trust has been broken, because those feelings are more personal and can make us feel more vulnerable. As people on social media began to move past expressing their anger and denial (with the caps lock on), those more complex emotions started to come through. Some people weren’t actually angry, but were instead just super emotionally escalated. Some people were just momentarily frustrated with the episode not ending as they expected. But then some people were truly angry because they felt that they were led to believe that they would receive some kind of resolution to the anxiety they have been feeling all season. They trusted the writers to give them answers to the questions they’ve been building up, and they felt that trust was betrayed. They were angry, but that anger stemmed from hurt and disappointment. It also stemmed from the realization that emotionally, instead of being able to grieve one favorite character and begin that healing process – or bask in the glory of your favorite character surviving – we now have to continue to have anxiety over all of them for the next half a year. That Vegas slot machine will be spinning for six months.

Emotionally, it is a difficult realization.

But, true to typical fandom form, now that we are a few days out, people are beginning to move past those initial stages of grief (denial, anger) and into bargaining and depression. We’ve been told by the writers that there are clues in the finale episode to who was on the TWD Sciencereceiving end of the bat, and so people have begun to put together all manner of theories, and are tearing the episode apart piece by piece (bargaining = if I can just find that magical piece of evidence then I can prove my favorite is safe and I’ll feel better!). Literally as I write this paragraph a friend of mine posted a piece of evidence so compelling against my favorite that I had to do some deep breathing exercises because the possibility hurts and I believe I’ll be hanging out in the depression stage of grief for a img_5339little bit. I believe others are likely feeling the same, and yet others have likely moved on to the acceptance stage where they just look forward to season 7 and the new story it will bring. Since we are all unique, we will all feel and process these emotions differently and at varying levels of intensity and for differing lengths of time. And since we’re all human, we will likely jump between those stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance) a bit before all is said and done. And all of that is okay.

Despite the fact that fictional trauma can bring about very strong and real emotion, it is still important to fangirl/fanboy responsibility, both for yourselves and for others. Everyone is going to process their own feelings in their own time. Some people may have no problem with the ending, no concern for the dead, and can talk about everything img_5341objectively and without emotion. Some people are going to carry deep anxiety for their favorite until the premier of season 7, and will work on fan theories and analysis until then. There is nothing wrong with either reaction or any reactions in between. Try not to judge others for their emotions, and do your best to be kind to each other. We’re all here because we love this show, after all. But it’s important to take care of yourself as well. If you’ve found that you’re so angry over the cliffhanger, or so concerned over the possibility of your favorite character being dead that it’s impacting your life negatively, it may be time to take a break from the show and/or the fandom. The show is on hiatus for six months. There is absolutely nothing wrong with taking a step back during that time and finding your chill over this. It’s also extremely important to remember that, no matter how invested you are in the show, or how long you’ve watched it, watching a television show is always a choice. If this choice is making you unhappy, make a different choice. Good television isn’t always going to make you feel good, but it should be enhancing your life in some positive way. If you find that this show – or ANY show/fandom – is not doing that, then maybe it’s time to find another one, or perhaps find some new people to talk about your fandom with who will help you re-find the positive. Self-care is of critical importance. So again I say: fangirl/fanboy responsibly.

Because this episode was so difficult and invoked so many negative emotions, I do want to Daryl Carolleave you on a positive note. First, if you’re someone that takes comfort in numbers, then remember that statistically speaking, your favorite has a pretty good chance of survival. There were a lot of people there that night, and I know that we’re all working on looking for clues to narrow it down, but ultimately it could be any of them. Keep the faith. If that’s not good TWD Richonne Laughenough for you to draw hope from, then think about the fact that, no matter what the fate of your favorite character is, you are still very much alive. If you want to make this character’s death have some meaning, go do some of the things they can’t. Call someone close to you and tell them you love them. Reach out to some friends and do something fun. Go do that awesome thing you’ve been wanting to do but keep putting off because reasons. Go throw some Glenn and Maggiepositivity and kindness out into the world. Yes, it may seem overdramatic to talk about a television show impacting our actions in this way, but this show is as successful as it is because it does impact us deeply. And there’s nothing wrong with using any excuse possible to do some good for ourselves, and for the world around us. Go out and explore our world that is, mercifully, not full of walkers. Live. Then reconvene back here when you’re ready so we can process some more fictional trauma together next season.

TWD Cast Fun

TWD Cast Hug

 

 

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Processing Fictional Trauma: Ship Wars Edition

MASSIVE ARROW SPOILERS THROUGH 4×17

I’ve written a few articles now which focus on processing fictional trauma, and all of them have tended to focus on fandom reaction to a certain episode of Arrow/Legends/Flash. It’s usually new content that brings out the emotional challenges within our characters that we as a fandom have to work through and process within and amongst ourselves. This week, however, I think it’s time to focus some attention on the elephant in the Arrow room that seems to grow bigger and nastier every day: The Olicity v. Lauriver ship wars.

OFL

Shipping, while a newer term for this digital age, is something that has existed for as long as television has. Romantic tension and the will-they-won’t-they of main characters is one of the foundations on which plotlines and sometimes entire television shows are built. Sometimes it’s waiting for the seemingly inevitable two main characters to get together (Lois/Clark, Ross/Rachel, Chuck/Sarah), sometimes it’s a love triangle (Katniss/Peeta/Gale, Robin/Ted/Barney, Sookie/Bill/Eric), and sometimes it’s a bit more wibbly wobbly (Doctor/Rose/River, Dean/Castiel, Han/Luke/Leia). But no matter which way you look at it, shipping is the driving force between many, many shows throughout television and movie history.

So what makes the Arrow fandom stand out when it comes to shipping? There’s the (ridiculously) handsome and brooding hero, and a slew of strong, independent, bad ass women (and more than a few men) to choose a ship from. Seems like there would be something for everyone, making everyone truly appreciate the writers and enjoy their time within the fandom. Right?

We have Fleets

Yeah, no.

I hate to say it, because I hardcore love this fandom. But what makes the Arrow fandom stand out is that the ship wars here are constant, they’re intense, and they are unbelievably negative.

Despite there being a whole host of awesome characters on this show, the primary factions in these ship wars are Olicity shippers (Oliver/Felicity) and Laurivers (Oliver/Laurel).  This seems to be because, while the show started out trying to follow comic book canon with regards to Oliver’s love life by building the relationship with Oliver and Laurel (who are together in the comics), the focus fairly quickly shifted to focus on Oliver and Felicity instead. From my understanding, this seems to be because of chemistry between actors, Stephen Amell (Oliver/Green Arrow) pushing for it, and producers not being afraid to go in a different direction from the comics if the story is good. I would imagine this was a highly complex decision with a million different angles to it, but the outcome within the fandom is having two sides. And unlike in other fandoms, these two sides just cannot seem to get along.

So, my general tactic is to look at a difficulty in the fandom and then analyze it and work to explain it through psychological terms. Going through the stages of fictional grief for a character decision? Here you go. Defense mechanisms to explain fandom bickering? Sure. Discussion of the importance of hope both in our show and in ourselves? Yup. This week?

I’ve got nothing.

I'm out

I found and started watching Arrow late last summer during a very dark time in my personal life. I was an emotional mess, my family was a wreck, and I just could not see a way through. I was without hope, and I felt like I was carrying the weight of the world completely on my own. I put Arrow on the TV for background noise. I’m a sci-fi geek, though I wasn’t that big of a fan of superhero stuff, but it would give my brain something else to be distracted by while I hid from the world through fiction and technology. And then somewhere along the way, I was transfixed. Completely taken in. Hooked. And let me tell you why.

The main characters and superheroes on Arrow have no superpowers. They’re not metahumans or aliens. They didn’t get bitten by radioactive arachnids, or drink super Green Arrowserum. They’re just human beings, making choices. Oliver, the ultimate hero, survived unconscionable amounts of trauma. Torture. Isolation. Starvation. Betrayal. Being forced to kill, forced away from his family, watching untold amounts of people die, including having both parents and his best friend die violently in front of him, not to mention the near deaths of basically everyone he loves at one point or another. And yet instead of choosing to isolate himself further, or to give up on humanity, he chooses to fight for good in the world. He channels all of his anger, his sadness, his trauma into making the world a better place. Yes, he has stumbled along the way, and yes he has had his faith challenged and has regressed at times. But he always finds his footing, and he always keeps going, no matter what. He always, with the help of his team, finds hope.

And I don’t know about you, but I find that to be the very definition of inspiring.

So how do we go from loving this character who has struggled so much, has survived so much, and yet has made the conscious choice to fight each day of his life to make the world a better place…. to spewing hatred and negativity to other real people over who this fictional character should love? How does that happen? How does that make any sense?

I understand that we all have favorite characters, favorite actors, and favorite storylines. And as well we should. We are here because something about this show, this fandom, this universe spoke to us. The casual fan may not be so deeply invested in the day to day analysis of all things Arrow, but for those of us in the hard core category, we are here Keep Calm and Love Your Fandom Greenbecause our heart was pulled in by some part of this world that these writers, actors, and producers have created for us. Something pulled at our soul, and when something pulls at our soul, we are invested and want to be involved as much as we can. So… why then does it matter which part of the universe pulled us in? Why can’t we find common ground just on the fact that we love the same show? Each of us brings our own history, our own experiences, our own emotions to any piece of art we connect with. We each view it in a unique way as a result. No two people who view the Mona Lisa or listen to Beethoven’s 9th feel the exact same thing. We can all look at the same thing, watch the same thing, hear the same thing, read the same thing and yet walk away with completely different ideas, thoughts, and feelings.

And that’s not a bad thing. That’s wonderful.

It shows us the infinite nature of human creativity and range of emotion.

So why on earth are we fighting over it?!

Joseph Walther is a researcher in the field of psychology who has a theory called Social Information Processing (SIP) theory. This theory posits that relationships formed online are as strong and somFelicity I Love the Internetetimes even stronger than those formed through traditional face to face interaction. And he has evidence and research to back it up. Now, I don’t have scientific research in front of me for what I’m about to say (maybe someday I’ll conduct some studies if they aren’t out there already), but if positive relationships formed online can be just as strong if not stronger than “typical” ones, wouldn’t that also mean that negativity online can be just as strong if not stronger than negativity we deal with face to face? We so very often think of the Internet as being other than “real life.” Even our lingo supports that. But we all know that in this day and Oliver Laurelage, for almost all of us, what happens on the Internet IS real life. Just like how fictional trauma causes real emotions, social interactions that take place online can and do affect all of us emotionally in a very real way. Some of us may have better boundaries than others, and some of us may be better at finding positive people to surround ourselves with online than others, but at the end of the day, the words that we all say – whether positive or negative – whether online through text or offline through our mouths — do have an effect on others. Our very own Wentworth Miller (Captain Cold) just gave us a very firm reminder of that this very week.

None of us know what is going to happen on Arrow week to week. I understand that many in the fandom think they know what will happen next week, and think they know who’s in the box. And maybe we do. Or maybe, because the universe that Arrow exists in is extremely timey wimey, we have no idea. Maybe we’re being led in one direction by all of the leaks and spoilers (which I won’t mention here, don’t worry), but it’s actually Gravesomething else entirely. Maybe it’s all true but then is followed up with something else just as traumatic but for a different faction of the fandom that we don’t see coming. We can speculate and guess and theorize all we want, but you know what they say about assuming. This is a time where the fandom should be pulling together and be ready to support each other when we do finally understand what this entire season has been driving us towards, which is who is in that damn grave. Because we don’t know what’s going to happen. The support we withhold today may be exactly the support we need next week or the week/month/year after that.

Continuing on that train of thought, here are some concluding thoughts that I am directing at every single person in this fandom, whether Olicity shipper, Lauriver, or Other:

Don’t celebrate someone else’s pain.

Don’t model your behavior on someone else’s (i.e. “I’m going to be nasty because THEY are so nasty.”).

Oliver More Supportive

We are all responsible for our own choices and our own behavior.

Do you want a different faction of the fandom to act more positively? Well, make sure you’re doing so first.

I encourage you all to listen to our writers and to be a beacon of hope, rather than yet another source of negativity in this fandom.

I encourage you to remember all of the amazing things that ALL factions of this fandom have to offer… the amazing insights, friendships, fan art, fan fiction, fun, and laughter.

I encourage you to go back to the root of this show – of doing good in the world despite horrible and traumatic experiences – and incorporate that into your interactions with others, both in the fandom and out.

I encourage you to listen to our Captain and disagree maturely and intelligently, while leaving personal attacks out of it.

In short, I encourage you to act like Team Arrow. Bicker, disagree, and argue if you must. But when the time comes, pull together, defend each other, be there for each other, and most of all: fight to make the world (and this fandom) a better place.

Team Arrow 4

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