Manners, Manners!

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear my friends, it really seems as if we have lost touch with some basic manners these days and it’s awfully disconcerting. I understand that we all forget from time to time to be polite, to consider the feelings of others and some of the other simple things that, in the heat of the moment or when we’re not paying attention we forget. But, just because we forget doesn’t mean that we should have, or have the right or reason to make a habit of this forgetfulness. Sometimes we make a decision to forget, and there’s the rub.

So, as I have mentioned about a half a million times, I have been doing art shows and conventions of one variety or another for a very long time, and in the past few years I have noticed a definite decline in manners. First it came with my books –

What is that?

Why do you write horror?

I don’t like horror.

On and on, and ok, that’s cool, it’s dispiriting but ok. It got worse when I started taking my art with me to shows and I started hearing how juvenile my style is. Or there are the disapproving head shakes. Some are even bold enough to tell me they don’t like the art. And it’s insane. It’s insane to think that these strangers are telling me how they think something I poured my heart into, something I spent hours working on, something I had to talk myself into showing is not worthwhile to them. Whhhhhat? Who ever said it was about ‘you’? Art is totally a ‘feel’ it thing, and if you feel it cool, if not, well, cool. Ya get over the idea that everyone is going to love what you are doing pretty early on or else you’re in for a lot of heartache, but nothing prepares you for the utter disdain you find in the gazes and comments of some people. I mean, can they imagine how it would be if someoen came to them and did the same things at their work, or on something they were passionate about?

Well, they don’t think about that, and that’s the problem.

To too many people what I and every other artist, writer, and creator out there are doing is not ‘work’, it is not a ‘job’, it is a hobby, and we tend to hold many of the hobbies of others in great disdain. We hold ourselves and our opinions in such high esteem, either honestly or as a way to stave off doubts we have in ourselves, but we seem to hold the opinions of others, especially people whose opinions differs from our own as if they are all but worthless. Art shows and convetions seem to really bring out the worst in people when it comes to this. People begin to feel as if they have the right to tell you they think you’re work is crap because they are doing you a favor by being there and looking at it in the first place. There’s this odd sense of entitlement when it comes to art where each person is an expert and their opinion is needed. Maybe they feel as if they are helping us, giving us unasked for tips. Or maybe it’s plan, old, simple meanness.

What it is though, really, beneath the glaze, it’s nastiness. We need to realize that behind every book, every movie, every song, every piece of anything created is a person or are several people who toiled over that work and were passionate about it and we need to remember that. Heck, there are LOADS of things I don’t even just dislike but outright hate but I try to be fair about it and I tell you what, if I was face to face with someone whose work I didn’t like I would certainly not make sure they knew how I felt. Why? Because it’s the decent thing to do. Unless someone asks us, they probably don’t need or want our opinion. We all like to get good feedback, that’s the ego in all of us, but what use is negative feedback unless it’s asked for or in the right place and time. For some reason we just don’t get that. We don’t get that our words, our nastiness can infect someone and make them stop doing something they love. It happened to me when I was a kid, when a bitter teacher told me I was no aritst. I essentially gave up art for over ten years. How sad and ridiculous is that?

All of us, whoever we are and whatever do deserve the respect to do what we do in peace. We are not always going to like, or appreciate, or even respect what the next person is doing but they deserve the same that we do, and that’s to be left the heck alone. Sure, you can have your opinion and you can tell others about it, but have the common decency to shut the heck up when you’re in front of the person because who are you to spit on someone’s dream?

c

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