MLs repeatedly tell us that they critique art because they want to expose bad ideology and make a better world, noble goals we should all embrace. And yet, I’m not sure how being jerkish online elevates the community. How many people refuse to enter the conversation because they don’t want to get an ML smack-down? (Why try to silence moderate voices!?) I wonder why MLs default to mean? Does the medium encourage disgruntled messaging? Does it have something to do with the screen’s repressive and tone-less role as an unsympathetic intermediary between us and the world? (Do we create a fiction that “the world” is literally on the receiving end of our urgent missive, giving our tweets the world-shaping potential of a neutron bomb?) If we imagined the faces of our interlocutors and the people behind the art we critique (faces sometimes lined with the humanity of self-doubt), could we so easily attack them? Does the internet make bullies of us all? I don’t know, I don’t even have internet at home. As I approach my twilight years and get my affairs in order (i.e., finally box up my comic books by publisher, genre, title, number), I think, perhaps nostalgically, that away from all glowing-beeping-multifunctioning devices, holding in our hands a mono-purpose book whose textured pages bear witness to its natural origins, that somehow, at least potentially, we can be re-humanized.
Admittedly paragraphs like this are weak and make me feel uncomfortable giving the writer props. I can't endorse the article wholesale, but I do sometimes share the same feeling that preemptive cynicism can too readily become the default against artists who haven't built up a certain amount of goodwill beforehand.