I’m simply going to repost something I had written on this topic before.
The fact that this situation has been around for so long has made me think about a way to stop it, and the only way we can stop it is being conscious of that issue and help each other as a community, calling each other out if needed, learning and teaching how to portray issues properly, and making things better in general for everyone.
Yes, I know real authors write about these topics too. In fact, one of my professors said that “Literature is the best scenario for the politically incorrect to take place,” and I agree. I’m just saying that a platform that’s frequented by young teens, many tweens and even children is not the best place to publish them. Just like everything else, critical skills take time to develop, and it’s dangerous for people who do not have these skills developed to misunderstand a story, or to romanticise them.
I need to remind you guys that even though the app is for people who are thirteen years old or more, there are underage users around, I myself became acquainted with some, and there is absolutely no way I want these children to be around something so dangerous as the incorrect portrayals of serious topics. I’m sure some of you remember that time we had a nine-year-old around the forums, do you? I want all of you to think back to when you were nine, I want you to try to understand how your nine-year-old brain would react at something like domestic abuse portrayed as something that doesn’t matter that much, or how some characters abuse of substances like drugs or alcohol like it’s nothing, or how there are victims of sexual assault that can just “get over it” as if nothing had happened. I want you to imagine your nine year old self being told that these real problems are nothing, I dare you to act as if they were nothing.
Now, to you, thirteen-year-olds, I understand, you are teenagers now, you feel mature enough to deal with this. Newsflash: you are not. Your brain is not fully developed, even my brain isn’t fully developed yet! Your brain finishes developing at twenty one years old. That’s right, twenty one, you still have eight years to go so get off your high horse. Yes, you may have critical thinking skills, but just like any other skill it takes time and practice to develop. You are not born knowing anything, and just like you can’t tell that Twilight is bad literature if you’ve never read anything else, you can’t tell if how a situation is being handled is good or bad if you don’t have enough information about it. Harold Bloom, in his essay The Standard of Taste said that experience is proportional to the capability one has to judge anything, therefore only a man with experience in tasting wines can tell that there is a key at the bottom of the jar. Some of you are like those who are simply tasting wine for the first time, or who are not accustomed to drinking wine, so you probably won’t notice what’s really in the wine. Meanwhile, an experienced taster will immediately notice something off about it. I don’t want you guys to swallow that key only because you don’t have experience, so I’m trying to help you identify what should be wrong in our community.
“But Cam, it’s responsibility of the parents to keep their children away of inappropriate content” NO. Parents cannot be hovering over their children all the time! They have their lives and the most they can do is teach us and guide us, not force us to leave in a way or another. There’s a reason I was reading very graphic smut and bullshit that romanticised abusive relationships at thirteen. “You what?! Then why are you doing this?” Because I want you to grow up better than I did, I want you to stay away from dangerous relationships and I want you to be able to identify what should be and what shouldn’t. After all, one of the reasons I got abused was the fact that I kept a friendship with some idiot because of how idealised it seemed in those crappy fanfics.
This is part of my personal story so you can skip it if you want:
Actually, if we have not talked before I would prefer it if you skipped this.
the boy who sexually abused of me was my friend. Why? Just because. He is an asshole, sleeping around, a huge liar, tricking girls into giving him things, he didn’t care about his friends and constantly disrespected them and leaving them after finding someone “better”, disrespectful of his parents. But he was also a great actor who could get you to like him, he is smart (probably the smartest man I’ve ever met), loves literature, can teach you a lot of things, and knows how to have a good time. He reminded me of Harry Styles in After. But I didn’t see myself as Tessa, I thought I was Molly. For those of you who haven’t read After (please don’t ever read that crap, it was a huge mistake from my part) Molly is Harry’s friend, the girl he went to when he had troubles and vice versa. And somewhere in my thirteen year old brain that relationship seemed good! I couldn’t tell that Harry was the ass he is, just like I couldn’t tell that my “friend” was with me because he wanted to have sex all those years later.
It is our job as a community to keep this community safe for all of its users, and our duty as consumers to respect the PG-13 rating this site has got. This includes me, I know I swear a lot and I am working on toning it down.
What we read has the power to shape us, and taking into account this app is for people on their early teens, it’s important to portray things in a realistic and mature manner. It is important not to romanticise topics like gangs, because young teens are impressionable, and it is our duty as content creators to give them good content. And try not to harm them in the process.
Now, this doesn’t mean I want you people to stop writing about serious topics, that wouldn’t make sense since I have written about them lately. I just want these topics to be treated properly and to make sure the audience is the right one. Writing about serious topics is not bad if it’s done properly, quite the opposite actually, it helps raise awareness. But doing it properly is not an easy task. Before I go any further I want to state that the topics I mean when I’m talking are all kinds of abuse (psychological, verbal, physical, domestic, substance, sexual, etc.) as well as mental health issues (depression, eating disorders, self-harm, ADHD, Anxiety, OCD, BPD, ASD, etc.), health issues and anything that may affect a person’s life in general. All of these topics are great to write about, they are interesting and it has to do with us, but that doesn’t mean everyone can use them as they please. There are steps to write this:
Why do you want to write it?
To elicit sympathy for the character - do not write it
To shock readers - do not write it
It just feels right - do not write it
As a plot point - go to question 2
For cathartic purposes - go to question 3
To raise awareness - go to question 4
Is it absolutely necessary for the plot or can you get to that same point through other means?
Yes - go to question 4
No, but it would be harder - do not write it
No, but- stop making excuses -do not write it
No - do not write it
Do you have to make it super detailed, graphic and possibly disturbing it to finish the cathartic process?
No - write what is needed - go to question 7
I need to tell someone - tell someone you trust, you can spare the details for others - go to question 7
Yes, everyone needs to know - no they don’t and you don’t need to tell everything either, retelling the experiences, leaving them out for everyone, and having them there as a reminder can give you a hard time healing and may cause some unwanted flashbacks
Does it have to do with a character or character development?
No - then you probably don’t need it - do not write it
Yes - go to question 5
Do you have all the information to portray the situation properly?
No - time for research!
Yes - Everything? - Yes, Cam, stop nagging - go to question 6
Can’t you make it implicit?
No - improve your writing and try again
Yes - make it implicit
Time to begin writing!
After writing what you want to write you will have to ask yourself a new set of questions.
(optional) get a proofreader! They can help you notice things you didn’t notice before!
- Do you want to publish that?
Yes - go to question 8
No - keep it to yourself
Revise it and make sure it portrays properly what you want to portray.
Yes - go to question 9
No - rewrite and try again
Is what you are going to publish adequate for the platform you are going to publish it in?
Yes - publish it!
No - look for another platform - There are many other ways to publish your story. Due to the guidelines I cannot mention these sites, but you can always look for the yourself.
Be on the lookout for feedback and people’s reactions, if you get the feeling there is something wrong, act out!
Now, you may be annoyed because you have never written about these topics and you feel there is nothing wrong with what you have done. This may be true but this doesn’t mean you are not part of a community with a problem, so you have things to do as well. The first and more important: don’t be afraid to speak up! You may be new to the community and you may be afraid to talk to the living legends in here, don’t be! We are all dorks investing our time in fictional characters and stories! We are all equals. If you see there is something wrong I encourage you to call the person out, it doesn’t have to be in public but via a PM works too. Now, if you are going to say something don’t just stop at pointing out what’s wrong, help the others see how they can improve. If you are too shy to talk to them then you can always reach me and tell me about the issue, I’ll do my best to see it resolved. Now, if calling that person out didn’t work you have to talk to other members of the community, sometimes having a lot of people talk to you about the same subject is just what others need to see their mistakes. I don’t like the next step but sometimes it’s necessary, if the person won’t help and keeps damaging the community you can always report and/or block them, sometimes you have to pull the weeds out so the garden grows healthy.
I know this is a long thing to read so thank you if you read it all, I hope you understand the importance of what I’m saying here and that you will help me and all your fellow episodians to enjoy the app safely.
If you have any problem with what I just said, wish to add something or want to ask a question, go ahead, I hope I can read you soon.