The Lemures Files
  Guest Article: November 1st, 2000

Sometimes A Community Is Just A Community

By: Brian Bork

The Sailormoon Internet Community (SM net) seems to be an off and on issue but one that's always floating around our consciousness here and there while we view sites and interact with other SM fans on-line. If you're new to this idea then I'll try and explain the tension and bitterness that surrounds SM net's existence. Some people believe that there really isn't a Sailormoon on-line community because they've experienced "un-neighborly" behavior from their fellow Sailormoon fans and web masters. There doesn't really seem to be any support among SM net's remaining webmaster's and surfers for a pro net community approach, they either don't care or don't care to speak up.

First we have to come up with a definition for "community" for this seems to be the highlight of the issue. In my opinion, a community is made up of a number of people who interact amongst each other with some sort of commonality which unites them. Most would use this term to define town, city, or a section of either therefore using it in a geographical sense. Others use it to define religious movements like the "Christian community", or maybe even more uncommon groupings of individuals like the "Gay Community" or the "Art Community". Webster's defines it as the following, "a locality where people reside; people having common interests; the public, or people in general; common possessions or enjoyment." To me, that's more support that the SM net community exists because it is a grouping of people with "common interests".

Now we need "physical" proof in the form of examples that individuals are congregation based on their interest in Sailormoon on-line. Well, there's always Mailing Lists (ML's) which usually consist of all kinds of people from all over the world interacting through e-mail on a common interest like Sailormoon. I belong to two such ML's, both have all kinds of people on them talking about all kinds of different things Sailormoon related and sometimes not Sailormoon related. Then there's always chat rooms and Message Boards which fulfill similar purposes. There's link lists which exists as a greater portal to all kinds of different web sites usually categorized by common interest like Sailormoon. I've submitted my site to lots of these and in so doing have made a conscious effort to align myself with other sites and the link list site itself which is always Sailormoon or Anime related. By this act, I am recognizing the commonality my page has with other Sailormoon sites and have decided to make my site more accessible to those interested in Sailormoon sites by submitting it to link lists and search engines. Lastly, there are always link backs, "banner groups", and cliques. All of the afore mentioned groups acknowledge a commonality interest wise between the participants involved.

If you've surfed the Internet long enough, you'll have realized by now that every interest has it's own on-line community. A good way to discover this if you haven't already is to include your Sailormoon interest in other places not related to the show or Anime in general to get some fun reactions out of people who have no idea what Sailormoon or Anime is. Another way to grasp the Anime on-line community in general is the use of emoticons. You could never use the following ^_^ smile or, ^_~ wink because none Anime fans would have no idea what they represent. I find it hard to not include these emoticons, especial the ; sweat drops when writing messages or e-mail to none Anime fans on-line. There great ways to express awkward or hard to explain emotions.

Now onto the more abstract parts of the idea of a community. For one, a community isn't necessarily benevolent in practice, theory or nature. There are bad sides to everything meaning there are going to be bad sides for any community like SM net for example. There are going to be people out there who are rude and inconsiderate towards you for, perhaps, no apparent reason. This is also what the real world is like too. There are going to be people who find fault in every thing you've posted on your page; there are also going to be image thieves, script thieves, and so forth. On the flip side, there ARE good, kind people who are great to talk to and who would help other SM netizen's if they needed it.

Also, there are going to be low grade, low quality sites out there that may not appeal to you because of bad spelling, bad grammar, crappy content, etc. EVERY on-line community has these types of pages, not just SM net.

Now on to my personal experience with SM net :). I've found it to be a wonderful and enriching experience. I've met some great people through ML's and through e-mail that I wouldn't have met anywhere else, I've had some fascinating debates and on-line conversations with other SM fans that I've thoroughly enjoyed, and since my page's 3 years of life I've only been flamed twice.

The individuals who experience the most displeasure within the SM net community tend to be those with an aggressive approach in their handling of the shows theme's or characters opinion wise. The following are two examples of content you may find on a site, which one would you find less inflammatory?:

  1. Usagi is such a dumbass! She's a whiny little brat that should be shot and killed a million times over. I don't think I could stand to hear her crying one more time without stabbing my eyes and ears with needles so that I would never be able to hear or see her again. She's such a selfish bitch!

  2. I personally don't like Usagi. She can be whiny and a bit self centered at times which I find irritating to the point of distraction. I would have preferred it if the series didn't focus so much on her. Sometimes I feel the need to stop watching the show because Usagi's characteristics become tiresome and repetitive. I just don't like her.
If you think the first is more appropriate than you'll defiantly be running into problems in the near future involving some kind of verbal back and forth between you and an offended fan. The important thing to remember is don't generalize. Say "I feel", or "personally" so that others don't see you as announcing absolute truths which tend to anger people pretty good. Diplomacy seems to be key here, practicing better social skills will lead to progression and much less conflict. I'm not preaching a required type of behavior because we all have the right to express how we feel and in any way we like (as long as it's legal that is ^^;) BUT, don't get all defensive and upset when others don't like what you have to say when you express yourself in the same fashion as example 1 because you're asking for it.

Age is also worth a look. There are exceptions to every rule, but the age of SM net tends to range from about 10 to 25. This is a substantially youthful or young age group. Again, there are exceptions to every rule but young people tend to be more insecure and unsure of themselves; this creates a need for validation of one's beliefs and points of view and can also stimulate aggression and stubbornness. I was rather emotional and pushy when I first started to surf the net at the age of about 15. Things have changed since then. I'm 21 now and have done a lot of growing up in that short period time. I'm more open to what others have to say and I hardly get into arguments or conflicts with anyone because of aggressive or rude behavior. In the past, I felt a need for people to understand where I was coming from (and still do) and that my ideas and opinions where valid and valuable so problems did arise. Now that I've subdued and corrected those problems and behavioral traits, my on-line experience has been a lot more enjoyable and relaxing and I've found that others truly do like what I have to say and will respect me as long as I respect them.

At any rate, we're all connected by our common interest in Sailormoon as a community whether we like it or not. Fault seems to spread from our naiveté that everyone will treat us with respect our courtesy, it's not unacceptable to wish for this or to emulate it but it's not realistic to expect it in others. What I've done best has been to look for and reinforce my positive experiences and learn from my negative ones, this way SM net has been more than generous and continues to be so now and, I hope, into the future as well.

Comments on this article can be sent to: Brian Bork.

Comments made on this page are opinions of the author. They are not necessarily shared by Tripod and the Amazoness Quartet.

  Current Lemures Top || Main || Email   
© 2002 AQ