Do you remember reading about Bell Curves and normal distribution in school? It’s a great way to illustrate the average versus the extremes. While I don’t want to get into the math of it, I do want to use the above picture to illustrate a point. In almost every facet of life, there are people who fall into categories. Whether it’s about an item you purchased, something you watched, a place you live or a way of life, there are always variations in personal opinions regarding the perception of the subject.

This is obviously illustrated in the comments people leave on creative content. Most of us have both created our own content and watched other’s content. Assuming the content is not negatively influenced by some level of poor quality, the average person watching will fall into one section of what I’m calling the “Viewer Bell Curve”:

Most people simply watch and walk away with no permanent value from the content. An example of this is our DSLR Rig & Gear for Video Production & Filmmaking video on YouTube. It has close to 300K views yet we only have just over 36K subscribers. This is because most people watching it weren’t compelled to watch any of our other content. This is very normal.

Then you have the extremes; those who love you and those who hate you. This is graduated by the likes and dislikes, but they are still in the category of “more likely to be vocal about their opinions”. The likes/loves get you subscribers, regular viewers and fans. The dislikes/hates get you negative comments and general hateful comments wherever they feel like it. A good example of the “haters gonna hate” mentality is on a video I shot of the first day my daughter was born. Now I’m not saying it’s perfect, but I can’t see how anyone can be motivated to dislike the video for any other reason than they just wanted to.

I have had my fair share of “haters” and I use their comments to help me gauge the quality of my content. If all I’m getting is hate, then I need to change something…cause the “watchers” or “same as others” are falling on the dislike area. This is a good rule of thumb for anyone: if nobody seems to like your content, maybe it’s time to fix something.

All that said, there are those with much larger audiences than I who receive a ton more bashing than I ever will. An example of this recently was NoFilmSchool’s post on Philip Bloom’s decision to get rid of his RED Epic. Koo average’s 10-50 comments on his posts, but this one shot up to over 200 comments, many of them haters and trolls. This is really sad because people are forgetting to do one very important thing:

Give them the benefit of the doubt.

It’s such a simple step, but people forget it on the way to assumption and bashing. Giving someone the benefit of the doubt is basically saying, “If I’m going to assume anything, I’ll assume the best rather than the worst.”

It is also evident that certain “areas” of the web attract more bashing than others. YouTube, online forums and blog comments seem to allow for some of the harshest comments known to man. However, Vimeo and Facebook seem to be a lot friendlier. This is probably due to the allowance of anonymity in the former category. The more people can hide behind a generic username, the more they can be free to unleash their inner demon.

The creative process brings out a different side of people than almost anything else. The side that is possessive and jealous. This is because we put so much time into our work, our vision, our “baby”, that we make it a part of us. People are often willing help and share in forums and other online communities, but when someone rises above the rest, some feel the need to smack them back down to equality with the masses.

I’m here, on my soap box to tell you this:

  • If you love someone’s content, great! Keep doing what you’re doing by liking, constructive commenting and sharing with others.
  • If you’re a hater, consider holding your tongue (or fingers) next time you have a cutting comment ready to type. We are all our own worst critics.
  • If you’re a regular viewer of content and don’t leave comments too often, consider giving it a shot. Pick out one thing you liked about what you watched/read/viewed and share it with the creator and your friends on Twitter/Facebook/etc.

…and together, we can make the internet a better place for us and our kids.

Alright, I’m done with my little public service announcement. Back to your regularly scheduled video posts. :)