Joss Whedon left Twitter this week, amid speculation that he was driven off the social media platform by criticism of the Black Widow character in his new movie Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Whether or not this is true, it is a reminder of how thoughtlessly cruel criticism can affect an artist. If we want to create, we’re told to cultivate thick skins, and to not take things personally. But how can we not? For every writer I know, their work is woven with their own pain, joy, sorrow, and fear. Sharing your work is opening yourself to the world, and it is always kind of scary.
As we sit behind our computers and safely criticize the work of others, we often forget that we are talking about real people who have feelings. And unlike Joss Whedon, most of us don’t have a fan base to support us and tell us that ‘no matter what the haters think, we’re still good, we’re still valuable, and we should keep trying.’
This is not to say that you shouldn’t express yourself, or be honest. But harsh and undue mockery is never right. Because you never know who is on the other side of the screen.