Being the awesome community-minded mage that he is, the Well-Red Mage started a wonderful new series that has sent sorely needed good vibes across the hostile internet. He extended an interesting question to the bloggers out there:
Obligatory Sarcastic Answer:
That my wrong opinions don’t matter to anyone, and the vast majority of my followers are spambots, who just want me to follow their advertising websites back. Of course, I’m only (mostly) kidding! I swear my stone-cold sarcasm (both offline and online) is just a defense mechanism to hide my chaotic, overly sensitive feelings, and is never to be taken seriously and/or offensively…
Lengthy Overly Emotional Answer:
While I was pondering the Mage’s question, my overthinking brain was blindsided by a more pessimistic question: Why the hell am I even blogging in the first place? I mean, it’s time consuming, I’ll never get paid for writing it, I’m not getting many views (I peaked at 7 views per hour once), and my followers are mostly bots. Let’s face it, the awesome bloggers here are also infinitely better at gaming talk and reviews than I am. Surely I can waste my precious time on more valuable things, like beating HZD or working on my extrovert act so I can have a proper real life.
Well, I learned that my little blog is just a space for me to express myself, to the group of amazing people I’m grateful to know. Cary really hit this point home for me when I read this thoughtful response post to the Mage’s great question. For the record, every non-spam comment and “like” I get here truly means the world to me, and I want to sincerely thank anyone who has ever actually read my words (even if you just skim my posts I still appreciate it). When I thought about the Mage’s question further, I realized blogging has been a huge part of my life, and now it’s almost as important to me as video games are.
The pre-WordPress era
This isn’t my first blog. Many moons ago, the lonely outcast and secretly rage-filled 15 year old me started a user blog on a popular gaming website. It was a time when I had door-slammed my entire small teenage world, including the few friends I had. I retreated to my high school library on breaks to be alone with my misery, and to hide from constant bullying (some of the cruelest creatures on this planet are bitchy teenage girls that hate you simply for being different). I didn’t have a computer at home so I decided to start that blog one day, when the librarian dude trusted me enough to stop watching my computer usage (quiet people are far from innocent, FYI).
I was blessed to discover a great community of folks who shared a common interest. Before long, I had accumulated a respectable following of 641 people, and for the first time ever, it felt like I was (gasp) popular. I even had two of the website’s paid staff following little old me. Mind you, most people likely thought I was some cool gamer chick, when in reality I was just an “ugly loser” desperately looking for friends I could connect with. My first post on that GameSpot.com user blog was a hilariously misspelled blurb about waiting for Grand Theft Auto San Andreas to release. Apparently, the “bulldoser” vehicle looked very awesome to me. Thankfully, my writing style quickly evolved with my blog, and I also wrote a few well-received user reviews there too.
That community helped me get through the rest of my awful public school sentence. While I was still pretending to be the cool gamer chick online, offline me was playing awkward part-time soldier in the Canadian Forces Army Reserve Infantry, and struggling to learn how to become an Electronics Technologist in college. I soon graduated college and left the army to pursue a full-time civilian career. That blog still stayed with me through life, until something despicable happened that makes me hate EVERY popular video game website: community toxicity.
I can’t remember the exact details, but one of GameSpot’s paid reviewers gave her “wrong” professional opinion on a silly game. Witnessing all the shocking personal attacks and death threats against the poor woman made me drop that website, and my blog, without even so much as a goodbye post. LightningEllen has a rarely checked account there now, but my old username is going to my grave (you’ll never guess it either since it was long before I played FFXIII). No one needs to know what awkward teenage/young adult me had to say.
Enter wonderful WordPress
Fast forward to September 2015, skipping over A LOT of painful personal drama. Lightning Farron had recently saved me from my own savage demons, and her entire story had inspired me to become a better, stronger person, instead of giving in to my ultimate fate. I was (and still am) a happy adult outcast, but I started missing the old blogging routine. I knew I wanted to blab to the internet about video games again. However, I couldn’t bring myself to crawl back into the toxic GameSpot community. I tried out Google’s Blogger place, but I didn’t care for the UI. Somehow, I stumbled upon WordPress.com and fell in love with the website design features. It truly felt like my tiny chunk of the internet and a safe place to type in, especially with all the powerful moderation abilities.
Under my original Conquering the Gaming Backlog theme, my first post here was a review of Assassin’s Creed Rogue. My video game reviews are in the form of something I call a Post Playthrough Roundup. I really enjoy reading in-depth and highly detailed reviews from all the talented writers out there, but I have no ability at all to do that myself. I like writing quick and to-the-point reviews that come from the heart, without digging too far into a game’s technical details. Honestly, I spend enough energy thinking logically and being technical at work. I learned that writing and gaming is a release for my pent-up creative side. My Lightning Review section of the post is split up into 4 categories: Gameplay, Graphics, Sound, and My Overall Biased Opinion. I have a rule where I can’t do more than two paragraphs per section. This often challenges me to cutout most of my ramblings (believe me, I can really babble on endlessly about the right topic).
The rest of my review post is a spoiler filled Memory Lane section where I can highlight anything I want to remember, share my stats, and ramble as much as I want to. I also like to do progress, first impression, and Amiibo addiction related posts. I wasn’t really expecting to get any followers when I started. I’d also be lying if I didn’t say a small part of me had a pipe dream of getting “discovered” and then being paid to write things someday. Later on, I had a bit of a blogger breakdown from failing to achieve my delusional video game backlog goals. In the aftermath I changed my blog theme to LightningEllen’s Release so I could go in a more personal direction. It made my already tiny traffic numbers dip significantly since I abandoned my “hook” (and of course very few people like FFXIII) but at least I enjoy typing things here again.
I would like to give a special shout out to my first 3 followers: a nice dude who doesn’t work here anymore, Particlebit, and the question-asker Well-Red Mage. I had the pleasure of watching the latter two grow into amazing bloggers, as I quietly rambled alongside of them. A few interesting interactions I’ve had with WRM are prime examples of why I love this wonderful community so much. Hopefully he doesn’t mind, but I’d like to call attention to them.
It’s no secret that the controversial Final Fantasy XIII trilogy is my favourite Final Fantasy experience (thus far), and that Lightning is a very, very special video game character to me. After I played the games, I was shocked and saddened to discover that much of the internet seems to have formed a lynch mob against Lightning, the “unfeminine Cloud clone”, for ruining the “once great” Final Fantasy series with her “terrible trilogy”. I’m sorry the games rubbed so many people the wrong way, but I love the direction Square Enix went with them, and I can’t say that many places without getting trolled into oblivion. I do respect anyone’s thoughtful opinions, and I can understand why so many people have valid issues with the games, even if I disagree.
Due to that special place Lightning has in my heart (I’ll remind everyone I have a tattoo of her on my arm now – that should say a lot), I tend to get defensive whenever I see any negative comments about her. Rage trolls aren’t worth my time, but I do like offering my counter opinions to civil human beings. I remember way back in July 2016, WRM was doing the “Favorite Protagonist” portion of the 31-Day Mage Challenge. I left a sarcastic response that Lightning was my favourite, expecting to get lightheartedly laughed at. In addition to that expected reaction, Mr. Mage also asked me to elaborate on why, since he disliked her character and was interested in seeing a counter opinion (now there’s a high level of understanding that I didn’t think was possible on the internet). My response was the first time I ever explained with words how important Lightning is to me. It also led me to meet another amazing blogger who had jumped into the conversation to support my opinion (my jaw literally dropped): None other than the legendary Shameful Narcissist herself.
More recently, I read Mr. Mage’s very critical review of Final Fantasy XIII. Seeing the negative opinions of a story and characters that are very special to me instantly triggered my defensive mode. I felt compelled to leave my wordy counter thoughts because WRM is a stand-up human being, and I knew he wouldn’t mindlessly bash me for my opposing views. The resulting chat was very informative, and it was nice to read the respectful thoughts of someone who disliked the game, for valid reasons (“cuz Lightning sux and its boring!!1! n00b LoLz” is NOT a valid reason to me).
My final answer to the question at hand
I learned that for me, blogging is all about interacting with the amazing humans that actually do exist out there in our cruel world. I often get caught up in my hate and fear of the internet’s rage trolls who attack many people without mercy. I was tormented, teased, and bullied a lot growing up. I bottled up all of that emotional pain because I wanted to be strong, instead of weak. I guess that’s why I’m secretly extra sensitive to the mindless hate mobs that run rampant online. In real life, I always wear an often misunderstood mask of indifference to hide my true feelings, just like my shero Lightning does. It’s a blessing to have this respectful place where I can let the real me have her say.
“Make my wish come true, let darkness fade to light
Show me there’s still hope, show me it’s not over
Battles we can win, our struggle lies within
Will we live to greet the dawn?
Love will not leave you, hate will not heal you
Promise me one day that peace shall reign”
The Promise (Serah’s Theme) from Final Fantasy XIII, and the song that helped me turn my life around.
I’ll leave off by saying that no matter what your personal blogging goals are, I wish everyone great success in your endeavors. Thank you all so much for letting me be a part of this inspiring blogger family. 🙂
Wannabe Writer’s Notes
-I’m considering revealing who my awkward teenage blogging self was by reposting her stuff here. If nothing else, those silly posts make me realize how far I’ve come, and it’s always fun to laugh at who you once were. Hmm, should I?
-NEVER let anyone else make you feel miserable for being who you are. We all have our own trials to overcome in life. Yes, sometimes they seem insignificant to what others are enduring, but nothing hits YOU harder than YOUR own personal problems. It’s okay not to be okay and to talk about what’s troubling you. There is no shame in reaching out for help when harsh reality brings you to your knees. That’s not a weakness, it’s a strength. Speaking from experience, sorrow and rage don’t like being bottled up together. They are very capable of bursting out with a vengeance, turning you into the self-destructive demon you are not.