The Fear of Ridicule

Anime fans are no strangers to being ridiculed. We tend to be socially inept to varying degrees, and we have a hobby that others don’t really understand (or more specifically, they don’t understand how we could devote so much time and energy and emotion to it). This creates a strong fear inside of us, that someone, whether it’s people at your school, your co-workers, your friends and acquaintances, does not think very highly of you. I’m no exception, and I know that I am neither the first dork nor the last one to experience this fear. I understand that it’s the kind of thing that can paralyze an individual, and make them unable to interact with others and grow, which in turn paralyzes them further.

Perceived ridicule comes from all angles, but the most interesting by far is the ridicule that comes from your “in-group,” in this case other anime fans. It’s one thing to be attacked from the outside, you can retreat, you can defend, but when the attack happens from “within,” it makes you feel that much more vulnerable. Again, you don’t even have to experience an actual slight. All it takes is the fear of one, and then it becomes a matter of overcoming it or ignoring it.

The reason why this fear of ridicule is so strong and present is that none of us can say we have never met a fellow fan who has weirded or creeped us the hell out. In some cases, as we get to know them we realize they’re okay overall, but there are those who are just somehow unapproachable, whether it’s due to their abrasive personalities, tendency to kill any line of conversation, or just someone whose presence in a room makes everything worse. We’ve seen these people, and then we think, “Wait, maybe I’m like that! I’m so busy thinking less of this person, but I bet that guy doesn’t think he’s that guy either, so maybe I was that guy all along!” Then you start to wonder what qualities about yourself might make you the person no one wants to be around, and now, even if you weren’t that guy, you might become him inadvertently, or worse yet, in your efforts to not be him as much as possible, you change yourself into a sad shell of who you were.

How do you move past this point? I’m not sure if any anime nerd will ever be able to completely rid themselves of these feelings, but we can take things one step at a time, and learn more about ourselves and others. If we know what we like and what we do not, and have confidence tempered by humility, then I think we’re on the right path.

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14 thoughts on “The Fear of Ridicule

  1. Ogiue Maniax is now a self-help blog? Didn’t see that coming.

    I do know that horrible realisation of ‘oh crap, am I like that?’ but so long as you catch those traits in your personality, everything should work out.

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  2. You have to moderate yourself, your behavior, what you say. If you want to be treated as a normal person, even inside a group of similar interests, you have to say less than what you’d like to say, but that takes a bit of self-awareness first, which is something hardcore hobbyists lack, in my experience. Then again most people lack self-awareness, it’s just their gigantic ego that’s protecting them from stress, fear etc.

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  3. Well I would always think, just move forward, and be aware of the settings. Sure there are times that things get pretty scary – but move forth and take the world in stride. There are other people that have varying hobbies.. so take what you can with a grain of salt.

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  4. This is weird because I don’t feel any fear of ridicule at all, though that may be because
    1) My past class was thirty really cool peeps for whom being a nerd was about as mock-worthy as having red hair, or existing. Which is to say, very mockworthy, in a friendly way. So I know that people are capable of being nice, even appreciative, about it.
    2) Never taking anything seriously. They ridicule you? Ridicule yourself too! It’s fun after all.
    3) An ego reaching the heliopause. Can’t be ridiculed by those you see as not as smart as yourself. Which would include anyone petty enough to ridicule someone just for being passionate about cartoons from an Asian island.

    So, respectively I don’t think it would happen, if it happens I’m joining in, and if they’re really nasty and tenacious about it I will magically turn into a smug snickering snake. The last one may be destructive, though.

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  5. I fucking hate those nerdy up beat people that are like all giddy about anime and shit. You know the typical kind you see in an anime club. I fucking hate them because they’re so GOOD at showing their fandom outwardly and they’re so sociable in the club. I guess I mostly hate them because I can’t be outwardly open about it so I scorn them for it. The best I can ever do is buy things for my room that I can’t really show off to anyone.

    I don’t know. I believe that they too should have a level of fear or controlled passion. Maybe I’m just weird.

    Personally, I know I give off this weird otaku aura from on my blog in most of my entries, but a lot of it is just an Internet persona that I try to build up. I try not to be one of those people you talk about, but I probably am. Who knows?

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  6. It’s hard for me to do it, but more often then not whenever I have thoughts like these (of which I do a lot), I try and shrug them off, and just try to be myself regardless. Can you control the ridicule that you could get? Not necessarily, so it’s a little silly to worry and place so much importance on a fear of ridicule that has not manifested yet. But like I said, it’s much harder to think that way than it is to say it.

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  7. What ridicule?

    I guess it pays off living in a country that has no concept of “nerd”. One can’t make fun of a “nerd” if one never heard of the concept.

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  8. As long as you don’t mix japanese words in with english, praise Bleach as being the height of manga/anime literature, and go on and on about your favorite anime girl or sing anime songs, you’re fine.

    Model yourself off of the Genshiken group, really. The way Kio wrote them is what most “otaku” should be like, but aren’t.

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  9. Meh, I came to the decision I don’t know what will happen when I die, so I rather live life happy, without being ashamed of my passions and without caring to that extent of what society expects of you. You can be an outstanding person and still be a geek of whatever you want, why please people who obviously don’t appreciate you for who you are? It’s very sad when people have “safe hobbies” like everybody else just so they fit in and aren’t ridiculed.

    As soon as I meet someone and the moment arises I say that I like anime aka japanese cartoons, and talk very excitedly about it. It can clear up what people are comfortable with you and who aren’t really fast.

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  10. Yeah, I feel this sometimes. As I got older I have no problem saying I like Japanese animation. Most people my age in the city see it as something different rather than saying I watch TV. I guess it also helps that I don’t look like a typical super otaku. I’m like Kohsaka.

    I do feel kinda low when I’m around fans who are considered better. I think a right word is more mature or anime intelligent or something. I keep imagining them making fun of my love of liking towards certain anime. I tend to get nervous and seem like a quiet girl instead of the lively one my friends and other fans see.

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