Sorry for the double status but I've been having some thoughts and only just got my finger on what exactly they are. I didn't really know why I took my little break but after people on foreign affairs talked about some of their problems I really started to figure out what was going on. Well, there were some personal things I wanted to fix, which I did, but I also realized some of those problems were caused by the same thing that caused the forums' problems, and I gave in.
You see, the last straw, the nail in the coffin that made me take my break, was the profile picture thing. If you weren't online to see exactly what happened, basically me and a couple other people copied the profile picture of a certain user and mocked them a little. It was pretty harmless, but pretty toxic as well. That was when I got my first warning point in the last 2 years. That was when I knew there was a problem, I just didn't know exactly what problem drove me to some silly, immature, and kinda unnecessary joke.
Older members have been leaving, which isn't a bad thing in itself, but new members have been taking their place. That isn't a bad thing either, but it can sometimes feel like they're overpowering good, wholesome content. Again, they have every right to post their creations, but there is a certain attitude among a lot of them. I keep feeling the need to say it, but none of this is anyone's fault. It was all happening kind of subconsciously, don't blame anyone for having a toxic attitude. Anyway, there are a lot of new users who I think just don't really understand criticism that well. It's okay to make bad content, it's normal. It is always possible to fix, and it should be encouraged to fix. But it seems like a lot of the newer users take emotional responses to people practicing this mindset. Criticism is always a good thing, and it kind of baffles me that anyone takes offense to any criticism. Whether or not it's good criticism is up for argument, but in any case, criticism should never be considered a personal offense, to you or your work.
Still with me? Good, I'm just getting started. So this attitude, this attitude that implied criticism was worthless and that new users should be told they are perfect and that this attitude was the right attitude and that anyone who disagreed is just inherently rude, started to cause some problems. Older users who actually gave advice, sometimes jokes, couldn't help but feel offended by this new mindset. A lot of people were antagonized or invalidated, which only made things worse. These same older users felt the need to push their criticism further, getting more aggressive. After all, you can't really argue against the mindset of the newer users, so the only thing we know how to do is practice ours more aggressively. This escalated and only made it easier for new users to antagonize them, both sides thinking they're doing the right thing. This only created a very toxic atmosphere, with the divide getting bigger and bigger. Some new users felt the need to defend each other and gather together in groups, upvoting each other and downvoting others when there was a disagreement.
There is more I could talk about that, but I'm pretty confident on the cause of some trivial things that piled up over the last couple months (more or less). This affected all of us, including me. I finally gave into the toxic atmosphere and I realized there was a problem I needed to fix. At the time I had no idea what was wrong with the community, so I just took a while off to refresh myself and think about all of it.
In short, the whole community lost itself and made people feel unwelcome. The only change we can really make to fix it is personal improvement, nothing that can be encouraged. I think we all just need to kind of take a step back and keep an open mind to the input of other people. We're all important, and it's never healthy to invalidate other people, even if it's for the sake of helping yourself (yet still, in this case it does not help yourself).
Happy day my friends.