I Don’t Care What You Think, I Know I’m Awesome! (Mediocrity)

In desperate need of a break from Virginal Bella, I’ve decided that it’s time for another editorial. This time I’d like to focus on mediocrity and the way a lot of people treat it.

It doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to figure out that we’re all a part of a society that loves to be praised. Whether it’s as an individual or a group makes no difference—we crave approval and adulation, and we want all that we can get. Most of us, anyway.

Somewhere along the line, some wires must have gotten crossed. Somebody decided that since praise makes you feel good, and criticism makes you feel bad, then we should never criticize and only ever say nice things. If you’ve ever heard someone say, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all,” you were probably talking to an idiot or a third grader.

The reality is that blanket praise serves no useful purpose except to swell egos and fuel self-centeredness, often in the people who have the least reason to be proud. Ego, pride, and self-importance are the enemies of any artist. The better you think you are, the worse it makes you. But that’s where mediocrity comes in.

You see, there are those among us who are excellent at what they do. They work hard and make it look easy, and when their head hits the pillow at night, they aren’t thinking about the thousands of people who showered them in praise today, or even the critics who lambasted them—their focus is on how they can go out tomorrow and do better.

On the other hand, you have the person whose contribution is less than stellar. They try to emulate the best and make their work look effortless by putting in very little effort. They lash out at criticism and surround themselves with “yes men” whose sole purpose is to blow smoke up their ass all day and remind them, despite the massive amount of legitimate criticism, that they’re the best.

The only constant about the mediocre is that they only ever get worse. There is no personal evolution, no growth or change. They are, almost universally, one-trick ponies. They have the one thing that they do that gets them the attention they crave, and they’ll repeat it with only the slightest alteration and keep doing so long after people stop caring.

Why? Well, because they don’t want to be good. They want to be noticed. They look at those who piss excellence and see their fame, not their work. Their goal is to be famous, not deserving of fame. And I personally find that mentality completely fucked up.

It doesn’t stop there. Criticism becomes unbearable, reducing every critique, no matter how innocent or sincere, to the most heinous flame, written by haters who just want to hate someone awesome because they aren’t awesome themselves, and other bullshit you tell grade school kids to make them feel better about teasing.

I’ll be the first to tell you that a person’s importance, self-perceived or otherwise, is the last thing I consider when dealing with them. I don’t care who you are, I don’t care who you know, and I don’t care where you came from, how high you’ve climbed, or what it looks like from up there. All I care about is what you’ve done, and how it measures up against scrutiny.

I’ve heard at least five or six independently concordant stories about a certain author, and please don’t out this person by name because that isn’t the point here. If all accounts are to be believed, her ego is legendary. She gets dressed up to write and announces her self-given titles of greatness. What actually hits the page is irrelevant; she’s shown you through garb and told you from her own lips how great she and her work are; to question it for any reason is to call her a liar and to put her ego in check.

The ironic thing is, this author could actually improve if she’d put in some effort. Her stories, while boring and unimaginative, aren’t the incoherent ramblings of a crazy person. By refusing to accept fault for anything, and even denying the flaws in her work, she doesn’t try to better herself, and thus she remains gloriously pedestrian.

The mediocre have already achieved greatness in their own minds and hope that the droning, repetitious statement of their excellence by themselves and those few who call themselves “friends and fans” will be enough to convince the world. They’ve allowed themselves to become convinced of their own worthiness.

Critique is wasted on this type of person. It does nothing but drive their ego haywire, stoking their ire and incurring their wrath. They lash out, making the most fantastic and public spectacle of themselves that they can. They assume that everyone’s ego should function as theirs does, and that the critic will crumple to the ground and cry out to the heavens to make it all stop. They’re wrong.

It should be understood that we were all, at one time, mediocre. Most of us still are. We humble ourselves and admit that we are the problem. It’s a realization that happens for everyone differently, and for some, not at all.

Next time you think of leaving a review for someone just to tell them how perfect they are, especially if it isn’t true, don’t. You aren’t being nice and you aren’t being helpful. Maybe point out something you saw that can be improved upon along with telling them something you liked—be specific. A criticism is not a flame unless you word it that way. Compliments do make criticism more palatable, but they shouldn’t be the only thing at the buffet.


17 comments on “I Don’t Care What You Think, I Know I’m Awesome! (Mediocrity)

  1. *slow claps* this was awesome!! And no I’m not just saying it to say it!! Just awesome!! You can thank Sasha Cameron for pointing this out to her blog followers cause along with herself I just became a follower! Now to read your stories cause yeah, I need to see what youve got!! Oh and the first person I thought of as I read this is one Kanyr West and his giant oversized ego, a certain incident involving Taylor Swift, a microphone and alcohol and a certain video he put out recently with his baby momma and a motorcycle, that was complete crap yet ppl are saying it wasnt. Lol

    • Thanks for the compliment, and welcome aboard. As far as my stories go, they’re a little tongue-in-cheek, which is to say that when they’re bad, it’s on purpose and meant to satirize the fanfiction genre. Let me know what you think, good or bad; I always love feedback.

  2. Pingback: I Don’t Care What You Think, I Know I’m Awesome! (Mediocrity) | Sasha Cameron's Tribute

  3. I love this. I love that someone’s speaking out on this topic. I’m not certain when egotists and narcissists lost that what was typically noticed as a major character flaw, or even a psychiatric disorder, but sometime over the last 30 years I’ve noticed this phenomenon wherein everyone must be a winner. The truth of the matter is this is impossible. Confidence, or self-confidence, is a trait to which we all should aspire and admire. It’s not to be confused with the other two. It needs to be developed and nurtured from the early stages of life throughout until one is able to have enough belief in ones’ self to continue building it on their own. Yet, where do we draw the line?

    I do have to say that it takes great courage for these people to put themselves out there for some of the lambasting they’re given. Bless their hearts; they are writing straight from them, and while a very small percentage have an incredible wealth of talent, others should focus elsewhere. I won’t take away from their very deserving courage.

    My own confidence tells me I don’t have the talent nor the creativity to write, so, I don’t. On the other hand, I’m confident enough within my knowledge and skills to know the difference between “good” writing and “bad” writing. That’s my job and I love it. I do it as well as I’m able, but does my boss always agree with my critiques? No. I’ve had to do many a rewrite to satisfy publishers. And authors? Heaven forbid they be told their plots are formulaic!

    There’s a difference between plain-out criticism and constructive criticism. Writing a flat-out critical review to a fanfic writer solves nothing; it relieves your frustration over having wasted your time reading some purely awful trash posing as writing, say, after having read 30 chapters only to have finished and been left hanging…simply because “the muse” left. They can’t complete it, and for this we really should rejoice. Perhaps this happened, or even after two chapters, and you write a critical review. One of two things occurs; you get a flaming response in return about how it’s their story, they will write their way (bad spelling and grammar included), with some curse words their mothers would must be proud of – those are almost always spelled correctly – and you don’t have to read it. True, we don’t, and thankfully, there’s nothing left to read. This solves nothing and the writer will continue to assault the site with more stories. Then there’s constructive criticism. A carefully, or dare I say, kindly-worded, constructive critically written review may make a difference. This type of review is all about teaching, and, written in the right manner, sends a far better message than a negatively written review. Sometimes. There will always be those who are just so awesome that no amount of constructive criticism will teach them anything because there’s nothing wrong with them! It’s everyone who has a problem! As you said, they’re wrong. The other result is you that you get no response at all. Who knows what happens with that type?

    We’re all awesome! I’m awesome in some ways, but completely awesome with no flaws? Uh, no. I’m not among the perfect, thankfully. My family will be right behind me to list the flaws I’ve surely overlooked. My mother will be next. Does this make me a loser because I’m not towing the party line where everyone’s a winner? Nope. I’m mediocre and that’s just fine. I’m average. That’s mediocrity. Those who cannot accept their mediocrity fall below average, far below. These would be the ones standing in line for seconds, even thirds, serving themselves compliments at your buffet. Outstanding analogy!

  4. That’s not a third grader you hear that’s my Mother.

    Mom notwithstanding you’re right, or at least that’s what I think. I can’t help wanting to know why. I’ve been working with the theory that it’s part of a Privileged Child attitude. In which case, maturity is the only, but not automatic, cure.

    • oh yeah. It’s a rocket scientist or a brain surgeon. (or maybe you bought that poetic license?)

      • I did say that on purpose. How could I resist.

        • I thought so, but in light of the subject matter …

  5. I feel somewhat sorry for the writers who have lemmings/yes men for reviewers – unless the bad/honest reviews have been deleted – and apparently they often are, all they get are lemmings pleading for “MORE” or proclaiming that they “loved it” or whatever lemming phrase-of-the-day is popular that gets them “more story”.

    This, sadly, leads the now-delusional writer to believe that their trite, sensational, abusive sex scenes are “sooo good” (another lemming phrase I detest especially when it’s NOT TRUE) or that their plots, you know, the ones with holes so big you can’t see across them or are so filled with chapters upon chapters upon chapters of unnecessarily drawn-out angst, are actually “awesome”.

    They are not.

    They’re just crap spoon-fed to appease the yes men who blow smoke up the writer’s ass. It’s a badly perverted Catch 22 – the writers write grossly underachieving pap and shovel it down the throats of sycophants who in return regurgitate undue praise just to get more badly-crafted sensationalistic pap.

    If these reviewing morons would stop with the pandering and fluffing and start, en mass, giving honestly constructive reviews, these wanna-be writers might put some actual thought, time, and effort into their works and, eventually, try for some originality.

    • No, no, they wouldn’t.

      • But it’s such a nice false hope! 😀

        • I dare to dash your dreams! Nothing will ever stop them. I equate it to the never-ending growth of healthy living dandelions that sprout throughout our yards and gardens each year. No matter the treatments, be they earth-friendly organic or horribly chemical, the fucking things keep popping up no matter what we use. They’re a never-ending blight we must tolerate and learn to live with amongst the beauty of our favorite perennials and chosen annuals. Such is life! : )
          Happy Spring!

          • ROFLMAO!!!!! Ok, I love dandelions (I know…you can send ALL yours my way!!), but I’m glad that I’ve read enough GOOD stories to be able to easily recognize mediocre fics for what they are and can escape those annoying time-wasters much much faster these days. I barely have time to read the GOOD fics anymore, so I’m definitely not going to waste my time/energy/heartburn/indigestion on crap-fics, lol.

            HAPPY SPRING!!!

            • You may have them all, my friend! I, too, am happy to have enough experience now to discern between the good and the purely awful. Sometimes I’m able to tell from the first paragraph or even the description… I don’t know if I’ve got it in me to read yet one more Sookie Surprise! Fae/Vampire pregnancy fic. And to those who write 35 chapters and don’t finish? A word, please? Don’t start something you aren’t going to finish! Did you never listen to your mothers? I could rant all day long, but I would only come across as sounding like a mother, which I am. I’ve got my own “adult” children to bitch at as well as my grandchildren and they’re much more fun. I did spend/waste yesterday reading a fic that was quite good even if the spelling and grammar was atrocious. I battled through it though and was pleasantly surprised by the creativity the writer took in making Bill such a mad villain. She took great poetic license, more so than most I’ve read recently. I tucked it under “guilty pleasures.” I love it when Bill is very, very crazed, fiendish, and gets the snot beaten out of him regularly. It makes me feel deliciously evil. Cackling off now to go read Kat’s latest!

              Peace & Laughter!

  6. You know this actually got me thinking and you’re right!
    There are so many out there who fit this description perfectly!

  7. Sigh, I think I love everything you write…

  8. Pingback: I Don’t Care What You Think, I Know I’m Awesome! | The Fanfic Assassin

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