I dream of quitting. I dream of quitting all of this – my channel, my blog, and my books on Amazon/Etsy.
And one of the many benefits of self-publishing is that you really can just remove everything with a couple of clicks. If I wanted to, I could disappear right off the internet. I could go back to just being “normal” (whatever that means).
But as much as a fantasize about leaving this life behind, I know deep in my heart that I won’t ever actually do it.
This – this thing (whatever it is) – is my calling.
Why I want to quit:
1. The haters (of course)
I’m going to be honest here, 99% of the time, the horrible, hateful comments don’t bother me. They used to bother me, of course, but I rose to fame gradually enough that I had plenty of time to adjust.
It helps to remember that when people write vile, attacking things on the internet, it’s not about me. And if they’re writing them to you on your blog/page/channel, it’s not about you either.
It’s about them.
I learned this one day after clicking on the profile of an especially offensive commenter, only to discover they had copy + pasted the exact same comment on a half a dozen other YouTube channels (something along the lines of “white trash” and “I hope you die”).
It’s really not about me.
My page is just another platform they can use to spread their hateful message.
But every once in a while, when I check my business Gmail account and get an email with the subject line in full caps “I HOPE YOU DIE OF CANCER,” it sucks. Even more so when you find out that they’ve posted that same phrase as a reply to every single nice comment on your fan Facebook page. And you have to spend the next fifteen minutes deleting a string of racist and offensive phrases before anyone else sees them – because how much does it suck when you leave a comment on someone’s fan page saying “I loved your video!” and some stranger tells you that you’re *&@^#.
I wish I could say this hasn’t happened, but it has. Several times. Facebook really needs a better blocking system.
2. You can’t disappear or go on vacation – because there are always comments to monitor
I get nervous if I don’t check all my social media profiles at least twice a day.
When Ryosuke and I first moved out to the countryside, we didn’t have wifi for a week and a half. It shouldn’t have been a problem, because I had posts, videos, and comics scheduled to automatically post for the next two weeks.
Sadly, things are rarely that simple.
Even though I had things scheduled to post for the next two weeks, I was anxious. Why? Because for whatever reason, YouTube doesn’t allow you to access your account from a smartphone. For the five days before we had internet, I wasn’t able to monitor comments. I lasted three and a half days before I caved and went to a cafe in Shibuya with wifi. In the mean time, someone with a lot of free time went and posted some very racially inappropriate words as a “reply” for anyone of a profile picture of someone who is black.
Things kinds of things happen all the time.
We have to bring a laptop whenever we travel, because this is the internet. A lot of bad things can happen in a very short period of time.
“Safe spaces” cannot exist without someone to regularly monitor and kick out trolls.
3. The negative effect these hateful comments have on your friends and family
I’m just going to come out here and say that from the bottom of my heart, I feel absolutely horrible for the siblings, children, spouses, and parents of celebrities.
People don’t realize that when you say horrific things about that one actress you don’t like on some forum, there is a chance that their friends and/or family might see that comment. And be very hurt.
I get it if you don’t like Taylor Swift (personally, I adore her). But when you call her an “ugly, white trash failure” (or something worse – hey after being subjected to all sorts of horrible names, I’ve become incapable of crafting my own), imagine her brother accidentally read what you wrote.
And then imagine someone wrote that about your father or sister or best friend.
Your father, who is the one of the most hardworking, loyal, and supportive people you know.
Your sister, your sweet, innocent sister who used to have tea parties with her stuffed animals and cried when you went off to college.
Your best friend, who has just started to get help for her eating disorder and is doing so much better. And then you read a comment saying “I hope that fat cow drowns in her own blood.”
These are people.
Behind these public personas, these are real, living, breathing, hurting people.
It sucks. I feel awful for anyone who is the family member of a celebrity… and I am absolutely terrified about doing the same thing to my friends and family.
I’m used to it negative comments. I don’t care. But they do. And God forbid anyone who loves me ever try to defend my name on the internet – you cannot win against trolls.
Something like this happened recently, with one of my best friends from college. Someone had posted on of my articles on a Facebook group she belonged to, where a particularly angry and vicious individual had a lot of things to say. Thankfully, after a couple rounds, my friend walked away.
Her experience really got me thinking. I don’t want to hurt the people I love. I don’t want them to have to read all the vile, nasty, jealous things that people with too much time and too much hate in their heart write (like in this Dilbert comic). I feel powerless to protect the people I care about and it kills me.
If you’re reading this and you see someone bashing me on a forum, don’t defend me.
Please, just walk away. There’s no way to win.
4. It’s stressful always creating good content
My creativity comes in waves. Sometimes I can write and draw wonderful things all day – and sometimes everything my fingers create that day is complete crap.
With any luck, my creative days outweigh my uncreative days… but it really depends.
5. No matter what you post, people will find a way to get offended
Once again, I’m going to link to this Dilbert comic.
6. Viral media sucks.
There are plenty of good and bad things about internet. Viral media can be either… but most of the time, it’s a bad thing.
You’re always just one miss-post or bad tweet away from the weight of the internet crushing you and spitting you out. If you’re lucky, when the internet is done with you, you will still have your job, friends, privacy, and sanity.
People have been fired, stalked, threatened, and gone to therapy after one “mistake.”
7. The drama
I’m just going to start by saying that I love the vast majority of bloggers, YouTubers, authors, and creatives that I’ve had the pleasure of meeting in person.
But I don’t like everyone (of course).
Sometimes I meet someone and immediately dislike them. I don’t know why – it’s just a gut feeling. I can’t explain it.
In normal situations, this wouldn’t be a problem.
But in the blogosphere and YouTube community, there is an emphasis on us all being “one big happy family.” We all comment on each others posts and share each others videos. We’re supposed to be the best of friends (if only by appearance).
Needless to say, both communities are filled with drama. People get jealous. People stab each other in the back. People post things that they shouldn’t. People get frustrated and angry at each other. And all of it is on the internet.
Being famous (even “mildly internet famous” like me) can be occasionally sucky. There are a lot of reasons I want to quit… but like I said before, I know I won’t ever actually stop.
There are the three reasons why I won’t ever quit creating things on the internet:
1. I love creating things
I really love creating things.
The job I have right now – where I draw comics, make videos, and write about my life on the internet – is the best job I’ve ever had. I absolutely love it.
Unfortunately, as I said before, creating things comes with the nasty side-effect that you have to deal with trolls, haters, and rather vile people (especially in this day and age – where they can easily harass you online).
But even people like that can’t take my love of creating things away from me.
2. If everyone stopped creating, risking, dreaming, daring – the world would be a very boring place.
In my spare time, I read books.
I read a lot of books, actually. These days, I’m averaging one to four books a week, during working breaks, on commutes into Tokyo, and laying out in the hammock on weekends.
For as long as I can remember, books have been my refuge and I can’t imagine what my life would have been like without them. Books helped me through the rough adolescent years, the constant moving, and when I needed to just get outside of my own head.
I hope one day to inspire people in the same way.
I’ve written three books, actually. I’m proud of those books, if just for the fact that I can help transport someone to another world (ie, my world) for a couple of hours, as they flip through the pages.
I’m sure all my favorite authors deal with harsh criticism… and yet they kept creating because they knew that without art/creativity/books/movies, the world would be a very boring place.
This, of course, leads into my last (and most important) reason that I won’t ever quit making books and videos.
3. Because the people I admire most in life can’t (or won’t) quit either.
Unlike me, my heros don’t have a button they can press, to magically erase everything they’ve ever created (and therefore erasing their problems). And for the few who do have said button, they choose not to press it.
I’m lucky because I can quit this whole “internet celebrity” thing whenever I want to. I could erase my blog, channel, and books and move to America, getting a regular job at a regular office. No one would ever know (except for my close friends and family, of course).
This helps remind me that whatever I do, I do willingly.
The fact of the matter is, I would not be who I am today, without my heroes.
Beyonce’s song “Halo” was the song I listened to, pumping myself up to ask the cute Japanese boy down the hall in college to dinner. Now I’m married to him.
Tina Fey’s autobiographical comedy book inspired me to chase after my own dreams, even if they didn’t make sense.
John Green’s “The Fault in Our Stars” (who am I kidding, all his other books too) gave me the courage to write my own book, even though I had no idea what I was doing. Now I am the proud author of three books.
Taylor Swift’s music gave me the courage to embrace my own style, even if it didn’t fit in with what everyone else wore (Japanese fashion just doesn’t suit me). “Shake it Off” is also my current go-to song after purging nasty YouTube comments (I have filters that automatically sort out comments that use the words n*gger, c*nt, etc – but I still have to manually delete them).
Seeing how Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Emma Watson, Beyonce, John Green, Taylor Swift, Brian Jacques, Anna Akana, and all my other heroes live their lives is an inspiration. They gave me the courage and resilience to keep going.
Trust me, there were plenty of times when I was younger that I just wanted to lie down and give up. I felt massively uncomfortable with myself and no idea what I wanted to do with my life.
If these people had quit because of the haters and the trolls… well, I don’t know where I would be right now. Some of those people saved my life, more than they will ever know.
I can’t thank these people – and all the others – enough for being so brave, strong, creative, and brilliant.
But I can keep the chain going. I can try to inspire someone else, the same way they inspired me.
And guess what? I know I am.
I get messages every day from people who claim that my blog/books/videos changed their life. That now they’re trying to self-publish their own book, start their own channel, start their own online store, run their own blog, write their own travel memoir.
This is bigger than me. I owe it to my heroes to pay it forward.