How to Avoid Being a Creative Troll
“I troll, therefore I am.” — Me in my more vulnerable moments
I used to be a part-time griefer on Second Life.
For those that aren’t in the know, Second Life is the online virtual environment from which the concept of VR Chat was born; VR chat is the prototype (read: cesspool of online denizens) that will eventually begat the digital utopia of the Oasis from Ready Player One.
And for those that aren’t familiar with griefing, it’s the act of deliberating harassing and annoying other players in a game or online world. In the case of Second Life, my modus operandi was to travel around in a poorly rendered Pikachu suit and shoot avatars with a free gun that fired phalluses which were equally poorly rendered. (My inspiration for this mode of grief came from a publicized event that took place in Second Life over a decade ago — that fact alone amazes me.)
As much as I derived pleasure from this weird form of interaction on the platform, it had gotten me in trouble on more than one occasion; there was a time where I was banned from Second Life for two weeks. I had a moment of clarity where I realized I could be doing more with my First Life, and I eventually stopped visiting the environment to focus on more fulfilling personal pursuits.
Fast forward to 2018: the Toronto Raptors have been eliminated from the NBA Playoffs. This comes on the heels of a banner year, where the team finished first in their Eastern division. I was taking a break from editing my manuscript and took it upon myself to fill the time with incessant tweets and retweets about the failings of my city’s team.
I did this for about a week, culminating with me trying to edit the following video:
(Just try to imagine Lebron James’ head pasted on Bart Simpson and the Toronto Raptors Logo on Homer Simpson’s and you’ll have an idea of what I was going for)
This is where my boyfriend, an avid Raptors fan (and quite loyal, unlike my fairweather self), decided to put his foot down, declaring that I was being unnecessarily cruel. Feeling guilty, I scrapped the project and instead delved into some introspective self-reflection. Why was I doing this? There were many other creative pursuits I could’ve directed my energy towards.
And there it was. Because I had paused from working on my writing, I had inadvertently directed my creative energy to more destructive activities (mainly, unduly antagonizing my boyfriend and the rest of the 6ix on social media). Much in the same way I had antagonized Second Life users a decade ago when I could have used that energy to create something or — I don’t know — perhaps socialize while I was in university.
I feel it may be necessary to take on another hobby outside of writing to occupy my time. And I don’t mean reading or video games, though I quite enjoy both activities. To avoid the negative habits of a troll, I need to learn how to convert my creative energy in a positive manner that breeds happiness instead of hate. Here are some ideas:
I love to cook, and enjoy trying out new recipes in cookbooks and online. I’m more intimidated by the act of baking, but perhaps I could use my time to improve and get over my fear of a row of blackened dough masking as cookies cemented on a hapless baking try (not that that’s ever happened before…)
🎨Arts & Crafts
There’s something soothing about the mixture of paint or the tactile sensation of putting fingers to pliable modelling clay. It’s difficult to spew animosity when you’re channeling your inner 3 year-old.
🚶Going for a Walk
It’s cheap exercise, and it’s always fun to indulge one’s curiosity and discover that small shop in your neighborhood you otherwise wouldn’t visit. It’s how I stumbled upon a café in my city that makes one killer Nutella latte.
These are just a few examples, but the important thing is to note is that there is no such thing as negative creative energy. When bad feelings or emotions rear their ugly head, be inventive: use the power of alchemy to turn that frown upside-down for yourself, and for the people around you.
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