Creative Counseling - "I'm a lurker but want to interact with creators." Whether online or IRL, getting along with someone is all the same.
I'm a lurker but want to interact with creators
Contrarily speaking, I’m the type of person who finds it harder to get close to someone the more I like them.
There is this character in Fate/Grand Order (FGO), Hijikata Toshizou (honorifics omitted), who I'm very currently absolutely losing my mind over, and whenever something happens to him both my Twitter and column end up in states of "even though it’s all text, you can tell she’s talking a mile a minute.."
I’m not sure if it’s because they found my squawking annoying, but it wound up catching the attention of Hijikata's voice actor and I was fortunate enough to have him write something for the cover of one of my books, and even record and upload a video featuring his voice.
However, my luck may have run out because the moment I received those blessings, I wasn't able to see that I’d fallen from the castle in the sky. My manager told me that because he didn't get a reply from me, they went ahead and chose what was written on the cover. Then in full gag-manga fashion, I got down on my knees dogeza-style with cracked sunglasses and all, begging them to "Please wait a little longer". On top of that, I was only able to watch the entire video once.
That was the only time I ever offered my heartfelt apologies to my manager, and I never made it to the end without stopping, I was only able to that short video while taking about 30 breaks in between. To a casual observer, I probably looked like someone being tortured with interval shock therapy rather than a fan being blessed by their idol.
As someone who wasn’t even able to accept the good fortune I was blessed with, I can appreciate and relate to your feelings of being a fan who wants to get to know the writer better and get along with them.
While not a breach of etiquette, once that line is drawn, it’s pretty tough
However, to be frank, you’ve got a tough fight ahead of you.I don’t know the position of the person you want to be friends with, but it shouldn’t be considered bad manners for a mere reader to try and interact with a popular writer.
There is certainly no lack of such a trend, but there’ll be those who, like a mob straight out of a shoujo gakuen yuri story, will make a fuss like, “A commoner like you should know better than to try and get close to Catherine Suzanne Elise Athena Jane Senpai!” However, let me tell you this idea of it being “an unwritten rule, don’t you know that?” is nothing more than something they decided among themselves and is in no way the law.
Though it is true that an idol should refrain from getting friendly with a single fan, to draw such a line in the hobbyist world would make for a rigid community.
However, if the creator you want to be friends with has clearly drawn that line by mentioning “I will not be replying to mail, DMs or comments.” Then, I’m sorry, please just give up.
There are many creators out there who often try not to interact so that they can create comfortably for a long time and trying to cross that line will harm that person’s creative work in the worst way possible.
If this were an otome game and the heroine crossed that line without any regard for said line, then she’d be considered “an interesting woman”, but if someone in the real world did that they’d just be met with the reaction of “Oh look, here comes ‘Little Miss Can’t Read The Room!’”, making any chance of becoming friends now zero.
Praise alone isn’t interaction
I’m sure that you have many things you want to ask and convey to creators, but those creators know nothing about you, so they’ll have nothing they’ll want to ask or tell you.
In other words, at this point the only interaction between you and the creator is them responding to your sincere compliments with an earnest “thank you” and that, my friend, is not an actual interaction.
Therefore, if you want to interact with creators, you’ll first need to let them get to know you and have them take an interest in you. That being said, there’s nothing more taboo than talking about yourself under the guise of giving them feedback on their work.
If you’re also a creator, their only response would be, “What do you write about?” and you might be able to rally back and forth with that, but it’s quite severe when that option is sealed away.
If the creator is someone who is used to receiving compliments, you may have a chance at being a “yes man” but the number of young ladies from conglomerate families out there creating and writing is pretty scarce.
In fact, many creators out there have a sort of fear of excessive praise.
It’s easy to call someone a “god-level artist” or a “god-tier writer”, and the ones receiving those compliments are either thinking “Gah! My divinity has been exposed!” or giving a dead-pan response of, “Nope, I’m human.” Moreover, there are quite a few people out there who feel burdened by being called a god.
To the creator you’re interacting with, there’s a high chance that this might turn into nothing more than discomfort from the continuing fear of the one-way praise, and to them, there’s absolutely no merit in communicating if that’s what they’re gonna get.
Approach with something completely unrelated
First, from here on as well, you should continue to give your impressions and feedback on the creator’s work as a reader and show support for them without expecting a response at all.
Then, on your social media accounts fill in your profile and post info about yourself.
Even if creators don’t want to interact, the people who always give feedback and continue to cheer for them are the ones to be thankful for so they’ll become interested and wonder, “What kind of people are the ones who always write reviews for my work?” and there’s a chance that they’re going to at least, secretly, check out your social media account. At least that’s what I do and there are also cases when I’ll check what my readers are up to via their social media, which conversely makes me creepy on that part.
From there, that creator will look at your info and go, “Oh? They’re from Ibaraki and are proficient with nunchucks.” Which will then stoke their interest and lead them to ask “I wonder how long a nunchuck sling is?” This will create this sense of familiarity even though you haven’t spoken to each other, thus increasing your chances of interaction.
You’re probably thinking that you want to use the creator’s work as a gateway to interaction, but on the other hand, you may get to know them better by talking about something completely unrelated.
I also have readers with whom I interact personally, but I don’t talk about my work with them, even less so about what I’m thinking of doing with future works.
In fact, if they bring up my work, I’ll stop them by saying, “Knock it off or I’ll slug you.”
Then what did we do, you ask? We played Momotarou Dentetsu.
And it’s not like being my fan helps them guess my strategy nor do they hesitate to smash my linear tour card with their strong fastball card, but that’s why I’m able to hang out with them normally.
It’s only natural for the relationship between creator and fans to tend to be distant, that’s why it’s better to stay completely away from their work and instead reply to that creator’s tweet that says, “I started playing Pokemon Violet and I’m looking to play with Scarlet players.” Be on equal footing with them and instead try to approach them from the position of being able to offer them something.
Creators aren’t always creating and they don’t only seek feedback on their work. They have other requests, like “I want someone to discuss politics with.” So go and provide that for them.
Making friends is the same whether online or IRL
The same goes for the internet. While there is this “lock on” style of aiming for friends that sometimes work, there are many cases of people being put off by that method and you’re more likely to have a good and long-lasting friendship if you become friends by chance, as in, “We happened to have something in common and we just happened to interact with each other naturally and though we don’t know each other’s face and name it’s been 10 years since we’ve become familiar only with each other’s fetishes.”
Therefore, you can put the effort into increasing the number of things you have in common, making it easier to connect by trying out the other person’s hobbies, and if you do that, you can just let everything develop naturally.
If you’re a creator, you’ll have a better chance of becoming friends because you already have something in common to talk about compared to those who aren’t, but this doesn’t mean that you’re absolutely going to become friends with them and the foundation of, “We became friends because we get along,” remains unchanged.
If you did all you could and still weren’t able to become friends, just tell yourself that the reason for this wasn’t because you’re not a creator, but simply that it wasn’t in the cards for you this time.
I always enjoy reading your articles. I like your roundabout way of saying things like your "Sailor Merry Bad" phrase.
I'm an otaku sending you my long-winded thoughts not as a writer but as a lurker. What I’m worried about is my desire to communicate with others.
Everyone in the BL creative community I'm a part of communicates using the comment section. DMs are for mutual friends only, Marshmallow is an anonymous service so the use of names is strictly forbidden and pixiv messages go unchecked. There's also a strong tendency to add "no reply necessary" to long entries, and since I always go over 300 character limit, I keep myself from replying. The desire to get replies and interact is far more taboo than the creator's desire to get feedback, so I can't seem to find an entry point where creators and lurkers can interact with each other. I wholeheartedly enjoy sending my thoughts after viewing a work featuring a shipped couple, but getting no response in return leaves me feeling a bit empty. How can even a long-winded lurker like myself actually get to talk with creators, too? Is the love between lurkers and creators being one-sided simply the culture of the creative community?