For a long time I've read about wrestling from the perspective of an outsider looking in. Now I'm one of the few lucky people who get to sit behind the keyboard and write whatever they like and feel about wrestling for a site like this.
A site, like many others, that perhaps gets labelled a "dirtsheet" and its users and readers labelled "smarts." I want to write a series of articles dedicated to defending the IWC, because of all the abuse it sometimes takes. Whether it be from wrestlers, outsiders looking in, other fans and even by members of the IWC itself on sites like this, who I find, at times, seem to think the best way to separate themselves from the crowd is to attack others like them and point out their flaws.
I'm a proud member of the IWC. I'd carry a little club card that says, "I am a member of the internet wrestling community and I'm lovin' it!" if there was such a card.
Why? Because although we get criticized, there are so many great things about the IWC that the critics miss. Unfortunately, that's not what I'm going to write about in this first article on the subject.
Barely 10 minutes ago I read an article on this very site. I disagreed with the point the writer had made and the way they had phrased part of their opinion. Naturally, I was going to comment on it and tell them I disagreed. I even thought of using a video from the web that, although slightly ridiculing, I felt would be a constructive yet humorous criticism.
I then scrolled down the page and noticed comments from other users...I then realised something that had not occurred to me before, which IWC critics have pointed out and I chose to ignore. For the first time ever...I felt ashamed to be a member of the IWC.
I was bullied as a child and one thing I've come to discover is bullies never think it is bullying. Even now, my bullies tell me it was a joke. They never considered it wasn't a joke to me. That is perhaps the biggest form of bullying that happens, both in the schoolyard and on the internet. Harsh comments insulting the person's intelligence and mental capacity shocked me and it felt more than just a joke.
Email and Facebook have made cyber bullying easier than ever before, and within the IWC it seems no different.
Unlike in the playground, where you can see a person's reactions, we see nothing but a username and an opinion. How far, honestly, can you push the joke? You don't know who you're insulting or commenting on. You don't know how thick their skin is. You can criticize this article and me if you like—I've dealt with it and gotten over bullying—but what about another user?
Telling them they must have the mind of a school child or calling them an "idiot" (for me, that's worse than any swear word) can be hurtful, even from behind a keyboard.
I revised my comment because I realised I didn't know how far I would be pushing the author. Think of Matt "sour grapes" Hardy and how some of us have criticized him for using the internet as a weapon to spill out all these ridiculous thoughts.
We can all be Matt Hardys sometimes. Although we have the right to an opinion, it doesn't give us the right to use the internet to target someone else with harassment. It only takes one person to ruin things for everyone, and no one is above it.
I'm also English, which means I'm hugely self-critical, but sometimes it's better to see the flaws. Sometimes that darkness overshadows everything that's good about ourselves.
I hope to write something more positive about the IWC in the next article in the series.
Thanks for reading. Feel free to comment.