An Open Letter to Dorkly

Dear Dorkly–

 I’ve always been a big fan of your website and I generally look at a couple of comics, articles, or videos per day. I know that that doesn’t make me your *biggest* fan, as I’m sure there are those who visit your pages with far more frequency, but know that I’m no stranger to your content or the types of audiences you reach/with whom your content most resonates (at least, judging by the likes, shares, and comments via social media).

We all know that the best way to preserve one’s sanity and maintain faith in humanity is to never read internet comments. However virulent and depressing they can be, though, there is also the chance of learning something new or getting a laugh from someone’s joke. It’s with the latter goal in mind that I occasionally scan through comments, and I found some interesting yet true commentary about your site.

In the past few months, I’ve noticed an increasing number of visitors commenting on the demographic make up of, or topic involving, the people in your content (when they feature non-pre-established people, that is), usually complaining about how “Dorkly is shoving social justice down our throats” or “Dorkly is being unrealistic in the name of diversity” or “Welcome to Dorkly, where they hammer social justice into you with situations that would never actually happen/it isn’t actually a problem.” These are not exact quotes, of course, as I’m not here to expose folks or give anyone any troll fodder. However, that is the general gist of what others are saying. I myself have noticed a marked increase in representations and discussions of gender, cultural, racial/ethnic, sexual, and even class identities (among others). Not only is this present in your content, but the way it is addressed sometimes run counter to what many typically experience in their day-to-day lives.

It’s true that sometimes the content appears forced.

It’s true that sometimes things seem out of touch with reality.

It’s true that it seems like it’s happening a lot.

And so, with the utmost respect and adoration, I must humbly make a request of you, Dorkly:

Keep.

It.

Up.

Whether by serendipity or conscious choice, what you are doing, and what you are supporting, is something that many media and entertainment outlets seem to not understand, or about which they do not seem to care. It’s true that there are some dissenters, there are also the commenters who publicly support what you’re doing, even if they seem farther and fewer between. And then there are all of those who remain silent who really, truly appreciate your efforts. To borrow a quote from the fantastic Janet Mock (who was referencing the new, additional gender identities available on Facebook):

“There’s going to be a lot of people for whom this is going to mean nothing, but for the few it does impact, it means the world.”

While it clearly means *something* to the people commenting disparagingly about it, the positive impact it has on others far outweighs the negative, which generally amounts to annoyance (though at times, full on rage).

You see, when your content reads as being heavy-handed, or forced, it is because we, your readers, are literally forced to recognize that these images and stories are not the norm. Hopefully this will encourage some people to think about *why* these representations are not more frequently seen or socially normalized, and to explore how people who finally see a part of themselves or their lives reflected in your content must feel since they otherwise almost *never* see themselves, their lives, or their struggles represented.

When your content feels outside of reality, it is because we, your readers, don’t always recognize that the experiences we are viewing can even *be* a part of reality, let alone that it should be. Maybe this will help some other folks to consider how limited and limiting the ways they’ve seen other people have been, and how it affects they way they think about other people, their lives, and ideas, including how *normal* we think those ways are. And maybe all of that, finally, can show how it all leads to negative social, political, and economic outcomes in people’s day to day lives.

When your content is accused of being too frequent (which is strange to me since your content is largely based on established characters and franchises…) it is because we, your readers, are starting to have to make a choice—do we return for the fun and jokes, or do we leave because we don’t like who and what we see represented? Perhaps, though, this will begin to help someone think more about how what they find funny (or not) reflects how they view, and what they think about, other people and their experiences.

There will be some for whom none of the above happens at all. We will still see people leave comments on your site about needing to be post-racial, post-gender, post-everything, despite plenty of personal experiences that directly counter such mythical ideologies and wishful thinking. For others still, they might consider all of the above and more. But whatever ends up happening, Dorkly, I sincerely hope that you continue on your chosen path, constantly striving to do better and do more. It doesn’t have to be every post every day—it’s not now, and it never needs to be—but forget the naysayers and keep pushing forward.

Yes, there will be bumps in the road, times you mess up and have to apologize, and probably times when you’ll want to stop it all or tone it down. Whatever you do, don’t give in. Stay strong in your commitment to provide us with both good fun and good thoughts.

More of us are behind you than you know.

Sincerely,

A Hopeful Fan

 

 

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