We all want to be heard.
We want to share our opinions on the anime we engage in; Whether that be in the form of a YouTube video, a comment on a forum, a blog post or a social media update.
While doing so we want to feel like we’re bringing something new or meaningful to the ongoing discussion surrounding a particular series or topic.
So it’s natural to think that we should become an innovator (Or, to push the expression a little further down Jargon Lane, “thought pioneer in our space.”)
Most of us (I hope) know better than to self-identify as innovators in the anime community. But some of us still think it would be kind of great if other people started calling us that.
I’m not buying it. And here’s why.
First, let me be clear: I think it’s good to try to throw out unique ideas and opinions on anime to those around you.
Or for that matter taking it a step further and creating the kind of content that people pay attention to based around it. I think it’s smart to post useful comments in forums or on social media based in good insight. I think it’s smart to be smart.
But “innovator” implies that you have some kind of shiny, new insight that no one has articulated before. To be an innovator or any other variation of the term, what you’re saying can’t just be interesting, well-reasoned, and useful — it has to be new.
Which leads me to my real problem here:
Novelty Is Not Wisdom
We don’t actually need a bunch of innovative thoughts on anime. We need to pursue, refine and implement the existing thoughts we have.
I’m not talking about innovation in a passive sense such as in technology or science where exploration and growth is bound to happen even without innovators.
I’m talking about people who claim completely new insights about how this hobby we all enjoy fundamentally works — whether it’s in regards to a specific series or how we should engage with anime on a whole
Most innovators create novelty in one of two ways.
The first is to repackage old ideas in a sparkly new wrapper. Anime YouTubers tend to be especially guilty of this, and I don’t actually have a problem with it. New wrappers make things more interesting, and that gets us to pay fresh attention to fundamental concepts we should lend an ear to.
But don’t kid yourself and think it makes you an innovator. It makes you a good teacher. Which is better, because it’s useful.
The other way, of course, is to make up some nonsense.
Preach a new notion with how we connect with anime, make up buzzwords that the community should use or whip up guidelines for what does or doesn’t belong in this medium etc.
If you are in possession of special, unique wisdom that no one else knows about, either you’ve dressed some old wisdom in a new suit or you are pushing a great big pile of bullshit.
Innovators strive for new ideas. Leaders strive for good ideas.
You don’t need someone to tell you what to think. I trust you to have that covered.
The people you interact with in the anime community online and off really don’t need that either. They’re capable. But they have questions, and you can help with that.
I believe it’s useful to step up and share your experience. I find it’s massively useful when someone who has done something difficult talks about what they’ve learned along the way.
I believe in expertise. Some people are better at a given skill than others. Usually because they have a lot of practice doing it or researching it (thank you for existing Sakuga Blog).
I believe that most of us have days when our confidence fails, and we can use a pep talk.
And I believe that it’s powerful to let people know what you believe in. Not because you’re telling them to believe the same way or pushing yourself as a figurehead on some groundbreaking insight, but because you’re inviting those who believe in your values to walk with you.