Yesterday, the singer/guitarist and primary songwriter of the band Fall Out Boy, Patrick Stump, wrote a lengthy post on his blog about the frustrations he’s been dealing with personally and emotionally since the band fell out of favor a few years ago. I’ve shared it with a few people, because though the average persons situation differs from Stumps in a lot of ways, some of the basic frustrations he talks about resonate with me.
Some of the things Stump says in his post that jumped out at me: When talking about going out on tour in support of his solo album and encountering fans who were less than appreciative of his performances – “What I wasn’t prepared for was the fervor of the hate from people who were ostensibly my own supporters (or at least supporters of something I had been part of). The barrage of “We liked you better fat,” the threatening letters to my home, the kids that paid for tickets to my solo shows to tell me how much I sucked without Fall Out Boy, that wasn’t something I suppose I was or ever will be ready for. That’s dedication. That’s real palpable anger.” On talking about trying to please past fans with new work – “there will still be 10-20 percent of the audience there to tell me how shitty whatever it is I’m doing is and how much better the thing I used to do was.”
I can sympathize with his frustrations. I realize I run the risk of sounding like an increasingly old, angry, codger (which I suppose to some extent I’m becoming), but it seems like the loudest voices of dissent and dissatisfaction these days come from people who have personally accomplished the least.
They can’t show any demonstrated success in things they’ve created, contributed to, or thought of – but they’re the first to jump up to shout down someone else’s attempts to try something new. It’s frustrating, it’s disheartening, it makes everything less fun, and it makes you want to just turn your back on them and walk away sometimes.
I expressed it to a friend of mine in this way: “You can tell them ‘I created this according to your specifications, am delivering to you at the date and time you requested, and I’m going to blow you while you take receipt of it” and they’d still tell you ‘You suck’.
Bottom line – if you’re not willing to do it better yourself, don’t criticize someone else.