Anonymous asked realsocialskills:On Tumblr, a lot of people seem to communicate happiness by exaggerated displeasure. Like, if a fic has made them sad or someone’s art is just *that good*, they’ll comment “SCREW YOU I DIDN’T NEED MY HEART ANYWAY” or something like that. But I’m always afraid to send things like that because I’m afraid it’ll be mistaken for genuine hate. What is a good way to make it clear that I actually really like what they do while keeping that sort of mock rage? Or should I just not bother?realsocialskills said:I don’t know, and actually I often have a lot of trouble telling whether someone is intending to complain about something or praise it when they’re talking that way.Do any of y’all know how to tell the difference, and how to be clear about which one you mean?
A large part of expressing distress in a way that it’s taken as a compliment is having a reaction that’s consistent with what the author was trying to do with their fic (or art, or whatever). For example, if they wrote about a beloved character’s agonizing death, and you’re crying, they succeeded in conveying how sad and moving this is. So “AAAH MY HEART, I HATE YOU, POOR EPONINE!” doesn’t meant “you horrible author, you” in a serious way. It means “I’m floored by how intensely you made me feel this.” That goes double if the author got their reader to empathize with characters that aren’t generally well liked, or see things from a different perspective. Extreme emotion or mock rage can emphasize how great an accomplishment it was to bring this particular reader around. “Wtf, I don’t even LIKE Filch but now I can’t even, what have you done to me?? *sobbing into pillow forever*” is a positive review, because it means the author made someone look at canon from a radically different angle and sympathize with a character they usually consider unpleasant.
Also, a significant part of what comments like this are geared to emphasize is the huge gulf between what the reader normally goes around feeling, and what they’re feeling as a result of reading this story. Some fanfics are written with the tone of a pleasant summer breeze, but some fanfics are intentionally emotional rollercoasters. Screaming and crying is a normal reaction to those. It’s not a sign that anyone seriously wants it to stop.
As a final note, if the author has reblogged other people who flail and yell about their stories with happy comments, you can generally assume they’re comfortable with this way of interacting. If all the other comments on a story that they’ve responded to are straightforwardly complimentary and you don’t know the author, it’s probably better to avoid leaving a mock-hate review. They might have issues that make that sort of talk stressful for them.