Anyone whose ever been involved in any sort of conversation on the internet will be quick to tell you that people can be harsh. Emboldened by anonymity, mild mannered folk suddenly become vicious online trolls, spitting vitriol and bile at anyone who they disagree with. Movie Pilot is no exception and apparently, neither is Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman.
Speaking to Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet, Kirkman opened up about the dark side to being the creator of a comic series and TV show which has turned into a worldwide phenomenon. "I get feedback on the web every day," he said. "Most of the people I work with stay away from it. They cannot cope with the terrible attacks, the negative comments and death threats I get."
Yep, that's right he gets death threats over a comic. Talk about some seriously messed up shit. Kirkman went onto explain that despite the harsh words, he never really considers getting law enforcement involved. "I could ask the police to trace the person but it is probably no danger," he explained. "It can be very scary if it is from a 35-year-old man with a lot of knives who knows where I live. But it can also be a 13 year old highly emotional girl... We’ll see if I survive, but I do not think anyone is going to hurt me here."
Instead of allowing the cruel and unnecessary comments to get to him, over the years Kirkman says he has built up a tough resolve, and now uses the feedback as a way to gauge what the audience wants.
"I can say banana split in social media, and they respond, ‘Go to hell, we want soft ice cream. You will die!’ I take it with a grain of salt. People have been saying disgusting things to me for so long now that I have become desensitized. I use it as a tool. You get a sense of what the audience likes and dislikes, and what path they want the action to take."
Although it's unfortunate that Kirkman had to get to the point of desensitization in the first place, it's certainly a good thing he's found a way of coping with it. With the rise of social media, more and more celebrities have found themselves being the targets of threats, or overly involved fans. Most recently Ghostbusters star Leslie Jones was the target of hatred on twitter, and last year Agent Carter star Hayley Atwell quit social media over concerns her private life was becoming too public.
While it's probably too much to dream that these types of people can be eradicated forever, we can only hope that as social media and internet usage grows and evolves over the next few years, internet users begin to take more responsibility for their words. Because no matter if it's a joke or otherwise, leaving death threats over a comic and TV series are taking things too far.
The Walking Dead returns to screens with Season 7 on October 23
Have you ever been threatened online?