Image Source: プロアニ公式 on Twitter

In the 21st century, social media—networks that allow users to connect to others through things like text and pictures—exploded in popularity. It seems simple enough—post your current status, favorite things, or personal opinions. It’s a playground for people who don’t meet every day to mingle, exchange information, and find out what others are doing in their everyday lives. Although considered a fun pastime by some, it’s a second life to others. And when the digital becomes a second life, it can be hard not to take every action someone else takes just as seriously as in “reality.” Imagine trying to be a creator where everything you make is open to criticism on the world wide web.

TSUKIPRO THE ANIMATION brings up a pretty real problem: How seriously should we take the actions of others on social media? The male idols of the boy band Soara get a letter from a fan for the advice section of their radio show. The fan runs a blog where he/she uploads pictures of cats. That’s it. But after a while, a certain person began liking pretty much every single picture he/she posted, and the two eventually became friends. However, as of late, the person on the other end has stopped liking the fan’s post, and this makes him/her worried.

It’s just a pastime, isn’t it? It’s just the internet, right? It’s nothing to take serious, right? While some might just say “it’s just social media,” surprisingly, the boys of Soara take the problem fairly seriously, with the leader Sora going so far as to say that he’s had a similar experience. As the composer for the band, it hurt to see rude comments about his creations on places like Twitter, where everyone freely voices their opinions. In the end, his friends had to tell him to just close his laptop and look away.

While getting upset about a lack of likes seems stupid when you say it out loud, it’s something that I’ve felt myself on a daily basis. I once had a friend. I’m not sure he’s a friend anymore, to be honest. We had a fight a while back, and then suddenly, he stopped liking anything I posted. I got likes from other people, so everything’s cool, right? But I saw him liking everyone else’s statuses except for mine. And it hurt. Just seeing one of those ruined my day. It made me feel horrible. We weren’t especially angry at each other, but he was obviously trying to avoid having me know he was paying any attention to me.

On the other hand, when my seniors in the industry who are very busy but still take the time to like my statuses do so, it can make my entire day. It gives me a jolt of mental energy to push on. Of course, on the other hand, if someone likes every single status I have, it can feel cheap and not worth much.

It might just be the click of a mouse, but at this point, social media is a second life for many people. Just because it is through a screen, the emotional impact does not change. It’s still people behind the screen affecting someone on the other side, no matter the method. However, as Sora learns, it might just be best to separate yourself from the digital playground in order to let you separate from all the haters.

While people not in the spotlight might get less exposure, there have been multiple famous voice actresses in Japan that have quit Twitter as a result of harassment. For example, Sumire Uesaka of The iDOLM@STER Cinderella Girls and Restaurant to Another World fame quit Twitter not too long ago because of what she called “an unmanageable amount of heartless Tweets” sent to her as replies. Even from people you don’t know, the negativity from others can build up and cause stress in the real world, and famous people usually have to take the brunt of this the most due to their recognition.

But even when I say the “real world,” social media is the real world, just as it is real to make a phone call to someone. Though you can’t see someone’s face, you are still emotionally connecting with someone in some way. Though troubles like a “decrease in likes” might seem trivial, as social media becomes more and more of a necessity in not only our personal lives but also private, the problems we face without standing physically in front of each other become more and more prevalent, but that doesn’t make them any less real. And the emotional pain that weighs down on one’s shoulders isn’t any less real either.

TSUKIPRO THE ANIMATION is streaming on Crunchyroll with English subtitles.

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