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Viewpoint Where does the interest in angst come from?

Eye of Nowhere

Lost Prophecy
I see it in so many searches, here and elsewhere. Hence my question: Why are people so into putting a great deal of, usually unnecessary, angst into any sort of story? Some people I've approached for a roleplay even demand it's there, even if it shouldn't fit the character.

I would like to see some opinions on the matter. Whether you are someone into it, or not. Any opinion is welcome.
 

nerdy tangents

super nerdy
I think given that we have collectively spent the past year and some change undergoing a shared trauma people are probably wanting to work through their feelings in a written medium. As at least in a roleplay the angst can have a happy ending because you control the narrative.

Personally I take the exact opposite approach and usually try to stick to whimsical or light-hearted topics. But I will also sprinkle in some real world angst some times as well (I noticed a lot of my more recent ideas have dealt with confronting bigotry for instance)
 

Daisie

RpN's demon dragon bodyguard
Moderator
That's a difficult thing to answer. I'm definitely one of those people with the "unnecessary angst" lol, and I'm not shy about it. All I can figure is that humanity has been addicted to drama and heartbreak for the longest time. If you wanna talk about unnecessary angst, go check out a few ancient Greek tragedies, hahaha!

I think we get a sort of high from making ourselves feel immense emotions. We really like to feel things, especially when it's recreationally: in a controlled scenario that we know can't affect us in the real world. We love having our heartstrings pulled on by tragic movies, we love being scared by horror games, we love feeling worried for the hero whose life is put in danger for the greater good, and in general, we love relating to people. Even fictional people... Sometimes especially fictional people.

When it comes to why drama & angst is so popular, all I can say is that everyone has their own preferences. What you think of as unnecessary angst may, to another person, be entirely necessary for their own enjoyment.

Why people have these preferences has been a topic of speculation for centuries. Individual preferences as a whole are really strange things that we don't fully understand... but I hope I answered why people like me get a rush from angst, lol.
 

Reid

certified jin guangyao apologist 🧚‍♂️
That's a difficult thing to answer. I'm definitely one of those people with the "unnecessary angst" lol, and I'm not shy about it. All I can figure is that humanity has been addicted to drama and heartbreak for the longest time. If you wanna talk about unnecessary angst, go check out a few ancient Greek tragedies, hahaha!

I think we get a sort of high from making ourselves feel immense emotions. We really like to feel things, especially when it's recreationally: in a controlled scenario that we know can't affect us in the real world. We love having our heartstrings pulled on by tragic movies, we love being scared by horror games, we love feeling worried for the hero whose life is put in danger for the greater good, and in general, we love relating to people. Even fictional people... Sometimes especially fictional people.

When it comes to why drama & angst is so popular, all I can say is that everyone has their own preferences. What you think of as unnecessary angst may, to another person, be entirely necessary for their own enjoyment.

Why people have these preferences has been a topic of speculation for centuries. Individual preferences as a whole are really strange things that we don't fully understand... but I hope I answered why people like me get a rush from angst, lol.
Pretty much this for me. I love angst in fiction because it's fun, yanno? And it's also fun to come up with it with an RP partner. Crank up that sad emo playlist and sob over your keyboard while you write your response. It really gets the blood pumping lmao. I love tooth rotting fluff too, don't get me wrong, but I enjoy it more as a sort of small addition to angst rather than the entire rp be fluff.
 

Stray Cat

Regal Queen
I personally believe it adds a realistic atmosphere to the narrative (if that makes sense). Characters are not going to be happy all the time, if they were the story would be somewhat dismal don't you think? Another explanation I have seen thrown out there is that people like to explore the psychology of a character and find out what makes them tick.
 

Werepunk

Fen'Harel ma ghilana
I think there are a lot of reasons. It's cathartic, for one. It's a safe way to explore intense emotions. And it can be really fun and interesting to get to down into a favorite character's psyche like that. For some people, there's an element of escapism to it as well-- you focus on a fictional character's problems to distract yourself from your own.

Plus, the main thing that keeps any story interesting is conflict, and a lot of conflict is going to lead to some level of angst. If something negative happens to your character, your character is probably going to have some kind of negative feelings or response... If they don't, I don't know how realistic a character that is, to be honest.

Setting also has a lot to do with it. I mostly roleplay in settings where some amount of angst is sort of to be expected-- post-apocalyptic settings and dark fantasy settings where tragic backstories are probably more common than happy, normal ones. In stories where life is hard and brutal for most people, there's bound to be a lot of hurt. I do believe in keeping it proportional, and making sure angst is only one element of a story rather than its driving force, but I don't think it's unnecessary by any means.

And on a more personal note, I often enjoy writing things like hurt/comfort, angst with a happy ending, etc. Basically, I like writing about characters healing from trauma, and part of that healing is letting them cry and scream and whatever else they need to do-- the angst serves the purpose of developing the characters, and making that happy ending that much sweeter when they finally get to it.
 
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Sibelle Grey

Worldweaver
Hard agree Daisie Daisie Werepunk Werepunk . I love angst in my roleplays. Part of the appeal is the intensity of the feelings involved in situations that are angsty, I like writing those feelings, exploring where they come from for my characters, etc. It allows me to flesh out a lot-- what their weaknesses are, what their insecurities are, how they react to difficult situations, how previous difficult situations impact their thoughts and feelings. I feel like a character is never more alive or more real than when they're feeling something strong. Negative emotions tend to be pretty strong.

Then, there's the conflict aspect. I'm personally not interested in conflict-less roleplays. I can't imagine how I would work growth into them, and character exploration is a big part of why I roleplay. I like my characters to have obstacles to overcome and to do the work, and if they despair along the way, well, don't we all? I feel like a certain level of angst is realistic in any human life. I also feel like I write storylines where you usually have some kind of Big Bad looming overhead. You can't really be worried about magic-led global collapse or being chased by the authority that created you without some level of angst. My RPs are usually based on some kind of pressing danger or pressing risk, that literally threatens my characters' lives or at the very least their happiness, if not the state of the world. That just can't exist without a barrage of negative feelings. There are happy feelings, too, of course, and happy scenes and happy relationships. But at some point, I like for my characters to suit up and go face whatever it is. But I think writing angst is cathartic, and also a safe place to examine those feelings, whether you share the exact same ones or not.

Then, there's the fact that I just like the process of writing angst. I like describing it, I like the imagery that comes up, I like the immediacy of the language tied to it, I like the drama.

And finally, there's the fact that it's just so much fun. How are they going to push through this? Are they going to push through this? How can we get from point A to point B and then to point C even when everything seems bleak or at the very least very negative? I love tragedy and despair and fear in my stories, and I love figuring out how my characters can realistically overcome it, taking into account their own limitations, to do what needs to be done. I think it's easier to solve things when everything's happy go lucky, your characters are strong and untraumatized, and everyone's got a clear head. I like figuring out how to take my roughed-up little mind people through both a personal journey of overcoming their demons and a greater journey of overcoming a direct threat. It's like a little puzzle. It's like solving the puzzle of how to beat the Big Bad, while also solving or at least addressing the issues that cause personal and intrapersonal angst in your characters, which allows me to write a great deal of emotion.
 

grimmmy

ANSUZ
I thought about it a little and what is writing without angst? For example, you have an astronaut on a shuttle. With angst, they're reminiscing over the family they left on Earth and maybe struggling with the loneliness of being in empty space. Without angst... I guess they're just doing low-g backflips?

I guess unnecessary angst would be if it felt overwrought, like a little kid having a depressive episode because their third goldfish died. Or I remember when I first really got into rp, I joined a rp where my character just felt so emotionally unprepared for the situation it just wasn't fun to write anymore.
 

Cosmo

Does Not Know Kung-fu
People love misery. Its always been a thing. Since humankind started doing the whole 'human' thing, we've loved writing uber sad, uber awful things just cause we could. Sorrow and pain is a medium that is very easy to communicate from person to person. As sad as it may sound, relating something terrible is just easier to do then relaying happiness [Kinda the reason the whole, 'Happiness isn't something you realize you had until its gone,' shtick exist in so many different forms].

Tells a lot about people that we'd rather read someone suffering, and struggling, through life then some trust fund baby living in the lap of luxury, happy as a peach [Even then, stories with said rich, pampered people throw in the angst of, 'Oh, life in a gilded cage is still a cage,' crap that we are supposed to pretend is half as bad as living a normal life because the freedom to starve is soooo much better then a gilded cage. :xFrolleyes: Good god, do I hate those people. {Not people who write or enjoy those characters, but like, the actual character}]

Angst is just part of writing. Something that doesn't suffer just doesn't feel real, again, as warped as that is to say. Unless you mean people that go overboard with it, but come on, the 'woe is me' people annoy me in life, so yea, they'd annoy me in literature too. Nobody likes hanging out with Sad Larry.
 

ChasmOfOrganicMatter

High Priest of Depravity
I mean, the internet has always been an outlet for a lot of the stress and unpleasantness we deal with in real life. Sometimes it comes off as forced and a fascimilie of the real deal but there's nothing inherently wrong with your real life providing some degree of influence for what you write in your online one.
 

GojiBean

That One Fear In My Enemy's Eyes
I see it in so many searches, here and elsewhere. Hence my question: Why are people so into putting a great deal of, usually unnecessary, angst into any sort of story? Some people I've approached for a roleplay even demand it's there, even if it shouldn't fit the character.

I would like to see some opinions on the matter. Whether you are someone into it, or not. Any opinion is welcome.
A fair question, but it has a simple answer: Because they want to.

I know it sounds a bit sarcastic to write it that way, but it's the truth.

The desire to explore angst is the same as the desire to explore violence, romance, comedy, etc. And the exact reason is going to be different for every individual.

One person might want to explore angst because they're suffering from depression and writing angsty characters with personal issues similar to their own is a coping mechanism. Others may simply be fascinated by the subject of angst and want to see how other people handle the topic in their writing as a way to learn more about it at a fundamental, psychological, or personal level. And others still (such as myself) might be sadistic bastards who want to force every unpleasant experience on their characters to see exactly what said characters are truly made of when forced to endure said experiences because they're testing them out for potential involvement in a real story they plan to publish someday.

The list goes on.

But it all boils down to a desire to explore the subject.

Role-playing and storytelling have always been about personal expression. And they will continue to be so until the end of humanity. We explore things we want to learn more about or if we want to live vicariously through our characters.

I will say this, though: Avoid any GM who demands angst (or anything similar) be part of the experience.

GM's who demand anything except your best and most honest artistic effort to engage in the story and the world they've created are unreasonable, immature, and a headache not worth enduring. And frankly, I do not believe that GM's have the right to impose rules of that nature on anyone. I've been a GM for a little over 10 years now, and I've only imposed such a stipulation/restriction once. And surprise, surprise... It didn't end well for me or the role-play (hence why I never did it again).

So yeah. If a GM ever demands anything outside of your best and most honest effort in the RP experience... Leave. On the spot. No questions asked. Don't reply to any inquiries about why you left. And block them if necessary. They're not worth the headache. And their RP is absolutely guaranteed to fail under the weight and instability of their own unreasonable attitude. And you don't want or need to be a part of that nonsense.

Cheers!
 

Jannah

I suppose I'm back. Hello again.
As someone suffering from C-PTSD and an array of other mental illness, for me it's a safe outlet. If I expressed these feelings in real life I would be accused of being "too negative", an attention seeker, etc.
 

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