So anyone who follows me on twitter or @epic_insanity or @ValkavGaming had the feed a bit spammed as the three of us, well two of us since Epic decided to abstain so he could create a blog post discussing it. See Here. Valkav and I went back and forth about human nature and while we agree on some things I did not feel I could accurately get my point across with the 140 word limit. Also, I wanted to respond to Epic’s blog post. I think this is a fascinating conversation and wanted to keep it going.
It is important that I share my worldview since I may come at this from a different place than a lot of people. I am a counselor at heart and am in a counselor education program at the moment. I am a humanist, meaning I believe people are inherently good, and I trust that they are doing the right thing. As people we react to the people and world around us. We are trying to meet certain needs anyway we can and that does include the internet “trolls.” People act certain ways for a reason, and while I may not know the reason I try not to react when it is in a rude way. The only person who I can control is me, and I try to remember that. I try not to become a troll in return. How I perceive the behaviors of others also influences if I think they are a troll. I cannot know their intention if I do not ask them. A few weeks ago I was running a dungeon on my lowbie Druid healer. The tank was an Arms warrior without a shield that could not hold aggro to save our lives. Instead of joining in on the beat up this idiot game that was going on I asked him if he was aware that warrior tanks should be prot warriors. He was brand new, this was his first toon and he had no idea. Because the game allowed him to choose tank he assumed that as Arms he can tank. Because I and one other person took the time to actually talk with him he didn’t quit the game over the rude trolls, and he learned something important. It is easy to pick on the newbies, but I am still a noob and make mistakes all the time. We all can be the jerk, and have all been the jerk at some point. I have done it in my real life as well. It is easier to gossip or put someone down to make ourselves feel better, than it is to do the right thing. I try to remember it is a person on the other side with feelings, and hardships that I will never know. We all can be the troll, so maybe how we react to others is what needs to change.
The question that @ValkavGaming posed involved how anonymity brings out the worst in people and what does that say about human nature. The part that fascinated me was the question of anonymity. Is that what makes some people trolls? Or is it a reflection of their inner selves? As someone who likes the anonymity of the internet, the title of my blog says it all. Does the fact that I am anonymous lure me to use my anonymity for bad? Or are those that use anonymity for bad already rude, hurtful people? I personally feel that it is the latter. I believe that people do not change their personality once they are behind a screen. We may accentuate certain aspects of our personality, such as confidence, humor, or jerkiness because we are less inhibited. Compare it to alcohol, we all know that "mean drunk". We like to say that he/she would never do that if they weren't drunk, however, we all know it is just that part of their personality amplified. The mean drunk can be mean when sober, alcohol just draws it out. Same goes for being a troll when online. The ability to be anonymous draws out the troll tendencies.
We also live in a culture that is extremely harsh on appearances and personality. If you do not have the right look, or social standing then you are judged harshly and may even be bullied which causes people to withdraw from society. For some people their online friendships have more meaning and are more authentic and valuable than the real life ones. Having been rejected by society many reject it in return. By seeking out online interaction in an anonymous way people are meeting their needs for social acceptance. Now some people who have been bullied may now take this opportunity to bully back, to feel that sense of power. I think that in those situations the nature of the anonymity of the internet does allow for those individuals to meet a need, but did not create the need. There are always people who are just mean and hurtful, you meet them in real life, and you meet them online. I find it hard to believe that someone who is caring and giving in real life turns into a hateful troll when behind a screen. Now someone who acts kindhearted but is really resentful may use anonymity to act out that resent on unaware bystanders. That is a result of their environment. We also have to look at social skills. Some people lack them, and it translates to rude online. There is no evil intent, just a lack of ability to express themselves. We are all people and we bring our baggage and biases with us wherever we go. How we approach the world also dictates what we get back. If we approach others expecting negativity, that is most likely what we will get. When we reinforce our beliefs we remember those things that prove us correct and forget the things that do not unless it is truly extraordinary.
My belief is that people who act out negatively online most likely have negative personalities, that the internet did not create their negatively. This is where Epic and I differ, based on his blog his view is that the anonymity of the internet draws out the worst in people. I can see this view and think it is a common one. Maybe I have had an unusual experience where most people I meet online are nice individuals. We all can say rude/mean things; I am not excluded from this. We all have bad days, or are new at a game and are tired of everyone biting our heads off instead of giving helpful advice; which causes us to lash out. We are all people, and even if some people don’t act like it. Remember respect goes a long way. How often do we jump into a random dungeon or looking for raid and do not even say hello. Say hi, if you see someone struggling give helpful advice. I agree with Epic that the best way is to be authentic and helpful to others, you may find you get the same in return. We are all people, in and out of game. As always share your thoughts, leave comments or follow me @Jaygurrl on twitter.
Peace and Love