Online Behavior; How to Improve the Experience.

ragequitI hear it all too often: “Facebook/Google+/Twitter/Reddit/Imgur/etc would be so much better if it wasn’t for all the asshats!”

The problem being the people online lead two different lives. Let me explain:

As described in Neil Stevenson’s novel “Snow Crash”, the main character Hiro Protagonist is a software developer who helped create an alternate reality where people spend most of their non-working lives doing whatever they want. In the metaverse, they can act out their wildest fantasies and do things they could never do in the real world. For example, Hiro is the best sword fighter in the world. However, in the real world, things are drastically different. He lives in a 10′ x 10′ storage unit and only owns a futon and a computer.

Our current online reality is similar to this fictional one, despite Mr. Stevenson’s eerily similar predictions from years before (original publication lists the street date of Snow Crash as 1992,) even though the founders of Google Earth based their product from the ideas, and many of the technological terms found today such as metaverse and MMO’s avatars looking like player’s characters from the book also.

The main point of this article is the current attitude of the gamers and people online.

A friend of mine went to a video game conference and took pictures with the developers and posted them on his Facebook and Twitter account, making the offhanded comment about “the anonymous people on Twitter blasting him for sucking up to big-wigs.” The heads of the company stated that it wasn’t the anonymous people that he had to look out for, but the ones on Facebook with personal pictures and their home addresses listed in their profiles. Sure enough, after the pictures went live, the most hateful comments came on Facebook with pictures posing along with their children and families.

The problem being, in my opinion, is once someone gets behind a keyboard, they think that everyone is immune to whatever hate and ignorance they spew out of their brain. Like their false anonymity excuses their stupidity.

Bullying is bullying, despite how one spells or reads it. Bottom line. Stop it. Now.

Another example came to my attention when I was playing Warcraft the other day. I was tanking in an instance and one of the group members fell behind for whatever reason. I stopped to wait for them and the rest of the group became agitated and started calling me names. I ignored them and waited. One guy rage-quit after whispering me telling me I was the worst tank in the world along with a bunch of racial slurs. I ignored him and reported him to Blizzard for harassment. I didn’t take it personally, but I know people who would and players like this are why I’m writing this.

Despite what others do online, I act the same online that I do offline. Yes, I really am this cocky in real life. You can ask my wife and friends – they’ll all vouch for me.

I follow a very simple rule: The golden rule.

I have a feeling not many people know this rule, since the more I play games online and read some of the vile hatred that spews forth from the bowels of the internet, I’m convinced either humanity is doomed to repeat Saddam and Gammorah, or there’s a large group of people are secretly assholes. Either one wouldn’t surprise me.

The golden rule is simple: Do unto others as they would do unto you. If you are kind, funny, considerate, and polite; others should do the same back to you. If you are rude, inconsiderate, mean, and douchey, guess what? Expect the same.

In other words: Don’t be a dick.

At the same time, you can’t expect everyone to know what you’re thinking all the time either, communication is key in online forums and gaming since most of the time, people are reading flat text with no emotion and connotation to your direct feelings. The more people communicate, the better off the relationship becomes – even if it’s only a temporary relationship while people play in a group quest for a video game.

Again: Don’t be a dick, and don’t expect others to treat you different from you treat them. Be nice to others, and you’ll be surprised how often the sentiment is returned.

It’s the simple things that make the biggest change within one’s life.

-Chris

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