Saturday, December 6, 2014

Why I Try Not To Laugh at People

Short form? I want everyone to be warm, safe, well-fed, and happy.

That's why, despite any snark that I throw around online (and I do, I admit; it's hard not to some days), really, I want people to be OK.

Now, me wanting you to be OK doesn't absolve anyone from not being abusive or hurtful. It doesn't mean I won't tell you to check your privilege (and if that phrase makes you immediately roll your eyes and start grousing about "SJWs," well, you probably need to check your privilege). It doesn't mean I won't make fun of you or be sarcastic at you.

But you know what? I will never doxx you. I will never encourage other people to hunt you down and say hurtful things. I will never stalk you, and I will never, ever, knowingly lie about you. I might be wrong about something, and if I am (and if it's brought to my attention in a factual and respectful way, obviously), I'll retract it and make steps to correct it.

'Cause you know what? I was an angry young man for a long, long time. I was pissed off at women and...well, pretty much everyone. I didn't like people, and I didn't care who knew it. I was confused and scared and not a little depressed, and that makes for a really shitty cocktail. Add into the mix that I was privileged as all fuck (I grew up male, white, and well-off; I'm a bisexual atheist, so the points at which I lose my privilege are only as visible as I make them) and you've got the recipe that, had things gone a different way, I might have been out there today championing some very unsavory hashtags. And I'd probably be just as vociferous as anyone, and I'd have plenty of reassurance that I was right. And like a lot of folks, I feed on that kind of feedback.

So, despite accusations to the contrary, I don't live in an echo chamber. I pay attention to what I hear and where I hear it. I consider sources. So if you see me saying something and you think I've been taken in by "the other side," may spare 30 seconds and think that maybe, just maybe, I might know what the hell I'm talking about.

Or not, who the hell knows. Maybe I've been thoroughly corrupted by the "SJW" movement. Tell you what: Here's my ethical framework. I'll let you be the judge:

1) People have the right to say what they want...but no one owes you a platform on which to say it.

2) People have the right to sell what they want...but no one owes them customers or a storefront.

3) People have the right to believe what they want...but no one owes those beliefs anything other than acknowledgement.

4) People have the right to exist without being attacked or threatened or silenced...but pointing out problems with someone's statements isn't silencing. Disagreeing isn't, by itself, attacking.

We could get into finer points, of course. I think it's reasonable to ask for greater representation in games, for example. I'm not interested in supporting games, video or otherwise, that make no attempt to include and accept women, POC, trans, queer, etc. people. Do those folks have a "right" to be represented? Let's say it this way: They have as much right to be represented as anyone else. Do game devs have a responsibility to strive for that kind of equal representation? I don't know about responsibility, but I certainly have a right to make their decisions affect my buying habits. And that's not silencing or censorship. I owe any given game company exactly nothing.

I also believe that people can grow up. They can change. They can learn empathy. I did it. My methods might not work for everyone; for me it took having kids, getting a job that required some humility and some service, and losing people in my life that I truly loved. It require perspective, and you can't exactly bottle that. So maybe the folks who are up in arms now about "ethics in games journalism" - the ones who really believe that that's actually a thing, that the harassment and the threats, like, didn't happen or something, that believe that their favorite video games are actually under some kind of threat, maybe what they need is a little time and a little exposure to the biomass and a little perspective.

I'll say this: I wade into threads and Twitter fests and hastags and I read, not because I'm expecting to agree with what I find, but because I want to understand. What I find makes me sad, sometimes, but that's life, and I have plenty of reasons to be happy. I type and delete a lot more comments than I post, but I fuck it up sometimes and say things that are mean or sarcastic. But I do try and learn. And I hope that folks on the other "side" do the same thing - go looking for other perspectives not with the intent of making themselves angry or finding a place to lash out, but just to learn.

The world is an interesting place. It has awesome people in it. But you lose so much if you go looking for people to hate, and you gain so much if you remember that even the people who hurt you have some humanity.

Now, that's easy for me to say. I'm not being hounded out of my home or threatened with murder or rape, and don't think for a minute that I don't recognize that. I am privileged that I can be so calm about things. That's really all I mean when I say to check one's privilege - acknowledge it. See how it might inform your position. And move on.

It's late, and I'm done rambling. Next post will probably be a character or a movie or something more typical of this blog. But maybe not...maybe I'm gonna start using it for this kind of thing.