Before I get started I wanted to make it clear that this thread is not intended to be a lightning rod of controversy. I’ll state my opinions on a few things and anyone else is free to add their own, but in the end my hope is that it will be treated as more constructive than destructive and perhaps we can move past some of the negativity. I’m not going to single any one person out for an attack, because all it would do is put them on the defensive and I don’t think we need yet another thread that spirals out of control into another mud-sling fest.
There are plenty of people here with plenty of reasons they’ve chosen to dislike me. Because I don’t want to simply generate a tit-for-tat bullet-point list of issues I’ll generalize about a couple over-all themes I’ve seen pop up during my time here without trying to single out any one particular person or conversation. Also, since I’m not addressing everything I’m sure it might seem to some people like I’m glossing over ‘the most important issue’ to them, that’s not my intention – I only edit for some semblance of relative brevity (because brief it isn’t).
I wasn’t here for the vetting or screening process I’ve seen mentioned several times. Although my original application for access was sent and responded to via email based on a FAQ I had read here, I guess by that point in time all one had to do was sign up on the board for access. It has been made clear to me that before the vetting and screening ended things here were better. I’ve spent a lot of time reading older threads on older topics such as games or whatever, but it seems like there have always been those people who stir up controversy no matter what they say. It also seems to me there have always been those people that just don’t get along with each other.
Do I think that the problems some people have with me are merely related to the idea that they ‘just don’t get along with me’? No, I don’t think it’s quite so simple. I take the blame for perpetuating negative behavior by not only replying to trolling and put-downs aimed at me, but by taking what was thrown, turning it into something ten times as silly and over-the-top and throwing it right back to the sender.
I admit that I don’t take a lot of this stuff as seriously as other people do, so when a person ends up showing me that they’ve got growing in them a genuine animosity towards me my first reaction is to laugh at them. Not very diplomatic, and not constructive in the least. The end result are threads of no benefit to anybody, since even the smallest bit of humor in the situation has been sucked out of the room because of the very real emotion seeping through half the exchanges of fire.
Sometimes my second reaction is to contact them through PM’s to iron stuff out, whether it’s because I’ve started taking things personal, or because I respect them and think they deserve to know that my reaction to their words isn’t so much heartfelt anger, as it is me mirroring and magnifying their own behavior towards me in my own seemingly spiteful way.
Public arguments of these types have a tendency to do a couple things: they can spread to the point where they start occurring all over the forum when certain people make it a point to follow others around and get their digs in at them wherever they see an opportunity, and they can also cause bad or hurt feelings which persist for years. Bad feelings and memories seem to last forever on the net, which is different than real life, where it seems easier to just forgive and forget.
I’ve played my part in the problem by not addressing certain misunderstandings in the past as quickly as I could have by either allowing people to speculate and work themselves up into a frenzy over things I’ve said, or by playing into their anger and becoming just the type of person with just the type of opinions they think they are so angry at in the first place. This isn’t good for either one of us, and it’s my fault for encouraging these types of reactions by doing things like refusing to back down when someone works themselves up into a lather.
Am I trying to say that all of my disagreements and seemingly insane idea’s about books, movies, games, people, whatever are all based on some attempt by me to just piss people off? Absolutely not. Like everyone I have my own feelings and interpretations about what makes a book, band, or movie good or bad. But when I get a reply that attacks me instead of my idea (you know, the “You’re a fucking idiot if you think that” type of reply), my weakness is the inability to overlook such reactions, and as such I perpetuate the problem instead of working to resolve it. Scariest part about this is that when it comes to my feelings on the subject, they’re always genuine, it’s the personal attacks that serve as a reaction to my opinion that encourages the showmanship that comes in to play to defend these idea’s.
I’m not the only one to blame for these problems though. I mention that I’ve sent PMs to people as a way of putting our differences aside, without trying to get them to publicly make or accept an apology from me. When something like this needs to be done between two individuals it can be counter-productive to make a public issue out of it. I’ve made it a point to send a couple apologies to specific people letting them I’m sincere about how I feel, and I’ve also had other people send them to me when they realize I’m not really as bad as they first thought. Life become much easier around each other because we weren’t constantly trying to provoke or put down one another.
All of these exercises in humility ended up benefiting not only the people involved (at least from my perspective) but the board as well, because it was one less on-going argument the board had to deal with.
What I will attempt to do in the future is shrug off the personal attacks thrown my way. I’m not perfect though, and my first reaction is always to make fun of people that do this, but I’d rather try to eat their words than continue perpetuate the hostility. This works both ways though: people who contribute nothing more than a personal attack aren’t doing anything other than perpetuating a problem and encouraging a similar reaction.
Because I do have a soft-spot for dry humor, and because I am a genuine cynic, my opinions on certain subjects are not apt to change, and will probably invite scorn towards these opinions, all I ask is that you aim your attack at the opinion and not at me – and in turn I will try my best not to react in kind.
I’m sure most of us agree that that not only do people change, but sometimes first impressions aren’t the best gauge of a person. Before I end up painted into a corner for the rest of my time here, always on the defensive and never able to just relax and just be me, I thought perhaps we could at least put some of these issues to rest and find a better way to deal with our disagreements than by publicly insulting first and then repeatedly stalking and insulting after.