Is there that person in game that you used to like but now avoid if at all possible? Is it a particular Guildie with whom you were once a friend but now have drifted apart, for whatever reason? I wonder, how do you treat them when you meet: is it polite indifference, or complete silence. This isn’t like reality, after all: you might exist in the same room as the person virtually but if you choose to say nothing, is it still rude? Could you be seen to be turning your back to them as you talk, and therefore be actively demonstrating disgust? Maybe it’s one of those people who’ve been telling the same jokes since Vanilla and like to remind you of how long they’ve been here and how important that is to your Community…
I watch a lot of conversations, talk to a vast number of people. For me, Community’s a pretty binary place after more than a decade. It boils down to two distinct groups of people, like it or not. There are those people who are just genuinely kind, warm and open to everybody, and then there are those who aren’t. You might be able to pretend for a while you’re something you’re not but eventually, like it or not, the truth comes out. I know this for a fact because I’m in the latter camp, and that gives a really interesting view of what Community has become after all these years. When your default state isn’t open, it makes seeing problems quite a bit easier. The trick for people like me is to understand that you need both types to make everything work successfully, and to attempt to find a place to hang out somewhere in the middle. Except now, I realise, the middle ground just makes things worse.
For everybody who isn’t sure of where they sit, community remains a problem.
I watch the daily to and fro of social media and understand that for some, there is never drama. They just keep posting their shit day in day out and if people choose to interact, so be it, it often doesn’t matter, because their perception of what matters to be here is built exclusively around a singular world view. I’m probably quite guilty of this on certain days, if I’m honest: what I think is hilariously funny will make some people go ‘huh?’ The people who probably win most at this game are those who can devolve themselves from their ‘activity’ online, but as just about everybody on Twitter/Facebook/Twitch is there to sell themselves, like it or not? It becomes a process of working out what matters. It is increasingly apparent that certain people will go out of their way to profess opinion just to be popular, but that’s been the way since men walked out of the caves and fought over what was the best way to kill. Spear or femur? Trap or husbandry? Democracy or coup? Remembering the virtual’s just a step down from evolution on a global scale’s a good leveller, when all is said and done.
As we approach a new Expansion, inevitably, navels are being gazed at. Players are considering their homes and futures. However, for all those people willing and ready to change there are an equal number who will carry on as if the last decade never happened, who’ll only accept Ghostbusters if they’re male, and decide the best way to deal with a vote to leave something is to ignore it and hope nobody notices. They’re not the open, happy individuals nor the nasty, mean fuckers who everyone has on ignore. All these people exist in between the two, in a very worrying grey ‘no this isn’t our problem you sort this and come back when it works’ area that I’m now quite uncomfortable inhabiting. In fact, if the choice is between staying here, wandering into darkness or heading for the light?
I know exactly where I want to be.
However funny and clever you think you are? Ultimately, it’s a lie. The only real validation of ability and effort is in the long-term approval or otherwise of a bunch of people you won’t like, probably not get on with and could eventually end up despising. It’s no wonder the notion of inner peace expects you to dispense with the beliefs and feelings of the rest of the world first and forces you to look to yourself for answers. A lot of individuals just can’t do this: it’s painful, unpleasant and frankly depressing, and in the end it’s just a lot easier to queue for LFG and shit on people via Twitter afterwards.When you come to the ultimate conclusion that you are in fact the very thing that makes Community bad? It is easy to see why many people decide it is just simpler to walk away and continue being the evangelical ex-Warcraft player who loves to tell people that the game fucking sucks because of bad people. Yup, bad people like YOU, who even when leaving cannot put aside the prejudices you created and that ultimately drove you away. Good job, sweetheart.
That means that, going forward, maybe it is time for people like me to lead by example.
That means, in the weeks that follow, that I will be taking up people’s offers. If you’d like to do summat with me, if you ask I’ll do my best to be there. I’ll attempt to put my issues aside and get a PvP character working. I’ll do random five man content again and try and learn from it instead of being critical of everyone else. If my guild continues to be a ghost town as it has been this last many weekends I’ll find myself somewhere else to play for Legion. In the end, the only person responsible for making a community better is the individual. If you don’t make the effort to lead by example? Nothing changes, and you’re just showing off your funny screencaps to an audience who eventually don’t care, however much you though you actually mattered to each other. A new Expansion gives everybody a chance to start again, but for many it’s just another depressing set of changes. If you’re thinking that this weekend? You are part of the problem.
It’s not often I sit down and 1000 words just fall out of my brain without some planning. I get how important the next six and a bit weeks are going to be for Warcraft. If you think this is just the same thing all over again? It is time to redefine yourself.