People are basically good. Right?

People are basically good.

People are basically good.

People are basically good.

I know this to be true in the real world — it is one of the basic precepts by which I live my life and in the long run it has never failed me — but I find myself repeating it a lot lately in the game, as if by chanting it over and over I can convince myself that it holds true in cyberland. I am having a hard time believing it though.

What set me off on this? Last night I decided that one of my alt hunters could do with a small gear upgrade — boots and a ring — and that the best chance was in the first two wings of heroic SoO. My guild is doing only Garrosh loom runs these days, so I turned to the raid finder, listed myself as “lvl 571, cloak and 4-pc tier, know fights” and quickly got a fresh H SoO run. It was a good group, and we were blasting through one-shotting everything. No extraneous chat, just basic strategy instructions then go. I provided a noodle cart, repairs, and even a couple of flasks for someone who needed them. I was not topping the dps charts, but was consistently number 2 or 3. I got both my needed items by the time we finished Iron Jug, but decided to finish out the wing with the group. When we downed General Naz I said thanks very much for the run, everyone, but I have to go. That’s when it got ugly. Before I could hearth out and drop group, the raid leader unleashed a rain of invective on me that would make even trade chat blush, calling me vile names, saying dps are a dime a dozen and he can get more easily, and I should just get the f***k out of his group, and more vile names. Then he kicked me.

Now, in itself this is just a minor unpleasantness in the game. I have shrugged off much worse behavior. But for some reason I can’t get it out of my head. Maybe it was because this had a real undertone of violence and hatred. Maybe it was the surprise factor — nothing to that point indicated this was anything other than a competent well-mannered group. Nothing in the group posting had mentioned “must stay through Garrosh” or anything like that. I had been a good group member, providing consumables, doing respectable dps, not doing stupid stuff. I even stayed after I had got my gear, out of politeness. This just came out of the blue, and it floored me. I mean, why do something like that? It’s easy to fall back on pop psychology generalities, and maybe compensating for real life inadequacies is actually what was at work here. I even thought about whispering him to ask if I had done something wrong, but of course he was from another server so no possibilities there, and even if it had been possible it probably would have just enraged him even more.

Whatever else may be going on, though, I think anonymity is the enabling factor here. I seriously doubt that this person would have done the same thing if we had been actually face to face. Social norms — or possibly the fear of a punch in the nose — would have kicked in and even if he was frustrated that a dps dared to leave his — HIS! — group, he most likely would not have used the language he used in chat. I have to keep reminding myself that ingrained social norms do not apply to Internet interactions, largely because there is no social cost to acting badly. But I don’t have to like it.

(I have used “he” to describe this person, mainly because the likelihood is that it was a real life male. Not that I have not encountered females in the game being mean and using bad language, but nearly all of the true violent hatred I see coming through chat diatribes comes from self-proclaimed males. No way to be 100% sure of course.)

I will eventually chalk this one up to just another nut job in the game and be grateful I do not have to live next door to him. But the experience goes into my ever-growing “Con” column for joining any kind of non-guild group. It is a shame that a game meant to encourage social interaction for fun has so many features that actively discourage it.  No matter how much you tell yourself that it is meaningless, it still hurts to be called names, and that detracts from enjoyment of the game.

Meanwhile, repeat after me: People are basically good. People are basically good. People are basically good. People are basically good….

About Fiannor
I have a day job but escape by playing WoW. I love playing a hunter, and my Lake Wobegonian goal is to become "above average" at it.

3 Responses to People are basically good. Right?

  1. I think that some people just act nasty because they can get away with it and not suffer the consequences. Oh yes, the old dead horse of “It’s the Internet” argument is always there, however, if these people acted this way in RL, we wouldn’t have enough jail cells to hold them all.

    Don’t let it get you down – there are a few of us “nice” people running around out there that have to PUG everything because we’re in very small guilds.

    • Fiannor says:

      See? You are the kind of person that proves my basic “People are good” tenet. I agree completely with you, and thanks for the encouraging words. I think more than anything, I was surprised that this particular incident really DID get me down, and I am still puzzled by my reaction to what is unfortunately very common behavior. That said, I have been in pugs with lots of very decent people, maybe you were even one of them!

      • That could very well be with the PUGs, I play both factions and run PUGs most of the time. Good luck and keep having fun, don’t let someone spoil your fun – that lets them “win” in the worst way. *Hugs*

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