There are a lot of things I feel I understand very well — networks and routers, gardening, small unit military tactics, laundry, organizational logistics, clay, my dog, grilling bratwurst, Civil War campaigns, algebra, the scientific method, retrieving hidden and deleted data from a computer — well, you get the idea.
But humans? Not a clue. Oh, I have a vague intellectual grasp of behavioral principles and developmental milestones, and I have been trained in cultural norms and differences. I have friends, I am close to my young nieces and nephews, I function quite well in most social circles.
But often — too often, in my opinion — I am completely bamboozled by people’s behavior. And yes, of course what set me off on this are a couple of incidents in WoW over the weekend.
The first one happened in our weekly guild alt run. On Fridays we gather our “main alts” and clear the normal version of whatever raid tier is current. We do it mainly just for fun, and also to get some gear for alts we play fairly often. A couple people may bring their mains (or switch to their mains on especially hard bosses), which is a good thing because usually we stink on our alts and they help to carry us. We have a good time and tend to laugh a lot.
This past Friday we were a little short on people, so the RL decided to pug a few healers and dps. We had the usual number of rage quits, sudden unexplained disappearances, and extremely low-damage players, but eventually we sorted it out and cleared through Argus. When we finished, a warlock that had joined us for about the last 5-6 bosses had this to say to the raid (paraphrasing, but this is the gist), “U r a fail group and need 2 lrn how 2 play before raiding”. I was surprised enough by the comment that I whispered him, “If that is your way of saying ty for the invite, yw. Ass hat.” He of course unleashed a volley of crude vulgar hate-filled invective on me before I dropped group and effectively silenced him since he was from a different server.
So here’s the thing: In my wildest excursions into meanness and incivility, I would never even consider trashing a group that had invited me to run a raid with them. If I thought the group was terminally bad, I might drop out of it before the end, giving some excuse or other. But if I finished the raid — no matter how bad I thought the people in it were — I would always at least say “ty for the invite, guys”. Even if the group had been rude to me as a pug, the most I would do is drop out with no comment. It’s just inexcusably piggish to do otherwise. And I do not understand the motivation of people like this pug — he cannot possibly gain anything from his actions.
Another example: late on Sunday, when there were only a few guildies still logged in, one of our members asked if anyone could help him finish a quest that required him to get something from a dungeon. One of our always-helpful officers spoke up and said he could do it, and I said I could, too. It was a trivial thing, the three of us entered the instance (Maw of Souls) in normal mode, and rapidly killed stuff to the point where the guildie could get the quest item. We asked him if he needed anything else, to which he replied he would check and hearthed back to Dal (I am guessing — at least he left the area). That was the last I heard from him, and after a bit the officer said he thought that was it and we disbanded the group. After several more minutes the guildie said in gchat, “Thanks, [name of officer]”, but the officer had already logged off. Rather pointedly, I said “yw”, but it seemed to not faze the guildie. I didn’t even get so much as a sheepish apology and late ty, in whisper or gchat or anywhere.
It is true the help we rendered was trivial, but the fact remains that both of us dropped what we were doing, flew to Maw, summoned the guildie, and helped him do his thing. He could not have done it without us, as his original chat request stated he had been waiting over 30 minutes already for an auto-group and really needed guild help. Yet he couldn’t even trouble himself to thank both of us?? Clearly, he is an ill-mannered clod whose requests for help I will henceforward ignore, but sheesh! Does no one learn basic civility or manners any more?
I suppose, as I have opined before, that the relative anonymity of the virtual environment permits people to indulge their inner turd selves, and many leave behind them the social niceties their teachers and parents and peers have worked so hard to impose on them. They are secure in the knowledge that no one is going to report their churlish behavior to their mommies or their pastors. They are the lower strata of humanity, which I suppose is sad for them if they are aware enough to realize it. After all, decent people do the right thing, the kind thing, even when they think no one important is looking.
Still, even in the virtual world — especially a place like WoW where you take on an identifiable persona — there can be consequences for cloddish behavior. The warlock will probably never be invited to join one of our guild pugs again, and the selfish guildie will likely receive no further assistance from me. I know those are not big consequences — pretty sure neither of them cares — but they are still consequences. Which means the behavior that led to them was in both cases against the self-interest of the individuals, so I really do not understand why they would do/fail to do what they did.
Manners are not complicated, nor are they superfluous in almost any social interaction you can name. They are the grease that helps civilization continue to function.
And I am still perplexed by humans.