Even as I start to write this out, I’m not certain I can make fully coherent sense. This whole Real ID thing has yanked on a thread though, and the more I think about it, the more I have to try to get out in some semi-sensible manner somewhere. So buckle up, this will probably be a long one.
You don’t have to talk everything to death…
This is something many bloggers that I read do. Blizzard will announce something that creates a stir in the WoW blogging community. It might be Real ID. It might be changes to raiding or classes in Cataclysm. It might be something as dumb as sparkle ponies. It might be something that didn’t come from Blizzard at all, but some blogger insulted some other blogger or blogger group and suddenly 90% of my blogroll erupts in everyone putting in their two cents worth, whether they have something original to say or not.
Real ID is just the latest in a string of these sorts of topics that crop up. If one listens closely to the silence after an announcement, one can almost hear the sound of thousands of keyboards being furiously pounded on as everyone out there holds forth on the issue. Zel touched on this a while back, with her post about ‘When everyone’s talking about something, I totally have to, right?‘
I typically stay far away from anything that so much as smells like a big issue. I’ll read other posts and comment on several of them. My thoughts about Real ID being used on the forums won’t show up in longwinded form here. I’ve commented on it a few places – over at Analogue’s ‘Real ID Gets worse‘ and Chas’ excellent ‘Seriously Not Okay.’ I’ve also, in frustration, said a little about it on Twitter. In fact, what I said on Twitter was less about Real ID and more about those who are not opposed to the changes needing to understand that some people do have names that are unique identifiers. If anyone Googled my first and last name together, they would find me. Only me. And that includes work information. We’re not all John Smiths.
For my pains, some random fellow who follows me on Twitter felt it his duty to tell me this:
“Just don’t post on the forums.”
No shit, Sherlock.
I exchanged a few sallies with him and eventually blocked him because he was being deliberately obtuse and trying to troll me.
…but if you do, don’t be a dick about it.
There is always a lot of sentiment floating around whenever two people online have a disagreement about anything that anyone who disagrees with one’s point of view is an idiot. Poor Anexxia has been trying to point out on Twitter that it is possible to just agree to disagree and be civil about being on opposite sides of an issue. One would think so. However, the one side that doesn’t think something is an issue will believe that they are somehow superior and will write snide and condescending things to those who do believe the thing is an issue. Naturally, the side that is concerned will attempt to relay their concerns because no one likes being condescended to or dismissed out of hand. These attempts at communication will, of course, be shot down in as breezy and careless a manner as is possible and the downward cycle continues until someone lashes out at the other and suddenly it’s a fight and there is drama and you’re a meanie poo poo head for not listening to me.
In the midst of all the heated back and forth yesterday, Annexia asked whether people who acted the same in real life as they do online would have any friends.
That struck me because although I do believe it is possible to forge friendships online, I don’t believe that many of the connections that are made online are that deep. Take the guy who followed me on Twitter and decided to address me as though I couldn’t possibly be clever enough to add one and one together and come up with the logical outcome of two. I don’t know who he is. He’s not a friend. I feel no regret about cutting him out of my online life as a result of his words to me.
You know, it’s okay to be discriminatory
I’m not saying go be racist or misogynistic or what have you. I am saying, be choosy. No one is required to like or even accept everyone else’s input, influence or presence in their lives. For example, I don’t know how other people decide who they are going to follow or allow to follow them on Twitter, but for myself, as long as someone doesn’t seem to be advertising some crap about losing weight without exercising or look, here are a bunch of links to celebrity gossip, I will let most people follow me if that’s what they want to do. I also make a point of going to look at the profile and most recent tweets of anyone who follows me. If they seem witty, observant or are otherwise engaging, I’ll likely follow them back. If they seem bland or offensive, then it doesn’t matter to me if they do say they hail from Azeroth, the fact that we both enjoy WoW is not enough for me to want to hear what they have to say.
This ended up being the case with random guy on Twitter who wanted to condescend to me. I believe he struck me as bland so I never followed him back. We weren’t friends by even the remotest definition. After insulting my intelligence, dismissing my concerns and then presuming to know anything about me or my life, I blocked him from my view. In the process, I didn’t call him names or tell him he was dumb for not believing the same as I do. I just exercised my right to have my space from him and blocked him. No fuss. No drama.
I am equally discriminatory about who I will read in the WoW blogging world. Anyone who is consistently bland or offensive will not find their way into my feed reader or onto my blogroll. I would hope that anyone who finds me unlikeable for whatever reason would also just not read what I write. I’m not really here for anything other than to entertain myself and hopefully a few other people along the way. If you’re not entertained, then feel free to ship off. I won’t cry bitter tears over it.
I’m sure no one cries bitter tears about not being in my blogroll either. After all, I’m not a famous blogger and since I have yet to get that magical way with words that my favorite writers have, I probably won’t ever be. Oh noes.
So, Alas will ignore me if I don’t agree with her?
No, not at all. I’m perfectly fine with people disagreeing with me. I’m alright with people having differing viewpoints and they are welcome to express them, solicited or not, provided they do so in a way that doesn’t require them being abrasive asshats. Friendly debate and discussion is wonderful and I’m certainly not above saying I am wrong about something or admitting I can change my mind if someone makes a good enough case to sway my thinking. However, slinging mud at me simply because I do have an alternate viewpoint or addressing me with your side of things in a manner that’s reminiscent of walloping someone with a large stick will only make me dislike you, your opinions and your manner of expressing them.
I say this about politics all the time. If we could stop throwing rocks at the other side and attempt rational conversation without the mudslinging, perhaps we could get somewhere. But neither side seems inclined to do anything other than hate whoever is on the opposite side of the line.
And I get that it’s mostly reactionary and God knows I’ve found myself seething to myself or close friends about this or that thing the “other side” has said or done and, man, they are just a bunch of stupid people because grumble, grumble, grumble. Very little, if any, of that is something I ever blast at the “other side” with, though. It’s just not constructive. In any arena or over any topic.
So stop being so sheepish
I’ve noticed that there are some people out there who feel compelled or required to write on every big topic that comes along, even if they have nothing novel to say or no strong opinion on the matter. What anyone wants to write on their blog is certainly their business, but I think part of being interesting to read is having some sort of originality. If someone only writes because there is a Big Topic, then perhaps they need to rethink blogging at all. If all you have to say has already been said or said better, then why bother? What is the point? Leave a comment somewhere.
As far as social media goes in general, don’t act like there are rules about interacting online that are somehow different than those that apply in real life. If you don’t like what I have to say, don’t follow me in any form. If you disagree with a “big” blogger being interesting or worth your time to read, then don’t read them. If you’re at the online equivalent of a party and there are a bunch of people nearby talking about something, don’t feel that you need to stand around echoing whatever they’re saying. Feel free to contribute to the conversation, yes, but don’t pull the childish game of saying whatever it is someone just said with the same tone and inflection. It annoyed your brother when you were kids and you did it to him and it annoys everyone else now.
From my point of view, I guess this whole thing boils down to this:
Think for yourself. Don’t jump on the party line just because everyone else is. And try to have differing opinions in a basically respectful manner. The difficulties of language and interpretation might trip you up, but at least you’ll be secure in yourself that you’re not out there deliberately being a brainless dick.