Series Info...The Medium #18:

Everyone Sucks But Me

by Karrin Jackson

As the title would indicate, this article is about how everyone sucks but me. Now I can understand that you might be thinking, "But if I'm not you, then that means I suck. Is this true?" The answer is yes. Yes, it is. Let me explain why.

Everything I say and do is right. Since the chances of you agreeing 100% with my every word and action is statistically negligible, then it follows that you are, at least some of the time, wrong. This is based on real math, folks. The numbers don't lie. The only way this equation would prove untrue is if a) being wrong doesn't mean you suck and b) there is even a slim chance that I'm not entirely and unquestionably right all of the time.

What, you want me to contemplate the idea that I might be wrong?

Fair enough. You first.

But Seriously, Folks

You would think that in a worldwide social medium wherein communication is essential there would be more people who know how to communicate and think outside of the immediate range of their wants and needs. I can imagine my MU*ing forebears gathered around a computer so slow we wouldn't do math on it these days, marveling at this new technology and how it would bring people together for a wonderful and creative interactive experience that could not be rivaled. No longer would we be plagued with gaming groups consisting of the few social mishaps who happened to respond to that ad at the gaming store. Finally, we would be among our own kind in an intellectual utopia of our own making.

Instead, we ended up with all the social mishaps that didn't respond to that ad down at the gaming store because that would've meant leaving the house. Plus, with the anonymity that the internet offers, it isnít always easy to tell a rational person from a complete lunatic until they've already drawn you into their scary world. The internet allows us to explore the landscapes of our minds and connect with brilliant people we would have otherwise never met. However, it also means people who can't interact with the mailman let alone actual friends can pretend to be normal right up until they fly off the handle because the pressure of playing nice with other people has caused them to crack.

Fortunately, the MU* community isn't populated solely by raving lunatics and anti-social basement-dwellers--we are actually a rather diverse group. It just seems sometimes like critical thinking is dead and logical arguments will get you looked at funny. I think it has to do with a human beingís natural inclination toward self-justification mixed with the fact that on the internet no one can punch you in the face. I've seen perfectly reasonable people become raving psychopaths the moment they park their butt in front of a computer. It's like the anonymity of being a faceless line of text in the void gives them an excuse to let their inner idiot out to play.

Most of all, however, I see a lot of self-delusion. For example, Iíve noticed, on games with RP Prefs (for the uninitiated, this means a list of preferences that players are or are not interested in role-playing, made available for public viewing), that there are a good number of players who will list something as a no-no in their prefs, yet if you encounter them in RP, they are rampantly engaging in the very thing they've stated they want nothing to do with. One example would be OOC drama. The worst cases of OOC drama I've encountered on games with RP Prefs has come from the very people stating they want no OOC drama at all.

Whatís the deal?

The sad observation I have made is that people donít usually realize when theyíre being hypocritical or socially unpleasant. I'm sureĖ-in fact I know--that I'm as guilty of this as anyone. Whether it's getting too wrapped up in a character to distinguish the border between IC or OOC, or whether itís reacting badly when one doesn't get one's way, people don't always follow reason. Heck, sometimes they don't even follow their own rules.

The Solution?

Unfortunately, there isn't a lot we can do about other peoples' behavior. We can point it out, but no matter how frankly or how politely we do so, it's going to come across as meddling, and if the person is so wrapped up in their view of things that they aren't seeing their own temporary lunacy, what can anyone say that will make a difference?

The only person you can bring into line is yourself. Bringing the point around to the beginning of this article--have you ever seen this logic employed on a MU*? If so, oh good, then it's not just me. Have you ever seen yourself doing it? That's the part no one wants to answer. I'll make it easy and go first; yes, I have. It wasn't my proudest moment, but neither was it a crushing blow to my self-identity. Let's take the equation from the beginning of the article apart and examine it:

Being wrong doesnít mean you suck--being wrong makes you human; refusing to learn from your mistakes is where suckage comes into play.

There is even a slim chance that I'm not entirely and unquestionably right all of the time--I hate to say it, but the chance is a lot bigger than slim. In fact, it's inevitable. This is so easy to grasp in our cooler moments, but it slips away so quickly when tempers heat up.

So you can't change anyone else's behavior, but you can take a look at your own. Maybe you won't find anything wrong with it, and bully for you--you are a better player than I am. Then again, you might notice that there are better ways in which you could communicate with your fellow MU*er, and wouldn't that make your time online more enjoyable?

Here is a little exercise Iíve done that was unflatteringly enlightening; log a few nights' worth of your MU* activities, both IC and OOC, and set the logs aside for a week or two. Then go back and reread those logs, only imagine that you are the recipient of the things you said--pretend someone else logged in under your handle, and you were a fly on the wall during the nights' events. How might your words and actions look to someone on the outside looking in?

As for myself, I realized I can be downright pushy when I want something. I also realized that I talk way too much about my freakin' cat. No one cares! So lately I've made an attempt to be less aggressive and more open to others' ideas. Iíve also reined in the ongoing OOC documentary starring little Mittens (actually her name is Luna, but you don't care, do you). Iíve noticed that there has been a lot less tension in my online life lately. Could it be a wacky coincidence? I think not.

So, Anyway

I see entire forums devoted to griping about the problems with MU*ing, and in a way they're a good thing for the community because itís a way to release frustration on a bulletin board instead of on someone's game. While they don't do any real harm, though, I don't think they make the medium a better place overall. People complain, but no one seems to want to actually do anything about the stuff that's wrong with the medium.

For months, I've been asking myself how to make MU* better, because while it's pretty good, there are so many ways in which it could be so much better. The answer came slowly, but it was pretty easy once I figured it out: if you want a better medium, be a better player. That's it. Thatís all there is to it.

That may not solve all the problems, but it will mean more people will want to be around you. If nothing else, it would improve your RP prospects immensely.

[ <— #17: What I Did On My Vacation | #19: Oh No! It's Mary Sue! —> ]

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