Sometimes When You Win, You Lose

Don Quixote de la Mancha and Sancho Panza, 1863, by Gustave Doré

"Any idiot can face a crisis; it's this day-to-day living that wears you out.” - Antonin Chekov

In this era of social media and constant interchange, disagreements have become the norm, and they often escalate into full-blown verbal wars at the speed of a data packet. Each time the soi disant Internet Hate Machine gets going, we get a set of "usual suspect" sort of responses. I'm not fond of any of them, but the one I find most infuriating is the notion that the best solution is for the target to just stand there and take it. That the best thing they can do is let it happen and it will all blow over. Proponents often trot out the geeky quote from the film Wargames: "The only winning move is not to play."

I wish that worked. In practice, that's just another way to lose.

I agree there is a certain level of toughness you have to have just to get through any day, online or not. But there are no good tools to help in this situation. That old playground saw of "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me," does not work when there's no teacher in earshot. And now that we're grown up, it turns out the various schools of more formal enlightenment aren't as helpful in this situation as you might hope. The tactics of satyagraha are all well and good in the large-scale political and philosophical arenas, but Ghandi himself pointed out that they only work where the practitioners (in this case, the targets) are the ones have the power and are choosing to not use violence to solve their dispute. With the current internet climate, the target has very little power against a faceless digital mob. The Western notions of non-violent resistance can be practiced to good effect by the downtrodden, but they require numbers to work. A targeted individual just standing there and taking it doesn't get anyone anywhere.

The game doesn't start when a person says something rude; the game starts when you make something. Every time you create or speak, you have to consider whether or not it's worth this type of reaction. Non illegitimi carborundum is all well and good for a bad day, but life in public isn’t just one day, it’s a career. And it’s a career of having to trudge upstream through a wind-tunnel pelting you with reeking garbage. It wears on you, and it takes a special kind of monomania to keep going. I don't have it in me to criticize someone for deciding that they don't have it.

No matter what you do, you're wrong. Talking back — either engaging angrily or responding with cool reason — usually makes matters worse. But staying silent doesn't do anything constructive, either.

We've got plenty of examples of how not to respond. A good recent example would be the verbal fisticuffs between writer Marcus Beer and Fez creator Phil Fish. Phil's table-flip on the next release of his game and on the games industry in general was definitely incited by Beer's ranting and puerile name-calling, but the whole situation is obscured by a large dust cloud and the several grawlix signs thrown up when he struck back. The only clear point coming out of that type of discussion is that no matter how right you may or may not be, doubling down on whatever jerk-sauce you've been basted with and giving the rotisserie a crank or two yourself doesn't help matters.

Despite people's insistence, it doesn't appear that staying classy stops this sort of thing either. Read about the response to the guy posting technical details about patch notes for Call of Duty: Black Ops 2. They were the kind of nitty-gritty details that anyone playing the game hardcore should have been ecstatic to see. But instead of thanks for sharing the information, he got violent threats. He's acting "professional" about it by responding very calmly, but that doesn't make any difference to the trolls. They're still spewing vile threats. And at the end of the day he has to go home afraid of what he will read, and what people will do.

If you think they will stick to words from the shadows and won't keep at it face-to-face, you're dead wrong. I've personally had real-world run-ins with people several times for things I've written over the years. Most of the trolls left their vitriol online, but on top of the muck thrown at me directly, my kids were bullied at school because of my "Cleaning Up Thunder Bluff" article. One particular person tried to get me fired from my day job over that one.

I've done what I can to be safe. It's not like I've just thrown myself out there. For a writer who also works in the technical industry, I'm fairly well off the grid. I don't have a Facebook account at all. I use Twitter and what other services I do use anonymously, and usually don't link to my articles. But I do have my name in the byline, and the trolls still find me. I feel a little easier about the risk of collateral damage now that my children are grown and half of them use their married names, but I still worry.

But those who know me had my back, and it's turned out okay. Others stepping in can help, but it takes a very special situation for that to work. To contrast with our helpless CODBlOps2 developer above, recently there was another small exchange where a gentleman offered to help the beleaguered targets of a rather vicious Twitter post contact that troll's mother. The troll came back with an abject apology in about half an hour.

In the case that consequences can be brought to bear, the trolls do sometimes crawl back under their bridges. But those cases are few and far between, and their rarity really doesn’t help the overall picture. Besides, the base premise is wrong. This isn't a zero-sum game; their loss doesn't mean everyone else wins. Do you think what the trolls say just magically vanishes if they apologize? It's out there on the internet, where nothing ever really goes away. And the many others who echoed his sentiments to the target didn't have a friend of their mom to smack them down.

Because something's supposedly blown over doesn't mean it's truly ended. Just because the pack has moved on to another target does not mean they won’t come howling back the moment you do something else they disagree with, and they’ll be all the meaner for their previous practice. The roar from Thunder Bluff has long since died down, but when I put up my more recent #1reasonwhy article, they were right back at me, both in person and online, bigger and badder than ever.

The whole thing is not fair. The target made, said, or did something, and it was important enough to them that they invested the time and the work and shared it with the world. All a bile-spitting troglodyte has to do is come up with 140 ill-spelt characters. As Joel Watson said recently after his friend went through the comment-grinder, "You make games and comics and books. They make comments." (Fuller story here.)

Some people have been crowing that it's a good thing Mr Fish has decided to get out of the games industry, but I disagree. Whether you liked Fez or his attitude or not, no one deserves this treatment, ever, for any reason. Not the innocent, not the guilty. Neither friend nor foe. I don't care if you're a man, a woman, or a fish. I don't care if you're black or white or plaid. Paul Christoforio, wide-bore douche-canoe that he presented himself to be, didn't deserve it. Hitler wouldn't deserve it. Yes, I'm going to Godwin myself here, but on purpose. That's how strongly I feel about it.

Keeping your head down and letting the trolls tear your work and you into scraps isn't winning. Swallowing the pain and fear doesn't do you any good, and silence only benefits the trolls. In the current climate, the only way to truly not play is to not create and not communicate. When someone leaves (with or without table-flipping), we lose what they could have taught us, and what they could have created. And that's a loss for us all.

Comments

Sure, if you're equivocating behaviour. But I believe it's something else to be throwing out examples of the worst people, as in "even if you were the worst human in the history of the world (say, hitler), I still wouldn't do to you what you're inflicting on another person."

shihonage wrote:

Heya dejanzie Thanks for the kind words.

I have two - "magnum opus" RPG which was suspended while I worked on the smaller project, a Robotron-style 2D shooter with a story. The smaller project has proven to be a failure, so I've resumed work on the RPG very recently.

Sad to hear of the demise of the Robotron-like. It looks neat!

Amoebic wrote:

Sure, if you're equivocating behaviour. But I believe it's something else to be throwing out examples of the worst people, as in "even if you were the worst human in the history of the world (say, hitler), I still wouldn't do to you what you're inflicting on another person."

I can hang with this sentiment. If the idea is that the abusive stalking behavior can never be OK, then there's no room for justification.

I think we ultimately do harm by simply labeling Hitler a monster

This is a tangent, but I absolutely agree. Labeling anyone a monster denies that we or any other human could ever have anything in common with the labelled. It's a comforting label that way, and I think ultimately it sets humans on too high a level.

A very well written article. Kudos. It encompasses many of the paths such situations can take, and highlights very astutely the difficulty in navigating a route through, or even a route around, the convergence of mass hostility.

I used to partake in heated debates quite often, both via the internet and in face to face situations. I enjoyed and appreciated the study required to make ones case and to counter-argue specific points, as well as the knowledge to be learned from the broad range of opinions on show.

Now I rather shy away from such instances. I grew weary of the confrontational nature and the repetitive spiral that only ends by walking away. All too often would it degenerate into personal insults - thinly veiled or otherwise - and nit-picking over infinitesimal points for the sake of further dispute.

These days I find myself torn between the choice to interact, or to move along and suppress my opinions. Quite often it is the latter. The thought of the potential exhaustion is worse than simply having no voice at all. And perhaps more imperative is an unsought desire to lash out at those who act without courtesy and without respect. Anger is one my least favorite emotions, especially when it is my own.

There are, as a result, instances where a topic stirs a response from me and thus I add my two cents. What then follows is regret that I said anything at all, and I make a conscious decision to avoid the topic until such a time as I feel capable of dealing with any potential backlash. There is a mixture of feeling foolish for doing so, and frustration that a) I am not currently wired to handle confrontation better, and b) there being people who just have to go that degree too far, especially when they're behind the safety of their keyboard.

People are most definitely the root of the problem. Humanity has been cruel throughout all of recorded history. Nevertheless, the internet is the perfect vehicle for cruelty to prosper, at least in its current form. Anonymity is, in my view, the largest contributer to this.

nit-picking over infinitesimal points

I think this is a particular problem with trying to have a discussion online, because we imagine a discussion as happening between two or three distinct individuals, and that's not how it works online. Many (maybe even the majority) of substantive comments in an online debate are going to be from people who only drop into comments in order to point out some small inaccuracy or quibble with a characterization that's not central to anyone's argument. What's weird to me is that sometimes I'm kinda OK with that (as an editing snob, I guess it's not too weird) — in a face-to-face discussion between two people, lots of tiny inaccuracies slip through because nobody involved thinks it's worth quibbling, but when the discussion goes online, every letter and comma is shared for wide and long-lasting public ingestion.

Add to that the problem that even "camps" and "sides" aren't unified collectives. I've been in plenty of discussions online where maybe 5 people were conversing and four were smart, informed members of the same "camp," (say, feminists), and those four disagreed with each other. This makes sense, because there are 2nd Wave feminists out there, 3rd Wave, Post-Feminists, Intersectionality specialists, queer theorists, and all sorts of other points of view that are smart and valid and in sometimes wild disagreements.

In those situations, the fifth person then gets confused and a little upset that they no longer face a unified argument to try to understand and respond to, and I have some sympathy for people in that spot. I've found myself trying to learn more about things like intersectionality online, and running into conflicting opinions from people you look to as experts (even when you're just trying to better understand) can be baffling. But it's more a problem with the medium than the fault of any individual or group.

I guess what I'm saying is that everything online is complicated and hard and I think I'm just going to play some Rymdkapsel for a while until my thoughts calm down.

I know I'm late to this party and haven't posted with any sort of regularity in a long while, but I'm compelled to say something.

@willcode4food & @shihonage:

This is the point of the article -- the two of you are making it about a brief bit, and we could end it there, but really, the core of what bugs me about your responses is you're making it about the TARGET.

The point isn't about the TARGET. It's about YOU.

If we're going to just fully jump into Godwin's Law here, and we're already there, at the end of the day Hitler was still a man. A horrible, horrible man. One who should've been stopped, one that I personally wouldn't have shed a tear for if Operation Valkyrie had been successful and he hadn't survived the assassination attempt.

But cruelty is cruelty. Being cruel to a bad person is the same as being cruel to a good person. That still makes you cruel. You don't get to be bad to a bad person and claim to be good. That doesn't make you a hero. It just makes you mean.

And becoming that cruel person to hurt a bad man -- that just makes you another bad person. And that's just another victory for that evil, evil man.

I was going to spiral out on how it's easier to be depraved vs. decent, but, really? The entirety of Se7en laid it out for you in plain effing English. "What's in the box?!" is cool, but if you view Pitt turning into Wrath as anything other than a Greek tragedy on film -- you know what? I'll just let them get you there.

So there you are, implying that killing someone does not put the same moral burden on you as "being cruel" to them.

Yet that's exactly what Brad Pitt does in SEVEN. He kills the bad guy. He doesn't badmouth him or humiliate him, as much as he simply kills him.

So then, killing also generates the moral burden and taints the killer, does it not? It's not exempt from the "cruelty curse", is it? It makes you a "bad guy" regardless of your previous moral standing.

Meditate on this - if the Soviets/Americans/etc held onto your high moral standards during World War 2, we'd all be speaking German now.

Don't be a dick is easy when you like the person you're not being a dick towards.

shihonage wrote:

So there you are, implying that killing someone does not put the same moral burden on you as "being cruel" to them.

Yet that's exactly what Brad Pitt does in SEVEN. He kills the bad guy. He doesn't badmouth him or humiliate him, as much as he simply kills him.

Okay, hold it right effing there -- if you're going to say that Pitt "simply kills him," then you have completely ignored the entire point of the film, and you're beyond hope in understanding this argument.

So why don't you meditate on that before trying to bring down my "high moral standards" with WWII jingoistic cliches?

Tanglebones wrote:

Don't be a dick is easy when you like the person you're not being a dick towards.

Isn't it?

shihonage wrote:

Meditate on this - if the Soviets/Americans/etc held onto your high moral standards during World War 2, we'd all be speaking German now.

I don't believe that's true, but I'm open to hearing your argument.

Logan wrote:
shihonage wrote:

So there you are, implying that killing someone does not put the same moral burden on you as "being cruel" to them.

Yet that's exactly what Brad Pitt does in SEVEN. He kills the bad guy. He doesn't badmouth him or humiliate him, as much as he simply kills him.

Okay, hold it right effing there -- if you're going to say that Pitt "simply kills him," then you have completely ignored the entire point of the film, and you're beyond hope in understanding this argument.

So why don't you meditate on that before trying to bring down my "high moral standards" with WWII jingoistic cliches?

I understand it is frustrating to see your argument being debunked with logic, but making a kneejerk no-substance reply is probably not the best counter-move.

The best counter-move here is to stop defending the absurd. Yes, momgamer is a long-standing and respected member of the site. But sometimes, even monkeys fall from trees.

P.S. I just re-read your initial post and it just became so clear. You really honestly believe that I am not capable of understanding the standard drama trope of someone "becoming bad" for punishing evil. This is only a part of every movie and TV show ever - "You can't kill me Michael Weston, or you will become just as evil as me! Mwahahaha!". SEVEN did the same thing, only it glorified it with better acting and build-up.

So this is what your argument is all about? Did you really think other people have not passed this bus stop a long time ago?

Does humiliating Hitler(something momgamer believes Hitler doesn't deserve) make one "more evil" than killing Hitler(something you, aligned with momgamer, actually advocate)? If we are to follow through, doesn't a humiliated Hitler still get a chance at life and redemption? Doesn't a dead Hitler lose that chance?

As I said, this whole exchange is absurd. It is the poster child for why Godwin's law exists. And it certainly is past its expiration date.

Shinonage, are you arguing that there are people who deserve to be bullied, or that you don't think I should be using Hitler as an example?

I've already asked above for anyone to give me an example of a person they think would be properly used in that context to avoid Godwin while still reinforcing the point that I think if you're a member of genus Homo, I don't think there is any excuse for you to be bullied. If you have one, please offer it and I'd be glad to take up the conversation on that level.

If you're arguing that bullying a person is okay, then we need to go at it on that level.

momgamer wrote:

if you're a member of genus Homo, I don't think there is any excuse for you to be bullied

Why would I want to reinforce this when it's not true? There are evil people in the world who deserve punishment far worse than bullying and humiliation.

And on a pure practical level... getting bullied/humiliated does wonders to dissuade bullies from doing more bullying. No excuse? I beg to differ.

I truly disagree, Shihonage. If someone is a bully or takes pleasure in humiliation, we would all be better served to understand why that person is acting in such a manner. You'll find that in quite a few cases, bullies were bullied themselves. How do we stop escalation if we keep feeding the vicious circle?

I will concede that some people are lost causes, but that's no excuse to act poorly. Ever heard the phrase "kill them with kindness?"

So it's not the specific example, it's the basic concept.

I disagree in the strongest of terms that bullying someone back does anything useful. It doesn't do dick to persuade anyone to quit bullying. All it does is give them a reason to feel put upon, and to top it off leaves room for others to agree and pity them. Here's a great example - an interview with Paul Christoforo, who not only learned little or nothing from his ordeal, is doubling down on the whole mess and has somehow convinced himself that the whole mess was all a good thing and he did nothing wrong. That's what happens when you bully a bully.

Stern consequences for a bully's actual actions, on the other hand, might just persuade them to not do them again. I mean real consequences, not bullying. All bullying does is give them another example of how it's okay to use that technique and how effective it can be in the absence of real consequences. Fighting back, getting witnesses and allies, getting the law on your side, whatever works for the specific situation.

How can meaningful consequences that don't have unintended side effects be imposed in this internet age? I don't know. If I had any good answers I'd have put them in the article. I was hoping for a discussion of that, rather than what we got.

I don't know what to say from here, though. We may have to just agree to disagree.

@momgamer: At this point it's almost splitting hairs. You actually agree with me, only you use the term "fighting back" instead of "humiliating back".

There are countless personal experiences that people have in their school years where nothing works except to humiliate the bully so that he stops seeing them as an easy target. The show of power also dissuades other bullies who may be witnessing what happened.

As for strictly Internet bullying...

Yes, Internet bullying is pointless and bullying back on the Internet is pointless too. Well, except for the cases when sites like SomethingAwful and TheOatmeal were bullied by greedy lawyers and successfully bullied them back.

Eleima wrote:

I truly disagree, Shihonage. If someone is a bully or takes pleasure in humiliation, we would all be better served to understand why that person is acting in such a manner. You'll find that in quite a few cases, bullies were bullied themselves. How do we stop escalation if we keep feeding the vicious circle?

I will concede that some people are lost causes, but that's no excuse to act poorly. Ever heard the phrase "kill them with kindness?"

As a practitioner of Aikido, "the peaceful martial art", I am all too well familiar with the concept. I've even used it in a manner not dissimilar to this story.

However I am also all too well familiar with reality, and there are plenty of situations where "harmonizing" and "blending with" the bad guy doesn't work. "Blending" (diplomacy) with Hitler certainly didn't work out well for anyone, until his aggression was answered with greater aggression.

Coincidentally, that's why Aikido has not just the concept of "blending" but also "entering" the opponent's space and "cutting" him down. Any martial art that has a glimpse of reality application, has a similar "aggressive" concept.

Any person who is alive also understands that the ability to lay the smack on someone, be it verbally or otherwise, to put them in their place, is a skill they WILL need to use in their lives.

Behind every peaceful approach there has to be strength that is felt even if it is never used. Otherwise, a malicious and determined individual will walk right through your personal space, either verbally or physically, shattering it like a passive-aggressive mirage that it is.

momgamer wrote:

How can meaningful consequences that don't have unintended side effects be imposed in this internet age? I don't know. If I had any good answers I'd have put them in the article. I was hoping for a discussion of that, rather than what we got.

Well, I recently spoke with my roommate about how we wish death threats made on the Internet could be reported to a service that would then obtain that user's information, contact their local police, and then arrest them, just as they would a "real life" death threat. People only make them so casually on the Internet because everyone is so sure of their anonymity.

It would be wonderful if Government money were going to such a service as that instead of the whole NSA bullsh*t going on recently. Or if companies like Facebook and Twitter would actually take it seriously themselves. Even that alone would help everyone out, I think. Once you start arresting people for saying dumb sh*t on the Internet, then people might actually reconsider what it is they're saying.

shihonage wrote:

There are countless personal experiences that people have in their school years where nothing works except to humiliate the bully so that he stops seeing them as an easy target.

I've never seen that stop bullying — I've only seen that convince a bully to pick another target. "Standing up" was my standard tactic against bullies as a kid, and it mixed both physical and social/emotional responses.

I never understood why authority figures didn't approve of my responses. Eventually, I tried responding to one bully by simply notifying the school authorities, and was later summoned to the front office to talk to a teacher, a counselor, and the principal. It was there that I learned, in fairly broad terms, that the bully I'd reported was going through some really serious stuff at home, and that my reporting him had lead to the school's counselor to get involved with him, and that he was learning not only to deal with his family life in a healthier way, but to use the school's resources to get help that he needed.

I could very easily have classified that bully as some sort of monster and written off his humanity. I would have been very wrong to do so.

ccesarano wrote:

Even that alone would help everyone out, I think. Once you start arresting people for saying dumb sh*t on the Internet, then people might actually reconsider what it is they're saying.

As I said on the first page:

Stele wrote:

Internet anonymity isn't an excuse anymore. I see newspapers and various sites, like ESPN, using Facebook now for comments. So people are using their real names and still being complete jerks to each other.

People are using their real names. A simple phone book lookup and you could be at their house. And yet people still act like assholes with no regard for other human beings.

Stele wrote:

People are using their real names. A simple phone book lookup and you could be at their house. And yet people still act like assholes with no regard for other human beings.

In that case I think it's a matter of calling the police or something, but local police would need to be willing to take it seriously.

Of course, while people use their real names on Facebook, they don't always do such on Twitter or comment sections. That's where the website itself gets involved with being willing to provide that user's information to governing authorities so they can make a local arrest.

This is, I admit, all idealized fantasy world where people are made to suffer consequences for doing wrong.

wordsmythe wrote:
shihonage wrote:

There are countless personal experiences that people have in their school years where nothing works except to humiliate the bully so that he stops seeing them as an easy target.

I've never seen that stop bullying — I've only seen that convince a bully to pick another target.

You can't save the world. Most effective self-defense tactics in the real world rely on making yourself a less desireable target, rather than eliminating the threat, no matter how romantic that notion may seem or how many Schwarzenegger movies you rent.

For example, walking with awareness and proper posture (not bent over, with headphones on, looking at your feet) is one of the more vital prevention techniques, where you don't even engage in conflict, but get discarded as a potentially problematic prey.

Reality outcomes. That's all we can hope for, in most cases.

"Standing up" was my standard tactic against bullies as a kid, and it mixed both physical and social/emotional responses.

I never understood why authority figures didn't approve of my responses. Eventually, I tried responding to one bully by simply notifying the school authorities, and was later summoned to the front office to talk to a teacher, a counselor, and the principal. It was there that I learned, in fairly broad terms, that the bully I'd reported was going through some really serious stuff at home, and that my reporting him had lead to the school's counselor to get involved with him, and that he was learning not only to deal with his family life in a healthier way, but to use the school's resources to get help that he needed.

I could very easily have classified that bully as some sort of monster and written off his humanity. I would have been very wrong to do so.

I've gone to great lengths in childhood/early adolescence to empathize and "blend" with bullies.
I also used "the system" to deal with them.

In the former case, it bought me a little time as they sniffed around to see if I was planning something clever, and then their bullying continued to stomp on my toothless empathy. They don't care if you see them as human or not.

In the latter case, I always got punished by the bullies by using the system. "Snitches get stitches" is the common mantra starting from kindergarden and onward.

In 11th grade in my former homeland I told on some wannabe gangstas in my class, and the teacher decided to publicly thank me and use my name in front of the class. My name sounded off as in slow motion, followed by hissing from a few desks behind me.

After school, one of them caught up with me on a lonely road, stinking of alcohol, and was very friendly. He was also slowing me down and distracting me as the rest of his pals rolled up, 6 of them I knew, plus a 20-something dude for a good measure.

After deflecting the first two haymakers aimed at my head, we all got arrested by local plain-clothes militia, who mistook me for one of the gang members and gleefully bonked our heads into a wall while figuring out what to do.

Eventually they realized I was the victim, and gave me a useless phone number to call ("call us if anything, we promise we'll take care of it"). Yeah, right.

The next day in school the threats escalated, and so did the abuse. Bullies are very good at attacking when the teacher isn't looking, and all the teacher catches when they turn around, is you counter-attacking the bullies. Or having a black eye from the apple that was masterfully thrown at your head two seconds ago, as the case may be.

What really put a stop to this is my immigration to America. In former USSR people couldn't really move from one place to another much.

Coincidentally the guy throwing haymakers at my head has been bullying me before the incident, and before that, there was a brief period when he was nice to me when I helped him with homework. That didn't last long. It never does.

...

On another occasion in 12th grade in America I got dragged into a fight with some Asian dude, he pulled me into a corridor with a crowd of onlookers forming around us, and I panicked, started swinging and accidentally damaged his tooth.

When a teacher pulled us apart, he made us shake hands. After the teacher left, the Asian guy vowed that his brothers would catch me and beat me up.

I went to "the authorities" in school and obtained a sort of temporary bodyguard, but that lasted for a few hours. I had to resort to asking my buddy to walk with me after school for a while because I saw them waiting for me at some exits/staircases.

In short, "the system" never worked for me. I don't even think it worked for YOUR bully. Those were all nice words and intentions that you were on the receiving end of, but did the counseling really do anything for him? I doubt it.

What changes a person's viewpoint is not arguments but a profound personal experience, like barely surviving a car crash, being stranded without food, experiencing grief, maybe having a child, and, definitely, yes, getting punched in the face for being an asshole.

did the counseling really do anything for him?

It got him out of an abusive situation at home, so I'd give that a largely unqualified "yes."

I'm sorry the system didn't work for you. That's a failure on the part of the system you were in. It is not proof that systems in general cannot work.

I don't fully understand what you mean by the consistent use of "blend." My clearest glossing of the word in this conversation would be to become like the bully, which is the opposite of what I propose. Becoming a bully myself is what I did before I learned that bullies are also humans—hurting, fearful humans like the rest of us.

And then, of course, I woke up to this today:

Antoinette Tuff wrote:

I realized that it was bigger than me. He was really a hurting young man ... I just started talking to him ... and let him know what was going on with me and that it would be OK. And then let him know that he could just give himself up.

Seems like meeting this situation with strength would have resulted in a much different outcome.

Very few humans do things that are bad or evil for no greater reason than to be bad or evil. People that are hurting and are in pain are seeking a release, or they rationalize actions somehow. The worst thing that can be done is to insult them or fight them because of their conclusions, completely disregarding what steps they took to get there.

Then, of course, as I believe Michael Cain said in his seminal role in A Muppet Christmas Carol, "Some men just want to watch the world burn". There are some people that get a level of glee out of the pain present in others and there is no changing them.

Also, "Any who hunt monsters would do best to be careful not to become a monster", or however the original quote goes.

Hell, we can even draw from Bioshock Infinite. Comstock has an oppressive society that treats a population as less than human, so what happens? The Vox Populi fight back, but they do it in a manner that paints all those that aren't a part of them as a monster, and ultimately become violent, oppressive monsters themselves.

Two sides of the same coin, etc.

I dunno, I don't think paragraphs of discussion are really worth it at this point. All of human history is there to basically prove that using someone's own weapon against them only makes things worse rather than better.

wordsmythe wrote:

I'm sorry the system didn't work for you. That's a failure on the part of the system you were in. It is not proof that systems in general cannot work.

When it comes to school years at least, there's consistent evidence that "systems" don't work. Systems are not "cool" enough to be taken seriously by those they address. They consist of clueless, rigid adults who mostly have no idea of how to deal with bullying. They don't realize how easily they can make things worse for the victim.

Kids quickly come to know this. As they become adults, they apparently forget it.

I don't fully understand what you mean by the consistent use of "blend."

I meant "blend with", not "blend in". Let's just replace it with "empathize". See things from bully's perspective and then softly guide them toward harmonious conflict resolution.

And then, of course, I woke up to this today:
Antoinette Tuff wrote:

I realized that it was bigger than me. He was really a hurting young man ... I just started talking to him ... and let him know what was going on with me and that it would be OK. And then let him know that he could just give himself up.

Seems like meeting this situation with strength would have resulted in a much different outcome.

The only reason this happened is because the shooter-to-be actually chose to engage in dialogue instead of shooting Mrs. Tuff on the spot. Some conflicts allow for this kind of resolution, others do not. What your point is here, I don't know.

ccesarano wrote:

Very few humans do things that are bad or evil for no greater reason than to be bad or evil. People that are hurting and are in pain are seeking a release, or they rationalize actions somehow. The worst thing that can be done is to insult them or fight them because of their conclusions, completely disregarding what steps they took to get there.

Of course there are very few humans like that. They are vastly outnumbered by the peaceful population, or people who are merely "troubled" like the drunk in the bus story I linked earlier in the thread.

The fact is, however, sociopaths exist. People having no moral values or empathy for their victims, they exist. They become serial killers, rapists, mass murderers, genocidal dictators, etc etc.

They don't feel pity or pain. They can't be reasoned with. And they will absolutely not stop, until, well, they are stopped. Not to quote Terminator here, but it fits.

shihonage wrote:

I've not felt the full sting of the Internet until putting a small game project on Greenlight a few months ago.
...
Because it surprised me how deeply those initial comments hit. No Zen attitude would help me there. I'm no stranger to dishing out or taking criticism, but vile words aimed at a project I spent years slowly developing, alone, it was pushing the buttons I didn't know I had.

Yikes.

I'm currently working on what will hopefully be my first published game, an old-school-style RPG for the iOS platform.

The potential for (or certainty of?) this kind of reaction gives me some second thoughts.

I'm certainly not doing this project for the money, but as a side project for fun, and while just designing and developing the game has been a lot of fun so far, I'm a little concerned that a strongly negative reaction when I release the game will make the whole experience ultimately be more negative that positive?

I guess I've been pretty lucky to be sheltered from this kind of thing so far. I do publish a blog, but the subject matter is pretty "dry" / professional, and the reaction has been a lot of "thank you" posts and no real negative comments.