Apologies in advance for the long, bloggy nature of this post. Just stuff on my mind. Good on ya if you make it through the whole thing.
Recently I've heard it said a few times that people should respect the fact that there is a human being on the other side of a screen name. This is absolutely true and I agree it should be respected. However, I get the impression that when this is said, it often means being sensitive to the fact that this person probably has a family and people who love them and like a job and stuff and maybe they compartmentalize how they play from who they are or something along those lines.
I don't really care about that, to be honest. Well, I mean sort of...but not really. I also don't think it's as easy to compartmentalize as people pretend it is.
When I think of respecting the fact that these screen names belong to human beings, I mean being aware of the fact that they have egos. They want to be right. They want to be accepted. They want people to care about them. They want to feel appreciated. They're just like me. They may not play the same way or for the same reasons, but as human beings there are things we have in common.
They have brains that function pretty much the same way mine does and deal with a lot of the same emotional stuff that eRep brings- balancing friendships and ambitions, workload and downtime. Finding a group where you not only fit in, but where you can do really well. And, of course, the feeling of defeating enemies and accomplishing goals.
There are things we do that hinder our own progress, and our enjoyment of this game. We all do it. We don't just do it in eRep, but we do it in our lives. It's human problems. I would love to say that simply being aware of these things is all it takes to never do it again, but it doesn't work that way. You'll read this and you'll notice it in other people long before you see it in yourself. And even after you do start to see it in yourself, it could still be a while before you really try to keep yourself in check.
But don't forget this...with the exception of a few severely mentally ill people (*cough*ajay*cough*), I am just like you and you are just like me. True story.
This is a big one, and it's messing with all of us, but it's actually one of the easiest to overcome, I think. Get ready to see this one everywhere.
Basically, if you already think something, just about everything you see reinforces what you already believe. Information that contradicts what you believe is immediately dismissed as obvious crap.
Everyone does this about totally stupid things (urban legends exist because of this quirk), but we're even worse about accepting and rejecting things arbitrarily when the subject has some emotional relevance. People are emotional. If something FEELS right or it FEELS true, we treat it like absolute fact, evidence be damned.
It's very difficult to look at someone objectively if you have feelings about them, positive or negative. Someone cheated you or betrayed you, so everything they do is the worst and they are always lying all the time. You totally love someone and think they're the best. When they make mistakes, you justify them away and it's like it never happened. You refuse to even process that information as 'negative,' but if it should register as negative, you actually pass judgment on the source of the information rather than the person it's about.
How do we stop doing this? In a game like eRepublik, simply requiring evidence can go a long way. Everything happens on forums and IRC. There is a "paper trail". Don't accept something as fact unless you're sure it's a fact...in your brain, not your heart. Think about having to prove it to some uninterested 3rd party. What would they require? And once you have proof, accept the information for what it is.
You don't have to be right to win an argument, in-game or in life. But I know for many of us, if honesty is frowned upon and truth has no relevance and it is not possible for this place to be any better than what we deal with every day, then why are we playing? We have to fight for truth if we want it here, and we do that by providing it as much as expecting it. Check your facts before you start saying something is a fact. Be aware and be honest.
Speaking of truth...
THE TRUST GAP
We think of ourselves as trustworthy, but just about everyone else is completely corrupt. WE would do generous things just for the satisfaction of helping someone out, but no one else ever would. WE would try to do the right thing at every turn, but other people are jerks and intentionally do the wrong thing. We assume the world is more corrupt than it actually is. We assume people are shadier than they really are. We adopt double standards because of this.
We lack a lot of information when we make judgment calls against others. Think of the last time you passed judgment on a celebrity. Do you actually know anything about them? Guess what, though... you do that same thing to pretty much everyone. We aren't always aware of context, but it doesn't stop us from forming assumptions and just filling in contextual blanks with whatever makes us feel more right.
The mistakes I make are due to circumstances beyond my control and may not really be 'mistakes' at all. Mistakes you make are due to you being an idiot and probably a shady bastard to boot. It's karma, you moron. If I'm having a bad day and I'm irritable, it's because I'm stressed out in my RL. If you're having a bad day and you're being irritable, it's because you're a terrible human being and everyone hates you, you should probably just quit. If I work hard to win an election, it's because I really think I can do the job well. If you work hard to win an election, it's because you're a power hungry jag wagon elitist and you're probably cheating.
Saying we should treat others as we would like to be treated sounds so trite, but it seems like that's how we would get over this. Whether it's one nation trying to negotiate a peace agreement with another nation they have fought with in the past or one player vying for the same position as another player, assuming the worst in everyone isn't necessarily being cautious, it's often being difficult. It's a short step to developing full on paranoia where you become a liability and put your friends/associates in a position of having to apologize for you or make excuses for you.
If we can't learn context and be more understanding, then maybe we should withhold some of those judgments until we're better informed.
I know it all sounds so idealistic. Like we'll all suddenly stop playing this game the way we have been if we become aware of how our brains are constantly failing us and turning us into b-holes. But, here's hoping. You are like me. I am like you. We both do this and we can both stop.
I think I am a trustworthy person.
I think you probably are, too.
I think I am a good person to know.
I think you probably are, too.
I think I value honesty.
I think you probably do, too.
I think Feds are the best.
If you think otherwise, then you're clearly insane.
(Ok, so I need to keep working on this.)
Thanks for reading
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