Sunday, October 19, 2014

On #Gamergate and Social Justice Warriors

For those few of you gentle friends who are not gamers allow me offer a little backstory. In short #Gamergate is a hashtag on twitter that has become a haven of 4chan misogynists and the morons who follow them. Between the beer belches and bleating they have evolved into what basically amounts to a hate group determined to keep girl gamers "in their place" and resist the changes to games and gaming that are occurring as a result of the rapidly increasing numbers of young women and minorities joining nerd culture at large and more specifically, gaming. They have resorted to extensive campaigns of doxxing (publically posting personal information) and threats of rape and murder to silence voices in the industry that might resist their sick agenda and make extensive use of sockpuppets to create an illusion of acceptance and consensus.

Borrowing effective dirty tricks from the same playbooks that the worst mainstream politicians have followed for decades they have been very effective at hiding their real agenda behind a cloud of loosely similar but completely unrelated issues. They whine constantly about "corruption in game journalism" but the specifics they offer inevitably ignore real issues in favor of slandering political enemies, mostly female, with irrelevant or unsubstantiated personal attacks.

For days the mainstream media has been duped into believing these troglodytes somehow represent the larger nerd subculture when they are, in fact, nothing more than a loudmouth minority.

Any major party politician will tell you that winning a publicity war is about shaping the dialog to support your position, and #Gamergate has excelled at this. They have even effectively created new words and phrases that have been adopted into general use in nerd culture.

My personal favorite is "SJW". SJW is an abbreviation of the phrase "social justice warrior" and it's use speaks volumes about #Gamergate.

You might expect that a "social justice warrior" would be someone to look up to, but according to the twisted world-view of #Gamergate the term is entirely derogatory. The term is used to dehumanize critics and dismiss criticism without debate. A social justice warrior is someone who loudly and frequently defends inclusiveness and diversity as one might expect, but the context of the term presumes an ulterior motive for doing so. A social justice warrior doesn't promote diversity because he believes in diversity. A social justice warrior promotes diversity because "it makes him look good". Widespread use of this term allows #Gamergate to brush off criticism without having to engage it, and successful injection of the concept into the dialog has created a presumption that NOBODY could SINCERELY want to make nerd culture more inclusive.

It's a clever strategy, and it has worked for quite a while, but it's not going to last because it doesn't bear up under close examination. In the end it only compounds of the absurdity of treating social justice as a pejorative by highlighting the juvenile mindset that drives the entire #Gamergate campaign. 

As children we believe motives matter. What we think, or what we feel, or what we mean when we say or do something is relevant. Sure, we made a mistake, but our motives were pure and that makes it okay. We didn't MEAN to make someone cry. We didn't MEAN to hurt someone. We didn't MEAN to break something.

As adults we learn that motives don't really matter.

One of the hardest epiphanies every adult must face is the fact that nobody really cares what you feel. It's not that people are cruel or that empathy does not exist, but in the end everyone views your feelings through their own life-lens. Nobody can entirely understand or know what you feel because they can't climb into your head and feel it with you.

Nobody will ever know with any real certainty you love them.

From this epiphany springs a score of important truths, but among them is one that applies specifically to the SJW construct.

Motives don't matter. A person can't be defined by their feelings, or their thoughts, or their motives because we can't KNOW those things with any real certainty. What defines a person is what they do; the footprints they leave behind. Everything else is bullshit. People using the term have pretty much invalidated the entire SJW concept by imposing a motive on Social Justice Warriors, dubious or otherwise.

The entire SJW concept is, like #Gamergate itself, the product of a juvenile mindset.

For the record. I am a gamer, and #Gamergate does NOT speak for me.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

I've Been Away Too Long

I know... nobody reads this blog. And I've kinda left it untended for a long time.

But I need to vent, and in the end that's all this has ever been. A place to vent. A place where one tiny cog of the huge machine with billions of moving parts can cry out in his tiny little voice in a way that will at least leave a mark.

It's a scribble on a middle school bathroom wall. I know that. But it's my middle school and at least a few of my fellow students, family, friends and followers, will be forced to know that there indeed once was a man from Nantucket.

And just now I need to vent.

I stumbled across a New Yorker magazine article today about some new disease. Spores are being stirred up by dust storms out west causing fatal lung infections, and I have not been able to shake a sense of shame and melancholy.

I can't say why this has affected me so much. You see stuff like this all the time. The extinction of whole species. TV commercials of doomed polar bears struggling to find a place to survive and so on are rampant. The slow increase in global temperatures and CO2 levels. Whales and dolphins beaching themselves in a futile attempt to flee the din and stench of the sea. The horrific storms that seem to be finding whole new courses across the globe.

The droughts.

With a storm of the century occurring every two years or so it just seems odd to me that I should be so profoundly affected by a fungal infection that's killing so few people every year that the medical research community hasn't even noticed it yet. I guess because my father and wife both have lung conditions and the idea of suffocating to death is just particularly horrifying to me.

I know... I know... what the hell does any of this have to do with global climate change. I guess I should elaborate.

Most people don't know this but the Great Plains wasn't always a dust bowl. Back in the day, before the civil war, it was a lush grassland. They were literally the great plains. The ground didn't suck up every drop of rain that touched it. There were streams and rivers. And there was life. Everywhere.

And then white people showed up. We slaughtered the buffalo that cropped the grasslands and converted it to fresh topsoil for the coming years. The people that had survived there for millenia dwindled and died in an act of second hand genocide that even Joseph Stalin would have to grudgingly respect.

The grasses died. The ground dried up. And here we are. Some hundred and fifty of us last year, gasping out our last dying breaths. We are paying the price for our grandparents greed, shortsightedness, and ignorance.

I shudder to think what price my grandchild will pay for mine.