Responsibility of Anonymity

6 minute read

Everyday new platforms, software, and devices are released and with them come many new opportunities including ways to communicate. Online gaming is one area that’s rapidly increasing in popularity and functionality and is the one that inspired me to write this article. If you haven’t played a game in your life then I’d be amazed. Whether it be a board game, phone game, or computer game - it doesn’t matter. They all have a few things in common, main ones being that you’re generally playing against people and the other is games are competitive (not exactly ground breaking and unexpected, eh?). Competition can have some negative effects on people.

My favourite game currently is one called Overwatch, it’s an online team based FPS (First Person Shooter) game. You play the game as one of a twenty-six heroes as part of a team of six which goes up against another team of six. There’s a few objectives such as escorting a payload or capturing a point - or a mixture of both which take place on a variety of maps. Overwatch is a great game and can be incredibly fun and addictive. It has a couple of primary modes, a casual “Quick Play” where people generally warm up and go to mess around. There’s also a mode which is taken much more seriously; “Competitive” mode, which can get very intense.

Overwatch is a great example as it really puts a focus on team coordination and communication and the primary way to communicate is through the use of a voice chat. This chat allows you to talk to the other members of your team and can be invaluable. But unfortunately, it has it’s downsides.

Why I love and hate the Internet

Although the ability to communicate near instantaneously with anyone, anywhere on the planet is a vital part of our modern world, it has one massive downside. It’s very easy to become socially isolated, only communicating on these platforms and not in person. Another problem and in my opinion, the biggest, is how people can fail to consider the meaning of their words - or at least I hope it’s just them failing to.

Overwatch Competitive can get incredibly competitive and this can cause some people to be incredibly disrespectful. Earlier today I had a game where I couldn’t support the team as well as I wanted because two of the enemy characters was focusing me. I tried asking my team for help but they instead decided to start abusing me (and still ignoring the flankers). I was told how useless I was and how it was my fault we were losing - though it was said using an amazingly high percentage of swear words.

Competitive Overwatch has a season system (much like other sports) and in this particular season I was doing exceptionally well; losing very few games. The biggest thing I felt I was doing differently was staying positive. I believed we could win if someone decided to use a non-ideal hero (very diplomatic way of wording it) and shared by belief with the team. I also defended people if someone was being abusive to them, it all made a huge difference. I actually found the game ridiculously fun - fun which was previously sucked out of the game by the trolls, throwers and toxic players.

I’ve never been rude to anyone in Overwatch, I’ve of course been frustrated with people but I’ve never taken it out on them. Being toxic doesn’t help anyone and I wish people could be different. I’ve never found myself not wanting to win a game until earlier when I REALLY wanted it to be over. I think it’s about time I include a list.

1) OBVIOUSLY (I wish it was obvious to everyone) no one wants to be sworn or shouted at or even told what to do. 2) Being toxic is only going to negatively affect your fellow players and yourself who are then are going to carry that negativity on to other games thus continuing its spread. 3) Saying anything about how “bad” you believe someone is isn’t going to help. If you have a problem with something think of a solution and ASK NICELY. 4) We’re all human, (I’d hope) you wouldn’t appreciate being spoken to unkindly, why should others have to put up with you?

Although so far, I’ve been very Overwatch centered (after all, it was what “inspired” me to write this) it’s not just a problem inside one game. It happens all across the internet, in games, on social media and any other platform people can use to communicate. Overwatch unfortunately has a lot of these people which is why I’m using it as an example. I’m not saying everyone is at fault (far from it), I’m saying that anyone can be.

It’s ironic complaining about people complaining, isn’t it?

Well, yes. These people have gotten to me and now I’m sharing the negativity with you - precisely the issue I’m trying to point out and without awareness change can never be realised. You can’t know who might read your Tweet or Facebook status. You don’t know who might be on your team in that game. Whether you meant what you said or not, you could be responsible for saying the thing that pushed a suicidal person over the edge. The worst part is, you likely won’t know how they reacted to it.

I try to thoroughly consider everything I say to make sure that, as far as I’m aware, it won’t be misinterpreted or offensive. If you’re sad you can interpret things in an entirely different way to someone that is happy. What I’m trying to say is, there’s a great responsibility placed upon us as users of the internet and everyone needs to be careful and considerate about what they say, positivity can make someone’s day whereas negativity could ruin someone’s life.

I was going to leave it at that but I feel like I want a slightly more light-hearted finish. Whether people want to admit it or not, we all want to be wanted and appreciated, “Thanks” is a solid choice but there’s always my good friend, ALT+3.

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