Destructive words

“So we’re different colors and we’re different creeds

And different people have different needs.

It’s obvious you hate me though I’ve done nothing wrong

I’ve never even met you so what could I have done?”

People are People by Depeche Mode

Foreword: I normally don’t write about the meta of EVE, but sometimes it’s the most obvious thing in front of me. I internally debated at length whether I should actually write this blog post. In the end, I decided it was important as it is part of my game whether I like it or not. So verily I march out to squander any internet tough-guy street cred I may have accrued. If you don’t wish to read a serious topic (interspersed with as much lighthearted content as the topic will allow) please read no further. Also, while I ascribe these problems to EVE, they are more appropriately blamed on the anonymity of the internet and online gamer culture.

There are words used in EVE that I had never in my life seen thrown about so freely. This is saying a lot since I spent seven years as an active duty United States Marine serving with some of the most foul-mouthed people you would ever meet; the saying may be “cursing like a sailor,” but whoever coined that phrase obviously never met a Marine. The words I see used in EVE and the forums loosely associated with its players I would expect to read in a skinhead’s manifesto. These statements of racial slurs and class-based defamation loosely coupled by explicit language are one of the reasons I don’t proudly proclaim to the world that I am an online gamer — further they ensure I won’t baptize my son into the realm of online games any sooner than I have to.

Somewhere along the twisting path of online gamer culture’s evolution a gene was spliced in compelling gamers to think internet tough guys must toss around these offensive words; in fact for some, these words make up the bulk of their communication. These words are used to insult people, so even if they are not used with the direct meaning and purpose for which they were created (to insult specific classes of people) they are used with complete understanding that the word is offensive which is an implicit validation of the intended usage.

This culture has reached ridiculously offensive heights. In the 80s (if you were alive then) you probably wore acid-washed jeans, parachute pants or jeans with gaping holes in the knees. Looking back, you probably realize these fashions made you look pretty stupid (if not, sorry buddy). Using the standard internet tough guy communication style is a form of fashion, but in addition to making you look really stupid, it is insulting to whole classes of people. Further, if you spouted this kind of language while you were committing a criminal act, your charges might be elevated to hate crime.

Some people laugh this off as if it’s okay because these words aren’t being used with their original meaning. Intent counts for something, I’ll give you that one. But does the lesbian, black woman of Jewish faith in your alliance and reading your kill-board comments understand that? Further, does she care that these offensive words were simply overloaded and used as a generic insult instead of their racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-Semitic face value?

Others have pointed out that not using these words won’t make them go away. I suppose this line of thinking suggests that hearing or reading them repeatedly will desensitize humanity to their original meaning. I counter by saying that after receiving a dozen lashes each day for a year, you may grow immune to that pain as well. Why must we grow a thick hide instead of simply asking others to stop?

The language you use has no effect on how well your internet spaceship blows up other internet spaceships or the way pixels form pretty explosions. ‘Harden the fuck up’ applies to getting over the fact that your hard-earned pixels evaporated when faced with an overwhelming supply of pixelized autocannon rounds or picking yourself up after you spent a billion isk on a single unit of Carbon instead of the Charon you thought you were buying; it does not apply to accepting crap from foul-mouthed punks who don’t understand the words they are using and who don’t fully grasp the concept of decency.

If you’re one of the guilty, please pull your head out of your ass and stop. If you sit idly by while others perpetuate this ‘fashion’, stop. I find nothing wrong with the use of intelligent smack talk. I’m perfectly accepting of insulting banter — it’s part of many cultures and I clearly didn’t earn my in-game title of “Trivially our biggest jerk” by being a sweetheart. There are plenty of ways to make sure that your words convey your meaning without resorting to finding the most offensive word and overusing it. However, internet gamer culture has crossed a line. It’s an ugly and twisted line that I don’t want my children to see the other side of — but at the same time I want my son to enjoy the same things I do when he’s old enough.

Closing thoughts: This applies to the whole of online gamer culture. Though I didn’t specifically address it, I feel the same way about use of the words rape (don’t be a dickwolf) and butt-hurt. I am not going to quit because of this. I am going to continue to look upon those who feel it necessary to proclaim their internet manhood in this fashion as less intelligent. Please go read something fun and intellectual now. Sorry no pictures, too serious.


~ by paritybit on 2011/02/10.

7 Responses to “Destructive words”

  1. Completely agree. I think (well hope) that most of the smack talkers are teenage kids trying to impress others. Either way they are immature little sh&ts.

    The anonymous nature of the Internet brings out the worst in people since they can say things without fear of retribution. There is a broader problem of ‘netiquette’ where people should only type what they would actually say to a person standing in front of them.

    I call it out now when I see it and actually have petitioned a couple of people who were smacking truly offensively in local. I paste the chat log into the petition. Not sure what if anything CCP does about it, but apart from telling people they have crossed the line and petitioning offenders, not sure what else you can do.

  2. I’ve gotta say, I agree with your entire post…
    I was brought up being taught “foul language is the first resort of the uneducated and there’s little worse than appearing uneducated”
    Granted, now that I’ve been at my current job for almost 3 years, constantly surrounded by truck drivers and PLENTY of uneducated people, my language has gotten quite a bit worse, but still I understand there are limits…
    And smacktalk is vastly different from mindlessly spewing all-too-common insults, which often don’t even apply to the person at which they are spewed…
    EVE is supposed to be for the more intelligent people out there, we should at least act the role, even if it’s not always an accurate depiction of our average corp-mate 🙂

  3. I guess I can say howdy m8 now! Looking forward to flying together sometime. This should be fun.

  4. Beautifully expressed. Now, I’m not above swearing like a sailor and that kind of thing doesn’t bother me. Even the sexual innuendo/language doesn’t bother me much. But the racial slurs and sexual preference slurs do. Whether delivered with shocking viciousness or cluelessness, use of such language demonstrates utter disregard for the people on the other side of that computer screen–who often have very good reasons for being sensitive.

    TBH, such behavior is making online game tiresome and irritating for me. Perhaps it is a generational thing (I grew up in the 60s); I don’t know. I guess we can only hope the people who behave badly grow out of it eventually.

  5. I hope this post didn’t cause you to quit after all! Sheesh.

    I play at work a lot (shame on me!) and I was once in an Alliance that I could not have on comms because the language was so bad. The last thing I want is those hate-filled words echoing down the hallways.

    I don’t use them. Others do. And while I may not agree with them or the need to use them, I can’t stop it. As in most things in life I can only really control one thing and that is myself.

  6. Well said. As a parent, I am extremely wary of letting my kids play MMO games. OK, so EvE isn’t a kids game, but I am still in favor of having standards of decency, even as I blow up your pixel generated spaceship.

  7. Ok now, where’d you go?!?

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