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This is pretty much a followup to yesterday’s post. People thinking I should talk about games more and the industry/community less can go fuck themselves. This shit is important.
My industry (I’m thinking gaming, but it also applies to tech) has issues. When people discuss those issues, a lot of them fall into a trap.
“The truth is in the middle.”
Are you sure? Where? Which sources are you taking as true, which are you taking as hyperbole? Why are you privileging the sources you take as true over the others? Why are you dismissing the other sources? Who are you hurting by ignoring their voice because “it’s all very unprofessional”? Why is it “in the middle” and not “near enough this side as makes no odds”? Why is it more important to defuse tension rather than accept that our industry has issues that affect real live people?
“Sometimes, people on both sides can be assholes.”
Who? Seriously, when you say this, grow a pair of your favoured genitals and name some fucking names. Conversely, who isn’t being an asshole? Why are you dismissing the first people and not the second? Are you conflating “being an asshole” with “saying things about people that I don’t believe”? Does “being an asshole” include “rocking the boat” or otherwise pointing out that things are not okay in a way that isn’t particularly polite?
Why do you think it is more important to avoid offending abusers than it is to support victims? You don’t mean to do that? Well, don’t pull this “truth somewhere in the middle” shit in the first place.
But why do people conflate “being an asshole while being wrong and/or an objectively shitty and abusive person” and “being an asshole while being right and/or compassionate”?
Because not being nice disrupts the status quo.
Being an asshole and being wrong/shitty is not visibly disruptive – the only people who see you being shitty are your targets and their friends. While they may speak out against it, it’s easy to ignore.
When the victims/friends start being assholes about it, then arguments start and it gets noisy and disruptive and why can’t we go back to people being nice to each other?
The answer is obvious: people were never being nice to each other, truth-in-the-middle folks just never saw it and want to go back to not seeing it. For the majority of them, that’s not a conscious decision—they want to “give everyone a fair shake”. Thing is, that’s not what happens. Part of being fair is paying more attention to the words of victims than victimisers, because the status quo is actively harmful to a whole lot of people. When you’re playing Devil’s advocate, pay attention to the name: you’re advocating for the position that only a Devil would take.
“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
The only way to get that truth is to research and to be specific. If you can’t be arsed to do that, you won’t get the truth. You’ll get a lot of silencing bullshit that actively harms people. Well done. Specificity, motherfucker. Do you speak it?
[This is an expanded version of a couple of posts from social media, posted here for future reference.]
Stew Wilson is a writer, game designer, computational demonologist, and mathematician.
This blog covers his professional writing and game design work.
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