Talkback Challenge #1 : How GamerGate Affected Me
I have mostly avoided participating in the major discussion threads surrounding #Gamergate for the sole reason that I find the internet a terrible place to have meaningful, open discussion on serious and important topics. I realize how silly that is as someone who blogs quite regularly and participates in a lot of blogs – perhaps I should rephrase. I find people intolerant of differences of opinions. Rightly or wrongly – it feels like when people are debating in written form it is for the sole purpose of proving they are right, or winning, versus learning, being open minded, moving the discussion forward in a positive and constructive manner, and sharing healthy discourse. I find pubs and beer is a much better avenue for open, honest, and engaging debate. Still, I did touch upon my thoughts on it in two posts. One, captured it all quite perfectly through comedy on the Colbert Report:
My personal favourite moment is when Colbert compares the worry about what would happen to serious journalistic outlets such as Hollywood reporting (8:45) – TMZ, Entertainment tonight (etc.) if they too had ethics issues like Gaming journalism. I have missed that argument around all of the Gamergate “controversy” – most news sources we consume are pretty clear on their biases. It seems as though they are trying less to hide it, and at bare minimum the educated parts of society know the influences behind news reporting.
I love how comedy can often make more sense out of tough topics than serious discussion. I did write a more serious post about sensationalism in writing and shared what I feel the most simplest form of it all was – how it was trying to label me.
On that note on everything related to Gamergate I need to share a small part of what is important to me about it. And that is that I won’t be defined by labels. period. Being a gamer isn’t negative or positive anymore than being a man, or being black, or being a lesbian is negative or positive. Equating the word “gamer” to “misogynist” or “racist” or any negative connotation is entirely irresponsible. A gamer is someone who games, nothing more, nothing less. The label doesn’t mean who you are. Your actions – how you treat people and what you personally represent – does.
I have been very consistent with the viewpoint that the world doesn’t need big heroes, it really needs a lot (like, millions) of regular people just being a bit nicer to each other. That is how the human race can truly change the world. Celebrities have a fraction of the power as a community working together. Holding doors open, saying ‘Thank You’ to strangers, helping out locally, and being open minded and understanding that we are not going to agree on everything and be tolerant of other viewpoints. Especially when they aren’t harmful or endangering.
Izlain’s talkback challenge was to share how #Gamergate affected me, not how I wrote about it. And, the truth is it did very little to nothing. I followed it closely and read a lot of posts but I felt that a paragraph here or there on the topic couldn’t do it justice, or wouldn’t be complete enough, easily counter argued and/or picked apart. I also do not write essay style posts here as it is a very relaxed and conversational blog and I did not feel like having to defend myself or worry about “winning” the argument. All that being said it does not mean I am not sensitive to the issues and problems and I do believe change is good in this industry – I constantly argue here that the gaming industry is incredibly immature – and that is scary for a multi-billion dollar business. What I worry about is gaming hasn’t even sorted out how to reward and support long term employment and stability for the industry, let alone tackle serious gender representation issues. I believe it will all come in time and people are right to fight to speed that up when they are really passionate about it. People are also right to fight to ensure freedom of speech is safe even if it isn’t the popular opinion.
Now, at this point, you could try and argue that by me not taking a big stand (either way) that I am making the problem worse, not better. And to that I say stop trying to win an argument on the internet. I live my life with a mind and heart on equality. I learned this when I went to a liberal arts university in Canada in the 90s – and the university was ‘famous’ for it’s gay and lesbian population. Not that percentage wise it was any higher than any other Canadian campus, but that they were more free to be open about their sexuality. It was common to see same sex couples holding hands around campus – and in the 90s, this wasn’t as common as it is today. I learned a lot there as a young adult growing into manhood and one of the defining moments that I recall strongly was a “Take Back the Night” rally – where hundreds of women would march down the streets of the city to show they weren’t afraid – and wanted the freedom and safety to walk at night. Something so simple that many men take for granted. Being a young idealist at the time, I wanted to help out! I wanted to support this movement and show solidarity with my sisters. The only thing I was allowed to do to support? Help clean up the next day. They didn’t want male participation. Men where the ones causing fear for women to walk at night for fear of sexual assault (or worse). This was a women only march. I was pretty mad at first. I am not the problem. I didn’t assault women – I was the help and support walking my female friends home so they were safe. I supported their cause and understood their fear – not from experience, but because I had a lot of women friends who would share their feelings with me. Even though I was the one walking them home at night to be safe, the fact that they needed a man to do that at all to feel safe was the core of the problem to begin with. I was disappointed in what I was being told but in the end I did what they asked of me and grabbed a broom. I learned that day that even though I personally wasn’t the problem I still represented it, and that if I pushed the issue and walked the streets with them I was still taking away the empowerment they so badly wanted (and deserved). So I did the next best thing I could. I helped clean up.
Ever since then I have lived my life trying to learn and be open and do the right thing. I didn’t fight for or against #Gamergate online because the battle was crazy and both sides often being completely intolerant and silly to each other. The signal to noise ratio of meaningful or constructive discussion was near impossible to find. So I hit “like” on the posts I read that I liked, and ignored the troll bait, stunts and senseless arguments that was also abundant. And throughout all of that reading continued to live my life as the best person I could to the human beings I came in contact with in my everyday life.
#Gamergate didn’t affect me, but it reminded me of how far we have to go as human beings to be good to one another.