I play a lot of video games. I like to distract myself from the pain and suffering of the real world with the colorful world of electronic diversion. Unfortunately, I can’t even escape stupidity and madness in virtual fantasy worlds.
Let me explain:
I play World of Warcraft.
Go ahead, judge me now. I can wait.
Alright, are we ready to move on?
In the World of Warcraft, you join other groups of random players to run dungeons. Typically, these are nice people who just want to get a particular in-game item from the dungeon. These people recognize it’s a game and sometimes you win or lose, but that you try again and that it’s all for fun.
Other times, you get one or two very angry people who feel super powered because they have a hint of anonymity. When things don’t go their way, they start blaming everything on the other players and call them names. In particular though, they call people these two names:
Fags and Retards.
They lost a meaningless game, and because they were so upset about it, they start throwing around nasty, hurtful language.
What’s even worse about this? Most people do nothing about it.
They don’t call them out. They don’t ask them to stop. They don’t tell them they are a pathetic homophobe hiding behind a veil of anonymity.
They just stand there and take it.
These are the people we live and work with. We walk past them on the street, in the grocery store, and in our schools. We let them bully other people because we won’t speak up and tell them it’s wrong.
Words hurt people. Labels hurt people. Reading them on a computer screen doesn’t make them hurt any less.
Think about the words you use online. Think about how they might hurt someone. And don’t allow other people to get away with it.
Yes, it’s awkward. Yes, it’s uncomfortable. But can you really be happy allowing other people to get hurt because you were too cowardly to speak up?
I know I can’t live in a world, online or off, where I allow other people to get hurt because I didn’t have the guts to tell them to knock it off.
Stop being afraid of these people.
The worst thing they’re going to do is call you a name in a tweet.