Why Your Behavior is Fucking Atrocious — and How to Fix It

This was originally published as a Facebook Note on September 13, 2016. It is about the live-action gaming club I belong to, and issues prevalent within the LARP community in general.

Fact.

Things are awful: racism, sexism, harassment, rape, people still using Windows XP. The world is collapsing, I know. Because the world collapses about once a month in MES due to an abundance of terrible things that run around this club unchecked enough that I’ve checked out. It really sucks, and you’re right to speak out about it, to take a stand against it, to fight with every breath of your being so that these things get corrected in our community.

But your behavior is fucking atrocious.

Do you know why? Well, it’s the internet, so I’m gonna tell you why.

You do not like how people are handling something: their tactics, their speed, how they phrase something, whatever. It’s all offensive to you. It is a personal affront, aimed directly at your heart, yours and yours alone. It’s all being done to harm just you.

  1. No, it’s not.
  2. Just because you’re offended doesn’t mean you’re right.
  3. And so what if you’re offended.

We have had more movement on harassment and marginalization in the last six months than we have had in twenty years. If you will stop screaming for one second, then we can have an open dialogue about how to fix this very serious problem. If you keep screaming and attacking others, you are 1. preventing the dialogue that will bring about the change you desire, and 2. perpetuating abuse (more on that later, also can you tell how much I love listicles?). If you are offended, it often means we’re tackling complex topics that need to see the light of day. If you are offended, it means the way you view the world is being challenged, and that is a positive thing. Otherwise you end up with 1930s fascist Italy, and I promise that’s not “charming.”

Do you want fascists? A lack of challenging ideas and assumptions, of oppressing critical thinking and discussion about tough topics, is how you get fascists.

MES officers are now doing something, and your fucking atrocious behavior tears them down with its ugly name calling in front of their friends and, in many cases, their family. You say shit you’d never say to them in person because it’s the internet (and don’t you dare say “I’d say that to them in person” because you wouldn’t. Please, next time you see me, come yell in my face like you’d yell at someone on the internet. I fucking dare you.). A computer gives you “courage” because your victim’s facial expressions and body language won’t remind you that you’re behaving like a hateful creature who cares for only yourself. But you are, and — here we go again — it’s fucking atrocious.

You are adding to the problem because you think your emotions justify your behavior. Fact: your emotions do not justify your behavior. Just because you feel doesn’t mean you’re right. In fact, you are patently wrong here when you go on an officer’s personal Facebook page — where they KINDLY ALLOW you — to post some pretty fucking atrocious shit. Some fucking atrocious, abusive shit.

A healthy adult who is a responsible and respectful member of a community they care about does not perpetuate a cycle of abuse. You feel you’ve been used, hurt, misused, and dehumanized, your plight ignored for years — and now you are doing the exact same thing to the people who are trying to help you. You are abusing them: verbally and emotionally. Yes, you are. Don’t make me post screenshots.

You. Are. Abusive. With your words, put before all of this club’s members to see.

Stop perpetuating this cycle of abuse.

Stop posting assumptions.

Stop posting accusations.

Stop posting cruel words.

Stop hurting others because you yourself are hurting. That is not how you stop the hurt and walk the path of healing.

Instead, here are some constructive solutions you can try:

1. Do not post to Facebook when you’re angry.

I know it’s really, really difficult. Try taking a step back from Facebook. Don’t post. Don’t respond. You can do a hundred other things rather than start typing and perpetuating a cycle of abuse. Take a walk. Write out your rage in a format you would never, ever publish, then delete it. Vent to trusted friends who will not betray your trust or keep you in an echo chamber of anger.

2. Think about how you want to be treated.

It’s classic advice for a reason. What? You think your parents were lying to you after your third grade teacher called them in for a conference? I guarantee you don’t want 30 people ganging up to call you a piece of shit on your Facebook. Has it ever happened to you? If you’re an officer, it’s happened to you. Sometimes repeatedly. If it hasn’t happened to you, think about times in your life where people have ganged up on you: high school, games, voicing your opinion on something. It’s a terrible thing to be bullied and picked on like that. Don’t do it to others.

3. Think about all the reasons why you’re not an officer.

There’s a reason why you aren’t up there putting yourself on the line. I think a lot of it’s because of behavior like we’re all seeing: the harassment and abuse they’re fighting to stop — that doesn’t measure up to your particularly precious timetable/level of effort/standards/effectiveness/whatever. It’s so much easier to criticize than fucking DO SOMETHING. JFC, just cut them some slack. Please. It will help us all not to read your ugly vitriol and be exposed to your fucking atrocious behavior.

4. Get some motherfuckin’ empathy.

You’re not perfect. Officers aren’t perfect. All systems are broken. We try to improve them because that’s the beauty of existence: always striving for better. Think about these issues with which you take umbrage. Think about the other side — and why you are not an officer in this club taking a stance. If it hasn’t sunk in already, let me repeat myself: it’s fucking HARD and AWFUL often because of your fucking atrocious reactions. Do you really want members getting in your face in the same manner you’re getting in an officer’s face? No, you don’t. Do you know what your behavior does to another human being? No, you don’t, because you’re on the internet and you have a buffer, so you don’t see the repercussions of your actions. You’re free to continue your shitty behavior because it’s not in your face (once again, I dare you to verbally attack me in public the way you attack officers on Facebook. … Yeah, I thought so.).

5. JFC, stop being an asshole. Seriously.

Do you want to drive off the hard-working officers of this club, the ones who are finally working to aid you? Maybe you do. If that’s the case, fuck you. Seriously, fuck you. If you don’t, if you want real change, then remember: these officers are now taking your complaints seriously. They are humans who are flawed because they’re (duh) human, yet they’ve taken up the mantle of leadership in order to make things better. Better does not happen on the first try, or even the second or third tries. Better does not happen in a vacuum. Better happens when we never stop trying. There is no instant gratification for this, like there is no instant healing for your hurt, and I am genuinely sorry for that.

6. When you’re calm — which means probably the next day — put together something that’s constructive.

That means when you call out things you don’t like, OFFER SOLUTIONS. Yes, you may disagree with how leadership handles things, but let me sound like a broken record: verbal and emotional abuse is not the way to disagree with them. Attacking anyone on the internet is not how you bring about change and get your way. It’s how you tear down a community, it’s how you harm yourself, it’s how you lose respect and friends.

7. Hold people accountable.

If you’re not someone behaving fucking atrociously, then you’re still exposed to it and you can help improve our culture. Except it’s complicated. “Calling someone out” sure feels good, but really it’s pretty shitty. All it does is help cycle the anger and create more divides in an already-divisive community. Instead, I recommend you ask them to do one or several of the following things:

  1. Take a break and come back when they’re less emotional.
  2. Don’t allow them into your space, because the less we tolerate/feed it, the less it will happen.
  3. Reach out to them and have a private discussion — listen to them, because chances are they’re hurting.
  4. Comment below with other kind, empathetic tactics because I don’t know everything.

There.

Now go forth and be better human beings, because I swear to God, you are better than this. You are not a fucking atrocious person, so stop acting like one.

Can you name them all? That’s a better thing to do than treating members of your community like shit.