Optimism and a Plan

I have to admit, today’s discussion in class was really what I wanted and needed. Recently one of my greatest issues has been that we find a million and one different things that are wrong with the way we perceive and respond to culture and identity. Yet, when we reflect upon the possibilities for a better future our solutions to problems have been as large as “it will be fixed in a post-gender world” or it would be different if a, b, or c key attributes of western society and upbringing were also different. It leaves me feeling a little forlorn and certainly more than a little hopeless. (I get the same sense from any climate change class I’ve ever taken, but that’s a different / the same story).

What I loved about today was the ability to open the discussion to reasonable and doable tactics to begin striving for change. Together and alone, there are so many options. And absolutely none of them should be do nothing. I’m speaking mostly to cyber-bullying and “fag discourse” right now. Though I believe that more research could also end a lot of the issues we’ve read on about blaming videogames for violence and aggression when that may not be the case most of the time.

xkcd-online-communities-spring-2007

The internet is this vast practically living thing (ala the map for you all). It seems like such an impossible task to make it a safe space for playing, sharing, whatever you use it for. When you take away the accountability for the statements you make, when you are given anonymity that can mask the hurtful things you say, that’s a kind of power that people can and do take advantage of.  It may be an oversimplification, but the fact of the matter is we are dealing with real human beings.

internetargument

We can’t be everywhere in the internet at one point in time moderating and mediating. But! But we can troll trolls as Phillips proposed. We can choose not to be a bystander. And we can hold those we interact with accountable for what they say and do. We can work towards reminding one another that “it isn’t a joke if someone gets hurt” and that although we may be communicating through these other mediums, we are talking to and working with other people. We can hold each other accountable. Whether that be towards offensive and hurtful behavior or to game developers who create more problems than solutions. This doesn’t have to be an uproarious call to action that spans the internet from one tube to another (though that would be nice). Just a little more awareness from all of us. From class, we proposed ways to fix the problems. I think that might be the most difficult step. Go ahead and check that off our list. Hell yeah.

P.S. Someone beat us to Slenderwoman.

slender_woman_by_clz-d5hsn1i

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3 Responses to Optimism and a Plan

  1. anelso11 says:

    Response blog post #4 (@ madeleinelw)

    I think the first step to addressing any problem is to acknowledge that there is a problem, and for those that participate in cyber-bullying and fag discourse, this general intolerance needs to be addressed. Luckily, there are individuals and groups (e.g. our class) who are willing to not only recognize it as a crucial issue in both the virtual and real world, but also propose various ways of fixing the problem/conflict. Given what we have seen and learned in this course over the term, I agree with you that we cannot merely standby as passive observers. If cyber bullies and trolls feel empowered by anonymity to do what they do, what keeps us as individuals from equally feeling empowered to protest their negative behaviors? Anonymity shouldn’t be an excuse for offensive manners or a reason to escape accountability, even if one’s intentions are to merely “joke around”. Players can still have fun and joke around without putting down another individual’s age, gender, sexuality, or race. Thus, as you mentioned, all we really need is to have a little more awareness from everyone to begin addressing the issue.

    Nor should the responsibility of addressing cyber-bullying and the fag discourse in online social environments lie solely on the players. As I mentioned in the comments section to a recent blog post by mmartini2013, game producers should also actively engage in the issue rather than continually perpetuating it. They need to stop catering to the traditional heterosexual, white male audience and push for games that are more open-minded and inclusive with respect to gender/sexual/social norms. Male characters do not need to be heterosexual, buffed up dudes and female characters do not need to be slim, busty beauties. A little more diversity may just attract a wider audience . . . Hint! Hint! (To game producers)

    Anyways, I agree that it is a near-impossible task to moderate and mediate a social environment as large as the Internet. It is a world within itself, with its very own culture, regulations, and societal norms that it draws from the real world. However, it should not be assumed that the virtual world is separate from the real world. Far from it! Both worlds are intimately integrated with each other and, like in the real world, social norms can be challenged and changed by individuals and groups. We are all human beings, whether in-person or online, and we should treat each other as human beings.

    P.S. I would NOT like to get caught alone in a forest with Slenderwoman either…

  2. yojeffg says:

    I’m so glad you brought this topic up. It was nice in a classroom setting to discuss how to change the discourse from what the problems are to how we go about fixing the problems. Identifying the problems is easy. The WNBA isn’t popular because people view women’s sports as a joke, and this is largely because in a realm where masculinity is required, no one wants to see women there. However in video games, unlike in sports, there is no need for gender discrimination and any ideas about discrimination or a reason to separate genders (like we see in tournaments) is simply rooted in sexism. One can’t even rationalize the sexism in the case of video games.

    In video games it appears the only reason misogynistic and homophobic remarks continue to exist is because the gaming community allows it to. When I yell obscenities during Call of Duty or MLB, no one ever tells me not to and the comments are often met with humor. In no way am I proud of it and I am working to curb it, because everyone loses in this behavior.

    The hardest part comes in telling people online to knock it off. Is it everyone’s responsibility to tell people they are out of line? Do 12-year olds that their language s obscene and hurtful to others? When I’m with friends and someone says something that isn’t right, we are all pretty good about letting them know. However, in video games one guy could easily be in one Call of Duty game and switch to a different game. There isn’t a lot of room to correct behaviors.

    The easiest way to solve the behavior is a group effort so that no matter what game, room, or type of multiplayer will tolerate obscene behavior that is hurtful to others. The Internet creates a great level of anonymity and video games further that. People get the anonymity to say and do whatever they want. On one hand, that’s beneficial, because it creates an escape. However, anonymity may end up being more hurtful because the consequences of the actions are unseen. It is real easy to harass someone when you don’t have to see the pain that you cause on the other end.

  3. cstabile says:

    So much to think about here. For now, two things:
    1. Anonymity is a two-way street and I think that not speaking out against homophobia or sexism (not necessarily swearing :D) implicitly condones it.
    2. I stand corrected. Slenderwoman is completely creepy.

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