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Online Bigotry is serious business

Today, I came across this video from Adam Sessler.

Sessler's Soapbox is Tired of the Bigots on Xbox Live

It's a good thing that its being discussed. But Adam Sessler and a good portion of the people reporting this news seems to have missed point that these things exists in the real world.

In a nutshell, we have Adam Sessler, one of the hosts of G4 TV's X-Play, getting fed up with the kids he claimed was calling him names. Now I'm not sure if Sessler's gamer tag is already public knowledge or if these kids even know who he was. Sessler claims that this is ruining his XBOX Live experience and issues out a challnge to anyone who can explain to him why 'trash talk' is necessary. Although one has to question Sessler himself for throwing the 'F' word all over his Soapbox video when he is asking for a reason why trash talking exists.

This has been today's topic of discussion for me and my husband. And I'd like to put in this blog what we have posted in other forums and other opinions we thought were worthwhile just so when we look back 10 years from now, we remember our opinion regarding this matter.

Wuffy's Comment:

"There is hate everywhere. There is hate for consoles. Hate for operating systems. Hate for sports teams. Hate for car manufacturers. Hate for war. Hate for hippies. Hate for practically everything and anything.

And this hate is amplified by the anonymity.

These kinds of inappropriate behavior can be seen in the Internet since there are no faces to attach avatar names to. No real names to call when things get heated. Anonymity breeds this hatred but that's not where it came from.There has been numerous debates regarding anonymity and regulation and all of it has been heavily critisized by the 'netizens'. People want anonymity because it makes then get away with things they normally can't do in real life. With anonymity there is no race or sexual orientation...what is left is just the individual.

Yes, we have to stand up against these kinds of individuals but at the same time let's keep our goals realistic. It is IMPOSSIBLE for Microsoft to take a stand in this without being critisized and as it stands MS gets critisized for anything and everything. Going as far as setting restrictions on language and speech on XBOX Live is sure to catch the attention of a lot of people. The only ones who will applaud MS are the gamers within circle but for everyone else you can bet that the moment MS pushes censorship and regulation, it will be viewed as a difficult thing and people will be waving nazi flags all over the MS compound.

For Microsoft to begin banning people like this it will require them to monitor all XBOX Live communications and when that happens people will be quoting George Orwell. The word of a gamer isn't proof enough. There was to be something more concrete. That's the real dilema when it comes to banning people for these reasons.

And putting more censorship and regulation in XBOX Live will not help solve the overall problem in the real world.

The best that we can do is to ignore these people. First we should not take it seriously. So what if someone calls you with inappropriate language...(I had my share of these things over the Internet), why should I give them the pleasure of knowing that they affected me with that remark? The gamers are already armed with a certain level of ignore those remarks completely. Does not hearing what other people have to say diminish my experience online? The answer is no. If they have something good to say, I'm sure the online experience is better but if its crap, it doesn't change a thing.

The most that we can do to fight this is to inform those people close to us as to why these things are wrong. Let our children realize that the world isn't the internet and that people there sometimes don't even know what they are talking about. It is when we understand that the context of these remarks are in many ways baseless and we are confident about ourselves, can we trully move on and stop the hate within our own circle.

Oh and another thing...

This sort of crap doesn't just happen in XBOX Live. Adam Sessler talks on and on about how its ruining XBOX Live experience...but lets be realistic it is everywhere. Its on the PC, Wii, PS3 online experiences. XBOX Live is a a big target because it has a big community.

I applaud Sessler for talking about it but at the same time he completely misses the problem that exists in the real world."

Scytherage's comment:

"When I play online with strangers, I don't put on the headset at all, and redirect all voice chat to the headset so it doesn't come off on the speakers.

This won't go away, and sadly it's part of the whole internet/gamer culture. One look at the humor that gamers usually enjoy (Penny-Arcade) and you'll get the idea why the language online is so dirty. While PA isn't bigoted it does lead people to be more 'brutally honest' about everything. In the end, it's the gamer culture (that Adam Sessler is a part of) that's pretty much damaged. People can't talk about games without throwing the 'F' word in there, and that's how they try to sound 'mature' and 'brutally honest'.

Again, I know that isn't bigotry or racism, but it opens the door to that kind of mindset.

Now lest we all become prudes online, but that's looked down upon, too.

So just take off the headset, there's no way you can change the way others think, particularly strangers. Add the anonymity of online interactions and you've got a formula for tomfoolery. It's just the way it goes. Nobody takes things they do online seriously; nobody thinks it affects anyone. In the end people consider what they put online/say online to be just bits, and when they leave the computer they pretend like they never did anything wrong. There's no way to make people accountable for their actions online because people don't consider what they do online as "REAL". They think it's a persona that they can leave behind at the end of the day. It's a mindset that isn't going to go away, again because everything is anonymous online, so you can act all straightforward and honest and think that you're doing the right thing.

In the end it does promote more hatred in real life. What you 'think' in your mind inevitably affects what you 'do' in real life. Unfortunately this idea is too complex for most to understand, so they'll continue to be lamers on the Internet anyway.

Again, just take off the headset. Play with people you know. If you play with strangers, enjoy it but don't bother making new friends with strangers on the 'net; don't worry about what they think or feel about society or other races or any of those things. The best way to shield yourself from bigotry online is to have the same mindset as the bigots: don't care about what they say. Don't give them any more attention than the attention that they're already getting.

Can Microsoft ever do anything about this? This is NOT an XBOX LIVE only problem. It's the problem of the Internet and its rooted in its anonymity. Sessler can say all he wants about this being an Xbox Live issue, but it isn't. At worse, again, part of the reason why people act this way is because the media promotes it. Brutal honesty is one way to gain cred with gamers, and the only way to get your point across and have people listen is to say "I F***** MEAN BUSINESS!" Try to be eloquent and your point will be lost entirely.

Again, this is a cultural problem, rooted in the anonymity of the Internet. It isn't an Xbox Live-only problem. And it won't go away unless anonymity goes away. And we all know that won't go away either....."

Or we everthing is just as simple as this comment:

"if some one says the "n word" on a game and everyone freaks out about it, that just gives them more reason to do it…you people are the ones who give these "biggots" power by reacting so excessively to these words….most of the time there not even "biggots" they are just kids trying to get a rise out of people. "

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