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August 26, 2013

Dear Reader,

I had an incident last week with my guild that I put off discussing so I could take some time to better understand how I felt.  I was a bit surprised last week by how completely oblivious one of the people in my guild was about his Mumble statements.  As a writing teacher, I’m constantly thinking about audience, so the stark absence of such a concern with one of my guildies jarred me a bit.

Let me just put it out there for you.  I kid you not that someone in this “friends and family-friendly” guild said, and I quote, “What do you guys think of that fucking faggot Manning who sold out our country?”  I was a little shocked; there’s been no lead up to that sort of thing, no indication that such a phrase would come out of left field.  This was the 9th or 10th pre-raid chatter I’ve participated in, and nothing like this has happened before.

However you feel about the Manning case, there’s things you say to a group of near or total strangers and things you just don’t blurt out in front of everyone.  For all that guy knew, I could be homosexual.  I’m new to the guild, references to my wife have been few and far between (she’s not in the guild), and as far as this player was concerned, I am a totally unknown entity.  He might as well have blurted that out at a crowded subway stop.  I can only take from this event that the player in question either a) doesn’t care at all about offending others or b) is a complete idiot (or, of course, both).  That conversation was followed by making fun of transgendered people and then making fun of people who call out others for saying offensive things.

Now here I am, new to the guild, already a little worried due to the flex raiding wishy-washiness, trying my hardest to fit in and find a place where I can get comfortable, and this happens.  It’s only one person.  It’s not the guild.  I get that.  But I don’t even know who said that.  I don’t know the voices yet.  It may have been the guild leader (I don’t think it was, but I can’t be sure).

Even with that in mind, I damn well nearly said, “I think it’s absurd that he gets 35 years for leaking documents and Zimmerman gets nothing for shooting an unarmed teen.”  That’s the kind of thing I’d say to my father, who’s also sometimes extremely close-minded and bigoted, which would be followed by an argument, which would conclude with him saying something particularly nasty, followed by not talking for several weeks.

But I didn’t.  I held my tongue.  I got the feeling – rightly, as the conversation went on – that doing so would permanently cast me as an outsider to this guild.

Here’s the thing, though.  I’m not good at that.  As I get more comfortable, as time goes on, I’m more and more myself, and I don’t often let things like that slide.  I dealt with plenty of stupid young people in NYC who brought their parents’ bigotry into my classroom, and I crushed it and reformed them into more empathetic young adults.  I don’t expect that the second part is possible with guildies over vent, so I won’t bother, but eventually something’s going to get said, and I’m going to respond, and then what?

A song lyric that struck a chord with me many years ago is “Things are falling into place, / but I cannot appreciate them / because if last time fell apart, / then this might too.”

I cannot ignore patterns in my life.  This would not be the first guild I left due to interpersonal conflicts.  My first guild disintegrated after I called out an officer who was a bully and who provided nothing beneficial to the guild, called him out and suggested he step down as officer, a rank that supposedly “had no meaning” in the guild, but that he flaunted and threatened to kick me with.

I left my third guild because a passive-aggressive GM secretly banned my buddy, I suspect now to push me out, because I’d called out a bully who was an elitist jerk (not the good kind) and was harassing me because I used lightwell on my alt priest which I was only on so he could raid on his druid, and that player left the guild a few days later, which I later learned the GM blamed me for.

I left my fifth guild because I was assured it was a group of adults but it turned out those adults were mostly filthy-mouthed college kids who had discussions about whether or not their dicks could fit in a can of Pringles, among other equally vulgar and annoying things.  Rather than fight that established culture, I just left.

If all those /gquits came from my unwillingness to deal with ignorant, victimizing, or vulgar people – or, more accurately, their or the management’s inability to deal with someone who speaks out against ignorance, victimization, or vulgarity, then I’m not sure if I should even bother staying now.

So even after taking time to think about it, I’m still not sure.


Stubborn (and wary)

23 Comments leave one →
  1. acbarberi permalink
    August 26, 2013 9:05 am

    That definitely sounds like a management issue. The GM should have put a stop to that ignorant idiot. When I was running my guild, I had zero tolerance for that crap. I always put a stop to that kind of talk immediately and I told the players I would remove them from the guild if they did not stop immediately.

    • August 26, 2013 9:24 am

      That’s what I would have liked, too, but to be fair, I believe this was while the officers were all floating up in their O channel figuring out the raid comp. The GM does not participate in that (which is why I can’t be 100% sure it wasn’t him that said it), but I don’t believe anyone in the channel had the authority.
      I suppose I’ll worry more if it happens again – and I’ll be damn sure to figure out who said it and respond.
      Thanks for the comment!

    • acbarberi permalink
      August 26, 2013 9:29 am

      No kidding. I would have called that person out straight away. I would have said, “Who said that? Dude you are stupid as heck.” Then I would have sought out the GM. And if it was the GM or the GM didn’t care, I would /gquit.

      Personally I just can’t stand that kind of crap.

  2. August 26, 2013 10:02 am

    This is a tough situation to be in, and I can understand where you’re coming from. I’m in a new guild myself and my raid team is great but one of the new folks they recruited has had me wondering a couple of times whether this is where I’m supposed to be.

    In your current situation, I probably wouldn’t quit right away since you say that it is really just the guy, and not the entire guild. Personally, I stick to a three strike rule to see if this sort of behaviour repeats without any intervention from management/leadership. Just so I know it’s not an off-day type occurrence.

  3. August 26, 2013 10:43 am

    I have to ask: you found this guild after talking about looking for one on this blog, right? So shouldn’t there be at least one person from this guild reading this…? I’m just a bit confused by how you always seem to be talking about your experiences as if nobody in the guild could read these posts…

    As for your current situation, I can sympathise, but all I can recommend is that you don’t immediately go full-on frontal assault. By now you surely must have talked to at least a couple of guild members in a friendly fashion? Find a confidante to help you figure out what’s going on. I would say it makes a big difference going forward whether the individual in question is someone who is beloved by all or someone that everyone collectively rolls their eyes at.

    • August 26, 2013 1:05 pm

      Yes, but I know it wasn’t him, too (;

      I’ve wondered a lot about how – or if – I should blog differently in a guild that may come to know that I have a blog. I haven’t publicized my blog, though, and as far as I know the person in the guild – who also has a blog – hasn’t. I’m not going to “keep it hidden,” but I’m also not going to go out of my way to publicize it. Additionally, I’m going to write what I want to write. If that upsets someone, we can talk about it and get it straightened out, or not. I don’t want to have to carefully choose all my words and thoughts just because someone might see them. I don’t know if that’s brave or stupid (probably the latter), but if there’s truly a lot of problems as a result, then clearly that’s not the guild for me, anyway.

      Thanks for the comment!

  4. August 26, 2013 10:53 am

    That guy is pretty disgusting, and unfortunately it seems all too normal of a thing to me. I could say it’s just something you have to deal with, but honestly you can probably find a guild without someone like that. It’ll just take time. Trial-and-error.

  5. Beshara permalink
    August 26, 2013 11:01 am

    ” I would say it makes a big difference going forward whether the individual in question is someone who is beloved by all or someone that everyone collectively rolls their eyes at.”

    Why do guilds have people in them that everyone “collectively rolls their eyes at?” I’ve never understood keeping that type of drama in a guild. If no one likes the person, why is that kind of person in the guild? I can understand if it’s harmless funny comments, but not someone that brings drama and negativity just to fill a raid spot.

    It sounds like this guy had enough supporters to have a conversation continue in a negative way. It’s something I personally would make note of and see if it continues. Hopefully it is not a sign of the culture in that guild, especially if the guild was sold to you as something different.

    • August 26, 2013 11:53 am

      Well, I can’t speak for Stubborn’s guild obviously, but it’s from my personal experience it’s not always that clear-cut. My own current guild for example has a guy in it that is pretty unpopular with a lot of members but is a real life friend of the guild leader.

    • August 26, 2013 1:15 pm

      The fact that he had any supporters bothered me, too, at first. That’s why I needed some time to think about the situation. I’ve seen bullying at school enough to know that often times people will join in just to avoid becoming a target. Is that a little cowardly? Sure, but I knew the kids, too, and could understand their being feared into participation. Of course then I crushed them and the bullies all the same. (:

      So I figure with the guild, it’s still too early to judge the others who just participated. While I didn’t participate, I also didn’t object, which is more in my nature, so even I was socially “feared” into something abnormal. I guess we’ll have to wait and see if something like that happens again and then see what’s what.

      Thanks for the comment!

  6. August 26, 2013 11:26 am

    If there was no awkward silence or nervous little laughs from people trying to decide what to do about the moron who just crashed the party this isn’t an unusual occurrence. From what you wrote other people jumped right in on the conversation and took it even deeper down the path. I’m sorry, I know that you want a raid guild but it seems that you are going to have a choice: quit and preserve your moral conscience or become a low-brow, mouth-breathing, uncritical supporter of that hateful blather.

    Of course, you could always stay in the closet and try and convince yourself that associating with these people is worth the rewards. Lot’s of sleepless nights in that choice.

    • August 26, 2013 1:17 pm

      Yeah, there’s no question that I wouldn’t hang about is that sort of thing was normal. To be fair, I was a little unclear; there was no response at all to the initial outburst, but then he redirected to the transgendered and anti-ableism stuff, which people did participate in. So your description of awkward silence – even if was short lived because he changed direction, might be accurate after all.

      Thanks for the comment!

  7. Tiggi permalink
    August 26, 2013 11:48 am

    Holy…. Run, run fast this is a DTMFA situation. (Dump The Mother Fucker Already)
    This is only going to get worse. If your guild leader wants to know why you left link them this blog. Rimecat has it 100% on the nose in the post above mine.

    • Krel permalink
      August 26, 2013 10:14 pm

      Agreed 100%. Run far, run fast.

  8. datominator permalink
    August 27, 2013 12:58 pm

    When you were recruited to the guild, was there any conversation on the guild culture? That is, while I personally would have found that comment to be offensive, is there a stated guild stance on profanity, tolerance, pseudo-political discussion of which he may have been in violation? You mentioned that you hadn’t heard anything like this in the previous 9-to-10 pre-raid chat sessions, so it seems like a 1-off, and could even have been a newer member who was throwing something provocative out there to see which way the winds blew in that particular guild.

    I also got a little squeamish when I read that “I dealt with plenty of stupid young people in NYC who brought their parents’ bigotry into my classroom, and I crushed it and reformed them into more empathetic young adults.” I realize this may not be a popular position, and I don’t mean it to be confrontational, but that seems to be something along the same lines – an audience of young people compelled to listen to and conform to their teacher’s way of thinking – to have their worldview “crushed” by someone in authority and feeling powerless to speak up or disagree, regardless of whether or not those views were indeed bigoted, or just philosophically different.

    • August 27, 2013 1:10 pm

      Speaking as a liberal, one of the major problems of modern liberalist practice is the idea that all thoughts are valid and simply a different way of looking at things. Not even close to true. Fascism is wrong, racism is wrong, heck, cannibalism is wrong. There is no moral failure in forcing people to confront received wisdom and realizing that unexamined truths may be little more than antiqued myths.

    • August 27, 2013 1:17 pm

      There was a brief and general discussion, yes, but I acknowledge there doesn’t seem to be any hard-written rules about the topic. While I don’t think it was a newer member, I have no real evidence that it wasn’t, but I tend to agree with the 1 in 10 ratio not really being indicative of something that happens regularly. I haven’t left yet, and am not currently intending to unless something like that happens again, in which case I’ll address it and see what the repercussions are.

      As for your second part, there is a difference, an incredibly meaningful one. You added the “to their teacher’s way of thinking” into the formula, something I never provided. I shut down abusive behavior strictly and quickly, but I didn’t tell them what to think beyond that. I never discussed my own political views, religious views, or the like; I simply provided an open forum where people could discuss what they thought in non-abusive, non-judgmental ways. When students had ideas I disagreed with but weren’t abusive or nasty about them, I didn’t try to change them.

      There were plenty of situations in books and short stories we read where the students’ interpretation of events was clearly backward from the writer’s intent. If they could provide a logical explanation as to why they thought what they thought, that was good enough for me. However, when they made attacks against one another, that got shot down quickly, and I made them think about what it would feel like to be in the others’ place.

      You may call that indoctrination, but consider this: there is an biological, evolutionary bias towards empathy. There’re neurons in our brain that fire when we view others experiencing emotion and allow us to feel the same as those we observe. Removing their parents’ indoctrination and allowing those neurons to fire instead of being stifled by machoism, elitism, ethno-centrism, racism, sexism, homophobia, or the like is not the same as indoctrinating them myself. It’s just removing a roadblock so that nature can function.

      And if you disagree, well, that’s okay, too. You’ve been polite about it and even faced a potentially hostile audience by voicing what you assumed could be an unpopular opinion. That’s precisely the sort of behavior I’d applaud one of my students for.

      Thanks for the comment!

  9. August 27, 2013 5:42 pm

    My personal reaction would be to chalk the incident up as an alarm signal and keep watching/listening with mouth shut to get a feel of the culture of the guild. eg. is it just that one guy, does guild management step in to keep things on a more even keel when they are actually in the room, so to speak…

    If guild management is actually capable and supportive of a less abrasive culture, it may be worth having a word in them in private first to see if they can talk to the guy and mitigate some of that behavior.

    Outright public confrontation tends to bring matters to a head and cause extreme reactions, so one should weigh the overall guild culture (will they mainly support you, him or split right into two, hooray, guild drama) and your desire to raid with this group of people versus the need to correct/address/not let this person’s behavior stand before doing so.

    • August 27, 2013 5:44 pm

      Er, -with- them. Need edit function!

  10. August 27, 2013 6:11 pm

    My advice is to always speak up. Be polite, be clear, be reasonable; but always speak up.

    The behaviuor you ignore is the behaviour you deem acceptable.

    Additionally the guy did ask a question in a quasi-public forum which on face value is asking for opinions. He has no more protection against your opinion than you do to his.

  11. Samus permalink
    August 28, 2013 7:39 am

    I think this is a total failure by their leadership. By the wording of this statement, they clearly intended to pick a fight with anyone who didn’t agree. Even if it were something I agreed with in principle, I would silence that immediately. The fact that they didn’t, and just joined on in, means the leadership in that guild is severely lacking. There are always going to be issues that pop up in any decent sized group of people. If the guild leadership is not handling them properly (or at all), it just isn’t going to turn out well.

    I also think it is a sad statement that the last two major games you have played, WoW and LoL, have both driven you or are driving you to quit, having nothing at all to do with playing the game itself.

    I see so many discussions on wanting to avoid toxic players, why is it so hard to do so? The best social situation in a guild that I know of wouldn probably be Gevlon’s guild, the one that bans all social interactions entirely. That may be the saddest statement of all.

    One small suggestion, you might consider trying a role playing server. Supposedly, these have much better communities. The conversation you described would get all those players banned. (I know it was on Vent, so they wouldn’t actually have been banned, but I assume there would still be a large stigma to severely breaking character like that.)

  12. August 30, 2013 9:25 am

    As the GM, if you feel someone is being offensive please let me know or another officer know, I wasn’t online the night of question. If it was another officer making the remarks you can bring it to my attention directly. I am not able to be online everyday, with a wife, kid, job that keeps me busy I hope you can understand.

    • August 30, 2013 9:34 am

      I certainly do, and I still wasn’t sure at the time if it was an isolated incident that meant little or more of a cultural thing. Since then, it’s become pretty clear it’s an isolated person, if not incident, and I’ve spoken to a few of the other members about it, and how to deal with him has been explained. One black sheep’s not a big deal. Still, thanks for the input.

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