For the past three days I have been playing computer games. Although the term playing seems to me like something of a misnomer. Something more along the lines of devouring, consuming or main-lining seem to be more appropriate. It was not without some considerable effort that I managed to pry myself away from the clutches of the virtual world to write this. I staggered from my desk, blinking in the searing light of the foul and malignant Day-Star; my head s whirling maelstrom of agony and confusion, feeling as if my brain was made out of a bad, rough, kind of cotton-wool that grew up in a broken home and whose only way of interacting the world is shiving people in the kidneys in darkened alleyways; my eyes burnt and felt as if they were pointing in different directions while attempting to crawl their way out of my orbital socket to freedom. I spent a good fifteen minutes trying to reorientate myself to reality. Asking the really big questions like Who am I? Where am I? What time is it? And Why is there a magnetised pen on my fridge door? What is this foul witchery?! I shall not suffer its like in this house!
The salient point is that this massive gaming bender reintroduced me to one of the things which really winds me up and generally cause my soul to burn with the furious light of a thousand particularly angry supernovas. It’s not the fact that people on the internet are dicks, that’s a given, it’s more the fact that their dickery seems to breech some fairly basic rules of social etiquette.
There’s a phenomenon in online, multi-player, RPG type games that I call shoulder-tapping. It is the process whereby a player (such as myself) is quite happily going about his daily business of the brutal murder of indigenous wildlife to steal the many and carried items they inexplicably seem to have in their gizzards, when all of a sudden out of the blue you will receive a request to join someone’s party, or guild or group or tumultuous-orgy-boat (less of the latter though.) I meet all such requests with a disdainful Ignore, I do not know these people, what do they want? Why won’t they leave me alone? It’s almost a strange and twisted form of reverse, unsolicited, internet-prostitution. If you walked up to a stranger in the street and attempted to do something similar you would more than likely get a punch in the face. It’s just plain weird, yet the problem is endemic and not solely isolated to online RPGs, it’s endemic throughout the entirety of the internet.
The sheer prevalence of it has finally been thrown into stark relief and it is now one of those things that I simply cannot un-see. Twitter is a terrible culprit for this kind of thing. I’ll occasionally discover that someone new has started following me, I’ll begin to think “Oh, I wonder who it is. I hope they’re interesting!” I’ll click on their profile to find out some more, only to then discover that not only do they have about 25,000 followers, but they also follow roughly the same number. These awful people play that depraved numbers game of following hundreds of people a day in the hope that a small proportion of them will follow them back and subsequently increase their follower count. Should I not follow them back, in but a scant few days they’ll have unfollowed me. It makes me feel a little soiled that they’ve tried to suck me into their quest for validation. It’s weird, it’s creepy, it’s a little rude, but most importantly of all it simply isn’t the way things should be done!
You can harp on all you want about trying to connect with people and the building of online relationships, but this kind of rampant bullshit really gets my goat. These people aren’t trying to achieve any of these things, nor are the irreverent shoulder-tappers of the online world. All of them vainly hoping to validate the worthlessness of their existence through a set of numbers or the approval of strangers. While I agree that the internet requires a new and different set of rules of etiquette, the aforementioned rules should not seek to simply cut out all forms of social interaction and conversation like this practice does.
I’ve found aspiring e-book writers to be the worst culprits, you might think you’re gaining “exposure” for your work or “networking,” but you’re not. You’re just making yourself look like a twat. Says the man blogging on the internet and posting links to his blog on twitter and vainly hope that someone will read it and think that it’s good.
Isn’t hypocrisy a bitch?