The other day when I was reading a post about racism in online gaming, one memory suddenly came to my mind. It was an interesting and totally unexpected encounter I had with a random stranger online, that surprised me and got me thinking every now and then.
A few weeks ago, I was playing casual 1 on 1 in Rocket League. Though I'm not the perfect model citizen when it comes to not being toxic, I'm mostly laid back and try being positive especially in casual modes. Like pinging "Nice Shot!" "What a save!" when my opponents did well, or "Close one" when they made a mistake. However my opponent clearly didn't agree. They spam passive aggressive, sarcastic emotes from the very beginning, which isn't that uncommon. "Well, just another toxic player" I thought. Then they went above and beyond, typing things like "you are dumb", "you are shit" every time they scored.
Now I was truly pissed, and totally ready to hit back with something in line of "and you are a toxic brat". But I wasn't sure if a lightning strike me or anything, I suddenly had this curious idea and typed "and you are… lonely?"
Then something odd happened. Instead keep hurling insults at me, they went quiet for a bit, then started to emote in the most positive ways possible. It was all "Nice Shot" when the other side scored, "Close one" when opponent conceded, and "gg" "Well Played" after the game. None of us typed anything except for positive emotes until the end. As if not wanting to break this surreal moment.
This had me thinking. So they weren't simply a toxic piece of shit after all. For all the toxicity they spewed, they were just.. lonely? And just need some stranger on the internet to acknowledge that?
Thinking back on my own toxic and passive aggressive moments in online gaming. They are mostly when I was tried, hurt, vulnerable.
Maybe deep down, at least part of us, are all just the unconfident kid on the school yard, afraid to be alienated, afraid that we might not be liked, afraid to be hurt. We are so afraid of being hurt and vulnerable, that instead of reaching out, we go out fist swinging, to be the on that's on the offensive.
Maybe that's just how things go when it comes to human nature. But also maybe, if we are aware that we are not alone in this, we could feel more secure and be better to each other.
Anyway, just an interesting experience that has been on my mind, thought I'd share here.
It occurred to me when did this happen. It was on either Christmas day or boxing day. We decided to stay home due to COVID. And I was sneaking in a game or two after lunch. If someone's raging online in casual match on Christmas day, they are probably alone and not having a good day. So it wasn't a lightning strike after all 🙂
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