Saturday, July 18, 2009

Does the PhD cause the stupid, or is it the other way around?

Sometimes I wonder.

So, check this out. Read this article, and see if you buy into the narrative. Seriously, read it and come back. I'll wait.

So, here's how I see it: This is not a story about some poor professor of "media" at Loyola being mistreated. This is a story about a tool who mistreated everyone else.

Think about it. In the game, players are divided into heroes and villains, and encouraged to fight each other. But why? These people have no real grievances with each other. It's a human tendency to see people outside our group as adversaries, but that's not a good tendency. It's bad. I'm not trying to sound like a hippie here, but this tendency is one of the roots of many human problems: bullying, racism, war, etc.

To their great credit, the players had risen above the original constraints of the game to create a truly novel online environment, where superheroes and villains interacted peacefully and even worked together. Instead of allowing themselves to be mindlessly railroaded into an artificial competition, they had created their own, cooperative game experience. Pretty cool, right? To my mind, any time order and cooperation spontaneously arise out of chaos and conflict, that's a great accomplishment, and one that we should try to learn from.

But instead, along comes this tool. Like any other stupid hater, he gives everyone grief and wrecks their fun. He destroyed the community build by these other players, and says it was an experiment to see how they would react. Well, civilization depends on human beings seeking to build order. If someone came to his house and started wrecking up the place, he might react like the people in this game did. Because order is precious, and all of us protect our little pockets of civilization ferociously.

This guy is a dirtbag. And the icing on the cake is that he had to write an article and get it published in an academic journal whose only purpose is to childishly shout into the void, "I'm not a tool, you're a tool!" Idiot. He deserves all the derision that has been heaped on him.

And if any man behave likewise, let him be anathema. For he is TEH SUXXOR. So let it be written, so let it be done.