Friday, January 18, 2013

The trial run: degrees of tolerance

"So you're all racist assholes," I asked, but said it more as a statement. Not very tactful, but it sufficed. A couple of chuckles over Mumble, then things got real quiet. "I'm sorry," I said, then right-clicked my hearthstone, "but that's just not my style."

"Elepheagle does know that Cear* is black, right?" said a voice over Mumble.

No. No I didn't know Cear is black, nor did I care.

*actual character name changed for this story

--- * ---

Do the feelings other human beings matter enough to moderate your behavior?

Last week, this question was asked by someone I follow on Twitter. For me, the answer in many cases is yes. It's a question I've circled back to on this morning following what I experienced last night trying out for a raid spot with a different guild. This group was made up of skilled players from what I could tell. They seemed chatty, fun even. I looked forward to seeing some new fights, as their progression had eclipsed where I'd been with my former group. When Cear, a warlock and the last person to join the group logged on, a voice called out for a summoning stone from the other warlock.

"You mean an affirmative action stone," said another voice.

As you probably guessed from the intro, I don't take kindly to that sort of stuff. History and personal experiences I shouldn't need to get into have shaped my worldview, and lead me to believe there's never good cause to ridicule someone for their race, gender, sexual preference, etc. Never. Clearly, this wasn't going to be a good fit for me.

Laughter ensued at the comment, and was joined by laughter from its target: Cear.

My mind was reeling. It'd been quite some time since I'd been exposed to rampant, overt racism coming from people's mouths---I choose my friends wisely and stay out of Trade Chat. And the comments continued, about how Cear's banquets always contained watermelon or fried chicken. How if someone else dropped a banquet, Cear wouldn't eat it unless it contained one of the foods.

--- * ---

The Stone Guards fell easily, as did Feng, though, during the encounter Cear had called out for Bloodlust, something only I could provide. Before he corrected himself and told me to save it, I had hit my keybind. A voice over Mumble scolded:

"Come on, Cear. You can't be changing your mind like that, like a woman."

Then, a voice that hadn't yet spoken up. A woman's voice. "Heyyyyyyy, you douchebag!" followed by a round of laughter.

She played her part well. 

Relax, Ross. It's all for the lulz, amirite? But I couldn't tell that to myself.

--- * ---

I could feel the heat radiating off of my cheeks. Just before I'd apologized, explained why I'd have to excuse myself, Cear and another player joyfully recounted how a warrior tryout from last week angrily left the raid group after discovering that the raid's hunter had named his pet Nigger. It was absolutely HIL-AR-I-OUS. 

And they laughed and laughed. The kind of laughter I shared with my best friend during sleepover parties, when we were up much later than we should've have been, watching things our parents wouldn't have approved. Back when I was ten years old. The laughter of a child. The laughter of someone who doesn't truly understand what he's laughing at. Too far removed. Perhaps even ignorant. Perhaps willfully so.

Perhaps this is me, getting old. Maybe it's that the younger generation has come to a much more comfortable place with these issues than my generation has. But for god's sake I'm twenty-nine. I suppose it's possible I'm that out of touch. 

People may not temper their behavior to avoid offending others. Whatever. That's fine. But it doesn't mean I can't decide what I will and will not tolerate.



  1. My take on it- they were probably sizing you up. Doesn't make it right, but they were getting a feel for you. I could be wrong. They might roll like that. No holds barred. No topic taboo. I wouldn't be comfortable around that level of desensitization. I don't blame you for wanting out. It would be nice if they were up front about their atmosphere ahead of time (if they didn't) so they wouldn't waste people's time.

    -Jeff (Aka SpaceBard@Spacebard)

  2. Thanks for the comment. I think it may have been partly that---sizing me up. Which, I suppose, is something a raid group should do when optioning a potential recruit. Saves us all time in the end.