Contrary to popular belief, this is actually true. 90% of the time (made up percentage) it’s easier to be respectful than to be a dick. This goes for real life and WoW life, professional life and personal life, and everything in between.
I work retail. I haven’t always worked retail, but the economy being what it is, it’s very difficult to get a job in the creative fields. So retail works for now, and it lets me do something I really enjoy, which is study human interactions.
And let me tell you something. Those interactions? A lot of the time they make me sick. It’s hard to say where I’ve seen people be treated worse, in the retail environment or in a PUG raid. I’m going to say PUG, but only just. It’s amazing the sort of things that people say to those lowly retail employees that they’re buying things from despite knowing nothing about them. I’ve had coworkers who are smart as hell be called stupid for no good reason. One of my coworkers had a woman tell him that he was useless and should be her landscaper (said coworker is Latino). I’ve had to give hugs to crying coworkers after they’ve been cursed out by some person they don’t even know because that person didn’t get their way. It’s depressing.
And the worst of that is, it has a cause and effect. When you ruin someone’s day, chances are, they’re going to ruin someone’s day in return. Plenty of the arguments that my husband and I have are not, in fact, about the dishes, but about the fact that he had a shitty day of work because someone he didn’t even know acted like a dick to him at work. Is it fair? No. Should people be able to rise above that? Of course. But the point is, negativity breeds negativity, and it’s awfully difficult to fight against when it’s a constant thing.
Which brings me to WoW. I was in an LFR the other day. I don’t need any of the gear from LFR. My pally has almost all of the gear she could want out of regular DS and I’m really only there because I need the valor to convert to conquest and because I like playing my pally. I generally pass on everything, even the healing off spec stuff that I would sort of like to have. I don’t care if there are people in there pulling low healing and DPS numbers, as long as we’re not wiping. And yet there were (of course) people in /raid spewing such seething hatred for those at the bottom of the DPS meters. These same people bitched about loot the entire time. These same people tried to troll newer folks during the ooze fight by calling out the wrong color to kill. Or they pulled extra groups of trash. Why? To make their epeens bigger?
Guess what? Doing stuff like that just makes you a dick. And again, contrary to what popular society and especially the internet would have you believe, that’s not a good thing. Saying things like “I’m an asshole and proud of it,” means that you enjoy treating other people like shit. What does that say about you? Human beings are social creatures. Even the introverted ones (like I tend to be) generally feel better when they have positive social interactions. That’s why having friends or a loving family feels good.
Respect has always been a big thing for me. I might be snarky and sarcastic, but I generally try to go into situations believing that the person I’m interacting with deserves some measure of respect. After all, I don’t know their story. All I know is that they’re a person, just like me. And that goes for pixelated people too. Behind every blood elf or orc or tauren there’s an actual person sitting there with a real life and real problems that they’re probably playing WoW to escape from, if only for a little while. Who am I to ruin that for them just because they weren’t sure which ooze to DPS first? In fact, it’s when people start acting like disrespectful dicks that I lose my respect for them.
Here’s something that I’ve come to learn in my adult life. Being nice to other people almost always is easier. There’s this belief that if you want to get your way, especially in situations with strangers, that you have to be a jerk about it. I just don’t think it’s true, at least not most of the time. Most of my coworkers will bend over backwards for the customer who is nice to them and, you know, treats them like a human being. A lot of people say things like “oh but if you’re nice, people just walk all over you and take advantage of you.” To that I say…bullshit.
You can be firm about things and still not act like a dick. You can explain why something is wrong without tearing everyone else down. And in situations with random people that you’re never going to see again, how hard is it to just shrug things off and let it go? Or, even more unbelievable, give people encouragement or real advice? Guess what? It’s just as easy to type “Stack please,” as it is to type “OMFG STACK YOU FUCKING NEWBS.” Seriously. It might just even be easier.
And that’s the thing. When you have respect to other people, they’re more likely to turn around and be the same to others in return. Just like negativity breeds negativity, respect breeds respect. If you accept that there’s a real living person on the other end of those pixels and actually treat them that way, they’ll turn around and do the same. And maybe next time when it’s you taking your undergeared alt through something, you’ll get that positive vibe back.
The most fun random groups I’ve had are when people are actually friendly. I’m not talking about chatting the whole time or anything like that. But someone saying “whoa, nice DPS,” or “I love your transmog set!” or even “Hey guys, thanks for the painless run!” always feels better than someone spewing out hate the whole time. Carrying on the good feelings that come with positive interactions can make your day that much better and easier too, since you have something to feel other than anger or frustration. And I’ve always had to really question how happy it really makes someone to act like a dick. I don’t think those after school specials about the bully who really just wanted love are too far-fetched in this case.
We have this saying at work. We call it the feedback bank, and the idea is that when you give people positive feedback (for things they deserve that feedback for) on a regular basis, it makes it ten times easier to give them negative (yet respectful) feedback later on. The idea is that if someone knows that you respect them, they’re much more likely to take criticism you might have because they know you just want them to be better and that you respect them enough to help them with it. It would be nice if people treated their WoW life the same way, whether it be between guildies or just random pugs. And besides, making someone’s day by giving them good feedback makes you feel good too. Helping someone who needs help makes you feel good. WoW is at it’s best when it shows how positive human connections can be made through a silly online game. Realizing that there are connections between people, even if we’re only in an instance together for 30 minutes feels good. And if you don’t believe me…
I still remember the name of one guy I was in a group with when looking for group first launched. The group was largely fail, but this one guy was nice. He didn’t curse anyone out, despite obviously overgearing the content. When he died due to a tank fail during a fight and I threw a brez on him, he whispered me to thank me and then complimented my healing. And then he said, “The worst thing about these random cross realm groups is meeting cool people and not being able to add them to my friends list. Look me up if you ever switch to my server!”
The worst thing about the group wasn’t that we wiped on an easy boss. The worst thing about the group wasn’t that the shadow priest was doing less DPS than the tank. The worst thing about the group was that a connection that was made couldn’t be continued.
If more people in WoW, and really the world at large, would think like that, we’d all be a lot happier.