Myst-Uru Crossroads

This is one of those articles about part of my past life related to Myst games. If you are an SL or OpenSim fan and have never heard of Myst or Uru, this won’t be of much interest and may not make sense. However, you may be interested in some of the sociological issues, but this is mostly for the Myst-Uru community. If you are curious about why trolls and online abusers do what they do, then you may want to read on.

Image by: gideon_wright @ Flickr

Lots of ‘I am Quitting’ Going Around

I’m seeing lots of forum and blog posts about people quitting and leaving the community. They have lots of reasons why and most are about how the community is so bad and how Cyan has done so much to destroy the community. We see the same stuff in most online communities. However there are some unique aspects in the Myst-Uru community I will point out. First a bit about human nature to put us on the same page.

Human Nature

I suspect many people do not know that psychology uses many of the same statistical tools used in physics to advance the field. Does a treatment protocol provide a statistically significant improvement? The math answers the question. Psychological problems are quantified and math is used in evaluations to learn what treatment works best. Theories are put forth and analyzed mathematically for effectiveness. Doctorial theses in the field have a significant amount of math in them. I’m a Carl Rogers fan.

The field has advanced and we know a considerable amount about how humans behave and the reasons and motivations behind the behaviors. Nothing is 100% and there are exceptions. But, a theory that is 98% to 99% consistent in predicting events is a pretty strong indicator it is correct.

One of the concepts in psychology is transference. In some nuanced scenarios projection is a more accurate term. In new age religions that aspect of human nature is often referred to as mirroring. Psychologists use the concept to learn about a client/patient. The idea being what the patient sees in others is the issue with which the patient is dealing. As people talk about others, they are telling us about their self. Like anything this is not an absolute. Even professional councilors are challenged in sorting out these issues. So, subject A saying B is jealous does not mean A is jealous or is dealing with jealousy issues, but it may. What follows as subject A continues to talk about B is more revelations about their self. Soon a counselor has a picture of what is going on. The more people A sees as jealous the more likely they are dealing with jealousy issues.

None of this is magic. Any person can figure out this mirroring thing as they mature and gain life experience. The only differences between the average Joe and a professional counselor is a professional does not give advice and remembers how wrong they can be.

So What is Going On?

In the Myst-Uru community there are people that feel they have been abused and/or underappreciated and certainly misunderstood. For them this is a fact of life, unquestionable and not open to debate. Any attempt at debate, disagree, or to question doctrine is grounds granting them permission to engage in ad hominem attacks, cross forum stalking, and unlimited personal abuse toward those that so dare.

If they told their story to a counselor, the counselor would be looking for signs they abuse, disregard others, and have misunderstood much of what is going on around them. As they talk more the counselor would be deciding whether any of the issues were real, based in others (is someone after the paranoid?), or only projections coming from the subject. If any of the counselor’s thinking were revealed to the subject at this point, they would likely violently reject the ideas. Direct challenging of one’s beliefs usually results in strong defensive moves and emotional reactions. A professional’s job is to figure out how to take people around those defensive walls. Non-professionals are usually just too blunt, which may not be all bad.

As civilians trying to help such people or point out the fallacy in their thinking or just attempting to change their mind in a debate is normal human interaction. When common interaction results in responses out of all proportion to the comments something else is going on. It indicates someone is dealing with an issue beyond the current discussion. (The lipstick on the collar is not the real problem.) Those not dealing with an issue are often genuinely puzzled by the response.

Continuing to challenge another’s beliefs or position in the face of irrational and disproportionate responses can make one a target for wrathful abuse. At some point one has to realize what they are dealing with and adjust how they handle things.

We can’t really know why the person is doing what they are doing without getting them to tell us. That is the professional’s job. We can know that the issues they charge others with are most likely the things they are either doing or dealing with. So, if they are calling someone a troll or liar, the chances are good that is the behavior in which they are engaging, whether they have realized it or not.

In new age religions mirroring is often seen as a tool one can use to understand their karma and grow. It allows one to understand people around them in new ways and to see their self in new ways. Without that mental model people can be trapped in their issues seeing more support for their ideas wherever they turn. The world is living proof they are right, no matter how crazy or bizarre it appears to the rest of us.

The Result

For years a number people in the Uru community have blamed others, seen others in the community as stupid, smothering, disrespectful, name callers, stubbornly opinionated, and been generally disagreeable. Forum moderators know them and deal with them on a regular basis as people complain about their behavior in the forum and game.

The company, producing the Myst-Uru game the community centers around, has dealt with them for years and been blamed for many of the problems. The company has been blamed, abused, denigrated, betrayed, libeled, had IP stolen, servers, hacked, threatened, and on and on by fans. The company could have done things differently and may be better. But, like most of us, the company did what seemed like a good idea at the time.

Now the people are shocked and dismayed to find the company they have dis’d has been working with another number of cooperative and friendly fans. They are upset that a number of fans do not respect them and they completely fail to understand where responsibility for the lack of respect comes from. In many ways it is just sad.

The result is they are leaving the community, or at least threatening to do so. In some cases they want to take away the open source software they developed. The feel they can deprive the community of their talent and expect the community to die without them. They tell the community they are justified in taking these actions because… and list their reasons generally voiced in terms of what others are doing or did. Those of us reading the reasons look at them and wonder how they can think that. It seems so kettle and pot.

What To Do?

There is really very little anyone can do. I hope this article has made it clear why. These people are not only not asking for help, they are unaware they need it. Some will wonder off and plague other people. Some will change with a change in environment and new friends. Some will mature and grow. Some will hang around and repeat the cycle. What changes them or not is up to them, no one else.

The Uru world won’t end because some players, programmers and artists leave the community. Others will take over. There are fans that stay away because some of these people are here. Others hang around because they are here. Only time will tell if the changes are a net improvement or not. But, as one door closes another opens.

Uru is the game that won’t die.

========== Update 6/11 ==========

This blog article was written for a specific purpose. In the MOUL forum is a thread titled Rezeero – NOW HIRING! Within the thread is a sentiment expressed about being beaten down by other Uru fans. They expressed so much had been done for others and then to be beaten up for it was just too disheartening. I’m paraphrasing. (5/19)

I wanted to accomplish several things in a response to see if I could shift this person’s thinking. It is a difficult and delicate thing to do. Also, I believe the ideas I would put forward would have derailed the thread. So, I planned to spin it off into its own thread. As I wrote the response, which was to be an opening post, I realized the ideas would upset a number of people in the forums. There was no way they would allow the discussion to go forward as I intended.

Also, once one sees a situation one way, it can be embarrassing to change position. Also, to have one’s belief questioned can trigger defensive responses. So, I would need to move off to similar behaviors others had engaged in to make things less situation specific to the one I hoped to influence.

I took 6 days to sort out what to write and how to phrase it. I think we all know people perceive things differently. The phrase ‘rose colored glasses’ is handy cliché for those that see things in a departure from what is considered reality by others. I think it shows our culture’s awareness of perceptual problems.

Perception is the basis to a response. Perception is based in a person’s beliefs, biases, and prejudices. The response coming from one’s perception, right or wrong, often traps them in their position. Anticipating some would fall into untenable positions no matter what I intended or wrote, I decided to deal with this aspect of human nature in a blog post here. I could then deal with just behaviors in the forum post. Once the negative responses started and positions had hardened I was likely to be told I was picking on select people and just craftily running an agenda against a select group of people. The topic issue of behavior would be lost and discussion would devolve to ‘you are doing so and so’, my repeating ‘no’, their repeating ‘are to’. Writing this article in advance is probably the most I could do to undermine their position they knew better than I what I’m writing about. It is about bad behavior… as crushing as that might be to their ego’s.

The new thread made it to about the 8th post before Whilyam posted frustration is an excuse for bad behavior… and immediately brought GoW members into the discussion. He has yet to realize which guild was involved in my initial subject. He also made the mistake of thinking people were being analyzed. The discussion remains about general behavior, not specific people.

I knew several people would not be able to see that distinction between a person and the behaviors. They have taken a position, hardened, and can no longer see they are providing examples of the points made here and in the OP of Perception is Everything.

We know we have narcissistic and egotistic people in our community. Some so suffer from it they become abusive. Everything is about them. If you do not properly speak about certain issues they are insulted… no matter how much they have to read into your writing to be insulted. No matter what they put between the lines it is not their inference it is your implication. And that insult is never never just their perception. It’s an unending you should have known better, you should have educated yourself before posting, you should consider others before posting… on and on. But, no matter how one pleads ignorance or that it was unintended or wasn’t meant as an insult, it is an insult and you better shape up.  They are the victim and you, you piece of cetacean feces name calling rectal opening, better remember that.

They are completely incapable of recognizing what they are doing or analyzing what they have written. We all see things differently. But, at some point rational people have to stop and look at what they have said/written. A classic is: TL:DR (Too Long – Didn’t Read) but, I know what you REALLY mean…  They didn’t bother to read what they are claiming to understand and be rebutting. OMG, they think they are making sense.

I may be wrong in thinking the distinction between behavior and the person acting it is beyond them. If they actually do get the point then something else is going on. I do believe if the Myst-Uru community begins to insist those engaging in persistent bad behavior, as in; abusive, belittling, bullying, defamatory, or hateful, be removed from the community, it will be a problem for a number of people. I think they have realized that. I think any thread that promotes anything they do not control, or could reduce their control they will try to derail.

While I’m not targeting specific people, I know targeting specific behavior, as listed, will have some people self identifying and feeling targeted. That is no reasons to stop perusing requiring better behavior in the community. After all, they can change their behavior. It isn’t like they have to change opinions and beliefs. It is a matter of how they choose to disagree.

My personal belief is a narcissist can’t change without professional help or a desire and awareness of the need to change. The best society can do is remove them from the general population when they prove disruptive. That may give them a clue, more likely not.  If you agree, politely ask the MOUL moderators to remove those people engaging in persistent bad behavior.