Fez II, The Internet, and Human Nature

Usually I have the good sense to keep my mouth shut, but I wanted to get a few things down in writing.

So, I read Patrick Klepek's article concerning the cancellation of Fez II, where he talked about some of the darker elements of the internet gaming community. Namely, the vast lack of empathy and decency that many users show toward others.

A lot of people are shitting all over Phil Fish (which is absolutely unsurprising - Fish seems to be one of the internet's favorite whipping boys), and his hands aren't completely clean here - he is known to be very outspoken, and to say things that piss wide swaths of people off. Be that as it may, I sympathize with him a lot more than I do anyone else in this messy affair. Here's why:

People are mean. Patrick talks about being able to shrug off "rape threats against [his] wife" and "potshots... against [his] deceased father" from anonymous internet users. And what crime did he commit to deserve such treatment? "The audacity to talk about sexism in video games."

Wow.

If Patrick has received such treatment due to simply writing about something people don't agree with, you can imagine the kind of vile shit slung at Fish every fucking day. And even still, what did Fish do to deserve all of that?

Now, I want you to remove yourself from all off your feelings about him, about video games, about internet culture, and reach deep down into where your humanity lies. Done? Okay, now ask yourself,

"When is it okay to wish death/grievous harm against somebody? When are personal attacks and threats justified?"

If I had to answer this question, I'd probably say serial killers, genocidal dictators, and those who oppress those weaker and more vulnerable than them. And I mean widespread oppression - not "he said something bad about something I like." If Fish really pisses you off so much, wouldn't it be so much easier just to ignore him and move on with your life?

Furthermore, is anyone really surprised with the way that he reacted? It may not have been as graceful or mature as it could have been, but his meltdown was very much caused by the awful shit people say.

Now here's how I feel. I feel like Patrick is giving people a LOT of undue credit with his 99% vs. 1% statement. I think that the problem lies in far, far more than 1% of internet users. Personally, I feel that the internet is an outlet where people allow the darker aspects of human nature to run rampant.

I struggle every day with seeing the good in the world - not just the internet, the world. I try to be a good person, to be understanding, and to be kind. But there's two forces fighting inside me. One of them strives to make the world a better place, to be patient and open minded. The other half of me wants to say "fuck you" to the rest of the world. To say "the world is shit, you all are shit, and you're going to fuck everything up until you destroy yourselves," and to look forward to it.

I feel that, in this case, Fish took the latter path. He saw how entitled, immature, callous, and just plain awful people - especially gamers - can be. And he said "you can have your shitty little community, have fun alienating the rest of the world by showing who you fucks really are". It certainly wasn't the proper way to handle all of this, sure, but he had reached his limit. All we can do is strive to be kind and civil, and not let ourselves give way to anger and contempt. But it happens - we're only human.

One final thing - when Patrick was displaying some of the odious things people have said to him, he mentions that he's "not proud of the fact that [he's] grown a thick enough skin to deal with" those things. I think that he should be immensely proud of this. He should be proud of the fact that he hasn't let the internet's collective id suck all of his joy and passion out of him. He should be proud that he's strong enough to keep from letting the darker parts of human nature take over him, as it seems to have taken hold of so many others on the internet.

It's something that I've always envied about the entire Giant Bomb crew, and many other people on the internet who put themselves in a position to receive all of the hate that people are so ready to dispense. The ability to shrug off the horrible shit that people say about you, to get out there every day, and to just be themselves. If I were in his position, and someone said something half as awful as Patrick's two examples to me, I know for a fact that I wouldn't have had the strength to withstand that. I would have been furious, would probably have a meltdown, and it wouldn't have been pretty. In all respects, he's the type of person that i aspire to be - someone who is able to rise above all of the horrors that the world heaps upon us.

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