If you haven’t read Chu’s article on Salon, “I’m not “that creepy guy from the Internet”: How Gamergate gave the geek community a bad name, please do so. It’s in interesting read, a good look into the mind of a gamer geek with many problems and, at some points, few solutions to those problems.
The first thing that made me sit and think, was his description of failure.
Games were there when the one thing I’d always been able to rely on, my brain, wasn’t good enough for top-tier college-level classes. Games were there when, with my grades in free fall and my future plans falling to dust, I stopped going out, stopped answering calls, stopped eating regular meals and sleeping and talking.
Games were there when the girl I was dating… told me she couldn’t be with me long-term unless I got my life together….
Games were there when I came home, defeated and broken, to my mom’s house with no degree and no prospects.
I have thought, and sometimes I think I’m the only one, that #Gamergaters are not all young, angsty teens, but adults who found themselves disillusioned, bitter and resentful of a world they believe failed them, a world that didn’t allow them to succeed, no matter how much they deserved it. Lashing out is an obvious outlet for deep-seated unhappiness and despair.
Then he wrote this:
Trust me, I know what it’s like to have the most important moments of your life take place behind a glowing screen, to lose yourself in the dramas and quests of the game world when the real world seems hopeless. When the rest of your day — the fruitless job searches, the awkward attempts at socializing, the grinding sameness of being another Victim of the Recession — is dull gray and tastes like ashes.
When you fail at school, then try to get a job and fail at that, and are forced to retreat back to a home you left because your parents’ values and religion were no longer your own, it bites. It gnaws. It tears you apart from the inside, because your sense of worth dies. I think the recession has a lot to do with the amount of vitriol we see nowadays. There have always been deeply disturbed individuals out there who see the anonymity of the internet as a haven to post whatever screwed-up shit they want. There always will be. But when you have these trolls spouting their hate, and a person reads what they wrote and it resonates with them because their life is in the toilet and they need some sort of out, some way to make themselves feel better, they begin to create momentum. The more people who jump aboard, the more it legitimates the hate and reprehensible behavior, the more it seems justified, even if whatever drives their anger isn’t what, or who, they attack.
Poverty and hopelessness are blunt instruments that can easily bludgeon someone to the point that nothing in the world really matters anymore, including themselves. They can spew hate and anger because, in some ways, those feelings are meaningless. They are constant companions, and they lose their effect over time, swirling down into black despair. Any opportunity to make the emotions resurface is taken, so one can feel something other than helpless dread. Perhaps they’re even trying to bring down their victims to that level, so they can punish them with the same distressed desolation they feel.
One of my greatest fears is falling back into poverty. The grind of everyday living can be nearly unbearable when you have no money, no food, no recourse. I understand that–I lived it. It’s really hard to make yourself believe that, maybe, one day, things will get better, because for so long they’ve been so bad. But, as Chu found out, success can be hard-won. He took a chance opportunity to meet Felicia Day, and it paid off. He regrets that the opportunity he was given will likely never happen again because of the hate surrounding games, tech, and women in general. I find that sad, too. #Gamergaters are breaking their own backs and don’t even seem to realize it.
After the rape and death threats, who’s really going to take a chance on them? (This is a serious question, because what sane woman would take the chance of dating Eron Gjoni?)