Community or Clique?
So this weekend an article by a tumblr blogger named latining went viral within the board gaming community. The article is here but be warned it has some very graphic descriptions of some events that have happened to a person or people in the board gaming community in Canada (and possibly the US). In short the article is about the treatment of non-white and/or non-male gamers in the community. It speaks to tone policing and various other aspects of our modern culture that are sometimes viewed as people being overly sensitive. Suffice it to say after reading it last night I stayed up for a few more hours reading other people’s comments and reactions to the article to get the general community’s feelings about the post. Many individuals claimed to have never seen the kind of behavior described in the post. Other have seen a lot of it and are not surprised that these things are happening at all. In general most people’s reactions are that of protective family and that is a good thing, in my opinion. Today I am inspired to discuss the treatment of people within our community and how we can help even if you are someone who does not see these things happen locally.
To start off I do not really wish to discuss the validity of the stories in the article or of the claims made. I want to be clear that whether or not this is happening or the events that spawned the creation of the article are real, someone felt the need to reach out to us as a community. Generally tumblr is a place that most people, including me, mock at times for being overly sensitive, but for some reason this post is getting a grip outside of tumblr. To me that means that it is ringing a bell with some other individuals who partake in similar non-tumblr internet communities. So I personally don’t care whether the stories are made up or not. If they happened or did not happen exactly as portrayed they are still resonating with people in the community I am part of. That being said, I just wanted to give my two cents with regard to how to treat people within the community and how to deal with sensitivity issues.
A lot of us make jokes in passing about race, gender, and various other taboo topics. While these jokes are usually done in a fun and lighthearted manner, they can still be seen as enabling if it’s a group of strangers or passing acquaintances. My general rule of thumb for this is to make sure you know someone well before you make your first joke about women or racial stereotypes. My personal group of friends are very diverse in beliefs and sex. Even though we joke sometimes it is the way we treat each other that makes it known that no one should be uncomfortable.I myself am a very outspoken and boisterous person. I have been known to curse and say dumb stuff in public but I usually try to refrain from yelling stereotypes across a shop floor or inappropriately accosting individuals that are new to the group. All people coming into an FLGS are looking for similar things. A place to buy shit they want, a place to play with the shit they buy, and a place to talk about the shit they play and buy. None of those things should really have race, gender, or anything else come into play. So why even bring them to the table?
I hate to go to much into philosophy here with the categorical imperative and ethical systems, as our bearded techno-philosopher may intervene, but suffice it to say that the Golden Rule is relevant here. We foster the communities we want to be in. If you wanna be in one where people verbally accost new members and drive away people in general then carry on with the treatment described in the article. I don’t personally want to be part of that community. So I will try my best every day to make sure people feel welcome and included. I will try my hardest to swat down bigotry when I see it happen and to stand up for not a single gender or color of skin but individuals in the community I see as worth standing up for. Be the person you want this community’s members to be seen as. In the immortal words of Wil Wheaton, “Don’t be a dick.” Thanks for reading and I’ll see you next week!