Shouting At An Abyss That Just Stares Back – Infighting and Nerd Elitism

Adam yells about people on the internet, knowing full well the futility of it.

Not censoring this time, so for those of an offended disposition avoid accordingly as there are some hurtful words I guess.

When I did the first of these Abyss articles, I thought they would be more regular. You may think this reflects a reduction in the things that make me angry. You would be wrong. The case is really that I have simply not had enough time of late to keep up with things, and most of the things that have made me angry have been work-related (or living-broke-in-London-related) so aren’t really relevant to the sort of things we cover on the site. I did end up writing one about how much I hate kids, but turned out to be pointless and I came off sounding like even more of a dick than I usually do.

So this rant is really directed at nerd infighting and elitism, something that has frankly pissed me off for years. This takes many forms. On the simplest level you get fanboy-ism. We saw this all over the internet at an increased level following the release of PS4 and Xbox One (and a little bit after last week’s E3). General comments threads about Xbox of Playstation tend to go “unlucky butthurt Xbox/Playstation gamers, your console is shit and ours is better” “too bad your resolution/exclusives are worse and your console is therefore totally useless” “some random insult against Nintendo who had nothing to do with the story”, and then finally from a PC gamer saying something along the lines of “console gaming is trash, we have been able to do that for years with PC, everyone should only play PC because consoles are shit and dying”. No one is going to take your console away if you don’t defend it with terminal ferocity at every opportunity and non-opportunity. If someone you have never and will never meet prefers something to what you love, you don’t need to tell them how wrong they are or how stupid you think they are. Don’t be a prick.

It is a sort of behaviour that is rife across a lot of different nerdy interests, and I don’t really get it because for a group that has historically tended to be fringe and can be mocked and ridiculed for their interests, there sure are a lot of shits within that who like to ostracise other folk because they don’t like the exact same thing or aren’t a ‘hardcore enough nerd’, whatever that means. When I was an undergraduate, eons ago, I decided to join the anime society. Two things drove this decision really, first being that I really like anime and the second being that given half a chance I will always choose a lazy option. Sport? Pfft! Sit and watch anime then go to the pub? Much better. Whenever I went off to soc I would be met with brief derision from other friends (to the point where I told one of them to fuck off for being such a smug arsehole once when very irritable from coursework and sleep deprivation. He knows who he is). But at that soc I met some of my best friends from uni, and Ian, so I don’t regret it. A new experience that stemmed from this was attending a few anime conventions with some cosplayers, and even trying it myself a few times (more derision, and yes if you carry a prop of Nicholas D. Wolfwood’s Punisher weapon through Bristol town centre on a Thursday night people will drunkenly yell at you asking if you are Jesus).

nicholas

The thing that bothered me at these cons, something I soon found out is pervasive in general nerd culture (plenty of stories on the internet from folk being treated like shit for daring to walk into a comic book shop for the first time not knowing everything about everything, mercifully I never experienced this) was the realisation that there were some who held a sort of insipid elitism against perceived fair weather fans or people who like more popular series. Calling people ‘Narutards’ because they like the ninja series Naruto is fucking ridiculous. Just because someone hasn’t heard of your favourite obscure 90’s OVA that was only available to the very coolest of nerds does not give them any less of a right to attend and hang out with like minded people for a bit of fun. So the fuck what if they bought their Ichigo Kurosaki costume from eBay and you sewed yours together out of your own blood and hair using frozen tears as needles? People will be more impressed when you say you did that. That’s enough, you won (disclaimer – I once unthinkingly mocked a friend because someone else made his Cyclops visor. Because I am a fucking terrible hypocrite. I am sorry).

Obviously anime cons are just a small scale example of something I have found to be much more widespread (and these people are definitely a minority at cons, most of the people there are fucking lovely) both on and offline about everything from comics and video games to TV and movies. I think some of this perceived superiority comes from those who think that our “little” out group is under threat of becoming mainstream and too popular. I once heard someone at one of these cons say that he did not like how busy it was that year, or that they were becoming more popular. I do not get this at all. It reminds me of when I was a kid and I was told about a band, who I later started to like. When I met up with the same person again, eager to chat abut the band that person had gone off them because they were ‘too popular’. My child brain couldn’t understand it. My adult brain still doesn’t understand it (though maybe that is because it is pickling in whisky). I think it is great that more people are interested in comics recently. I love that not only are we getting so many Marvel films, but they are really decent. Plus for once I get to appear a (relative) expert on something when people turn to me after a post credits scene to ask what the hell is going on. I’m not even sick of explaining to people why Batman or Superman won’t be in the Avengers movies, though I am sick of explaining why Wolverine and Spider-man won’t be. Because the reason is boring.

Maybe instead of getting upset that so many people are wearing Green Lantern or Star Wars t-shirts when they are so very clearly a ‘fake nerd’ guy or girl (probably a separate rant about what a fucking stupid thing that is), try being happy that we are getting a Guardians of the Galaxy film and we had a fucking Winter Soldier film adaptation this year which was great. Don’t like The Big Bang Theory? Don’t watch it then, and definitely don’t start saying that everyone who does watch it must be stupid, because that makes you a cunt. And definitely don’t start throwing around terms like ‘nerd blackface‘ (look it up, probably another rant coming later too) because that makes you a remarkably narrow minded, culturally insensitive cunt.

I definitely ended on a different topic than I started at. Rant ends.

 

What I’m playing – Replaying Bioshock Infinite Burial at Sea Chapters 1 & 2

What I’m reading (Books) – Perdido Street Station – China Miéville (actually just finished. Fucking brilliant, read it)

What I’m reading (Comics) – Judge Dredd The Complete Case Files 02 – Various writers and artists (2000AD)

What I’m listening to – Möngöl Hörde – Möngöl Hörde, Till Midnight – Chuck Ragan, From Parts Unknown – Every Time I Die

What I’m watching – Orange is the New Black Season 2 (Netflix)

Spoilers: How Not to be a Dick

Kit had some things spoiled for him. Now he’s annoyed.

So this article has been inspired by a Facebook post by somebody I know, who shall of course remain anonymous in this article as this is just an angry rant about it.

I like many other people watch the rather fantastic show Game of Thrones and as many of you will likely know Game of Thrones has a reputation for pulling off plot twists and the fact it’s one of the few shows where virtually no character is safe. There is death and killing everywhere, sometimes you see it coming but usually you don’t. The downside to this, as with any show with a plot twist, is it opens up the potential for spoilers, which leads me to the focus of this article.

In my experience there are a couple of general rules about spoilers:

– If something is brand new, check if everyone who may hear or see what you say has seen it.

– If they haven’t, either give them the option to leave, or save your thoughts for a point where they won’t see it or hear it.

– Basically don’t be a dick.

There are excusable circumstances where genuine mistakes are made. For example, not realising someone hasn’t seen Star Wars or anything else that’s been out or a long time. One of the upsides to the growth in popularity of fantasy, comics, Sci-Fi and all things geeky is when things are put into a new, more accessible format be it superhero films or comics and books being turned into TV series. This does however, lead to those who are familiar with the original format knowing all of what is going to happen. For most people this is actually a lot of fun, you get to see your friends get to know something you already love and see their excitement grow. You get to see their shock when a favourite character dies or their excitement when a battle is fought and won and when the new format, be it movie, game or TV show doesn’t quite hold up to the original you can recommend the book, comic, original show or whatever it is and see your friends enjoy that instead.

river-spoiler-journal

Unfortunately, there’s another kind of person. The spiteful sort that enjoys ruining everyone’s fun and holding their apparent superior fan status above everyone else. This was the sort of message I saw. To paraphrase “Stop complaining about Game of Thrones spoilers, go and read the books” before proceeding to post spoiler after spoiler.

Now, saying the original is better is fine. But ruining it for everyone after?

No, dick move pal. Fuck you.

Personally, I’d love to read the books, I’d love to read many books, but there are so many out there and day to day life working and having at least some kind of social life (sitting in a room with my friends pretending to be elves or super heroes like the geeks we are…) means I only have time for so many books! Now it just so happens that HBO decided to take George R.R. Martin’s work and break it down into a very convenient hour-long weekly episodes. Now that suits me perfectly! I get to sit down and watch it with my (much) better half every week and it’s great! And saying people shouldn’t care about spoilers and then providing them? That really is having your cake and eating it. For everyone who saw this post who wanted to read the books, they’re still spoiled!

GoT-Spoilers

What it comes down to is basic etiquette, don’t be a dick and ruin things for people just discovering something that you care about. This sort of thing will happen more and more with the rise in geek culture, with Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, Arrow and many other shows succeeding on TV. I’m sure we’ll see much more of this, and when it does, be the sort of person who enjoys sharing their favourite things, not the sort of asshole who will ruin them for others.

Kit

Shouting At An Abyss That Just Stares Back – Contrarian Commenters

1

Adam yells about people on the internet, knowing full well the futility of it.

I am an individual pretty much consistently consumed with rage. Anger is the only basic emotion I have mastered, and I am known for my misanthropy and fury. I’ve decided to turn this into a semi regular article called ‘Shouting At An Abyss That Just Stares Back’ in which I will discuss something that has irked me particularly that comes under the umbrella of topics that The Lost Lighthouse covers, really as an outlet. I won’t as a general rule rant about every day occurrences, mainly because I live in London and really don’t have time to write a new article every time something pisses me off, which averages out about once every 37 minutes. I’ll also round off each instalment with a list of the things I’m enjoying at the moment, to end on a positive.

So the thing that has been p*****g me off this week is people that are intentionally contrary or combative in comments threads for no f*****g reason. I know comments are a wretched hive of scum and villainy at the best of times, and a shower of c***s the rest of the time, but for now I specifically mean someone who reads an article or a comment from someone else, then contradicts or points out something totally f*****g pointless for no other reason than making themselves look better or to p**s people off. I’m not just talking general internet trolls either (though I f*****g hate those time and space wasters too).

One example of what I mean was when finishing a recent game, there was a particularly great story moment that was both natural and unique in its own way, for which the developers received a fair few deserved pats on the back including from the LGBT community for the particular story elements involved. Even the majority of the comments were particularly positive for once, nothing heinously homophobic. But then some d**k starts saying how it isn’t a big deal at all saying (paraphrasing) “Oh my god, why are people praising this? This should be something that is happening everywhere already, this isn’t newsworthy”. Correct, it should be something that should be accepted. It would be great if one day we don’t need a news report about LGBT issues in games (or other media too really, gay superheroes make news headlines) highlighting the achievements of those willing to push the boundaries to include this stuff, because those boundaries will have already been pushed and this will be as acceptable and expected as anything else in the media we consume. But we aren’t there yet, so the people that get us closer to that absolutely should get the props they deserve. It just struck me as someone being contrary ostensibly just to show how much more progressive they are, so progressive in fact that they don’t even care about the issue.

Another recent example was following the very sad news of Harold Ramis passing away, on a retrospective piece looking at his career. The piece was on a relatively nerdy website, so there was a focus on Ghostbusters and his role as Egon Spengler in both the article and the comments. Then some p***k decides to intentionally rile people up/try to make themselves look more knowledgeable or insightful by pointing out that Ghostbusters wasn’t the only thing he ever did (something clearly discussed in the article) and that it wasn’t that great anyway. It being that sort of site, of course there would be an Egon focus because that is the role that meant the most to people like us. That is what people will miss the most. Being contrary and arsey about it specifically in that forum doesn’t achieve anything. I guess I don’t post opinions often enough in comments threads, but I really see it in the same way as in normal conversation. If I don’t have something positive or interesting to add to a discussion, on or offline, I just don’t f*****g say anything! Just because you don’t have to open your mouth to say something doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give the same level of basic thought about what you are saying as you would if you were verbalising it

Maybe my problem is just a larger one with comment threads. They can be full of pointless little fan-boy wars that don’t hurt anyone, or they can be minefields of the most deplorable arseholes that use the anonymity of the internet and hide behind cowardly little prefaces like “I’m not (blank) but…” to be disgustingly prejudiced against people they have never and will never meet based on their gender, race, sexuality or religion. Spouting toxic s**t about any of that stuff isn’t acceptable in a group conversation, why should it be OK just because you’ve got a witty username concealing your real identity? Anyway there are much better reasons to hate someone, like their personality. Or how s**t their witty username is.

*Disclaimer – rants can and will stray off topic, and then end abruptly.*

What I’m playing – Mass Effect 3 Insanity playthrough

What I’m reading – Bad Pharma by Ben Goldacre

The Last of Us: American Dreams by Neil Druckmann, Faith Erin Hicks and Rachelle Rosenberg

What I’m listening to – Altered State by Tesseract, Something Witchy (new He Is Legend track), Howlin’ Wolf: The Collection

What I’m watching – Star Trek the Next Generation Season 2