Don’t Be A Jerk: Geekdom is evolving and so should you.

I love being a geek. A lot of my peers growing up didn’t really have a lot of hobbies, so they fell back on drinking really early as a young teen or doing a lot of drugs before they graduated highschool. And while I do enjoy partying with my friends as an adult, as a teenager it just wasn’t my scene. While other teens were getting wasted in their basements, I was playing DDR and Pokemon in mine. My geeky interests really filled a social void in my life because as a kid, due to the fact that the school board considered me gifted and that I would stand up for younger kids being bullied, I was a social outcast. In highschool I melded in with some other geeks and we reveled in our socially excommunicated geeky lives, but knowing that people around you are dating, going to parties and in general being liked by the rest of the highschool population, you can’t help but feel a little lonely.

I know I’m going out on a limb here when I say this, but I am going to assume that a large majority of our readers here at G33kpron have shared similar experiences. Maybe some of you were bullied harsher than I, maybe you opted to avoid your peers because you did not particularly like the lifestyles they chose, and instead became a more intrapersonal individual. We all have shared similar experiences, even if they are not exactly the same, so I think it is important to say: stop bullying. Stop trolling. Stop making jokes at the expense of people who suffer from very real psychological disorders, very real disassociation with their troubled pasts and very real depression or upset when you decide that they should just “suck it up” because of your “freedom of speech”. (Trigger warning for after the cut.)

“Internet culture” is a very weird, different and new thing. Despite me being active online for at least fourteen years now, it is still a relatively new phenomenon in society. It has completely changed how people interact with one another, how books are published, how music is released and even how games affect the demographic that they are targeted at. People have begun to feel overconfident and while the internet does allow for an amazing outlet for creative expression, it also allows for inappropriate conduct to fester and become the norm.

I think we all know where I’m going with this: rape jokes, sexism, racism, body-shaming, jokes about child molestation, normalizing of child porn, bullying, etc. It seriously saddens me to see people so openly participating in such shitfuckery. It’s like the internet and online gaming is a giant penis that hadn’t orgasmed in a decade, and despite the pre-cum of yore, it festered all of its shitty behaviour and crappy treatment of women and minorities for so long that it just exploded all over everyone this past year in the most awful of ways.

I am so tired of watching people defend shitty and volatile behaviour; it’s not okay to be an asshole and it never was. Growing up I was taught to be a good person, to stop bullying if I saw it and to respect other people’s personal boundaries. At fifteen, I slipped a little and became a “go kill yourself” troll on a popular internet forum, but thankfully I grew out of that pretty quickly. I thought, in my teenage underdeveloped asshole mind, that I had a right to be a total douchebag and say what I wanted because, “FREEDOM OF SPEECH!”

Newsflash: I was wrong. I was so wrong. I hurt so many people and I dug up the most disgusting personal information and shat it all over the internet. I was honestly a total douche. In retrospect, I think I was probably acting out because I was conditioned in a society to see the “cool kids” as the ones who were self-entitled assholes, and I think a part of that carried over onto the internet.

It has to stop. Now. I can’t address everybody from every different internet subset but I feel qualified to talk about geeks. We all have (well most of us) experienced what it is like when others are cruel or mean to us. But instead of using your suffering as an excuse to defend your shitty behaviour, why don’t you bee a little introspective and realize that words do have meaning and do hurt people. Telling someone you will “rape them” in a game is reprehensible. Seriously. What do you think would happen if you started using “rape” liberally offline? If you told the cashier at the grocery store that you were going to rape her because her register was having problems and you had to wait? If you told people on the street you were going to rape them for getting in your way? If you told someone who got hired in a job position over you that you were going to rape them for succeeding? It will never be okay to use “rape” as a joke. Ever.

I honestly feel like pedobear is the worst meme to come off the internet. I will say it publicly: I am a childhood sexual abuse survivor. I literally think it is one of the worst things that could happen to a person ever. The shame, anxiety and absolute inner turmoil you deal with for your entire life is incredibly horrifying. To see people make light of such terrible experiences is honestly one of the most upsetting things I’ve had to live through.

Being harassed online in geekdom for being a woman, for being queer, for being a person of colour or for something as simple as disagreeing with a viewpoint has become a staple of internet culture and it’s absolutely fucking horrifying. Why is it that geeks have fallen into this weird cliche of what we all hated in school growing up: that the most-liked are the biggest douchebags and the least-liked are the ones who don’t want to harass people?

I know that being validated for your terrible sense of humour is the equivalent of stroking your hard dick, internets, but grow the fuck up and realize that people’s right to feel safe and not harassed supersedes your right to be a total asshole. Put down your Mirror Shield of Pride and learn to apologize when you offend someone, instead of stalking and harassing them into silence. It is not okay in real life and it is not okay now.

I stood up, much to my social peril, for people being bullied during my formative years and I am doing it again: learn to be decent people. Treat each other with respect. I will die defending people’s right to trash talk in online gaming, but the point isn’t to traumatize someone and rip them apart until they are an empty husk of who they once were. Call them a moron, say they fucking suck, tell them that you are going to own them, WHATEVER. Just don’t say you are going to rape them, don’t call them a nigger and don’t insult them for being a woman. Just don’t.

I do not believe that the government should be allowed to censor speech, but I do believe that people should shut the fuck up and censor themselves. I don’t care if you think make some bullshit pseudo-philosophical argument about your right to use the langauge you want, because guess what! You’re still being a douche! You’re still being predatory, volatile, cruel and most of all, what you’re doing is so unnecessary.

So, geekdom, stop.  We are a community of people from every walk of life, every race, every gender, every age. Please show some respect and stop trying to beat people around you down who don’t fit into your narrowminded view on geekdom. If someone has a criticism on your favourite game or you yourself, instead of freaking out and defending whatever it is, take a puff from your inhaler, breathe, read what they are trying to say and respond intelligently and without going off on an sexist/racist/homophobic tangent of diatribe and insults. Why? Because that’s what good people do when they disagree.

Please, just stop. It’s hurtful, it’s unnecessary and so fucked up beyond any level of comprehension. We’re not children on a playground, we’re adults and young adults alike. Let’s start treating each other with the respect that all of us deserve.

And for now, a cheeky video about internet assholes:

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