Smile and Nod: RealID and Why Hate Speech is the Least of Our Worries

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@tautologico

Are you a girl? 'Cause i am. And this has happened to me in WOW itself and the forums. Don't tell me this doesn't happen. It does and it is really annoying. Even if it happens only once. But that is the problem isn't it, it doesn't happen only once, it happens more often then you want to know. When this is the response you get to anything you say, at first you'll think it's stupid and hope it won't happen again. But then it does and you get annoyed about it. It turns funny for a while only to be highly irritating right afterwards. Do me a favor and go into some forums posting you are a girl right after stating a serious opinion. Then imagine that instead of saying "SHOW US YOUR TITS" they are saying "SHOW US YOUR DICK". If that happens less then twice a month you are lucky. And let's face it no one wants to be or should ever be harassed like that, period.

Serenegoose:
Well, really, the only thing this article has proven is that knowing a troll's real names won't do squat to stop them trolling, eh, Russ?

Closet trannies? Really? Way to be a welcoming environment, Escapist. Us trans people really love to be talked to like that. It's not at all dehumanising or anything like that. However, I did notice a lack of racist derogatory remarks. Maybe you should work on it for your next article, because I imagine people are feeling left out now.

I have to admit, I'm not normally hung up on political correctness but that did raise my eyebrow a little. It's not great when the editor comes off looking like a bit of a dick...especially considering he's come off badly before. In some circles this website is already a laughing stock for being pretentious and pseudo-intillectual without actually being smart and this kind of stuff doesn't help.

So the basic point is: Blizzards RealID system would have made it harder for human failures who spend too much of their time in a fantasy world with no bearing whatsoever on reality to keep up their pathetic escapism and might have forced them to consider some important (if difficult) life choices instead of shrinking back into their filth covered holes and this is in some way a bad thing?

Oh and it might have made it easier for people to call out people who are Jerks.

I'm happy with the compromise of only letting actual friends see you through Battlenet. Otherwise, I'm not completely opposed to the idea, I just think I would only reveal my identity to people I trust, like those in my guild.

I'm perfectly open about using my real name on the Internet, and - I tried - it takes about 3 clicks to get to my Facebook page from google. But I avoid this by trying not to piss people off, and not feeding the trolls. Also I feel far more comfortable having a conversation using my real name than an assumed ID, and I find that people are generally nicer when I use an account with my real name than an assumed one. I think Blizzard did the right thing with this.

I was initially very much in favor of the concept, until I realized that Blizzard has absolutely no reason to reveal their customer's information to other customers. Blizzard already knows everything about you, and they can take steps to ban your account or even notify the authorities if you're making terroristic threats online. If they want to voluntarily allow people to reveal their names, that's just fine, but making it mandatory just doesn't make any sense.

Also, upon reflection, I find the tone of this article surprisingly patronizing and insulting. Of course, Mr. Pitts does actually say 'the way fat girls love cake', and that tells me a whole lot about him right there. Not even fat people, but fat girls, so I assume we've got some pretty good insight into how he thinks about women in general, and overweight ones in particular. This might also explain why in his derisive remarks about 'closet trannies' and children that he doesn't mention that a number of the most outspoken critics were women who didn't want it known to the WoW world at large that they were female. Anyone who has spent any time in the online world and interacts with women at all would know that online harassment is a constant threat.

Mr. Pitts then assumes that the only people who wouldn't want their names shared with the world at large are people who just couldn't handle it, either that they hide their hobby or that they're so socially backwards that they couldn't deal with the stress of people knowing who they were. He then continues to heap scorn on such people by saying that anyone who really were bothered about it would just find another hobby. I assume you mean people like Felicia Day? She's famous to a lot of people, but far more people in the public at large haven't ever heard of her. Yet when she accidentally outed her WoW toon on a podcast the other day, she immediately made sure to change her toon's name to prevent issues. If she were forced to post as Felicia Day, or you could somehow find out who she was in game, she'd never be able to play.

Earlier someone mentioned how Mr. Pitts isn't as funny as Yahtzee, and I think the significant difference there is that Yahtzee is an equal opportunity offender as well as hugely self-deprecating, and it's a lot harder to do than it might look, which is why we all love him so much. Mr. Pitts comes across an an elitist outsider looking in on this silly little world of people who are making such a big deal about something that he really couldn't care less about, but he's sure to hurl insults at those who do have skin in the game, essentially relegating those people who are against it to a category of helpless whiners. He might be against it too, though he's too far up on his high horse and talking down to everyone for that to matter.

I felt the need to post such a long reply because I felt this article really brought the tone of the discussion down and was needlessly insulting to a whole swath of people.

The thing about real life trolls is most of them are trolls because they are untouchable by "norms". They have a badge, they have a gang, they have trust funds and lawyers to get them out of anything they start.

So you can always fantasize about finding Studdood69 and punching him out when he calls your Mom a whore you don't even get that satisfaction against the bullies in meatspace. Any action you take would result in dire consequences for yourself or those you care about.

For those of you who don't seem to get it, this is how RealID would (ideally) stop trolling:
Compare the sort of conversation you might hear riding on the subway to what you'd read scribbled on the inside of a public bathroom stall. That's what we're talking about here. When a troll jumps on a forum board and starts spitting bile, he can do that knowing that the hatred he cultivates cannot possibly trace his way back to him. He has anonymity.

However, imagine if writing on a bathroom wall required you to sign with your name. Now, there's always that risk that what you write will be traced back to you ("Hey, Frank, was that you soliciting marsupial sex in Northampton Station?"). Now, instead of harrassing some forummer who has accidentally revealed that she is female, you will have to step up on the podium, so to speak, and say, "I, John Haversack, want you to show me your tits." Sure, it's highly unlikely that some bereaved troll victim will enact vigilante justice on you, but the point is that your real self is now accountable for his/her actions online.

The problem arises, of course, when you consider that there are much, much worse people online than trolls, protected by that same anonymity. Trolls are a nuisance; but the really bad characters, the stalkers and pedophiles and what-have-you, will now have an easier time finding targets. And if they play their cards right, they can easily get into a conversation with a potential victim without ever revealing their real name. The real reason RealID would not work is because the anonymity that protects the trolls also protects innocent people trying to survive in what is, in reality, a very dangerous place: the online world.

Russ, I think you were grappling with shadows for most of your column. Your arguments are framed as though there are only two types of people on the internet: "ordinary people" and "trolls." But I think we both know it doesn't work that way. Morally, particular actions may be black and white, but people are shades of grey. The perfectly decent fellow with whom you had coffee last morning could easily be the same person who went online and told a homosexual to, I dunno, punch himself in the stomach or something. And the difficult truth is that there are both good and bad people on either side of any given fence of opinion.

The problem of trolls cannot be solved by aiming one's guns at any particular group. It cannot be solved, as long as there are evil thoughts, evil actions, or general differences of opinion among members of the human race. And if you can't come to terms with that, Mr. Pitts, you probably shouldn't be on the internet.

Usagi Vindaloo:

For one thing, the big issue with RealID is not this. It's the fact that it will encourage MORE hate speech and horrible behaviour. At the moment, when I post, I'm Elfin McPallyface, prot paladin, and as such my opinions and thoughts on paladins, tanking, etc have merit. With RealID, I would be GIRL MCGIRLGIRL and any attempt at rational dialogue would be met with SHOW US YOUR TITS and R U HOT?

I cannot speak to having to deal with such things, but is it not downright shameful that one has to go to great lengths to conceal their gender from the masses? That one's game experience can be completely changed by the choice of virtual tits or not on an avatar? It seems to me that this is precisely the sort of problem RealID was designed to confront and yet it actually serves to remove the layer of protective anonymity that protected those who actually need such protection.

Usagi Vindaloo:

Secondly, I find it interesting that you envision the emphasis on dividing real life and virtual life as trying to prevent the "failures" of real life tainting the perfect virtual world. In my opinion, the truth is vastly the opposite; it is that people are trying to prevent *virtual life* from flowing into their real life.

For me, the division between my action and personality and meatspace and cyberspace are slim at best. I will not espouse a position or idea on the internet I would not support in person. I can recognize the reason such a division exists for some but in many cases it seems as though what you have identified is a very real problem of the modern age. Simply put, for those who lead a different life online and go to great lengths to keep their online life separate from their real life for reasons other than legal considerations (the internet will satisfy any deprivation), social considerations (not everyone is surrounded by people friendly to the various baggage inherent to heavy social investment in a virtual space) or simply because they don't like a perception in either space being colored by one's status in the other (your noted problems inherent to race, gender or alternate life choices) the problem we face is shockingly similar to the "drug problem" authorities of every nation grapple with. In both, the people who engage in such activity often seek to escape from the crushing reality of their mundane existence. The problem is, simply throwing back the veil so to speak does nothing to resolve the problem. Imparting harsh penalties does little to curtail the issue. The problem will exist so long as people find the benefit of engaging in such activity outweighs the potential downsides. In both, the only solution is, unfortunately, for the ramifications of such activity to be so great that the benefits of escapism are mitigated. The problem is, the course required to enact such a change in general are painful. Destructive might be a better word for it.

Usagi Vindaloo:

Also, PLEASE tell me I'm not the only one who noticed the irony of the writer decrying hate speech and general dickishness on the Internet, then writing the following:

"a company that's created an empire off the sweat and tears of a very active and vocal community of obsessives who crave the shadows of online anonymity *****the way fat girls crave cake.****"

While I can recognize the fact that the observation is hateful, I cannot think of any suitable sweeping generalization that would serve as a simile that is not. That tends to be a problem with sweeping generalizations. Of course, I would have simply used a different device to draw the connection.

*raises a glass*

The OP is pure win, and I can't thank you enough for writing this.

I found this article actually rather endearingly heartfelt. It even made me re-evaluate my opinion on the sad souls who place so much value on their virtual lives. This is the kind of thing that makes me read the Escapist.

AngelBlackChaos:
I will never participate in a game that places my RealID on anything. There are very real reasons for that. I was stalked at one time of my life, and though i have asked for restraining orders and have moved since, its still a very up front thing in my mind. I will not risk that chance to be followed again, or for someone to harm me, for no reason. If it starts being something required for all sites, that is when I will have to find some other way to socially connect with distant friends and talk to people without the stress of some bigoted a**hole will hunt me down.

*This* is the main reason why exposing your identity to complete strangers, all over the globe, in a digital age, is a very bad idea.
As someone who has been harassed online as well by unstable, violent people, who threatened me in all kinds of manners (from taking me to court over using a word they believe they copyrighted, to outright murder for [their] racist reasons), I felt lucky that for the very least, they couldn't reach me outside the boundaries of the net.
Since this article assumes only children and celebrities can be at risk from other humans, it is missing a major point in the argument, and is reminiscent of the thought patterns of people who lived a secure life to a degree that violent crimes are just something they see on TV series.

In short, all of you who believe playing an online game is worth the risk of being stabbed to death (and I can provide links to actual cases of that), please raise your hand in favor of real ID.

I'd say that when Russ Pitt said his viewpoint was biased since he had nothing to lose, he made a MASSIVE understatement.

RMcD94:

Yet I would give it away in a heartbeat if it would relegate the assholes who plague its every crevice back to the tick-ridden, backwoods, flyover, bypassed-by-the advance-of-civilization shitpits from which they emerged, birthed by their daddy's sisters.

Hold on, you'd give up the internet JUST because people say nasty things to you?

Not specifically because of the nasty things said to me or about me, but yeah, I would give up the internet in a nanosecond if it would guarantee I would no longer be subjected to the ignorant bleatings of some of the most reprehensible of its denizens. I'm not a fool. I know that negativity and negative people exist and will always exist, whether I can observe them or not, but I don't have to give them access to my brain.

Russ Pitts:

RMcD94:

Yet I would give it away in a heartbeat if it would relegate the assholes who plague its every crevice back to the tick-ridden, backwoods, flyover, bypassed-by-the advance-of-civilization shitpits from which they emerged, birthed by their daddy's sisters.

Hold on, you'd give up the internet JUST because people say nasty things to you?

Not specifically because of the nasty things said to me or about me, but yeah, I would give up the internet in a nanosecond if it would guarantee I would no longer be subjected to the ignorant bleatings of some of the most reprehensible of its denizens. I'm not a fool. I know that negativity and negative people exist and will always exist, whether I can observe them or not, but I don't have to give them access to my brain.

Uh, that's why you ignore them, there will be always be ignorance, but you should never give in to it. That's like saying a silly advert on TV is accessing your brain so you have to give up the TV (no more silly ignorant adverts).

Do you understand why it sounds so absurd to me?

RMcD94:

Russ Pitts:

RMcD94:

Yet I would give it away in a heartbeat if it would relegate the assholes who plague its every crevice back to the tick-ridden, backwoods, flyover, bypassed-by-the advance-of-civilization shitpits from which they emerged, birthed by their daddy's sisters.

Hold on, you'd give up the internet JUST because people say nasty things to you?

Not specifically because of the nasty things said to me or about me, but yeah, I would give up the internet in a nanosecond if it would guarantee I would no longer be subjected to the ignorant bleatings of some of the most reprehensible of its denizens. I'm not a fool. I know that negativity and negative people exist and will always exist, whether I can observe them or not, but I don't have to give them access to my brain.

Uh, that's why you ignore them, there will be always be ignorance, but you should never give in to it. That's like saying a silly advert on TV is accessing your brain so you have to give up the TV (no more silly ignorant adverts).

Do you understand why it sounds so absurd to me?

I can understand why my suggestion seems absurd to you, but to address your analogy, I also lived for many years without TV. Or at least without cable, which where I lived was essentially the same thing.

I made the choice to not pay for TV service because the adverts were rotting my brain. Perhaps that's a choice you're not willing to make. That's fine. To each his own, but to me, internal serenity is worth more than ready access to cable TV or the internet.

JaredXE:
Like Russ, I don't have a vested interest in RealID, but I do have an opinion on it.

I think it was a great idea. I personally want to remove some of the cover that assholes use to hide themselves from the idiotic and hate-filled messages they spew. Remove the anonymity from the Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory. Kids don't have to worry since it would be posting the name off of the credit card attached to the subscription, so it'd be their parent's name. As well, it's rather easy to not have your full real name posted if you think about it.

What's the big problem? It engenders a much more polite society since you can be held accountable for your behavior. Why is that a bad thing? I get the idea that most of the people who are objecting to RealID are people who are acting questionably and are simply trying to preserve themselves.

I agree with you JaredXE, when I first heard about it I was optimistic at first, but wished later they did install it. I personally have no problem letting someone know my name, in fact my name is very basic, James Jones. There are thousands and thousands of James Jones' in the world that the odds of finding me by name is moot. Unless you acted out and said more, such as where you live, state, address, and other such things.

Plus, I am rather proud of my name. I do not degenerate into hateful speeches and trolling, instead I consider it who I am. I could care less if a friend sees my name on some game. That means he/she is on the game as well, and like earlier, there are thousands of people with the same name. Heck, in most games when I meet someone, I just smile and say "Name's James, pleasure to make your acquittance." regardless if they person wishes to express the same pleasantries.

Now, onto the matter of children in the game and their names, the parents should be the ones who monitor what their children say and post. I'm sure if the parents feel the game is unacceptable for using their children's name, then they simply do not need to play or use it. Same as if a parent feels their children should not play a game because of it's graphic detail of violence.

Lastly, I get the whole idea of being a fantasy and letting you create whichever you'd like, but if this becomes too deeply into fantasy, we might find ourselfs turning into a future where we'd be like the movie Surrogates where we cannot tell the difference between reality and fantasy. And to be honest, that frightens me as a gamer.

PS: I hope I did not offend anyone or such. I am simply stating what I believe and my opinion on the matter at hand.

Russ Pitts:

RMcD94:

Russ Pitts:

RMcD94:

Yet I would give it away in a heartbeat if it would relegate the assholes who plague its every crevice back to the tick-ridden, backwoods, flyover, bypassed-by-the advance-of-civilization shitpits from which they emerged, birthed by their daddy's sisters.

Hold on, you'd give up the internet JUST because people say nasty things to you?

Not specifically because of the nasty things said to me or about me, but yeah, I would give up the internet in a nanosecond if it would guarantee I would no longer be subjected to the ignorant bleatings of some of the most reprehensible of its denizens. I'm not a fool. I know that negativity and negative people exist and will always exist, whether I can observe them or not, but I don't have to give them access to my brain.

Uh, that's why you ignore them, there will be always be ignorance, but you should never give in to it. That's like saying a silly advert on TV is accessing your brain so you have to give up the TV (no more silly ignorant adverts).

Do you understand why it sounds so absurd to me?

I can understand why my suggestion seems absurd to you, but to address your analogy, I also lived for many years without TV. Or at least without cable, which where I lived was essentially the same thing.

I made the choice to not pay for TV service because the adverts were rotting my brain. Perhaps that's a choice you're not willing to make. That's fine. To each his own, but to me, internal serenity is worth more than ready access to cable TV or the internet.

But surely, as with the internet, you can just, you know, flick the channel. Don't like what you are watching/reading, go look at something else. Don't like anything at the moment, come back later. Missing out on huge amounts of programs (I assume that it's large amounts, cable is like Sky isn't it?) just because of avoidable ads just seems silly.

RMcD94:
But surely, as with the internet, you can just, you know, flick the channel. Don't like what you are watching/reading, go look at something else. Don't like anything at the moment, come back later. Missing out on huge amounts of programs (I assume that it's large amounts, cable is like Sky isn't it?) just because of avoidable ads just seems silly.

I don't see it as missing out. I have plenty of pleasurable and/or productive ways to spend my time rather than wait around for something I'll enjoy to pop on the tube between advertisements.

Two things I wanted to chime in here on, in response to some of the responses I've gotten to this article:

1. To those who are offended by my use of the term "tranny," I sincerely apologize. My goal was not to disparage those who, for whatever reason, have reassigned their sexual orientation or wish that they could. I have no beef with transsexuals.

The point I was attempting to illustrate was that a great many men pretend that they are women in online settings, for various reasons, some respectable some not, and that these were among the folk vehemently opposed to RealID. I wasn't attempting to make a judgment call regarding those activities, but again, I apologize if my inadvertent use of a slanderous term implied negativity.

2. The second thing I want to address is my use of the phrase "the way fat girls crave cake." For this, I remain unapologetic. Here's why: I love cake. everyone I know loves cake. Fat girls? Chances are, they love cake, too. In fact, I'd be willing to bet they love it A LOT.

(Perhaps it was a mistake to use the term "fat girls" here, because I'm really not attempting to single out girls in any way, not even the fat ones. I think it's fair to say that all or most fat people in general love cake, and so perhaps the term "person" may in fact have been a better choice here.

Fat girls, if you'll accept the apology, I apologize for being sexist in regard to my association of fat people with cake.)

Here's the deal, I was fat once. In fact, I was fat for most of my childhood. You know when I stopped being fat? When I stopped eating cake.

I understand that fatness is a subject about which many people are sensitive, but I can't help that. Ninety-nine percent of the time, a person who is fat has made a choice to be fat, or has refused to make a choice to NOT be fat.

I understand that there are fat people who can't help that they are fat due to uncontrollable hormone issues or as a result of side effects of certain medications, etc. but somebody who is sitting on their couch, watching TV and eating cake has no room to complain about being fat and will get no sympathy from me.

If you don't mind being fat, then by all means, eat as much cake as you want. If, however, you are fat and are self conscious about the fact that you are fat, then cutting out the cake is probably a good first step. It worked for me.

But don't cry to me about the fact that I'm pointing out that cake leads to fatness. That's just a fact of life. An unfortunate fact because, as I said, I do love cake, but a fact nonetheless.

mattaui:

Also, upon reflection, I find the tone of this article surprisingly patronizing and insulting. Of course, Mr. Pitts does actually say 'the way fat girls love cake', and that tells me a whole lot about him right there. Not even fat people, but fat girls, so I assume we've got some pretty good insight into how he thinks about women in general, and overweight ones in particular. This might also explain why in his derisive remarks about 'closet trannies' and children that he doesn't mention that a number of the most outspoken critics were women who didn't want it known to the WoW world at large that they were female. Anyone who has spent any time in the online world and interacts with women at all would know that online harassment is a constant threat.

Though I think that Russ addressed his thoughts on the "cake" issue quite thoroughly in the above post, I wanted to deal with this one myself. Speaking as someone who has worked with Russ first as a freelancer, then as a coworker, I assure you, he has nothing but respect for women, as is pretty clearly evidenced by the number of women who have worked for or with The Escapist over the years.

Susan Arendt:

mattaui:

Also, upon reflection, I find the tone of this article surprisingly patronizing and insulting. Of course, Mr. Pitts does actually say 'the way fat girls love cake', and that tells me a whole lot about him right there. Not even fat people, but fat girls, so I assume we've got some pretty good insight into how he thinks about women in general, and overweight ones in particular. This might also explain why in his derisive remarks about 'closet trannies' and children that he doesn't mention that a number of the most outspoken critics were women who didn't want it known to the WoW world at large that they were female. Anyone who has spent any time in the online world and interacts with women at all would know that online harassment is a constant threat.

Though I think that Russ addressed his thoughts on the "cake" issue quite thoroughly in the above post, I wanted to deal with this one myself. Speaking as someone who has worked with Russ first as a freelancer, then as a coworker, I assure you, he has nothing but respect for women, as is pretty clearly evidenced by the number of women who have worked for or with The Escapist over the years.

Russ Pitts:
Two things I wanted to chime in here on, in response to some of the responses I've gotten to this article:

... I apologize if my inadvertent use of a slanderous term implied negativity.

...Fat girls, if you'll accept the apology, I apologize for being sexist in regard to my association of fat people with cake...

...But don't cry to me about the fact that I'm pointing out that cake leads to fatness. That's just a fact of life. An unfortunate fact because, as I said, I do love cake, but a fact nonetheless.

I appreciate both your responses, thanks. I think there's quite a lot to discuss about the RealID issue, though I imagine the 'Does cake make you fat?' question is pretty well settled. I smell a poll question. Does Cake Make You Fat? Yes, no, RealID is terrible!

I agree with the author of the article with regards to usernames; my usernames are all variations on JSDodd1991. (My name is Joseph Dodd and i'm 19, figure it out) But they canceled the scheme largely because of potential threats, the whole "killing your online rival IRL" argument.

EDIT: Loving Mr Pitt's responses to all the idiots. You sir, are a massive legend.

Russ Pitts:

But don't cry to me about the fact that I'm pointing out that cake leads to fatness. That's just a fact of life. An unfortunate fact because, as I said, I do love cake, but a fact nonetheless.

That's not really the point. You aren't pointing out a fact, your just dredging up a stereotype, not that they like cake, that they are DESPERATE for cake. There really is a non-offensive version of that metaphor, "the starving man". It works, it doesn't offend anyone and gets the point across much better.

tautologico:
Addendum: this is kinda like saying "why bother with this police thing? people will still commit crimes, police or not."

Except that isn't at all analogous to the current situation. Blizzard already have this police thing, it's called moderators. Real ID is more like saying "fuck it we don't need to police well, deputize everyone, that'll fix 'em". Which is patently absurd.

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