Eve is a fantastic game. I love it’s complexity, it’s depth, the seemingly endless challenges, there is an unbridled freedom when playing Eve that is not matched by any other game I am aware of. We are given free reign to forge alliances, develop strategies and take the game in directions that CCP had never even considered and I love it.
However, this freedom creates an opportunity for the worst aspects of human nature to flourish. Online forums allow people to express themselves freely, but the anonymity that an online identify affords also removes what little sliver of empathy some people may have possessed. Maybe they never had empathy, but social conformity curtailed their behaviour when interacting with other people on a day to day basis. Trolls exist everywhere online and hate speech will contaminate every online forum if it is allowed to flourish.
Most of the time my experiences in Eve and interactions with other players are very positive. Inevitably though, I frequently hear people talking with a total disregard for others and with a total lack of respect or understanding for people who are not like them. I hear casual racism, I hear homophobia, I hear misogyny. It disgusts me.
Eve Online attracts many mature, intelligent people, but it is still a game and it is still an online community. When a comment is made that degrades a particular person, or grouping of people, it may go unnoticed to the majority of people on comms. But I guarantee you that there will have been hundreds, maybe thousands, hell, possibly even millions of times where someone listening to that language has been made to feel sub-human, or at the very least, not welcome in their corp. Language used as a child in school can often be brutal and hateful, but it goes on within the group of people who are all happy to join in, because it’s not about them.
Once you are in a wider, global community of people with a shared interest, it is important to remember that you are not in the “locker room” with all your friends that have the same skin colour, the same sexual orientation, the same politics, the same genitals. You are talking to the world and guess what? Most people are not like you. It is not funny or appropriate to speak of other races or nationalities disrespectfully. It is not funny or appropriate to use the term “rape” in game, when there may be individuals listening who have actually been raped themselves. It is not funny or appropriate to call someone a [insert homophobic slur] because they killed you in game. This language is not cool, it is not clever, it is not acceptable.
This post may turn out to be just a magnet for the kind of vile trolls that you get everywhere online, but I would be interested to hear of anyone who has something to say about this. Do you have experiences of being made to feel hated or unwelcome by the casual, disrespectful language on comms? Do you know of any groups in Eve that make a point of managing this issue in a responsible way and are looking for corp members that are willing and able to respect others? Or maybe, do you think that trying to manage or limit hateful speech is a lost cause or not important?
I do not want to get into a debate about politics. Depending on your own perspective you may identify the author of this post as “a left-wing snowflake”, obsessing about creating “safe spaces”. Personally I find this language tiresome and detracts from serious debate by encouraging tribalism. “You aren’t using the buzz words of my tribe, so you must be a part of that other tribe that we hate”. I don’t care about your politics right now, what I do care about is the way we manage our differences in a vast, free online space, wherein the tyranny of the majority can very easily silence the minority. I would be interested to hear any and all RESPECTFUL opinions on this.
Fly safe and be kind to others.