Greedy Goblin

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Sexist trolls are not sexist (and not trolls)

From time to time the gender issue comes up on gaming blogs, usually fueled by booth babes or female avatars wearing string bikini "full plate armor". The posts are usually trolled with insane amount of sexist comments. If you are dumb enough to participate on any non-moderated forum or chat, you shall expect sexist, racist, anti-semitic, homophobic and similar crap. Various feminist, anti-racists and similar organizations call to arms against the rampart sexism, racism and similar activity with little effect. It seems the "internet culture" is beyond repair.

I think the reason of failure is that the starting point is wrong. The troll leaving sexist, racist, homophobic message is not sexist, racist or homophobic. Neither he is a troll. He is an idiot and a loser.

In Hungary, you can't see a political post without comments about "Galician trespassers". It's a codeword for jews. The phenomenon is the favorite starting point for anti-racists to cry racism in the major media. They have funny charts counting how many idiots commented about "Galician trespassers". I have a much more effective solution to the problem: I ask the commenter where Galicia is and when the "trespassers" arrived to Hungary. I've yet to get a single correct answer. They usually say
  • east of Romania (that's Moldavia) after the first World War
  • North-Italy or north of Italy (that's Dalmatia) when Mussolini got into power
  • Spain with any random year number (these guys just hit Google but unfortunately the first answer isn't the one they should look for. Same for Wikipedia, the correct answer is at the "Galicia (Eastern Europe)" link)
So these "racists" don't have a clue about their "hated enemy". Why are they hating them then? Because they need a group that is worse than them to make them look more than what they are: useless idiots.

To be racist, sexist, homophobic, one must have some kind of philosophy. One that is based on ideas, misinterpreted, generalized or simply false facts, but still, a set of ideas that are not logically conflicting with each other. To be such person, you have to be a thinker, even if a bad one.

The ones we encounter aren't thinkers at all. They just picked up some code phrases "jews control the world economy", "women want to take our jobs", "muslims are terrorists". They have no idea what they say or why they say it. They just do because they need some group to look down.

You can't convince them that they are wrong, since they aren't convinced that that they are right. The words they say have no importance to them, they don't believe in the genetic inferiority of women or blacks or jews. The words they say are just tools to say what they mean: "someone sucks even harder than me". They can't say "X sucks harder than me" since it could be disproved. But a distant and large group like women or jews perfectly serve the purpose.

The feminist or anti-racist trying to silence these statements has no hope to win as they are battling with code-words ignoring the meaning. To silence them, you must answer to what they mean and not to what they say. The proper answer to "women are good for nothing but sex" is not "no they are equal people". The proper answer is "you are good for nothing". I managed to silence several "racists" simply by asking how the jews removed them from their jobs. They soon disappeared after the questions got into the direction where they had to answer "I don't have profession as I did not finish school". Those who were dumb enough to answer became laughing stock after revealing their lack of qualifications to get any decent job.

This also answers why games themselves are generally more accepting than unstructured social spaces: if a player rants about anything, someone will surely dig up his stats for a good laugh. So in a game he would naturally get the right answer (you suck n00b) from other players, without them even thinking about the importance of their answer. His reason for posting that sexist/racist rant was to belittle others to look better but got belittling responses, so he stopped.

The short version is: any competitive environment where a loser can be belittled (or even better, pwned) naturally weeds out the "someone suck more than me" posts that usually look like sexism (women suck more than me) or racism (blacks/jews suck more than me).

PS: I'm obviously not thinking that there are no real sexists or racists. However they don't comment idiotic nonsense, they write thought-provoking posts that need serious thinking to counter. They are thinkers who are wrong, not morons.

The blog has been updated with table of contents, see it next to the goblin face!

Wednesday morning report: 60.0B (1 PLEX ahead, 1.6B spent on LCT, 0.1+0.3 on Rorqual)


Carson 63000 said...

I'm not sure that your definition of sexists and racists actually matches that which is generally used. It feels a bit like you're redefining language by declaring that sexists and racists that write idiotic nonsense are not "true" sexists or racists.

Gevlon said...

@Carson: no, I want to point out that their motivation to write such thing is not a sexist/racist philosophy, therefore require different handling.

Just like a careless driver is not a murderer, despite kills people equally and locking him up for the rest of his life is not the best move for the society. Forcing him to learn to drive or ban him from driving and make him pay compensation to the family and the society.

madgus said...

@Carson: What Gevlon is trying to say is that, apart from the real racists (those having "racist theories"), the others are just idiots repeting what somebody else said with no clue about what that might mean.

Basically, their behaviour is similar to the M&S one, they don't really care about digging in what they heard, they blindly take is as truth simply cause it makes feel them, somehow, better.

Bad theories like racisms of every kind are alway perfectly seeded in ignorant and disinformed minds, therefore grow fast and last long.

kacper said...

So you've discovered that there are idiots on the internet?

An interesting, though not conflicting with yours, theory about this behavior I've read is a cybernetic explanation that treats society as a homeostat. In this light sexist rants would be (probably subconscious) attempts to counter feminist propaganda about the equality of the genders to return to what was previously socially accepted (homeostasis). Feedback, in other words.
Notice that it doesn't say anything about whether either side is right or wrong, just that promoting gender equality pushes society out of a state of equilibrium.
(Sorry, no wikipedia link. This is apparently a not very widespread scientific theory.)

Nice to see some philosophy posts. Eve is not a game for me, so I was thinking about unsubscribing.

Also: "women are taking our jobs"? I haven't heard that one before. But then again I don't read a lot of sexist rants.

And since I'm already typing I might as well make another point. You made an observation that the gaming culture is more tolerant. I think this is part of a larger theme, that where merit is rewarded there is no place for prejudice (racism, sexism, homophobia, etc.). What I'm trying to sketch out here is that the free market kills discrimination. Why? Because discriminating costs money.
You don't want to have blacks in the basketball team you manage? Sure, but you're gonna get owned. You don't want a gay guy to rent your apartment? Go ahead, but you're gonna have to leave it vacant for longer and lose cash.
On the other hand it costs government nothing to discriminate, because the taxpayers are, well, paying for it. And where there are trade unions, the wages are artificially high, so there is always a surplus of labor, and minorities who would have otherwise offered to work for less can be discriminated against with no cost to the employers.
There are numerous historic examples of this principle. In South Africa small business owners were hiring blacks, breaking apartheid laws, because it paid.
Between the world wars in Poland the eastern provinces had more anti-semitic sentiment but less actual discrimination, because the more developed west had more prevalent trade unions.

Anyways, cheers on a thought-provoking post.

Hivemind said...

I'm not entirely convinced that "To be racist, sexist, homophobic, one must have some kind of philosophy [..] ideas that are not logically conflicting with each other." I've heard racists harping on about the supposed shortcomings of races they dislike - that they're lazy, stupid, prone to stealing etc, but also that they're taking all the jobs. To me that seems logically conflicting, since none of those are desirable qualities in a workforce.

I'm also inclined to think that whether or not the poster of the message buys into or even comprehends the rhetoric they're using, the fact that they're jumping to racist/sexist/homophobic/whatever excuses for whatever's going wrong in their life says a lot about their tolerance, or lack thereof.

Phelps said...

I've heard people here in America say, "You can't reason someone out of an opinion they weren't reasoned into."

Anonymous said...

This post made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I love psychology and love using that sort of approach to take down arrogant and willingly ignorant people (emphasis on willingly).

The reason those that you mention keep spouting ignorant crap is due to the Availability Bias or sometimes Availability Cascade: something is believed to be true due to the repetition, whether in the media or in a social group.

Even reasonable people may fall into this trap if asked a leading question: “what percentage of jews are more focussed on making money than on caring for their family?” may elicit a higher percentage from people who don’t stop the thought process and call out the question itself as being misleading.

I’ll stop now, I could go on for ages about psychological biases. It’s one of my pet hobbies.

Numinous said...

@kacper Your point about meritocracy adversely effecting prejudice ties itself neatly into my current situation. As a new recruit to Eve based on Gevlon's recent blogging, I signed up and ended up joining a large corporation which, unfortunately, is littered with a great deal of sexist, homophobic, and racist language. This corp is also very much emphasizing a "play for fun" attitude toward Eve, relying on overwhelming numbers rather than skill to preserve their sovereignty.
@Gevlon My question for you is, how can a person change the system. Playing Eve by yourself doesn't show the big M&S-corps that their way is the wrong way, but I am hard-pressed to see how it is possible to convince them to change their ways from the inside either.

Gevlon said...

@Numinous: it's quite "simple" to show them they are wrong: defeat them and beat them back to highsec

Anonymous said...

Dalmatia is east of Italy. Its the Croatian part of the Adriatic coast.