Cog Considers: Why Is It So Hard to Understand?
Here’s the thing about online gaming. As much as it’s great to be able to play alongside your friends, or even make new friends, you’re not going to be friends with everyone you meet. In fact, there’s a good chance you’re going to dislike a big chunk of people you pass by. Trust me, I’ve worked a lot of retail jobs.
Unlike a brief interaction with a woman insisting that she doesn’t need to wear a mask or screeching because you won’t give her a discount, playing a game forces you to communicate, and even cooperate, and that causes a big problem: there’s some people I don’t want to cooperate with, and I can tell almost immediately by what they say.
Let’s flash back to 2018, and the brief period where Friday the 13th was superior to Dead by Daylight. One of the “gimmicks” of Friday the 13th is the ability to find radios, letting you communicate with anyone on the map who’d also found a radio. While this is definitely great in its own way, I’d already built a team of people who I had a lot of fun playing with. What I didn’t want is to have to listen to a 13-year-old yelling homophobic and ethnic slurs because they’re just so edgy.
Did the guy know I was gay? Probably not. I don’t know if he knew he was offending me by calling me F****t, but the point of the matter is it’s the 21st century, how the hell does anyone think it’s acceptable to just yell out some of the most loaded, derogatory, and discriminatory language in a public forum?
And yet, whenever an online game opens up a chat filter, people lose their minds. It’s their right to assert themselves, their right to use whatever goddamned language they want, no matter who hears it.
It didn’t matter that at the time I was in my early late twenties. I used to think that the word F****t was just a word, until I heard it as an insult. While there’s definitely some people who I don’t care if they say it towards me, those are generally people who wouldn’t want to – not some snot-nosed punk who just thinks he’s edgy.
And what about people who aren’t as secure in their sexuality? What about a girl who just wants to unwind only to be told by some “hilarious” boy that she should make him a sandwich? What about a POC who just plain doesn’t want to have ethnic slurs hurled against them?
Of course, there are times when a chat filter gets a bit overzealous (The so-called “Scunthorpe Problem“, where a word is censored based on other words found within it) but you know what? I’d rather not be able to say “Lightwater” than have to hear people yelling ******, ******, or ****.
Here’s the thing; if you’re not part of a marginalized group, you won’t understand. To you, it’s just another insult, but to someone who faces persecution, it’s just a reminder that to a lot of people, you’re just worth less. It doesn’t matter if the person saying the word genuinely believes that or they just think it’s funny, because it’s a word that people like me have heard way too often.
That’s not to say there isn’t a place for speech like that. If I’m watching a movie where a villain is a homophobe, I’d be willing to forgive it if they drop the F-bomb. It’s just that if I’m just trying to relax, it’s the last thing I want.
The people arguing about chat censorship too often use the same defense: it’s just a word, why does it offend us so much? Why shouldn’t they get to say it? My response is this: why do you love saying it so much?