This will get me in trouble, but whatever.
Every so often I err and fall into an online game. Not the kind like Farmville, but something where people spend hours in chat rooms. Here you find the people your psychotherapist warned you about; the ones who drink and chat, the cyber-sex addicts, misogynist teenage boys, and people who have no social life besides playing online games. There’s a whole culture based on flirting and another based on being cruel to other players. I have found myself assimilated, at times, into the latter — a very tempting prospect for me and anyone else because this is a game based on Arthurian England except it is all numbers.
I’ve seen these behaviors before when I ran my own online game. The drinkers seem to believe that having a mood disorder is cool. What better beverage than liquid bipolar disorder? I have never understood why people insist on trying to become insane. I’ve been there. It’s no fun. Can’t they take my word for it?
The online romances have many faces, but I will speak directly of only one kind that makes me laugh. There is a breed of male who finds it entertaining to take on the personae of a woman. Most of these are misogynist assholes who give themselves charming names like “Sloot”, etc. An especially humorous subset are the ones who style themselves as lesbians for the express purpose of seducing women. The trouble is that most of the lesbians you meet online in these venues are actually men so any two lesbians you meet are likely to be men. And so men who spit on the idea of homosexuality end up cybering with other men like themselves. This is called “role-playing”: I call it interactive porn1 .
The teenagers who hang out in these places probably don’t need any further description. Like the males described above, their primary interest is prurient in nature. The game possesses a marvelous facility for taking revenge on these brats that I, alas, have sometimes taken part in.
Which brings me to the last group: those who have no life outside the game. There are people who play the game while they work. There are people who play the game because they are disabled. Many of these drink and game. Many of these don’t do much outside of their job than game and talk sex 2 . And I find myself in an odd place. I am there, admittedly because I don’t have much of a life. But I attend meetings where I help others, I write, I photograph, and I teach adults English. I am openly mentally ill 3 . So here I am, setting fire to a bridge that I have with other people. Is there any way I can live with this and respect myself? It’s a hard question to answer and I don’t doubt it will be shoved in my face once this sees publication.