Technology is a harsh mistress, as I have found to my cost on many occasions. How you deal with it, what it means to others, and ultimately how it is learning to deal with us can be tough to grasp. Someone linked this to me this morning, remarking how amusing they found it. I’ve watched it four times, and only now grasp why.
Why we laugh is an extremely subjective set of variables. Often we do so just to fit into the social situation that we’re placed in, and certain actions will be hilarious to one person and offensive to someone else (see setting fire to bonfire effigies earlier this week.) ‘Funny’ for me has always been a tough ask, especially on days when the ASD brain just sees things for what they are, and is unable to either assign subtlety, meaning or depth. Things like this video are particularly difficult to fathom. After all, the computer is doing is using an algorithm to place the most popular posts by likes and views in a certain order.
Is this funny because there’s only one friend, or are you laughing in relief relief that this car crash of a life isn’t ours?
This week has also highlighted a gulf in empathy and understanding between quite a few groups of people. It’s made me aware of how others form relationships in cyberspace, in a manner that has never really clicked before. For that I have a YouTuber to thank, linked by a mutual Twitter person on the back of the massive row over a video game being launched as a mobile game. I don’t normally allow my lives to overlap, but in this case it’s a pretty significant revelation, that rolls over into everyday existence.
This is a concept that I grasped a couple of years ago, shortly before realising that the future was not attempting to become something that I was never happily going to be. It is particularly difficult to be critical of an organisation when your friends love it so much that they went to work for them, but in the last week it has been hard not to feel a sense of disappointment. It most definitely isn’t my friends who’ve made me feel like that: all of them are hardworking, dedicated and singularly driven individuals. It is the company they work for who should be criticised, because as this entire debacle has moved on, nobody involved in PR and senior management has covered themselves or the brand in glory.
It really came home for me when I made a joke about the new Samsung phone, which folds out to become a small tablet: could this be a good thing to play Diablo on? When you laugh at the expense of other’s reprehensible behaviour, you become no better than they are. Then there has to be pause, and reconsideration of what matters. In Blizzard’s latest earning’s call, it was made abundantly apparent every Blizzard IP will have a mobile game in the future, and that microtransactions will feature. There’s no hiding the fact that what matters isn’t gaming as a lifestyle choice, but as a continuous means to make money, from Blizzard’s gaming ‘family.’
Mobile gaming allows that earnings generation to be opened up to a wider demographic.
The quote from senior management in TB’s video is horribly telling, and uses language that makes me cringe: of course, most people don’t care, aren’t interested or (as I’ve discovered this week) are more likely to start muting or blocking people who continue to rant and rave about these events than take time to look at the bigger implications. For me, actually… this is funny. Not roll about on the floor amusing, but ironic and perhaps inevitable in it’s stupidity. I know many gamers who can’t laugh about themselves when a mirror is held up to their quirks and foibles. Far too many people take themselves too seriously, and that’s where I’m now drawing a line.
This is not life and death. This is not saving the planet or improving other people’s existences. It is a bunch of blinkered individuals who are obsessed with what they want from their time on this planet, which matters more long term than any real social enrichment. However, if this highlights the fact that Blizzard is not a person then the whole thing will be worth the trauma, because maybe that will allow other people an opportunity to take a step back from obsessive behaviour and see the World for what it really is.
I’ve got a lot to think about going forward, especially in reference to how I deal with those people for whom such principles effectively overtake everything else, including common sense and reason. Personally, the last seven days have proven that whether I like it or not, some people just can’t grasp appropriate reactions to certain situations. Maybe they’ve never been taught, or perhaps they are so entitled they don’t see the problem. It’s not funny any more, it is sad and ultimately enough for me to walk away from people who, in some cases, I held real respect for.
If these people were as a tenth as passionate about saving the Planet or changing social injustice as they are about a bunch of pixels, think what might actually get done.