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Anonymity, Gateway to Inner Sociopath?


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Intelligence Officer

Intelligence Officer

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This is a repost from Enjin by Glatix

Cyberbullies of various kinds are often attributed to having the advantage of anonymity. Anonymity allows human nature to present itself beyond the restrictions placed by society. In the same way that masks allow perceived anonymity to remove normal personality filters, and digital medium removed barriers and taboos established by civilized society. However, rather than chose the most malignant course of action (as many people might assume) the naked nature of man tends to go with the most directly advantageous path.

Now, how does this apply to Halo? Via the creation of clans of course! Gaming is accepted as a means of having fun by the conscious mind, but the subconscious might have different plans in store. Its hard to deny that gaming is actually just a means of distracting oneself from the troubles of real life (which is why people tend to act differently on a online medium than in real life). Personalities become more open, and people become more social when online due to the lack of existing consequence (see Voidist theory). However, an open personality and a willingness to do things differently don't always fill the need to distract oneself. One's personal achievements and actions mean little without an audience, so gamers flock to clans and other online social groups as a means of fulfilling the desire to be seen achieving and having fun. Their motives seem innocent enough, but are they?

Darwinism establishes that all species aspire to survive through achievement of survival based objectives (such as attainment of nourishment and participation reproduction). This applies to sentient species like Humans. However, we have long since evolved beyond the need to scavenge for food, so where does that instinct go? It trickles down on a basis of what is easy vs what is hard. To put it in perspective: A ripe apple sits at the lowest branch of the tree, another ripe apple sits at the top. The animal will go for the lowest apple. Humans can buy said apples from a grocery store, so the instinct to take the easy way and achieve filters into less important tasks, like gaming. The end goal of most gamers in roleplay clans is to reach the top through any means. That is why overly competitive attitudes tend to spring up in larger clans, and why they take precedence over fun in many cases. That malignant instinct to conquer one's lesser is an ever-present factor of the human condition. So what separates the conquerors from those of us that just want to have fun? Mentality. People that join clans without the intention of showcasing their skills are aware that their online status holds no weight in real life, and cannot be used as a means of attaining power in the Halo community. However, fun-seekers aren't inherently good, they've just realized that they are bound by the properties of the Halo community. The properties of most communities are as follows:

1) No lasting impact can be made by any party
2) No rules can truly be fully enforced
3) The will of the individual matters more than the will of the whole
4) Consequence is non-existent other than dismissal from social groups

However, when consequence becomes a factor, players will act very differently. I reference Ark as an example. In Ark, one can join a public server (with up to 70 other people) and build bases and gather resources. Players will flock together in tribes and tribal alliances to assure protection from aggressive adversaries. Anyone who plays Ark can tell you that the rules are very different in comparison to Halo (especially raids). In a game where your tribe's base can be wiped out and your tribesmen and tribeswomen can be enslaved as you sleep, consequence becomes very real. There is never a "contested win" in Ark raids. Either your base and tribe is wiped out, or theirs is. Decisions must be made quickly and correctly to ensure survival, lest weeks worth of hard work are destroyed in one night. This sheds light on the previously mentioned advantageous path that the unfiltered mind tends to take. Tribes will weigh their options before attacking or otherwise carrying out actions. In Halo, a clan could join another clan's game, attack that clan, and leave without any lasting consequence. The leader of the victimized clan can demand a war, but if the offender doesn't want to fight, they won't. In Ark, there is no way to avoid an angry enemy, and bases can actually be destroyed.

The reason for that comparison lies in the aforementioned theory of "the easy way". The only absolute of human behavior is that a person will choose whatever path they believe most benefits them (whether short or long term thinking is in effect). This means that, should the personal benefit of doing harm to another person outweigh the perceived consequences of doing so, a person will typically take that path. Now, a counterargument to make to this theory is that loyalty or friendship guide actions before self-interest. However, self interest is, in itself, a guiding force behind loyalty and friendship. Loyalty and friendship are constructs created when a person is provided with evidence that the subject of their positive feelings have no intention of doing them harm. The positives of having someone as a friend typically outweighs having them as an enemy, so the mind justifies such bonds by placing them in the category the most advantageous path. The vice versa of this theory can apply to enemies. If someone acts in a manner disliked by an individual or a social group, their personal standing will be lowered among the members of the group. This principle, in extreme cases, can be used to explain why things like war and (to a smaller scale) riots occur. The herd mentality is created via the mind establishing what is advantageous to a person by linking them to social groups. Rioters start rioting because the guy next to the rioter feels safer participating in the riot than they do opposing it (until counter-measures by opposing parties override the need to be social by presenting a threat).

Those of you who are still reading this (if you haven't been killed by boredom) are likely wondering, how the hell is this "herd mentality" related to the Halo clan community? Well, the same "self-preservation through social connection" instinct applies to clans. Even though not joining a clan is a detriment to the survival of the player, they join because they seek to follow the herd mentality. Although on the Internet, social groups effect survival to a significantly lesser degree, the stripping of identity via a digital medium exposes the most basic human instincts, causing them to flock to clans as a natural default.

This being said, there are many cases in which this doesn't occur. For example, if someone is a casual gamer (plays only with real-life friends or doesn't play frequently), they will likely not be conditioned by the Internet in the same way that long-term players are.

Final food for thought:

Do players join clans and online groups because they want to have fun and play with others?
OR
Are players just sociopaths who use fun as an cover to fulfill primal urges?

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  • 9 months later...
Agent

Agent

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This post truly, and honestly, opens the eyes of the oppressed and whom that seek knowledge. It also shows me why certain people do how they do it.

Most people in the community are unforthcoming sociopaths.

Agent Nyx

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  • 2 weeks later...
Special Agent

Special Agent

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Really thought provoking take on the subject. I do notice for something that is supposed to be lighthearted fun (clans), it sometimes ending up being a bunch of power-hungry players that want to be on top. So not only a people power hungry but like you said people will always pick the easy way out. Why slowly but surly work up when you can just crush everything down at once and take over from the chaos. 

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