Just a simple thought on my mind; let’s remember about empathy.

Nathan Grayson recently posted an article on Kotaku discussing how twitch streamer Annemunition make a tweet about a recent experience where she was harassed in a game of Rainbow Six Siege. This time, she posted a video with clear, audible in-game voice chat of her harassers.

Of course, such harassment has happened to her before, as it has happened to many other female gamers for as long as I can remember.

Obviously, whatever I write here isn’t going to magically change the world’s landscape. There will continue to be such gross examples of humanity, as there will continue to be horrible incidents everyday.

That doesn’t mean I will just ignore it. So here’s some food for thought: why don’t we try to remember what empathy is and remind people to try it? Practice it? Make them remember that they’re not the center of the universe and that we all share this world?

Image: Psychalive

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That image isn’t exactly elegant, but it’s apt enough to surface-level describe empathy. Empathy is being able to put yourself in another person’s shoes. It is different from sympathy in that you aren’t feeling sorry for the other party, but rather you understand the feelings and emotions of the other party.

Shockingly, I suspect that people that act as assholes aren’t practicing empathy at all. In fact, I doubt they remember it even exists.

Humans are social creatures (and as someone who’s an introvert and relatively socially inept, I say dagnabit). We need our relationships to each other to exist, to thrive. Even people that are withdrawn need to go out to buy groceries - putting them into contact with other people.

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By just remembering about empathy, we remind ourselves that hey, the person I’m talking to, whether in-person or in-game over voice chat, is another human being with their own thoughts and feelings, and bullying/harrassing them with such disgusting diatribes doesn’t accomplish anything positive, if at all.

Sure, those assholes might get a boost to their ego, but here’s a question for them; would they speak to their mothers like that? Their fathers? Their siblings? How about their partner(s)? Coworkers? Bosses? Why not? Out of a sense of respect? Because there’ll be consequences?

Unfortunately, we don’t have appropriate consequences for such in-game harrassment that would change behaviors. While game bans would be a good step and temporarily alleviate the issue, the guilty parties would likely just make new accounts and continue playing.

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But maybe reminding them that empathy is a thing might be another step we can take, in addition to whatever gets doled out. That the players we’re playing with are people, with their own lives, memories and experiences. That other players are people that have just as much importance as them.

Yes, there’ll always be assholes in the world. Yes, they might just always be the vocal minority that just will not learn, but if we don’t do anything to try and change their behaviors, to try and teach them proper respect for another person, then we’re just letting them fester and grow.

I am aware that this is pretty dang naive of me to write, and that not much, if anything, will change or matter in the long run of things, but sometimes all we can do is try something.

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What are your thoughts on how to handle trolls and harassers?