ego

Ratings: Judgment of usefulness vs. signaling of personal approval

Cynical reminder: Remember: Review ratings are not a usefulness indicator, but a popularity contest.

Occasionally I am being reminded of the frequent misuse (deliberate confusion) of usefulness votes for reviews as approval votes. While negative reviews can garner lots of approval, they won’t if what you say hurts the egoes of fanboys. They have an unhealthy attachment to the product or service in question (let’s just talk computer games here, since this is inspired by Steam), and that means there is a dependency that they themselves, deep within, are not happy about. This is usually the fact that they are willing to tolerate lots of crap, to accept not being respected. This of course is something they really don’t like to admit, so when you criticize a lack of respect from a game design or game business, you will unpleasantly remind the fanboys of their weakness and unhappiness, of their state of denial. It’s not intended, but that’s the effect it will have, and that’s why some justified and elaborate reviews might still get loads of downvotes. Usually without comment, in the case of actually somewhat smarter (and/or more fearful) fanboys who understand that any communication could give away what they are trying to hide. This at least helps with self-awareness. The ones that add a stupid comment to the downvote, fully revealing their motivations, are actually the fools. There’s relatively little hope for them, although this state still provides its own opportunities for eventual enlightenment. The path towards the light might lead through the deepest dorkness.

Among all the possible combinations of up- or downvote and no or stupid or elaborate comments that you agree or disagree with, the most valuable is the elaborate negative critique that you agree with, since it provides an important external viewpoint that makes you see what you couldn’t see on your own and helps you to improve your perceptions and judgments.

Stupid negative critique is still more useful to you than downvotes without comment, since that makes it easy to identify it as useless. So to all critics: Feel free to speak your mind. I’d like to get to know you and understand your reasoning. 😉
Stupid positive critique has its use, too, since it helps to identify baseless praise, which could become a big problem for you, and you should be able to imagine why.

Additional thought: Cases of downrated reviews about technical issues with a game could also be triggering pure egotism of the likes of ‘It worked fine on my system; you’re stupid.’

Proud Christians

On Youtube someone commented:

“I am a Christian and I am damn proud of it.”

This was such an obvious setup for a concise response:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_deadly_sins#Pride
“In almost every list, pride (Latin, superbia), or hubris (Greek), is considered the original and most serious of the seven deadly sins, and the source of the others.””

Add to that the fact that he even added “damn” to it, thus rightfully bringing damnation into the mix, while unaware of how much this damnation had slipped into his mind.

His response, as could have been expected, based on avoidance of cognitive dissonance:

“That’s not the pride I’m talking about. There is both good and bad pride.”

After which I replied:

“That’s what Satan whispered in people’s ears.
It is troubling, yet natural, that Christians would so casually use the name of a deadly sin without humble self-reflection.”

I did that reflection. I wanted to find out whether I live pride. I read about the modern, supposedly different, positive definition of pride, and realized that I am not living that either. I can do what I do without the need to be proud of it. I look at my actions/accomplishments, reflect on their effects on the world and my life, draw conclusions and move on. Any form of pride is self-gratification of the ego. It doesn’t matter what outcome it produces. And it shouldn’t, because what is a beneficial outcome for one person, thus being defined as “good pride” by them, can be someone else’s suffering.
For example, altruism is good, but when you are proud of your altruism, you lose sight. It becomes a self-deception, a fake.
Very common.

In sheep’s clothes is how the wolf gains power over those who pride themselves with being smart enough to know what a wolf looks like.

– UPDATE –
The convo continues:

“If I was boasting, that would be a sin. Simply stating I am happy to be one isn’t a sin.”

See the rhetorical haggling? Simply. Innocently. Happiness. Is that the vibe you get from his initial statement?
Thus, my response:

“You keep deluding yourself. You talked about pride, not happiness. What you said was very much boasting. Even if there might be even clearer rhetorics for how to do that, what’s really relevant is the driving mindset behind saying such things. Thought shapes words and words shape thought.
The devil has his foot in your mind’s door. Tendendies can begin moderate and grow slowly, thus remaining undetected until it is too late.
It’s the same problem as when a Christian commits murder but then claims it’s not a sin because they didn’t kill a human being (just a negro, terrorist, infidel, criminal, etc.)
Trying to trick God with fine print and semantics is maybe the greatest of all heresies.”

Beware of imagined people-power

There’s that saying that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance.
Well, with all the activism growing in the world, of the people’s voice being heard and all that, a new challenge arises.

Because those movements are challenging powerful interest groups, those groups will try various approaches for securing their power. And one really clever method that is likely applied from the very top is along the lines of the saying:

The most hopelessly enslaved are those who falsely believe to be free.

What I call “worldsaving bread&circuses” would be one example of this, and another one could be, and I will mention it for elaboration of my point:

Net neutrality.

I read an article about it, talking about it being likely to be preserved in the USA, and the article itself, unaware of its implications, contained some warning signs: It mentioned that net neutrality has the support of president Obama, some democratic allies in politics as well as various big telecommunications corporations. So apparently there are some in the business who believe that, after weighing possible pros and cons, net neutrality is their preferrable way.

So if net neutrality ends up being preserved … How do we know the popular activism had any say in that?
Tricky one, isn’t it? All you can do is believe it did, unless you have damn well documented every chain of cause and effect. A decision being made that happens to match the preferences of the people isn’t evidence of causation.

Studies have been made about US politics that draw a picture of the people ultimately having virtually no say at all on what decisions are being made, so that’s certainly cause for heightened vigilance and scrutiny.

This is an urge for more activism, but not the blind kind. You gotta be smart and not hastily jump on any feeling of triumph or power. It is a character weakness based in your ego that will be exploited in order to deceive you. Just like people’s lack of purpose in life and falling-out with traditional religion made them vulnerable to aforementioned tales of being heroes and saviors in the context of the modern armageddon prophecy of global warming. Too many people put more importance on believing they are making a difference than on knowing for sure they actually do. It’s egoistical, really. Personal convenience. Soothing your conscience. Selling of indulgences. And when your self-deception is challenged, you will condemn those who actually care about the result as pessimists or call them much worse, revealing that the whole time you’ve really just cared about yourself.

Sorry to burst your bubble, but you can be an activist for social justice and still be a mere pawn of big business, in ignorance or outright denial of the massive human suffering you might be causing.

One example of the ego’s control games

The following thread in the World of Warcraft forums is several years old, but it is valuable as exposition of the frequent mind games that happen especially on internet forums when ‘help’ is involved, when people fuel their desire for control by exploiting those in need, since their intentions aren’t really altruistic and they try to derive relevance for their own existence that way. It’s all due to a lack of empathy, and the mechanisms that lead to it would be complex to explain here, but if you’re interested in psychology and have heard of things like Milgram experiment or Asch comformity test, it’s quite likely you will grasp what’s going on.
This severe egotism, among various other mental disturbances, is one of the major things that put me off while playing the game. Just because it’s MMO doesn’t mean it’s social. It very much encourages what I described in a previous blog entry: https://dowlphinblog.wordpress.com/2015/01/21/alliance-of-convenience-vs-working-together-for-the-result/

Alright, no further introduction necessary, since the thread itself is quite self-explanatory.

http://eu.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/3312962096

Master-slave mindset blocking fruitful interaction

Fruitful communication often needs to work both ways. But I sometimes notice a phenomenon in interactions with people, actually not just limited to communication, but also cooperation, where they feel the need to establish a master-slave role distribution (meaning one-directional – one sender and one receiver). This would mean for example that as soon as you do an inquiry (asking a question), it will become difficult to make the other person accept a message from you. They, not in good control of their ego, probably due to a frequent habit of using it in order to achieve success in our society, will begin to assume the role of the ‘wiser’, the ‘superior’.
The same can happen when seeking someone out for help. Personally I had this a lot where I eventually realized they are more in need for my help than the other way round, and that we could actually help each other due to this, but at that point they already were in a mindset that they were supposed to provide a service, thus seeing me as an inferior.

I want to again remind you that ideally we are all teacher and student at the same time.
This requires that when someone comes to you for any kind of help, you accept it as a new life experience, by being open and perceptive to what’s in it for you. Everything that happens in your life can start having a meaning/purpose if you allow it. This raises the value of your experience in this life and thus appreciation for it, and in turn the people involved. This can help cultivating humility, empathy and serenity.

The less you live the student role through the course of your life, the higher the need for that that may arise, and vice versa.
Remember, health comes from balance. You can be at your best (while maximizing other people’s chances to be, too) when everything is present in just the right amount.

A Study in Reality Denial

An example of how much many people are willing to completely abandon perception of obvious reality in order to satisfy their personal unhealthy attitudes.

First, in order to understand the degree of sickness that can be found in games like World of Warcraft (but also in the outside world) imagine yourself in this situation:

You’re standing in front of the post office, talking to a friend. Suddenly someone approaches you and says: “Move!”. You: “Eh, what? Why?” He: “You jerk are blocking sight of my destination.” You: “No need to be rude. What’s the problem with blocking your sight? You can just walk around us, there’s no problem at all.” He: “Pal, I’m not arguing here. Just move, OK? Don’t be a dick by making life harder for everybody.” You: “What’s wrong with you? Why the hell don’t you just walk around us? The post office is right there. It’s impossible to miss.” He: “Alright, I asked you a very simple thing, but apparently you want to annoy people. I will call the police and tell them about what you are doing here. They will lock you up for at least a week.”

Yeah, this is reality. People are doing that.

I was in World of Warcraft on my free-to-play account, in Ironforge where the Chistmas presents are available for opening. The usual scene there is that it is very crowded, with dozens of players idling right in front of the presents, blocking sight – but not access, since a long time ago the game was modified so that you can click any interactive object even if a player is standing right on it.
Occasionally a player would park their huge mount right on the presents to troll people. More often, others are just not considerate enough to realize they’re standing on an object.

This problem can be solved by zooming into first person view and/or just approaching the presents from the backside where not a single player was standing, but that would have required people to use their brain – something that is increasingly resented in WoW, and the game further caters to that trend.

So I was watching and doing my creative brainstorming, and I eventually figured out that I could use my proto drake mount to align myself in an odd angle that made it stem its foot against Santa’s chair and span its wing over him like an umbrella. Beautiful.
So I did that.

WoWScrnShot_122514_215530 (position example)

And then the shitstorm started.

You see, WoW attracts the worst kind of people and encourages unhealthy tendencies, so there were tons of people who totally felt like they had to satisfy their need for practicing righteous indignation and restoring neat and tidy total order for their personal ideas of how the world should be. Apparently the game lore with the fanatic Scarlet Crusade hasn’t taught them anything.

So what happened was that very many people totally ignored the fact that I wasn’t even visually blocking Santa or the presents and kept rudely bothering and insulting me via whispers and says and bathing in their own arrogance and supposed moral superiority.

Amusingly, every now and then someone would use some kind of toy to make all the players standing around there start to cry. It was so appropriate.

Not kidding: One guy even said I am ruining people’s Christmas with what I’m doing. Total insanity!

“Simple as that” – Words of denial
WoWScrnShot_122514_221613 (Simple as that - The words of denial)

Another one complained that on Alliance side the presents are positioned against a wall. That realization – which isn’t even that relevant – would already have contained the solution – to take a look at the free backside of the area. But people only see what they want to see.
I had opened 50 presents earlier, under worse conditions, without making a fuss. Seriously, it’s like people complaining on Easter that the eggs are hidden.

At some point they started making up obvious lies about people having gotten banned earlier the day for it. They just couldn’t stand the idea that they might not get their way, so they decided to move into a power-trippy phantasy world.
This triumphant crying for the authorities whenever something touches people’s control issues is making things easier for fascism.
When the next tyranny succeeds, blame the common rabble.

One or two people who whispered me first called me names, saying how ugly and evil I am, and then finished by wishing me merry Christmas and a nice evening. Yeah, so much for this being a sincerely serious issue to them. They’re just saying such totally contrary stuff so that they can preserve their self-image of being a good person. It’s all about them and their bullshit.

One theme that persisted through all those interactions: I was practicing a socratic dialogue, and the simple inquiry about the reality at hand, about what I am supposedly blocking, either immediately silenced people, or made them actively refuse to tell me what they see, or make claims contrary to the obvious reality. Yeah, this is all too familiar. Cases like these, and you should remember that, are not some unconscious delusion. Those people KNOW very well that they are talking bullshit. They have made a conscious decision not to care about the facts; to sacrifice the truth so that they can continue their egomanic crusade.

Of all the people bothering me, only a single one so much as mentioned the mailbox, whose space my character kinda occupied. I then, again in the spirit of socratic dialogue, asked how she knows there is a mailbox there. (Because any idiot would have been able to access it without any problem.) Again, silence.

Also, one person actually gave me an answer to my question, about how my dragon mount is positioned, eliminating any doubt one could have had, about a possible desync between my and other clients or such.

One of the players who every now and then decdided to park his huge mount right on top of the presents (which actually makes it very easy to even see them, since the model is empty inside) summed it up nicely:
“You don’t cry over 100 people standing around there but as soon as 1 mount come, all hell breaks loose.”

And they’re complaining about ME?!
WoWScrnShot_122514_232234 (And they're complaining about me_!)

And this fact involves a case of amazing hypocrisy, because one guy who kept bothering me and didn’t tolerate my presence eventually parked his character right in front of some presents and went AFK, like so many other people that were collectively forming a visual barrier. And when he later came back and I pointed that out, he had the audacity to still act all righteous.
I ended the convo by saying I just realized he’s a retribution paladin and that I thus can’t enlighten him tonight. ^^

Now THAT’s a SOMEWHAT bigger issue, haha.
WoWScrnShot_122514_224249 (Now THAT's a slightly more justified issue, haha.)

The oddest convo I had, which makes me wonder whether one of the crazed lunatics set him up to it, was an apparently new player, level 13 char, who timidly asked me to stop blocking the quest objects, and when I told him that I already verified I am in fact not blocking them, the response was: “Oh, OK.” That really surprised me a little. But, it also motivated me to explain in more detail and give him hints about how to easily access visually blocked quest objects. It was the most intelligent conversation I had that evening with a player in Ironforge.

Reality check failed
WoWScrnShot_122614_011258 (Reality check failed)

Probably the most amusing dialogue was when someone – apparently meant sarcastically – asked me whether I could move my mount closer to the presents. That gave me the opportunity to reply that I don’t want to block Santa or the presents.
Again, silence after that, haha. The power of truth.

At some point I pondered the question whether I should feel sorry for the GMs being confronted with all that ridiculous report spam. But no, they designed the game in a way to attract the worst of society and encourage immaturity and rotten character, making no effort to direct young players towards maturity, which they totally could if they weren’t such money-grabbers.
They probably have an automated filtering system for player reports anyway.

This reminds me of two things:
1) An experience I had on the WoW forums long ago where people wasted an astonishing amount of energy with resisting simply helping me out with something just so that they could showcase their arrogant – and false – beliefs. Pompous blood elf paladins and wannabe-MVP draenei shamans and such. Eventually it took an orc death knight to get the job done. A “can do” guy among many naysayers. … And afterwards the egomaniacs were still attempting their control games and trying to save face. Here’s the link in case you’d like to know all the details: http://eu.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/3312962096
2) Something I blogged about earlier that conveys the spirit in which I did what I did that evening: https://dowlphinblog.wordpress.com/2014/07/06/competitive-gaming-campers-and-the-unfairness-of-life/

When there is uproar among the lowly peasants, I just find it ado-rabble. ^^