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The sin eater

July 12, 2010

Been a curious weekend, thanks in part to my last WoW post I guess. Curiouser still that my conclusion was a bit off. Well, let’s say more than a bit. Rather more.

Ah well. When it’s this bad, they had better be good friends. Fortunately, they are! And this summer of discontent will pass.

So instead of a predictable, temporary doldrum because of summer or the economy or pre-Cataclysm blahs, the summer of discontent turned inside out and exploded. The guild-of-friends has shown itself to be a more typical species, the guild-of-internet-acquaintances. It was an interesting experiment while it lasted, but perhaps there’s some quality to friendship that can’t be captured by a single interest, even if we seem to spend so much time together at that single interest, or occasionally meet up IRL and hang out and talk about…our mutual interest.

It must be a strange sensation for the more social types, to see a group grow from friends to friends-of-friends to friends-of-friends-of-friends and etc. until you’re in this cliquish organization you don’t know anymore and then…it’s become what you set out to avoid. A few years ago, I can recall back when the guild was young or in pre-planning, reading some papers the social studies majors have written on guild interaction. Ours has become a statistic. I wonder how much of it was predictable.

I was treated to a variety of insults and detachment has served me well. It was interesting to see what personal data of mine they dredged up, how it made them claim they understood me or how they tried to use it to hurt me. It was interesting to see the misunderstood remarks, and to ponder how deliberate that misreading may have been. Detachment allows me to choose freely between feeling offended or hurt by a cheap shot, or taking amusement from it. An insult presents a choice: we choose to be offended. Society has rules, manners, of course. But such systems of propriety are based on values, which are, in turn, choices.

Friendship was of course the running theme. I thought you were my friend. You don’t know what friendship is. You can’t lecture me. I’d be the first to admit…well, maybe the only one to admit that no, I don’t know for sure. After the weekend, though, I have some new data on what it is not. Time to revise the theory. Perhaps it’s a sliding scale from acquaintance to friend. It seems ironic that as one has less invested in an acquaintance(friend?)ship, things like propriety — being nice — seem to matter more.

Unfortunate, I suppose, that the concept of ‘friend’ has become so squishy, been appropriated by social networking and made to do things it shouldn’t, stand for things it’s not. Likewise the paired concepts of loneliness and solitude; there is a difference. Some more irony for me as I find a relevant quote from a theologian I’m sure I disagree with when it comes to god-concepts.

Language… has created the word “loneliness” to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word “solitude” to express the glory of being alone. — Paul Tillich

And yet, how to explain the masses of immature jerks that populate the realms of Warcraft? Oh, they can’t all be overweight, pasty basement dwellers. They’re not all cloistered monks or Blizzard wouldn’t be busy foisting social networking onto its gamers. Someone has to want that crap.

Real misanthropes are not found in solitude, but in the world; since it is experience of life, and not philosophy, which produces real hatred of mankind. — Giacomo Leopardi

One my brother might sympathize with, at any rate. Sheesh, not much WoW to this one eh? Well, sometimes WoW becomes philosophy. If loneliness is pain, and this social ‘pain’ is a choice, then I am glad I do not care. Instead, it is a joke, and so I smile.

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