Hate Addict

I’m the last person you want to come to for advice if you’re looking to justify the way you’re acting when you know you shouldn’t be acting that way. I’m not sympathetic to someone who continually chooses poorly, or is undisciplined, or determined to make the wrong choices. I’m not the person you come to when you need to be coddled.

I’ve been reading about addictions lately and some studies about the ways the human brain treats addictive behaviors. I’m not a medical professional and I didn’t think biology (as a class) was particularly interesting; but I found it interesting to know that your mind keeps you enslaved to those things that it finds nice.

Question, what’s the difference between sugar and cocaine to your brain? Answer: Nothing. There are a whole slew of things recently studied that trigger the reward hormone dopamine in our brains. Sugar, that’s added to practically everything Americans shove in their gaping mouths incidentally, has been found to fire up the pleasure centers in the brain the same way cocaine rewards those addicts. And yes, the result is that America as a nation is addicted to sugar.

I started to wonder about the other ways people learn to trigger that pleasure center in their brains, perhaps even unknowingly. That’s the thing, a lot of these things that trigger that blast of dopamine in the brain aren’t even necessarily conscious decisions. For instance:

Video games are cleverly engineered to trigger that reward zone in your mind to keep you sedated and playing. It may not seem like much, but little things like easily achieved goals within levels or the trophy or achievement models are designed to manipulate your brain into releasing dopamine. Especially the low-hanging fruit examples of those things.

But if they’re doing that to you and you aren’t consciously aware of it, to what other actions or behaviors are they getting you addicted?

Does your brain reward you for scrubbing out newbies in your multiplayer free-for-all first person shooter? The adrenaline and heightened senses necessary to survive in that virtual environment isn’t all that different, if at all, from those actual situations when adrenaline and sharpened senses are necessary to actually survive. So by killing your friends, or the random people in the melee that is most of those arenas, your brain rewards you for surviving.

Couple an involuntary biological rewards system more powerful than a gamer score with relative anonymity that online gaming provides, and you have another potential source for addictive behavior. Because of the anonymity afforded by the internet, you can act like an utter ass and suffer no external consequence. And people nearly universally enjoy getting away with things. Talk about the brain rewarding itself.

The games have nothing to do with this other than provide the arena in which this behavior is practiced. This one is entirely up to the individual: how someone acts in the free-for-all environment on line is a reflection of who they are; but even more disturbing is that this is a reflection of who they are as an addict. They are getting away with treating others like garbage, with spewing foul bile. They reward themselves with a blast of dopamine when they treat people poorly. They’ve become addicted to treating people like crap.

I think this is scary because those same people are out in society as well. Now they’re mingling with people that are for all intents and purposes the very same as those they were recently targeting. Some may even be the same people. How could you know? Those online gaming forums provide anonymity, so you could very well be interacting with the same people who just cursed you out online.

The brain doesn’t care what it needs to trigger that fix of dopamine, so if you’ve become addicted to treating people poorly online, do you think that’ll stop whenever you go out in public? Of course the answer is no. I quit smoking a year ago, and I still occasionally want a cigarette. I know a drag will make me cough, make me lightheaded and dizzy, and probably leave me nauseated; but every once in a while, I still want a smoke. If something like that can keep my brain hostage for more than a year, even when not consistently engaging in that behavior, what is the likelihood that you’ll be able to keep your addiction to hate and treating people poorly under control when you’ve consistently indulged that craving?

The likelihood is nil. You won’t keep that behavior under control.  Because it controls you.

How else would you explain the reaction to Anita Sarkeesian, Zoe Quinn, or Brianna Wu (to name some of the more prominent ones)? These women haven’t done anything even remotely deserving of the backlash they’ve faced, and yet… They’ve had to deal with some superhuman levels of abuse. Those who attack Sarkeesian attempt to justify it by claiming she didn’t cite someone else’s work. Those that targeted Zoe Quinn and later Brianna Wu attempted to justify it by claiming ethics in journalism. Are these excuses any better than those used by a common, garden-variety addict?

No. They’re not.

Those rational among us that have heard of GamerGate have been asking the question what makes people act this way?  What can lead to this level of man’s inhumanity toward man?  Take a junkie’s fix from him and you’ll see quick, fast, and in a hurry.

It’s not even limited to the subject of video games. Take a good long, hard, objective look at society. How do people treat each other in society? I’m friends with someone on the receiving end of some seriously disgusting abuse. This is the type of abuse that makes me wonder if the abusers have any ounce of humanity left in them. They’ve brutally, maliciously lied and engaged in campaigns against my friend and her family. Simple disagreement isn’t enough to account for this sort of behavior; and after watching the way the “gamers” have gone after Sarkeesian, Quinn, and Wu I realized my friend is dealing with the same venomous reaction. She’s not dealing with rational human beings, she’s dealing with hate junkies in search of a fix.

Twelve voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike. No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which. –George Orwell, Animal Farm

Which is where I came in: I’m not sympathetic to these types of people. Just as I trained myself to need the nicotine I was once addicted to by consistently indulging myself in a cigarette, these people have trained themselves to need to hate. It’s indiscriminate, as evidenced by the GamerGate nonsense: it doesn’t matter who the target is, the important thing is getting that fix. In my friend’s case, it doesn’t matter to her antagonists what the truth is. They just have to hate, because not hating leads to withdrawal. You don’t get a pass because this hate addiction is a choice you’ve made and indulged in.

This Hate Addiction isn’t a disease; you have the ability to make the decision to not act like an asshole today. And again tomorrow. There’s a reason the twelve-step programs emphasize the one-day-at-a-time approach. Quitting smoking was hard, not just because of the physical need for nicotine; I also have to overcome the psychological need for it as well. Every day. One day at a time. It’s the same thing for you who are indulging your need to hate; whatever psychological reasons there may be for you act the way you do… Well, you’ll have to overcome those too.

I never was in the Video Games Cause Violence Camp because I am a staunch believer in the faith that mankind has free will.

What will you choose to do with your life today? How do you want to live? Do you want to continue to live with your brain rewarding your hatred?

I know what my answer to that question is.

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Bear Creek Trail Fall Colors II

Continuing with the photos I took last week along Bear Creek Trail. We consider ourselves fortunate to have the opportunity to live in this part of the Denver metro area where we are close to nature. We can walk along here and pretend that we’re away from the city. I like taking pictures in the fall when things are colorful in a way that they aren’t during the rest of the year.

It’s almost as if nature is apologizing before the fact that it will soon paint with a monochromatic palette.

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Bear Creek Trail Fall Colors I

The weather’s cooled down enough now that when I get home from work, my wife and I walk a few miles together in the evening along Bear Creek Trail. This year, the colors seem subdued, as if they went from green to dead without that vibrant, awesome colorful phase between them. But there were still enough pretty colors to get a few shots last week.

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Photogenic Kitty V

I’m not really as obsessed with the cat as it probably appears (no, really). Or as much as my wife says I am, either. But I think Rose is a really pretty cat, and she strikes great poses. And sometimes, I can catch her being silly:

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Mountains

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A few pictures from March.  We drove to Ouray for a weekend for our ‘honeymoon’ and I took some photos of the mountains while we were over there.

Photogenic Kitty IV

So I was planning to post these photos yesterday, but I got distracted.  So here are some more photos of the cat I snapped the other night.  She wasn’t too thrilled to be modeling for me, but she took it in stride as she tends to do.

Oh, it's you again.

Oh, it’s you again.

Well, I'm just going to close my eyes and make you go away.

Well, I’m just going to close my eyes and make you go away.

Peace.

Peace.

Grow Up, Gamers

After watching the undeserved backlash against Anita Sarkeesian, I realized that though I play video games occasionally, I’m not a gamer.  And after seeing the gamer temper tantrum that is GamerGate, I’m even more glad to not be associated and grouped as a gamer.  Also appending “Gate” to something to give it scandal status should stop right now.  The name of the hotel was Watergate people, the term gate doesn’t convey some magical status to your cause.

Now, about your cause.  You need to grow up and accept the fact that other people have different opinions than you do.  This petulant whining and the death threats?  That has to stop if you, as a group, ever want to be taken seriously.  If you ever want your opinion to be heard, if you ever want to be respected as a group, if you don’t wish to be relegated to the sidelines, you have to stop this ridiculous habit of threatening to rape and kill those who disagree with you.
The rest of us get it:  You like your games the way they are.  You see nothing wrong with the way women are portrayed and treated in your games.

Let’s go over some basics here, because a refresher is sadly apparently in order:

It is NOT okay to threaten to rape or kill someone because they disagree with you.

At all.

Never.

Not once.

It’s not okay to hack their businesses.  It’s not okay to lash out like some undisciplined little brat who didn’t get the candy bar he wanted in the supermarket.  You cannot eat at the big person’s table because you can’t think or talk or act like an adult.  You are all acting like spoiled, whiny, overly-tired, petulant children.  And no one in this industry is going to take you seriously until you put on your big boy pants.

Do you think that threatening the ‘deadliest school shooting in history’ if Anita Sarkeesian spoke is the way to achieve your goals?  Seriously?  I don’t want to sound as if I think there are acceptable degrees of threats, some magical threshold under which if you stay you are okay.  Because there isn’t.  But what I simply can’t comprehend about this threat against Anita Sarkeesian’s speech at Utah State University is this: why would you threaten to shoot many innocents?  How do you think that is going to look the next time the government goes on a witch hunt linking video games and violence?  You won’t be able to claim, with any sense of validity, that games don’t cause violence.  I never used to think they did, but you all seem to be willing to commit some unspeakable levels of violence to defend them.

What could you have possibly gained by trashing Zoe Quinn?  A basic fact check would’ve exposed that situation to be the nothing that it actually was.  Had you simply grown tired of trashing Anita Sarkeesian for the moment?  For all your Outrage Industry antics, where is the review that sparked this embarassingly public tantrum and stupid hashtag?  You know why no one has been able to produce this supposedly compromised bit of journalism?  Because it doesn’t exist.  I know you can’t comprehend this with your rudimentary reasoning skills, but what that means is that your supposed quest for ethics in video game journalism is based on nothing.  It’s based on a lie.

Even more baffling is the latest target of your unwillingness to see reason.  Because you’ve now targeted Brianna Wu under the asinine GamerGate hashtag.  As far as I can tell, this has nothing to do ethical journalism.  As far as I can tell, Brianna Wu has simply been targeted because she doesn’t have a Y-Chromosome.

Which leads me to make some observations.

First, if Brianna Wu is being targeted for her gender (and I can’t see anything to indicate that’s not the case), then you’ve proven Anita Sarkeesian right in quite a few of her claims.  Your reactions to Anita Sarkeesian’s video series have proven that you are a bunch of immature little children, drawing lines in the sand over some perceived threat.  Perhaps the only reason the gaming industry is pumping out misogynist material in its games is because the audience is demanding it.

Next, your actions have raised the general public’s awareness of these people and their causes.  Anita Sarkeesian wouldn’t be half as famous (or infamous) as she is if you people had made the mature choice to simply ignore her when her videos came out.  None of the rest of the world would know who Zoe Quinn is if you gamers hadn’t started having fits about her.  You, Gamers, are the ones who elevate these people the equivalent of video game industry Joans of Arc.  You’re the ones turning them into martyrs in the public eye.

Listen, Gamer Gollums:  These stories wouldn’t blow out to the mainstream media where other people would catch wind of you if you ignored those with whom you disagree.  Your actions have guaranteed the generally sympathetic majority will side with Anita Sarkeesian, or Zoe Quinn, or Brianna Wu, or whoever the next person is you extemporaneously decide you don’t like.

Whatever valid complaints you may have had against Anita Sarkeesian are overshadowed by the threats of rape and death and violence.  Few independent adjudicators will be willing to side with the group of rabid, bug-eyed, mouth-foaming, unreasonable lunatics that you’ve proven yourself to be.  You’re creating your own enemy here, and then building up a massive amount of support for them; and you’re making yourselves look utterly ridiculous and petty while you’re doing it.

So while I suspect this will simply fall on deaf ears, I highly suggest to you, Gamers, that you grow up.  The world doesn’t and won’t conform to your narrow views.  You’re undermining your own claims that games don’t cause violence when you threaten to do violence against people who disagree with you.  No one likes hypocrites, as you’ve pointed out in your attacks against Anita Sarkeesian, and hypocritical is exactly what you’re being.

Reactions like this will bring about the wrong level of attention.  Governments already suspect the gaming industry is to blame for all the evils of the modern world.  Do you want the government to regulate games like it’s regulating, for instance, the auto industry?  Do you want the government to mandate  that every game have a certain number of politically correct elements or else it’s not allowed?  Go ahead and tell me it won’t happen, but before you do, when was the last time you heard swearing on broadcast TV (in something pre-recorded, I’m not talking about sporting events that go out live).  Yes, the government has proven itself to be an even more effective agent of censorship than you all are.  So when you people act this way, it just brings their scrutiny on the industry.

The phrase you want to live by is live and let live.  You need to grow up and realize that not everyone will agree with you and that it’s okay if they don’t.  If you can’t simply ignore those that disagree with you, then you need to have a reasoned and articulate response that doesn’t involve rape, violence, and murder.

No one will listen to you when you’re threatening someone.  If you’re trying to win a PR war, you need to sway the opinion of the people who aren’t involved to see things the way you see them.  And we just won’t see things the same way you do when you’re acting like this.