Archive for the ‘Rants’ Category

How many friends do you have?

 

So recently a bunch of bored scientists proved that it is basically impossible for a human to hold more than 150 friends, and that the bulk of people on facebook who think they have over 3000 of them are kidding themselves. This article at first bothered me a little bit. Mainly because I have nearly 400 friends on facey and was somewhat sure I recognized them all as friends, or at least acquaintances.

So I thought wait, these guys are scientists, Doing tests like this THEY are kidding themselves. Just because they don’t have friends they have to make a study saying no one else can! So I thought I’d have a quick run through my friends on FB to see if I could prove this theory wrong. Then the problem got bigger (Story of my life)… I had to put the finger on the definition of an actual friend worthy of my real life friend-ing-ness. So I came to the point of a close friend of mine being someone I would happily perform a favour for, or ask a favour from, in real life without hesitating.

Then brings me to my fake scenario –

I imagined I had an animal. Like a cat. But I hate cats so we will say just an animal. A worthy friend would be someone I could ask to come over to my house and feed my animal if i’m on holidays or not in town. I would then have to reverse the situation and imagine myself doing it for him/her. So back to my friends list. Which comprises of old school/TAFE mates, people I’ve met through mutual friends, work colleagues and an extended community of fellow gamers.

Now taking into account the virtual friends I’ve met that I probably wouldn’t trust in real life. I still had an original estimation that the people in my list I would ring up to feed my animal would be well over half of the 400 or so. So you could say I was pretty self assured I could prove this wrong. After sifting through the list my end count was –

A measly 84

That’s a bit surprising. But what does it mean? Pretty much means I’m not the only one who will realize online friendships lull us into a false sense of popularity, sure we might have met that person once or twice. Sure were not necessarily enemies. Or maybe we just don’t talk as much as we used to. But I think face book friends are incorrectly labelled as ‘friendships’ when to be honest it’s more of a comparison of being in a crowded pub with a crapload of people your are acquainted with to varying degrees. Face it, most of us are far to busy to visit the people we know on a regular basis and even though I was surprised at the difference in numbers from my online friends and close, real-life friends. I don’t believe that social networking is having a huge effect on our ability to make friends in real life. I think a rename of the word ‘friends’ is in order on Facebook. Something that describes the relationships we have online that, although are friendly, does not translate into automatic kinship.

I can’t think of a good name for it. any suggestions?

Video game ‘addiction’

Posted: 17/10/2010 in Rants

Screenshot taken from the south park episode 'Make love, Not Warcraft.'

 

With the endless amount of stories oozing out of the media in the last few years regarding video game addiction, it’s no wonder the experts have got involved, trying to call it a ‘mental disorder’. 2 stories that come to mind when it comes to playing too much games is the guy who played starcraft for 50 hours eventually dying from exhaustion and the Chinese man dying after 3 days of World of Warcraft. Now as these stories are 100 percent true. You have to think to yourself, did these people have more problems upstairs than just liking a computer game? There are plenty of examples of people losing jobs, grades or girlfriends by playing WoW or Everquest for more time than they spend not playing. I’m sure every gamer knows at least 1 person like that. But the big question is ‘Who defines video game addiction?’

I will admit I am and always have been a vivid gamer ever since my Dad bought home a windows 3.1 computer packed full of commander keen games. Right up until being in a Counter strike clan in high school rated 18th in Australia on the game arena ladder in 2006. Eventually making the inevitable plunge into MMO’s like World of Warcraft. (the only reason i’m putting so much time and research into this is because i’m waiting for a WoW patch to download) As games have been a massive part of my life. I never lost a job or friends due to my hobby, and i have pulled a few all nighters playing these games to get to the level I was at. But does this make me an addict?

But back to the point of defining addiction, I think it ultimately depends on who is actually defining the addiction to a certain hobby such as gaming. For instance someone who see’s watching television or being on the computer for 2 hours as inordinate and who never plays video games of any sort, i imagine that ‘gaming addiction’ would have a slightly different definition to them than when defined by someone like me. To make matters even more complicated, alcohol and drug addiction has physical symptoms because its a substance you ingest. Gaming only has psychological symptoms. Making the line of calling it an ‘addiction’ much harder.

Take something as simple as cleaning excessively. What if you knew someone who was ridiculously clean (and face it we all know someone like that). Would you ever consider intervening in that persons cleaning habit? What if that person won’t go places with friends because there too busy cleaning the house. Or they lose well needed sleep to spend more time cleaning? Would you try to interfere with them if they were in clear physical, social or psychological trouble because of the cleaning habit?

Clearly this is a far-fetched and somewhat contrived example. But the point is still there – we can all think of a person who requires intervention because of some sort of hobby. This illustrates my point that pretty much any hobby can easily be classified as an addiction, especially by someone who has little knowledge or doesn’t share a similar interest.

The fact is that video gaming is only frowned upon by people who don’t actually game, and all it is to them is someone staring at a screen for hours doing a whole lot of nothing. Ultimately the people who writes these stories are obviously not gamers at all. Or they wouldn’t agree to it. Backing it up with a stupid statement like ‘But it’s not even real.’ I’ve had this argument countless times with friends always ending on something along the lines of Just because you can’t touch it or take it places, doesn’t mean its not real. Its something you put time into. Leading to a result from your work, and that makes it as real as anything else. What news articles don’t tell you is that WoW is mostly played with up to 25 people in a group, working together in a team environment based on experience in the game to achieve a goal (killing a boss essentially). Leading to building relationships and respect with fellow players.  So isn’t that what parents send there kids to school and force them to learn?

I’m not saying people don’t get addicted to games, people can get addicted to all sorts of things from facebook to chewing toothpicks. There is nothing that is in gaming that physically makes you unable to stop. It’s usually that voice in your head that says one more level, just one more. But even with the lack of self control with gamers, i think complete intervention seems a step to far. Perhaps if your the guy who drags along his laptop to the hospital to play WoW while his first son is being born, yes, but otherwise…

Trolled

Posted: 13/10/2010 in Rants

 

You mad bro?

 

Coming from a person who spends the majority of life staring at pixels, I’ve noticed recently that more and more people of the internet like to throw the word ‘Troll’ around quite often.  For those of you that don’t know,  the actual definition of an internet troll is: “One who posts a deliberately provocative message to a newsgroup or message board with the intention of causing maximum disruption and argument”

Essentially a Troll is an individual who thrives on pissing people off and feeds on negative reactions to start an argument. On 4chan the feeding grounds are the infamous ‘/b/’ channel. On games like World of Warcraft its ‘Barrens/trade chat.’ On games like Call of duty It’s the 12-year-old with a mic who thinks everyone on the server are either ‘fags’ or are ‘hacking’. On YouTube it’s the majority of comments on a clip that slur the video, making you wonder why they were watching the clip in the first place. The potential is few and far between. No doubt if you have been on any online community where people can talk to one another. you’ve witnessed a troll in the act.

There are many different variations of this anti-social behaviour and countless ways to explain them. But from my online experience this is how I can best describe a few of them:

Sniper Trolls – This type reminds me of a sniper in a war, They’ll leave a comment or post a thread on an awkward or touchy subject that starts a pages-long debate among the other users,  though when it hits page 2 you will notice that the troll has stopped posting altogether, leaving everyone else to argue and try and resolve a usually unresolvable matter.

Pyromaniac Troll – This one will start a spark with a heated argument, then brutally flame and insult anyone and everyone that comes into their vicinity(So many puns!). These are the kind of people in real life who you can’t have a conversation with because their opinion is always right based off emotional perspective, not an interpretation of real facts, and all who oppose it are slayed where they stand.

Devils Advocate Troll – Where the person will not actually start a conversation or a thread, but rather make contrary posts to things that don’t really require a contradictory opinion. They enjoy frustrating and harassing users that don’t know how to ignore someone who is clearly just trying to get a reaction from them.

IRL Troll – Finally there is the real life troll, this is the same as trolling on the internet but people who have the guts actually do it face to face instead of over a keyboard. This style of real trolling I have much more respect for. They know how to make a conversation exciting, and can sometimes even make valid or interesting (or amusing) points in the course of their trolling.

The aim of pointing these out is to show just how diverse and varied a troll can be, and there are literally hundreds of sub-definitions describing the types more accurately. Because there is no single meaning to the word, it’s basically a synonym for ass hole. Which broadens it even further. I think the term is used that much, even in mainstream news articles, that it has become as meaningless as the word ‘n00b’.

So by saying that, do yourself and your online community a favour – If you see a comment or a user that you suspect is a troll, don’t bother with your clever “don’t feed the troll” 4chan pictures. Do not try to call out the supposed troll, this is only going to give them what they want, or will spoil a perfectly legit (albeit possibly stupid) comment or thread. Just ignore it, or (as crazy as it sounds) even respond to the post as though it were serious. Who knows – maybe you’ll find yourself in an interesting discussion.