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Bill Murphy: We Don't HAVE to Agree

Column By William Murphy on November 04, 2010

I love our forums. I love every single one of its dwellers and vocal participants. This forum is living proof that the human species is a varied and multidimensional collection of ideals. While many of said ideals are shared between different "sects" of members, just like any are of discussion we have a lively and cacophonous blend of voices that gives me something new to read each and every day. And while many people on the outside looking in at our constant debates here at MMORPG.com might shrug, their brow furrowed, and say, "Who the hell cares? It's videogames". We will proudly proclaim that we care, and we care enough to spend time debating the finer points of our hobby and passion.

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I see a growing mentality that our forums are nothing but a haven for the belligerent arguments of cynical MMO gamers, and I have to disagree. While certainly we have our fair share of hyperbolic voices, by and large what we've grown into is a community of people who are not afraid of discourse. And this is something that should be celebrated, not run from. Surely there are people who make it difficult to hold a real discussion, but is that not the same in any widespread venue? It's easy enough to tune out those voices which may not provide any real meat to a discussion, even if it's more difficult not to pick on those whose voices we deem of lesser value.

But let me point something out to you, something which is often hard to remember in the blind rage of argumentation: we don't have to agree. This is the most beautiful part of being human. There's nothing anywhere which proclaims we must all form some consensus and hold hands forever after singing church hymns and swaying gently like the Whos in Whoville. It's entirely possible, through the magic of free speech and thought to hold dearly onto your own opinions while conceding that others have a right to their own.

"But Bill," you might confusedly say, "we love to argue! We don't ever want to stop! We will scream loudly and in type in all capital letters as we should, simultaneously behind our monitors, until our opinions are heard!"

To which I will simply reply, "Scream louder, my comrades. Scream and hammer those keys. Turn red in the face and spew spittle upon your monitors, for here... we value your thoughts."

But here's the real meat of the issue. We don't have to agree. We don't even have to like what the other person is saying. But I'm writing this because I think we all need a gentle reminder that everyone has a very real right to their own opinion and a little less hostility towards others who may not see things your way is indeed called for. I want to see more discussion. I want to see people on both sides of the I Heart WoW/I Hate WoW camp continue to express their reasoning, but I just want each side to realize that the other is not some "enemy" to be slaughtered should you ever get the chance.

Now who's being hyperbolic?

Games to us are serious business. Those who take the time to post on the forums obviously have a lot of passion driving their need to discuss whatever topic seems to be percolating at any given moment. And in the middle of a heated discussion, especially one veiled by the secrecy and anonymity of the internet, it's really easy to let your better judgment fly out the window and sink down to the level of insults and anger. I've been there. In my time as a blogger, before the launch of a particular game I got into a huge and overblown back-and-forth "discussion" with a fellow blogger. What this resulted in was the poor guy closing his blog down because he felt I was attacking his viewpoint.

Now I never slammed him personally, I just kept questioning his view on the topic. It grated on him so badly, and another blogger joined in as well, that eventually he just left the discussion. I felt terrible after this. I felt like a bully. For no reason other than having a disagreeing opinion, I accidentally made this chap feel as though he was being accosted virtually. Eventually he came back with a new blog and a new outlook, and now we're actually pretty friendly towards one another. But this is a classic example of a discussion over a shared passion that got way out of hand.

Every day here we have users deleted for getting too riotous. We have users who never post anymore because they're afraid they'll get slammed for their point of view, or worse their ability to use a keyboard. Sure some folks aren't the best typists and they may not have the best grammar known to man, and others still use English as a second language - but they can still formulate an opinion and share it and I'm sure we can all catch on if we take the time to actually read.

So I know this is kind of long and rambling, but hey it's what I'm best at. I also know you probably started reading this and kept wondering when I was going to get back to talking about MMOs. So if you've made it this far, I commend you. If any of these silly words actually resonated with you and helped you gain some perspective on why we have these forums, that's even better. If still, after reading all of this, you don't give a damn about a single word I've uttered? That's cool. Feel free to slam me in the comments below, because that's why we have them here anyway.

Now since this rant has gone on for far too long, let me end it: you don't have to like what everyone else has to say, but I'm begging you to be okay with their right to say it. And with that please commence berating each other over how bad or how awesome whatever game is. I love reading it all.

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