A view from the middle... and it's not pretty.
Staying neutral in a "conflict" doesn't make you popular as you can end up pissing off both parties. You are usually too much for one, not enough for the other. But that's ok as it allows a less passionate observation of the events, especially the way they unfold, the patterns in place.
In this little piece, I'll not name anyone nor point fingers. There is enough of that out there. So sorry in advance, no scandal here.
First of all, why do I care? After all, I have quite a full-filling real life. I succeeded both professionally and personally (yes I am privileged, and yes my voice is usually structurally heard in my field... But I worked my a.. off to get there... Different discussion for another time).
But I am also a gamer. I have been my whole life. Oh sure, I have very little time now and mostly play late at night on my Vita, but I was a serious gamer. Importing weird stuff, tweaking my systems to get these imported games to work (you know these freaking zoned games...), saving to get my cartridge NeoGeo with a mint Metal Slug 3 (anyone familiar with the rare=expansive side of gaming will know what it means...). Yes that type of gamers.
I did blast sprites by the dozens, lived thousand conflicts, jumped many precipices, failed and re-spawned... And started again. Countless hours, sleepless nights, precious memories.
I evolved with the medium, and I am a big fan of intimist games, epic AAA games, quirky japanese games, good old retrogaming. I like freedom in creation, I don't mind well written violence, love provocative games.
I was promised doom and gloom because I was a gamer. This was my fatal flaw, the one that should get me to fail. I became a challenge over time, as I liked both games and complex literature and movies. I was both an elitist and a gamer (yes 17 yo me was a bit of a prick...).
And then I succeeded, worked very hard, succeeded more, worked harder. Still a gamer.
So of course, when I read : "Gamers are over", my blood boiled. I was upset. The title and the banner didn't help (there is so much to be said about banners and titles). The funny thing is that the content was quite in line with part of my vision of the medium. But darn this title, these introduction and conclusion... This was so inflammatory. As a physician, I know that inflammation has a function. It's a warning that something deleterious is happening. It will generate an immediate sub-cortical response. Preservation. So when people write inflammation, they should expect such response...
And maybe they do.
And that lead me to a first systemic observation. You have on one side people with a very well defined message, built on years of battles and conflicts. They have rules and regulations unknown by the non initiated. There is little hazard in what they will say. They have ready responses for almost any situations, know how to discredit almost any interlocutor.
How do I know? It happened to me, even while I was trying to help them. It happened because I was trying to help but not within their narrative, I was breaking their system. And they know that this system is their strength. This alternate truth is what allows them to be always right, as they define both questions and answers.
If you look carefully, you will see that they are incredibly smart in who they engage and respond to. They will go for the one opposing their narrative, not the one offering an alternative. By doing so they control the reality under their definition. You are either for or against it but you still validate their reality. It's the paramount of the Echo-Chamber, what I call the Echo-Fortress.
A typical pattern goes with it. When pushed to a limit, they will escape, post about you (but not to you) to get a crew of admirers to agree and reinforce their right and your wrong.
This leads to a second observation. Twitter (and likely social media in general) is a fantastic playground for such behavior. Its aphoristic nature favors the punch lines, the short cuts, the simplification. Popularity is quantified, a thought will be superior based on favorites and retweets.
I don't know if you remember high school, but it was hard to be cool when you wanted to talk Gombrowicz at recess.
Complex thoughts are not cool and they are poorly suited for character limits.
This is why such individuals thrive in such system. Because these short sentences are not in isolation. As said before they refer to a whole well built and quite complex system. Tweets can be seen as a sort of dimensional portals and they bring you where they want to lead you. Song of mermaids if you will.
And then there is the "other side". Quite the opposite indeed. Chaotic, full of energy, but leaderless. Just pure energy. You could almost go Thermodynamics 101 on that one. Enthalpy/Entropy and friends. No system, no rules. It does not want rules. That's maybe what defines it the best. No censorship, a tsunami of voices, no ranking, no preferences. From inside, it is quite pleasant as it really feel like a free space. It's insanely tempting. You can discuss anything... as long as you are not identified as the enemy. And that's where it gets complicated. What unifies it is enemies. Not one, but far too many. And because there is no rule, each sub part can have its own reality, its own narrative.
Again no problem from inside, that's true diversity in its purest form.
But from outside it can look like and is an ugly beast, one obsessed with enemies, a purely entropic "system".
Twitter once again is a dream come true for such object (subject?). To the point that its actual sole true definition is to be an entity born on and from it. Again simplistic is popular, and the way that it aligns to each individuality's preconception fuels the feeling of being right, of doing the right thing.
Remember how I was saying how well organized and structured was our first group? Now get these two to interact and you get what is happening.
One side subtlety inflaming the other. The other responding exactly as planed, proving the assertions of the other side. More inflammation, more enemies, more proof... And repeat.
Add on top of it master manipulators, puppet masters who have to gain from exposure, no matter what exposure and here you are. Two sides feeling right on their own terms. A fire burning so strongly that it starts to consummate beyond its original space.
And this new space is called real life. Threats and harassment happen. Both ways. Not one culprit but the natural evolution of such conflict.
And this is when people need to wake up. Not on one side but on both.
When death-threats and threats of massacre exist, when doxxing and syringes exist, it's time to stop. But not to capitulate.
And this is where it get subtle. Time to stop not the core debate, but to change the narrative. Time for moderates to meet and discuss the real questions in real life, because they do exist and deserve debates.
If you read this (thanks!), you will see that I don't discuss ontogeny, there are discussions about this ad nauseam. Also nowhere did I discuss the validity of the theories of both sides. It's because I think that there is right and wrong everywhere, and because I don't believe that this is the core problem. Until we solve the "interaction", we can't go anywhere.
Some people are Megaphones, I would like to be an Interphone.