Advantages and disadvantages.

The internet is, in all ways, a mixed blessing.

One thing I’ve always found intriguing/infuriating about the geek/nerd subculture is how fractured it is. I suppose that’s the case for all subcultures, really, it seems monolithic unless you’re on the inside, at which point the distinctions become glaringly clear. By most people’s standards, I think you could consider me a geek. My hobbies and interests are mostly geeky in nature, and even the ones you could consider mainstream (like baseball and history) I approach from a geeky perspective.

I bet that a lot of geeks, though, would look at me and see nothing but a normal guy who occasionally indulges in geeky pursuits. Much of what is considered part and parcel of the geek experience is stuff I don’t indulge in, after all… I don’t like comic books, I’m mostly indifferent to anime, I find fanfic insipid, I’ve never role-played, I mostly ignore the sci-fi genre entirely. Even my first love, video games, is something I enjoy only a relatively small fraction of and only relatively rarely.

And it goes both ways. As I grow older, I find that people I once saw as kindred spirits I now see as little more than obsessed manchildren. This, as much as the administrative issues I detailed in a long-ago post, is what drove me away and keeps me away from TV Tropes in the end: It exposed me too deeply to the dank underbelly of fandom, an aspect of geek culture I would just as soon not be associated with.

So on the one hand, the internet has expanded my horizons and perspectives enormously. I have no idea how stunted my understanding of the world and other people would be if it had never come into being, but it wouldn’t have been a pretty picture. On the other hand, though, the internet exposes, and continues to expose me to, a worldview that I not only disagree with, but one that irritates me immensely. I’m not talking about the scum of the internet like YouTube commenters or GameFAQs monkeys here — I’m talking reasonable, usually respectable people who have nonetheless bought into the culture of cynicism and victimization that seems to have become the default state of being in the world of geekery.

You probably know what I’m talking about here… People who not only expect the absolute worst out of their hobby of choice, but who seem to welcome it and embrace it. Are we really going to, as a society, shovel dirt on the 3DS after three months? Really? How much Summoner 2 and Perfect Dark Zero are you playing these days? Are we really calling Project Cafe and the new Sony portable disasters before we have a single concrete fact about them? Are we really going to make the argument that two weeks of data is more relevant than two years?

Look, I understand a reasonable level of cynicism. It’s a defense mechanism, designed to keep you from being burned by buying into something then getting your time wasted. But it seems that, collectively, the internet has taken it way, way too far. Everything’s a disaster until proven otherwise, and sometimes not even then. (I heard someone call the Virtual Console a “failure” the other day — the same Virtual Console with literally dozens of classic games; the same Virtual Console that you could spend hundreds of dollars in and not even come close to tapping.) Companies aren’t making the decision you want not because it’s a bad business decision, but because they’re out to spite you personally — because they hate your fandom and want you to suffer. Teams don’t make a reasonable bet on a player and have it not work out — it’s proof positive that they’re run by idiots and cheapskates. It never fucking ends, and I’m sick of it. Does it really make people feel good to make them act like this? It probably makes them feel smart, because they’re seeing through the corporate bullshit that all the idiot sheep aren’t smart enough to penetrate, but it seems to me that the absolute cynics are wrong as often as they’re right. There is still good stuff in the world. People have come to expect perfection, but they’re making the perfect the enemy of the good.

Cynicism has its place. But its place is on a case-by-case basis, based on real evidence, not the default state for everything that comes down the fucking pike. I would like to see a preview for something without some know-it-all jackhole confidently declaring that it’s going to crash so hard it’ll leave a crater that can be seen from outer space. It makes me embarrassed to count myself among their number, it really does. I don’t think I’m being unreasonable here.

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