autotelic, autistic, assonance-hole©.

Associative annoyance

One of my more enjoyable pastimes is participation at various forums (some of which I own and manage, others I am a visitor). Granted, on occasion, there are a variety of trolls in the garden, but I’m generally pretty adept at spotting them early and updating blocks/filters/ignore accordingly. This said, I am finding that, as much as I might want to do so, my company’s forums are very likely a place at which I simply cannot be as active as I prefer.

Simply put, there are a number of people in the world who are all too willing to insist they have the right to be as big an ass as they like, but you, by virtue of earning your money with the owner of the forum, must be either a doormat or the epitome of all perfection and decorum.

In a word, bullshit.

As astounding as it may seem, I actually have my own opinions and (gasp!) many of them differ greatly from any “party line” to which my company commits. As a matter of fact, there are a number of areas in which the difference between my personal opinion and the position of my employer are not just “a gap”, but a multi-dimensional abyss of seething conflicts.

I’ve heard many, many times the tired ol’ “but, you’re a REPRESENTATIVE OF THE COMPANY” line.

In a word? No. In a few words, not only ‘no’ but “OH HELL NO”.

I am not paid to position, polish, or otherwise service the company image. I am not under mandate to think as they do,  or agree with them. I am paid to do a very specific job for a very specific wage and if I should choose to position, polish, or otherwise service the company image it is done at my choice, my discretion, and my whim. Generally speaking, I prefer not to try such things because, frankly, I suck at pretending to have an opinion I don’t actually hold but also because I happen to have considerable experience of my own in gaming, game design, and related disciplines and to be perfectly blunt, I’m just not willing to pretend that all things issuing from the paid, professional mouths of my employer are things I like or support or of which I think highly.

But, inevitably, there will be at least one troll who runs in to take a dump on you thinking that, because you’re “an employee”, you can’t defend yourself, you won’t call them on it, and if you do, someone will be along shortly to yank some invisible leash of “you have to suck it up and take it”.

Let’s just say that should such a thing happen, all it will ensure is that I write off the entire thought of as much as uttering a peep about anything and, whether “the community” or even “the company” realizes it or not, that’s a damn loss and a crying shame for ALL concerned. Not because I’m “so special” but because primary to the foundations of a strong and thriving community is the concept that dissent and disagreement are vital elements in a much larger picture.

I mean, crikey, if I banned every person I disagreed with on my forums, there wouldn’t be enough membership left to justify paying the bill to keep the lights on. Not to mention the place would be boring, sterile, and doomed to nothing more but intemittent regurgitation of some “approved list of topics” with nothing more than the most frequent posters vying to see who “wins” the discussion. Ugh. Sorry, that’s not community.

The reply I didn’t write to the person who just tried this upon me?

For my part, I’ll remember not to take you seriously or engage with you further since it seems not only are you perfectly willing to do whatever it takes to continue trying to pick a fight, you’re also quite happy to try the intellectual dishonesty of implying that my opinion is somehow demonstrative of anything more than being what I think. 

I don’t mind disagreement, I don’t even mind a bit of a fluff-up here and there, but when you cross the line of trying to use your own emotional backup to attack something completely irrelevant to the discussion (in this case, WoTC), you pretty much shoot your own credibility in the head.

Just because I work at WoTC doesn’t mean I have to agree with them, or they with me, and it certainly doesn’t mean you’re going to use that fact as a weapon in your little forum play arsenal; my opinions are my own, period. I’m not here “representing them”, I’m here representing me.

Anyone who wants to try and say I have to withold my opinion as a member of the gaming community because I happen to work at WoTC, please identify now and I’ll be happy to ensure through my own actions that you and I simply never interact.

My employer (thankfully) respects me enough not to try and put a bit in my mouth. Whether or not the people of the online community understand how amazing and good that is remains to be seen.  But I’m here to tell you, trying to browbeat me with my employer is the fastest way I know to wind up written off as an intellectually dishonest waste of time.

For sure.