Who are the Hoi Polloi

By definition;

Ordinary people: people who are not rich, famous, etc.

There use to be a time, well I am sure there are still times during the life span of any game, especially when it comes to games where there is a great deal of social interaction, where people stand out from the crowd.  Those that, be it for their personality, skill at playing, or just by being associated with certain people, find themselves set above, or setting themselves above, the rest.

There have been times, still are upon occasion, where some, and I will emphasize “SOME”, who I don’t want to say let the power and notoriety go to their heads, but relish in the fact that what they say has great power, that they have a large following that will enforce what they are saying.  They in effect become internet bullies.  They may not have even thought of themselves to be like that, may feel that they are just speaking their minds, expressing what everyone else believes, but what they failed to realize is due to their elevated position their words carry more weight, comments made privately to their inner circles would never reach the ears of those they were making fun of.  But like anything on the internet, nothing is ever secret or private forever.  The comment said in a moment of anger, screen shot and shared.  A private message shared with others.  Parts of statements handpicked from Tweets, misinterpreted and expounded upon.

For a long time even the littlest things we have said have been dug up and brought out to be used against those not in the favor of the powerful.  If we did not toe the line, we were made to keep in our place of obscurity.  Dare we try to stand up against something we perceived was wrong, we were pointed at and shunned into thinking it was our own entire fault.  How dare you question those at the top, the movers and shakers, those that knew what was best for us…Because they said so.

This has been the way it has been for a long time. Except when change occurs, when I don’t want to say the balance of power shifts, but more when the gap between those that feel they are above us, and the rest, starts to become imperceptible. When the constant belittling of people wears thin on those that support these people, and they step away, when those they rely on to enforce their way of thinking leave the games for other games to play. They may even follow along to where their followers go, just to hold on to these people that have supported them, continuing to put down those that still play the games they no longer do. When their grip starts to loosen, when they find themselves not the favorites any longer, when they feel threatened, they will lash out at easy targets, just to say “See Me”, “Look at me”, “Look at how I just put them back in their place.”

I do feel sad in a way for those that need to publically shame others. We are all people. We all have feelings. And unfortunately, with the way society is evolving, we tend to share our feelings very openly through social media. We vent our frustrations, express the good, and bad in our lives. We reach out when we feel we need help, some lash out to push people away. We see daily people of all walks of life interacting with those around us. We may gravitate towards those we feel a connection to, be it a similar view on life, politics, religion, gaming. We may follow people that we consider celebrities, people that work for the companies that make the games we play. And we follow those that have placed themselves as our leaders of the community.

I do not consider myself any form of leader, except in my role as GM of the guild I run. Even that is not a job I use to benefit myself in any way, at least not in any way that seems advantageous to me at least, beyond being proud of the group of people in the guild, and how they treat others. I have found myself in this past year, after re-activating the Marathal Twitter account, following not just every name that was recommended to me, or the ones that everyone seemed to follow because of how predominant they are in WoW, but more and more with those like me. Just people trying to play a game we all love, and trying to make the portion of the community we exist in a better place. There was a time when there were 12 million subscribers that the percentage of people that just wanted to play the way they wanted was not as large as it is today. They were/are the people that log in when they can, play what they enjoy, or feel like working on at the time, they may interact with hundreds of people, they may just like having conversations as background noise while they play, occasionally offering a grats, or a Hi. These are the people that have truly kept WoW going, not the ones clearing the most difficult content a month after release, the ones proclaiming they are better than others because they did it first. These are the people that play every day. They may raid progression near the top, they may only quest and are still leveling their first after 6 years. The people that don’t seek out the limelight, or notoriety for what they do in a game.

There are a great many people that have spent near half their lives playing these games in the public eye, they have found ways to turn what for many is an escape from real life pressure, into a job. While they may not be directly paid by the companies that produce the games, they have developed a niche market using social media to gain sponsors, advertisers. They have made jobs for themselves based on the games they play. And more power to them. Much like years ago when I did the whole craft circuit with my wife, making things we thought people would buy, people have found there is a market for those who write, podcast, Youtube, Twitch stream. They are no different than the independent writer doing articles for Time magazine, or the photographer selling pictures of world events happening. They are doing something they enjoy, and hoping that if they are lucky someone will want to purchase their work. The fine line happens when they have been doing something for so long, that they feel they are entitled to be able to do what they do, before others. There was a time long ago that they were the ones looking for their first break, for that first chance to have someone say hey, I saw what you did, it was pretty good, would you like to do it more often? I am sure they may have forgotten all those years ago when they were the unknown. And I can understand why a person would be frustrated or upset if something was no longer available to them, something that they earned a living doing. I will admit, when I read some comments on Twitter, initially I was flabbergasted. How could you demand to get something, just because of who you are. And I may have made a snide comment or two, which I apologize for. Even though I highly doubt they would ever find themselves reading this blog. But one thing I did notice was there were groups of people that jumped on the comments like sharks smelling blood. Some comments I did see, were a bit vicious in nature, and really were a bit uncalled for. And I had to step back to think on it. Yes we all make comments that we may later regret, but with how things have gotten it is not something that many will let us forget.

What I see happening, is that while there are a great many people rising up to encourage positive behavior in gaming, for treating other gamers with respect, and in turn demanding respect be shown to them, but also a knee jerk reaction to those that are above many of us.  We have all been talked down to at some point in our gaming lives, be it a raid leader lashing out at a performance in front of everyone in guild, someone blasting us in trade or general chat, people that lump entire servers into a category, because of something they recall from years before.  We all have been hurt by words at some point in our lives, and as a result of instant reactions and communications through social media, we lash out at those that we may feel place themselves above us, just to get back at some slight from someone long ago.  There was a time when we would not dare say anything for fear of repercussions, but now we are finding ourselves on near equal ground, we may still feel that we are not the ones the game is catered too, but we have found that we are not alone in our feelings.  And we need to take pause lest we become those that we disliked for the same actions.

Being good to others is never always an easy task.  Some times the hardest thing is to be nice to someone that we may feel has wronged us, has treated us as someone beneath them.  They may have no idea who we are, or what our circumstances in life have been.  But we should consider also, that we do not know theirs.  For now, we are the Hoi Polloi, the ordinary people, but we could easily become those we admire, those we envy for the perceived special treatments they receive, we could find ourselves on the opposite side of the coin.  We could be the ones people look at for what we say and how we treat others.  Hopefully if any of us find ourselves being placed into the spotlight, gaining our 15 minutes of fame, that we think back on how we may have been treated, and do not do to others as was done to us.

All we can do in life is strive to be good to each other, and treat others as people.

I am proud to be part of the Hoi Polloi, and I hope many of you are as well.

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