Thursday, April 23, 2009

Pride and Glory

Okay, so I suck and haven't written in a couple days. I'm sorry, really.

Today I'm going to talk about the difference between pride (bad) and self-confidence (good!). I'm also going to talk about how to help with self-confidence, but it's something you'll have to find for yourself.

One of the things that I harp on a lot in this blog indirectly is pride. I don't outright say that pride is a bad thing, but virtually everything I get upset about, such as elitism or exclusive community values is a direct result of pride. Today I'm going for the jugular.

Pride is a state of mind that most nerds fall into. I'd suggest that it's a huge ratio, like over 90% huge. When I was at Kumoricon last year, pretty much everyone I met exhibited pride. When I was in the military (not nerds, but worth analyzing), virtually everyone fell into this state of mind.

Pride is the feeling where you need accomplishments, particularly those that compare you to other people or that require other people for validation. Pride is what changes a philosophy like playing to improve into the aggressive, heartless "playing to win." Pride is what takes us and turns us into hostile beings. When we are prideful we treat attacks on our beliefs as attacks on ourself.

Pride is so bad that in the right amounts it can create massive amounts of nationalism and foster beliefs like the Crusades or the Holocaust. Pride leads to belief without testing - the idea that one can believe something "just because" without any real evidence. Pride makes us think that Horde players are better than Alliance players, or that ganking people on PvP servers (or in EVE) is okay because the game allows it.

What's worse really, is that pride is extremely hard to get rid of. I use this in bold because it I cannot emphasize it enough. I blame Dale Carnegie (who wrote How to Make Friends and Influence People) for getting me out of that mindset, along with certain key individuals in my life who pushed me along the right path. I would have never got rid of pride on my own.

There's really no right way for a nerd to escape the cycle without help. You'll need backup, and that backup most likely isn't going to come from the people you hang out with now. Most of your online friends you keep are going to drag you down. Most isn't even the best choice of words, but there are people you likely associate with who are keeping you in that state of mind.

The first thing I'd suggest is to set goals for yourself. I write a lot of articles about good mindsets to have, so point yourself in one of those directions. If you're not a gamer nerd, a pro writer, or some other nerdy person, you'll have to think of something that will point you in the direction of self-advancement. I 'leveled up' by wanting to be better at marketing, which naturally meant I wanted to understand people better.

The goals you set for yourself need to put you on the course of self-betterment, preferably for its own sake. Being the best player in the world at Street Fighter is not a good goal. It requires other people to validate whether or not you are. A better example might be to understand mindgames better, or to advance yourself in some other independent way.

But, beyond that is the belief that you don't need to be better than others to be valued. Alternatively, you might need to lose the belief that you need other people for validation. I'm not going to say "you should quit raiding" or "you should quit playing to win." Maybe your goal can be mutual respect (something I talked about) or some other worthy goal.

Next on the list of things I need to unfortunately tell you is that you are gonna have to get some new people to hang with. I think you saw this coming. If we want to get some sort of value in our hearts, we need to reduce the amount of time we spend with people who don't have these values. It's pretty obvious. If you're in a guild full of griefers, it's definitely time to get a new guild. If you're in a guild with a couple of problem people who cause lots of drama, you should try to reduce the amount of time you spend around those people. If you can, you should try to get them to change too, or barring that, maybe get them kicked from your guild (diplomatically, don't do anything underhanded!).

If the environment you're in is not conductive to you losing your pride, sadly you may have to quit your scene. I've seen people do this and it sucks, but sometimes you have to. I will not name any communities like this, but most MMORPG communities are big enough that you can get a 'fresh start' away from whoever was dragging you down without actually quitting. Most of the time, you won't even need to migrate servers or anything like that. But if you play a small competitive community where everyone drags each other down, it's time to go somewhere else.

Don't let jerks get in the way of your own personal self-fullfillment. Pride is a very hard thing to overcome. It's not something you do overnight. The first step is knowing that you are prideful, and the next step is wanting to change.

After that, it's all you, baby. Don't let us down!

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