I wrote this based on the ideas I saw posted in d1pshit's goodbye thread which I thought were missing the mark. There's three false assumptions I noticed people make, the first two relating to the (imo dangerous) way people approach internet communities and the third one relating to d1pshit herself (though applicable to any troll on here).
The first assumption: that the presence of people like d1pshit is inherently bad for an online community. How do we define what is bad for a community as a whole, and how do we define what's bad for its individual members? Which one prevails?
I don't want to hear about how online communities are comparable to real life in any way (d1pshit's case being a great example of how things would have been handled differently irl, from all sides involved). I don't want to outright say this but I will: most of us came here because we were introverted, socially-anxious, depressed, had less than perfect rl social lives, etc. (this excluding people who only play the games and don't involve themselves in sandbox drama). Now I'm sure that amongst these people there's some who'd just like to have a nice community, and I truly hope you find those people who are looking for the same. But for the rest of us (and this now includes the people who just play the games), EM seems to be something you do only when you're too tired/bored/have some free time/etc. to do stuff in real life.
Knowing this it does not surprise me that in the many years I've been here there was never truly a time when people were investing in the community in a building rather than a destructive fashion. In other words, if, in a specific period in time, you're in the right place mentally to do something (creative/extrinsic) with your life, you're more likely to take up gardening than invest time in bettering a virtual community (god bless the mod team and whoever's hosting that singing competition but I couldn't. I say this as someone who has in the past attempted to make the community nice by hosting things and wanted to contribute to the community/better it multiple times.From an adult perspective it's just much much better to do things in real life). It's just more tangible. And if someone doesn't have the mental energy, it's most likely that they come here to just f*ck around. Which explains why, throughout all the time I've been here, there has never been a time when the community was popular + harmonious.
You see, it's not prosperity that brings about drama. It's drama that causes prosperity. It'd be interesting to see the figures and I won't attempt to claim this is factual truth, but ever since d1pshit came back to EM the community has been booming. Negativity drives engagement; even if you personally felt stressed because of her presence, your engagement with her comments increased the overall activity of the website. Does this mean we should ignore individual people's suffering over a toxic community purely because it makes the community popular? No!. But it brings us to the second assumption:
That online communities are comparable to rl communities and inherently worthy of our efforts and time. Actually, I've already spoken about this and there isn't much new to say (all the points are intermingled in the text. It's okay). I honestly just wanted to draw attention to this:
[d1pshit on her presence on EM] "I love drama. I really do. It's fun. But it's also consuming and takes away resources from much less questionable pursuits."
Because I think it's worth noting that any online community can be extremely addictive. I remember briefly visiting EM in the morning, evening and at night, and every single time I'd see d1pshit hosting games or arguing with people on the lobby wall . It seemed extremely unhealthy, which is why regardless of any political drama I'm very happy she decided to take a break and can only hope she won't fill that time up with some other social media. But I think it's worth mentioning because it applies to all of us, both the people who come here to find community and those who come here when they're too exhausted to do something else. EM is not your family. It's a time vortex. A benign one, in that there aren't measures in place to keep you coming back, but a time vortex nonetheless (just because someone isn't profiting off of you doesn't mean you aren't wasting time). If you have made friends here, stick to them. But don't mistake the sum total of sandbox for your allotment garden community whose sanctity you need to protect. It's not that and never should be. Sure, the community isn't THAT big. But it's a lot more than you can ever realistically try to unite under some abstract purpose. School spirit was a sham, so why are we trying to emulate that with Sandbox? If my high school class (a never-changing set of 25 people) managed to form into 4 inner circles within that setting, how can we expect cliques not to come about in a community as large as this? They should be celebrated. That said, nobody should gang up on anyone, but in the end I think retiring the idea of community on a Sandbox level would do us good, as well as taking care to ensure we aren't investing too much time in a place that in the end doesn't matter and never will. I understand the irony of taking the time to write this out, but I think I'm pretty aware of EM's relation to my real life and know to control myself by now. I can only hope the others know to do the same.
We've finally arrived at the most important point. Three: the assumption that d1pshit was either a horrible person, OR a helpless victim of The Circlejerk's ire. The truth is d1pshit was a troll. I'm sure she was aware of the pointless nature of internet arguments (perhaps in a time-consuming rather than an politically fruitless kind of way), while still believing every word she argued. Do you know that rush of dopamine you get in a debate? I'm confident that's what drove the fun for her (regardless of how uncomfortable the blowback she would receive). Unfortunately for us and for her, it ended up taking a significantly large proportion of her time and impacting the people who were more susceptible to it/more willing to entertain her (though I'd be surprised if they didn't get their own adrenaline from engaging in the whole affair. Anger brings about adrenaline).
Anyway I don't think there's much else to say. If some (extremely) charismatic dogooder decides to take matters into their own hands now that the d1pshit's departure has left an opening in the social hierarchy, they might actually turn things around here and shift it from its toxic ways...
But I highly doubt that (just as I doubt that any comments made by either party ever ran the risk of paving way for extremism in the community any more than their subsequent rehashing did to destroy toxicity). Just play the game; don't engage the trolls, stick to your friends, and, most importantly, plant some (real life) seeds.
I very highly doubt that a newbie coming into the website would see drama and go 'no this is too much for me'. If people (both old and new players) come here to play games, then the out-of-game drama is just another layer of the website that you can more or less remove yourself from. It's not like anyone ropes you into arguments with people, much less when you're a newbie outsider and you're there to watch the shitshow pretty much.
Once again I'm not arguing for drama in fact I'm very much against it. But I do find it ridiculous when people take what is clearly bait and then get frustrated when the troll engages with them (d1p told me the same thing which is why I said she's clearly a troll)
Anyway I think we have the same outlook on what should be done
I feel this is still a present issue, and while a new player may not instantly go "wow, this place is filled with drama, this is too much for me" they will be much less likely to interact with the community outside of the games, but more importantly will be far more cautious OF becoming a part of the community.
This is no excuse for letting toxic behavior slide in the community, just that the way we go about things is often reckless and hurts the community as a result. I feel we all have individual responsibilities on how we act and react to specific things within the community, and a healthy community thrives more if toxic people are pushed aside for their behavior rather than being given the spotlight for months on end. This may seem hypocritical to some when I was mentioning my behavior 4, 5 years ago, but given the chance I was able to grow as a person from these situations; I am not the only one in the community who has.
sandbox is dead now and not really going back to the way things were like 6 years ago... circlejerk is dead. and friendgroup =/= circlejerk