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.
" It's drama that causes prosperity. " yeah, people really be loving to argue. you right
"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"
....yeah. i really have to get off this f#cking website
It’s funny that the responses D1p’s thread got were identical to concerns described in LastProphet’s thread, and also identical to the criticism that LastProphet received.
It is clear that the Sandbox community has a different standard for moderation than the mods themselves do. This is clear because Alyssa had to explain why D1p hadn’t yet been banned:
I understand and empathize with users who think the mod team is ineffective and want to police the site themselves. I used to do that a lot. At the same time, if you are someone who believes the opposite and thinks that what a select few users have been doing lately are in the wrong, I encourage you to use the report function and call it harassment. If we want to self-police we should accept that we in turn will be policed, it’s only fair.
*note that while yes this is sometimes still happens in main, splitting main is pointless because that's the people trying to play ranked and no one cares about ranking in custom lobbies
In the end I think a mixed approach where we don't attempt to build some identity that doesn't exist but also shun/disengage people who we don't like while being courteous. Like it's about the perfect balance you know. There's elements of the website like the family system that I think are very clique and do nothing but to make newbies feel excluded, but I don't think removing them would even begin to address the issue.
Again, I agree with the rest of your sentiments. Is there anything that can be done besides hoping more people play on website to try and remedy the problems you and others have described?
Or many more importantly, what can we do to make people come back to em and Sandbox or is the site and the lobby doomed to a slow death which there is no escape?
I also don't see why splitting the lobby needs to occur so long as the playstyle remains the same across the community. Everybody in Sandbox plays Mafia under Sandbox rules anyway, but if there were a significant number of games that didn't play like how Sandbox plays (like what happened with Survivor a long time ago) then split it.
As it stands, the only significant difference between users in Sandbox is mindset on things that don't even affect the game.
maybe we should try to be more like the tv show community.
(had to shorten quote due to char limit)