Regrets

Well, the apocalypse didn’t happen. I almost wish I was surprised by this.

Here’s a thought experiment: If you did die today, what would you have regretted? And how would you have felt about your life?

Me first, I guess.

To be honest, I wouldn’t regret things I’ve done in the past. Sure, I’ve made many stupid mistakes. Mistakes are human. We all make them. What I would have regretted is not finishing my story.

What is my story so far? Well, I was born, I made my way through grade school and found that I was very smart and very absent-minded. I was mocked by peers for being awkward and strange and unfitting, but my loving and supportive mother and brothers helped me through it. I made some close friends and learned that friends can bring joy, comfort, and stress.

Then I went to college, and I crashed and burned. I learned that I wasn’t yet ready for life. This was followed by two years spent at home, with no progress made toward any conventional career. I worked part-time as a cashier for a year, but that led nowhere. I tried college again, and failed again. Everything I achieved was done online. I started a blog, gained a modest following of readers, and found some friends I could relate to. I learned more about myself. I learned that I yearn to express myself through writing, and that I dream of one day being widely respected as a writer.

If the apocalypse happened today, my story would be an unsatisfying, unfinished one. It would be like if Bruce Wayne died before he put on his Batman costume for the first time. What kind of ending is that? I still have a lot to do in this world. I’ve spent two years preparing to finally achieve things, and if I were to die now, that couldn’t even be classified as tragic; it’d be closer to merely disappointing.

I don’t regret the mistakes I’ve made. Those made me who I am. But I still have a long life, and I need to do something with it. So it’s not my time to die. Not yet.

That’s my answer. Now it’s your turn.

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Halloween Costumes Are Sexist

There’s a lot of debate these days as to what does and does not qualify as “sexist,” so let me break this down. The root of sexism is one simple idea that has been instilled in our society for many generations:

Men are people, to be judged by what they can achieve; women are objects, to be judged by how sexually attractive they are.

Everything that can be described as sexist stems from that tragically widespread notion. For example, let’s look at a few Halloween costumes. There’s actually a convenient Tumblr page called Fuck No Sexist Halloween Costumes that gathers up loads of pictures from costume shops for male and female counterparts of various characters and themes.

Transformers!

Wow, that totally looks like a transformer!

And for the ladies…

Whoa! That looks like a… a woman wearing a skimpy dress.

Okay, let’s try something more innocent and less complicated. How about a Baby theme?

Well the proportions are obviously off, but otherwise that’s pretty accurate, I guess.

… You’ve got to be kidding me.

These are just two examples, of course, but you can go to the website and see for yourself — every women’s costume you can find is designed to be as ‘sexy’ as possible. If you’re a woman and you’ve shopped at a costume store, you’ve probably noticed this trend.

And honestly, let’s just observe this at face value. When designing costumes for men, the objective is to make it look as accurate to the source material as possible; when designing costumes for women, the objective is to make a sexy, skimpy, revealing outfit that looks sort of vaguely like the source material.

The message is pretty damn clear from where I stand: on Halloween, men dress like their favorite characters so they can pretend to be Batman or a pirate or whoever, and women dress like strippers so we can ogle them.

I don’t see how anybody can argue that this isn’t sexist. It’s definitively sexist. It’s the fucking epitome of sexism.

JPH, are you trying to say women shouldn’t be allowed to dress how they want?!?!

Hell no. I’m not slutshaming here. If you want to dress like a stripper, that’s absolutely your prerogative, and I won’t judge you for it. It’s okay to be sexy. I’m not vilifying the women who dress in skimpy outfits; I’m vilifying the corporations that manufacture nothing but skimpy outfits for women, and the culture that encourages, expects, and all but requires women to dress in skimpy outfits.

The problem isn’t that sexy costumes exist. The problem is that they exist at the expense of everything else.

If you want to buy a pre-made costume and you don’t want anything “sexy,” you’d better go to menswear, because that’s the only place you’ll find it. There are some male costumes that can fit either gender, but many are fitted specifically for the male body. And really, do you think you’re not sending any weird or negative messages to women by telling them that by wearing a concealing outfit that actually looks like the character they want to dress as, they’re crossdressing? Because that’s what it says on the sign — Menswear.

Like I said at the beginning, this is a symptom of a larger problem. This is just one thread in the vast tapestry of sexism. But it’s still a thread. Like everything else in our culture, Halloween costumes don’t exist in a vacuum; the way people dress affects our perception of the world. When we see women everywhere dressing in revealing outfits, the message we are taught — whether we consciously realize it or not — is that women’s purpose during Halloween is to look sexy. Maybe this wouldn’t be a huge deal if we weren’t also getting this message from so many other places.

And there’s nothing wrong with women looking sexy, but they should have more options than that, just like we do. Because women are people.


My Angry Words

I am a passionate person. That isn’t really a good thing or a bad thing; it’s just a thing about me. This tends to manifest itself in me getting in heated debates or monologues on Twitter or either of my blogs. I do this in real life too, though I generally have to be around people I know to do so. Usually it’s about Serious Business, like depression, or feminism, or LGBT rights. Sometimes I’ll even get all shouty about video games. I have a lot of things to say, because there are a lot of strong feelings in my head.

Whenever I step away from these conversations or blog posts, I often feel wrong somehow. Not in the sense that I think my points were invalid or incorrect; but rather, I feel like I was being too abrasive, or too serious, or too bitter.

In short, I feel like I make an ass of myself too often.

I don’t actually know how true this is. I mentioned it a day or two ago on Twitter and some friends told me I don’t make the arguments ugly or personal. I am the most biased judge of my own behavior, after all, so they may be on to something. (They are friends, though, so they could just be trying to make me feel better.) And there’s always the basic logical assumption that if they really were annoyed by me, they wouldn’t follow me. That may not be 100% true though.

But I think something much more important to note is the fact that I have a nasty voice in my head called depression.

I wouldn’t characterize depression as a hulking monster that smashes your confidence and self-esteem down. I’d say it’s more like the sinister vizier behind your throne, whispering lies and dark thoughts into your head to deteriorate your mental state so that he may take over.

My depression constantly works to remind me that I don’t matter, that my life is pointless, that nobody cares about me and that I should just quit everything. It’s a major reason — if not the only reason — why I still rarely update either of my blogs, even though I’ve been unemployed for nearly two weeks.

There’s a good chance that my insecurity about my attitude is just part of that depression. Maybe my heated arguing is nothing to be ashamed of, and my depression is making me feel guilty for no reason. I honestly can’t tell.

I don’t want to be that guy, the one nobody wants to upset because he acts like an asshole if you do. I care about a lot of things, enough to talk furiously for hours on end, but I don’t want people to think less of me for that. Maybe they do. Maybe they don’t. Maybe some people find my opinions interesting but don’t like the way I present them. Maybe some people like reading my posts specifically because of how headstrong I am.

Whatever the case may be, this has repeatedly made me feel worse about myself, and it often makes me feel discouraged from writing on Ninja Game Den. I’m not really sure what to do about this. And “sucking it up” doesn’t work. I tried.


Does Your Avatar Represent You?

Twitter, Facebook, WordPress, Tumblr, Youtube, Gmail, any forum you care to frequent. We have a lot of social websites these days, and most of them let you upload a picture that will be linked to your profile. Whenever you post anything, people can see the picture and associate it with you. This is deemed as your Avatar, or as I like to call it, your Internet Face.

Many people don’t take it very seriously, just using a picture of someone or something they like or something silly. Some use a picture from their favorite game or movie. Some use a picture of themselves. Whatever you choose, your internet face represents you, and sometimes I wonder how many people put thought into how accurately their picture actually reflects their persona.

See, I have a terrible habit of looking at people’s pictures and assuming that that’s reflective of their personality. If the picture is of a real person, I’ll often imagine that person saying whatever the poster writes, even if it’s obviously just a picture of a celebrity.

For example, one friend of mine on a forum used to use Taylor Swift as his avatar because he thought she was hot. It took me awhile to realize that he was actually male; since the avatar was female, I instinctively assumed he was too. It didn’t make a whole lot of logical sense, upon reflection, but when does the subconscious mind ever use logic?

So, just to illustrate, let me show you my Internet Face.

This image comes to you courtesy of my friend Ankh (or @PurePareidolia) and I think he did a fantastic job capturing my essence in a 512×512 image.

Firstly, it fits the theme of my blog Ninja Game Den; he’s a ninja and the background is the same as that from the website. Even if I didn’t have a website prominently featuring ninjas and bluish purple, it’s still representative of the fact that I think ninjas are awesome and I think blurple is pretty.

But I don’t think that’s the important part. The important part is his demeanor. He’s holding his sword ready. He isn’t squinting, as if to imply caution or suspicion; he looks angry. He looks defensive, aggressive, and ready to lash out at a moment’s notice. And if you’ve seen the conversations I’ve had on Twitter or on NGD, you’ll know I can lash out from time to time. Going by the Ninja Turtles personality gauge, I’m a Raphael.

So yeah, I think this is a good internet face for me. It’s indicative of my attitude, my interests, and my style.

This probably sounds silly, but I’ve spent time looking at my fellow internet people’s avatars and pondering whether those pictures represent them effectively. For example, I think @Desgardes‘s avatar is pretty much perfect:

It’s very quirky, silly, nerdy and hilarious, and if you follow Des on Twitter, you know that’s pretty much him in a nutshell. It also goes to show that your avatar doesn’t have to be a person to convey your style.

I don’t feel quite the same about @StevenBeargal‘s avatar:

Don’t get me wrong; it’s a really cool looking avatar, very stylized and fantastical. The problem is that from far away or in a thumbnail version, he looks angry, or at the least pretty intense. And that’s not really Jarenth. I’ve known Jarenth for over a year, and the guy is very, very chill. I’ve rarely ever seen him get upset. I feel like something more relaxed, thoughtful and welcoming would be perfect.

I’m putting way too much thought into this, I know. My brain is only capable of thinking about pointless things.

So, here’s a question: Do you have an internet face? If so, do you think it effectively represents you? Why or why not?


Triggers

So Grey Carter was talking on his Twitter about the concept of being offended by jokes. Here’s some of his tweets:

Comedians have a nasty habit of characterizing offended people as whiny crybabies, and I don’t think that’s particularly fair.

Being offended is good, it’s great. It shows you give a shit. It’s very cool to pretend to be apathetic these days, but it’s mostly bullshit

I will add that I’m fascinated by WHAT offends people. Everyone has different, often weird, triggers.

E.G: I’ve made jokes that utilize the holocaust, rape and Killzone 3, three of the most horrible things humanity has inflicted upon itself –

– but I am OFFENDED by jokes about the homeless and the mentally ill.

Now, Grey was using the word “triggers” to refer to topics that are offensive to us as individuals, but I (and I suspect others as well) thought of triggers that bring back traumatic memories and feelings.

I have some triggers of my own. And I can assure you that they can be very weird.

If you’re a ‘regular’ reader, you know I attempted suicide earlier this year. I wrote two posts about the attempt, totaling close to 4,000 words. A suicide attempt is perceived by the victim as a near-death experience, even if it doesn’t physically harm her at all (and it didn’t really cause physical harm to me, ’cause I got lucky). As a result, having memories of it brought back can be traumatic.

You’d think I would have the bad feelings come back when I hear mention of suicide, but that’s not actually how it works. I can hear people talk about suicide, I can talk about suicide myself, and I’ll generally be alright, if a bit put down. I can even hear “suicide jokes” — that is, jokes at the expense of depressed/suicidal people — and while I’ll certainly be offended, I won’t really be hurt.

But there was this one picture a friend sent me awhile back. The picture was called “electric rubber duck,” and I don’t want to describe it, so here, just click here. (Trigger warning, of course.)

When I saw that picture the first time, I literally had trouble breathing for a few moments. The feeling of terrified hopelessness rushed into me like a current, and I completely lost my composure. I had to close the image, close my eyes and wait it out until the terror had passed.

At that point I wasn’t “offended.” I was hurt. I was experiencing emotional pain.

Now, do I begrudge people for not recognizing the trigger? Of course not. I forgave my friend for sending me the picture; it probably had slipped his mind that I’d tried to do something similar to myself. The fact that he showed me the picture doesn’t mean he’s a bad person, but the fact that he didn’t show me anything else like it once I let him know the effect it had was a sign of positive character on his part.

I guess my point is that while you shouldn’t be afraid to say anything because somebody might find it hurtful, be mindful when someone lets you know how he feels about it. Understanding your audience is an important rule in comedy. And just remember that sometimes you’re not just offending someone; sometimes you’re hurting him emotionally.

The “sticks and stones may break my bones” mantra is bullshit, and we really should all understand that by now.


Felicia Day Ruined Videogaming

I’m not making some grandiose statement about depression or sharing an intimate story today. Just sharing something that amused me. Hope you don’t mind. And I’m posting it here because it isn’t actually about video games.

So Felicia Day does this weekly Youtube show called The Flog (which means Felicia’s vlog, GET IT?) where she shares five three of her favorite things she saw in the week, shows some segment that generally involves her traveling to some place to have someone teach her how to do something random like crocheting or blacksmithing, and then answers a fan question.

In case anybody’s curious, I think my fanboy crush on her is about at level 3 right now. I’m currently trying to conceive the exact right things I would say to her if I ever meet her in person so she’ll think I’m cool and we can be best friends forever.

ANYWAY, here’s her latest episode, which was posted on Monday. In it she plays a Sega Genesis game called Gunstar Heroes with her brother. And it’s hilarious.

It’s the best episode she’s put up in awhile, though I probably only think that because the segment involves her getting trolled into an indignant rage during a coop game, which is what happens to me whenever I try to play coop with basically any of my friends. (You know who you are, assholes.) But that’s not what I want to talk about.

See, in the game they play, they face a boss that her brother Ryon compares to a 4chan troll. They then proceed to playfully mock 4chan.One line they both recite in particular is, “Oh my god you ruined videogaming!!!”

Apparently someone decided to post a link to the video on 4chan /v/. A short time afterward, the top rated comment on the video said:

“Why did my hobby have to turn into shit?”

The irony is palpable.

Also, there was a flood of comments accusing Felicia Day of being an attention whore, being a stupid fake gamer, and contributing nothing to video games. You know, usual stuff. Honestly, do any of these people ever get tired of this shit? Are they that devoted to a joke, or do they genuinely believe that people like Felicia Day are ruining the games industry?

Whether it’s giggle-inducing or painfully frustrating depends on how seriously you take Youtube comments, I suppose. Either way, it’s downright pathetic.

Oh, also, here’s one hilarious comment I found:

“My girlfriend sent me this video because she thought we could ‘share laughs’ at how funny Ms. Day is. Dianne, it is over. Come by the apartment and take all your useless shit out. I’ll be there, so don’t even think about stealing MY consoles or pc.

In the last couple months, all you do is screech at the tv or spout memes when ‘playing’ video games. And when you are not ‘playing’, you are spending all my money. I wondered what caused this change, and now I do. Thanks Felicia, I hope you’re happy.”

Bear in mind this guy didn’t comment until very soon after the video was posted on /v/. But no, I’m sure this story is totally real.

As for what I think on the subject, I think Wil Wheaton summed it up best via Twitter:

“Listen, dicks, when you contribute 1/100 of what Felicia Day has contributed to gaming culture and independent production, you can talk. Until then, shut the fuck up and go back to your sad little lives, jerking off alone every night. Okay? Great. Thanks.”


How To Deal With Trolls

So you all know about that controversy with Ryan Perez, right? Where that Destructoid writer accidentally revealed himself as a sexist asshole on Twitter by calling Felicia Day a “glorified booth babe” and then lost his job and became vilified? Well when that happened it reminded me that I still needed to watch Felicia’s show The Guild.

I watched one episode and got instantly hooked. I watched all five seasons in one night, and in the few days afterward I watched behind the scenes footage, read the annotations, and watched loads of content on her new channel Geek & Sundry. I think it’s safe to say I’m a fan of her work.

As it turns out, Geek & Sundry had a panel at Vidcon 2012, and one of the questions they answered involved how to deal with troll commenters.

I like what they all had to say, but I thought Felicia’s answer in particular was very insightful and heartwarming.

I hadn’t thought of it before, but she’s absolutely right to say that creating and sharing content on the Internet puts you in a vulnerable position. You’re putting your own creative skills on display and opening the door to criticisms and insults. And speaking as someone who can be very thin-skinned, I’m glad to hear that I’m not the only one who can get really hurt from some of those nasty comments.

If you create and share content online or are planning to, I highly suggest you watch the video. It’s enlightening. And it’s only, like, five minutes long.