Sunday, March 17, 2013


So now I am thinking about hate.

Someone spent hours duplicating this site and getting it on blogger - same title, same fonts, same layout and so on, as close as they could manage.  They created a duplicate nick to my own and even included images of my person ripped from my youtube vlog, photoshopped to fit their purpose.  They did their best to paint me as a sobbing, petulant moron.  It was mocking hate, pure and simple.

Once I found out about it, it took blogger an hour to take it down.  Which is lovely.  Thank you blogger.

The main theme of this hatred was, once again, that I had dared to write 10,000 words about something.  The post has been up for less than two weeks, but it is already the 6th most popular post I have ever written.  So why is it making people angry?

Several of the commenters on this blog have already put forth their opinions, and there were a couple of flame wars about it last week ... which were no doubt responsible for the slander that I stumbled across last night.  The strongest consensus seems to be that in some way I am "trying to push one right way" of playing.  But I don't think that's really it.  That's a convenient meme, but it doesn't ring true.  If you turn to a channel where a fellow is making furniture - someone who's name you don't know - you don't start shouting at the TV that there's no right way.  The same goes for cooking, or auto mechanics, or really anything.  You wouldn't go up to a coach at a baseball diamond teaching kids and start shouting about what does he know, the kids should just be allowed to play however they feel.

No, this is a convenient explanation, but I don't think it is the explanation.  Which, of course, will no doubt beg the argument, "You're trying to say there's only one explanation for things!  How dare you set yourself up as god?"


Let's call it a hypothesis.

The truth, I believe, is to be found in the level of insistence that the game is "fun" and that it isn't complicated.  Not the question of whether those things are true (about which I've written) ... but rather, the degree of emotional import attached to the matter.

I've been a recent, momentary casualty of an emotional response ... in fact, a hatred that I can only view as hysterical.  How else does one describe taking such the effort to attack a stranger?

I wouldn't say that one example proves hysteria.  But many of us have seen YDIS.  We've seen flamewars.  We've read the comments and statements describing persecution, as trolls scream in all caps, increasing in their level of incomprehensibility.  The net's been around two decades.  We have plenty of experience.

Why hysteria, then?  About this in particular.  Why does it need to be repeated as though it were dogma.  Why does most every blog dedicate a post, or posts, to the insistence that the game is about fun.  Isn't that fairly obvious?  Isn't that the reason we began playing, because we preferred it to other fun things?  What is really being argued here?

I suspect its fear.  Hysteria always descends from fear.  Most other things do, too, since biology demands a flight or fight response to every sort of doubt or unknown.  Hysteria is just an unusually strong reaction.  Whatever people are saying, when matters cease to be polite, there's anger and there's fear.

So what am I afraid of?  I'm as guilty as anyone.  I shout, rail, rant, scream, humiliate and flame toe-to-toe ... I'm not immune to my biology.  What am I afraid of?

I think, like any nerd, it has to come back to elementary school gym.  I mean, it was elementary school everything, but specifically it was gym.  Gym was the dangerous place.  In the classroom, there was no physical contact.  In the hall, you could use your experience and eyes to watch out for yourself.  You avoided hallways where the more retarded, stronger apes clustered.  You could time your interactions with them to coincide with the presence of bigger, watchful teachers.

Gym, however, was the place where you were forced to interact physically with the apes.  I was naturally short and light in those days, and hopelessly clumsy.  I'm a lot bigger now (still clumsy), but in those days I was vulnerable.  Worse, like any nerd, I was a target.  For a lot of the apes, not doing well in school, humiliated by questions they couldn't answer, homework they couldn't do, any person who was not scholastically challenged was a target.  The smarter you were, the bigger the target.  Moreover, this did not limit itself to dodgeball.  Me and my equally small friends were, regularly, subjected to punches, pile ons, broken bones and concussions.  I remember being run over by a fellow twice my size during a game of basketball, his open hand pushing my chest so that I hit the floor and slid into one of the wooden benches.  I blacked out, woke up in the principle's office (this was 1976; there was no nurse's office in my school).

Hm.  Haven't thought about that in ages.

Naturally, this set up an us-and-them relationship.  And we knew perfectly well what this relationship was based upon.  Intelligence.  Whoever had more, won where it counted to us - books, knowledge, right and wrong, etc.  Whoever had less, if they had size and speed, won where it counted to them - sports and physical abuse.

So we abused them mentally, and they abused us physically.  This builds up a pattern of behavior, until you find yourself abusing people not just because they happen to be jocks; there are all kinds of stupid people in the world.  It seems, as you get older, they creep in from everywhere.  You find yourself abusing them because they're stupid - that just seems to be the way.  It's a habit.  If you give into that habit ... if you're smart, and you practice, you get good at it.

The fellow (I'd be very surprised to learn it wasn't a 'fellow') who created his little mockery of me isn't stupid.  But he's so misdirected as a person he might as well be.

I sit here and basically I wage the same war I did when I was nine.  This is unacceptable to many.  This says, I never grew up.  Still screaming on the playground at 48?  Pathetic.

Well, it would be if I hadn't noticed all around me that there are people shooting guns at one another, physically abusing one another, entering wars, committing rape, imprisoning innocents, persecuting races and so on and so forth.  I would be terribly, terribly ashamed except that I've noticed that this seems largely to be the behavior of extraordinarily stupid people.  I mean, I was pretty appalled at nine when a fellow beat up my friend Andrew for no good reason ... but that is nothing when I consider my country was involved in a war commenced for purely selfish reasons.

As near as I can tell, stupidity is the worst bane this planet has.  The principle cure for stupidity is education.  Education trounces stupidity as clearly as rock smashes scissors.  But something else I've noticed all this time is that stupid people are habitually resistant to education.  In fact, so resistant that I had to choose my metaphor carefully.  Education can enfold stupidity like a paper folding rock ... but most times, it's really necessary to smash.

Now and then, if I get some smart listeners, I can get down with scissors cutting paper.  But most stupid people have to be smashed.

What am I afraid of?  That the stupid people will win.

Now, I'm going to make an assumption here.  I'm going to posit that anyone who screams that "too many words" is a bad thing is ... well ... stupid.  This probably won't seem obvious to a stupid person.  But, well, that's basically just because they're stupid.  A smart person will read the text and notice that if you take out some of the "too many words," the concepts being discussed seem to make less sense.  It's only when words don't make any sense anyway that they seem disposable.  And words only don't make sense to stupid people.

So what are the stupid people afraid of?

The obvious answer would seem to be that they're afraid that smart people will win.  But no, you'd be wrong.  Even a stupid person knows the smart people already have.  That's what is so galling.  You know, deep down, that you are stupid.  You know this because, deep down, you don't really understand what is being said.  You're reading this long winded crap and you're bored or bothered or generally unable to access it to your hard drive and you know how annoying that is.  It's the same feeling you had when the teacher asked that question about the Vietnam War and you sat there feeling inadequate.  You looked down at your fists, your arms ... you knew you were able to throw a football a thousand miles, that on the field you were a god and that girls feel on their knees and worshipped you in large numbers ... but here you are in this stupid fucking boring classroom with this wimpy fucking teacher who couldn't pick up a football, much less throw it, waiting for an answer you don't have while everyone stares at you.  Everyone.  Staring at you.  Knowing that you're not a god, not here.  Not in this fucking place.

What happens when the whole world gets like that?  What happens when you're getting older and you can't prove what a god you are anywhere?  What happens when that shitty feeling you had in your classroom is the feeling you have at your job, every day, all day?  What then?

And what happens when these fucking smart fuckers start fucking around with the game you really like to play?  What if someone reads all this fucking smart stuff and starts rubbing in your face?  What if they start talking about it, all the time, and what if they ask you what you think?

What the fuck are you going to do then?


Dave said...

As awesome as I like to think I am, nobody had ever singled me out to create an entire anti-web version of anything I've done. Bravo!

Carl Nash said...

God damn if I don't love it when you write a post ABOUT something, rather than attacking something/someone. You are obviously a smart man, articulate, with a distinctive writing voice that sings with passion. Even more obvious is that you love this game.

In my humble opinion when you use your combination of intellect and writing skill as a weapon, you usually miss your mark; not because you are any less intelligent or well spoken when you do so, but because you allow your onslaught to become the point of the post. And really, who derives pleasure from watching the internet equivalent of an ape laying out a nerd into the bleachers.

It is no surprise that you provoke hysterical reactions - you are incredibly gifted at tearing people down, and you spend an awful lot of your time on this blog doing exactly that (especially in the comments). I think you are right to single out fear as the motive, and indeed, I suspect many people tremble before entering the string of nonsense characters and numbers that will submit their comment for your perusal. Did I understand the post well enough to make an intelligent comment? Will it be treated with scornful dismissal, or worse yet, never even see the light of blog because I missed the mark so entirely? Yes, I think fear is what provokes such an action. Well founded fear.

On the other hand, when you focus your attention on some aspect of the game or other without becoming sidetracked with attacking those with whom you do not agree, your gifts (both innate and honed through practice) allow you to produce some of the best posts I have ever read on D&D. It is what keeps me coming back to your blog, even though I find many of your more aggressive posts distasteful and useless and hopelessly misguided. When you put down the rhetorical sword for a second and pick up the magnifying glass, you make magic happen... magic posts that have the potential to open a reader's eyes to an aspect of the game that they may never have even considered, let alone written 10,000 words on :)

I will certainly buy your book on how to DM if you ever publish it. I only hope you can keep yourself from writing a book that eviscerates the less intelligent or any of your other usual whipping boys, as I am not interested in the slightest in reading yet more of Alexis ripping someone a new one.

You have left many an internet avatar torn and bleeding out all over cyberspace. You will leave many more in such a state I am sure. Perhaps you will give me this treatment, taking offense at this comment, mistaking the intent with which I offer it.

This won't keep me from coming back for the moments that you overcome your inner asshole and just write about D&D. Because when you do that, there is no other blogger I would rather read.

Thanks for posting Alexis.

Carl Nash said...

(apologies for submitting another comment after such a long one)

It occurs to me that there is some kind of irony that the exact kind of post that I love of yours, a post ABOUT some aspect of the game, examining it in all aspects, provoked such strong negative reactions from so many people. I take offense at many of your posts, simply because they are offensive... offensive in the sense that they are attack posts.

But I have never taken offense at a post like the How to Play a Character post. That was a great post, as is every other post you have ever published about D&D rather than about attacking someone.

JDJarvis said...

I used to like gym class, it was a place I could strike out at "the apes" under the guise of sporting accident or playing rough. But there was some degree or regulation as ling as you were clever enough to not get noticed directly attacking someone (and I was).

The blogosphere is sorta like gym class, you get to smack down "the apes", and it's as simple as typing things up with a touch of skill. Words are the tools in this gym.

A whole counter-site to be a jerk to you is just plain sick. Wouldn't time have been better spent on a few posts on their own site? If someone annoys me on the web I might comment, there's a small chance I'll let others know I got annoyed, in the main I just ignore the source of the annoyance; it's wonderfully easy to avoid someone you don't like online unless they are a sick stalker.

Keith S said...

Pretty much everything Carl Nash said above.

Alexis Smolensk said...


I respect that. I don't intend to include any incendiary material in my book; that's not its purpose.

However, I must stress that it is not an either/or equation. If I did not use the rock I described in the post to educate, there would be exactly the same amount of intelligent D&D content on this blog.

I'm sorry that you don't understand how my one policy feeds the other. There is no "unnecessary" material on this blog. I know what I'm doing. I know what results I'm achieving, and I'm happy with the results.

Alexis Smolensk said...

I think some of those who are rushing to give me their sympathies, where last week they had no good word to say about me PERSONALLY, should realize that just right now I'm not much in the mood to give them a forum just now.

Brad and Anthony, write it on your own blog.

Alexis Smolensk said...

I have been at odds and ends all day. Let me explain further.

The truth is that the content posts are deceptive. They don't really require anyone to address any issues; in that way they’re passive. However, they prove what I can do artistically or structurally. Not because it has to be proved further; there's plenty of evidence on the blog already. But every time I put up something really content-oriented, it hammers the point a little further home.

Clearly I like putting up the content posts for my own reasons. The total amount of feedback I can expect to get for them is negligible. Their real value is that they lend my words credibility. When I say that this can be done, or that this must be done, or the others should lift themselves and attempt such and such, the evidence that I am not a paper tiger is right there on the page.

That’s why you shouldn’t be surprised, Carl, that it was a content post they railed against. The content posts are my groundwork. When I step forward and argue, I don’t do it from the position of a crank. I am rubbing people’s faces into the stone I describe in the post. Eat this, I’m saying.

This is what makes me hard to argue with. It’s not fair fighting.

Brady said...

Fuck the stupid people, man. Just fuck 'em. Don't respond to them, don't post about them, don't approve their comments, and your life will get better.

Mike said...

I must say Alexis I'm very surprised your post about How to Play a Character generated any ire. It was well written and did not seem like 10,000 words as it moved logically from concept to concept.

Been reading you for years, one thing you do consistently well is write cogent and cohesive posts.

You certainly are not a "one true way" kind of blog. For me, when you talk about "How to..." it is a well reasoned and fairly philosophical, not some pedantic crap like one must roll 3D6 in order, or what did Gary think.

Even when you go off on people it is interesting, like your aside here into high school social interactions.

Not that you need it in the slightest, but keep on doing what your doing it is interesting if not down right useful.

ESR said...


I think the "imitation blog" was, in addition to being a jab at you, a "showing off" by the slanderer. Meaning: "you may be smart, but I'm smart in other ways" (i.e. literary vs. web coding). Yes, this is a juvenile use of one's time, and probably a jealousy reaction (if only because your readers cared enough to post on the other blog in your defense).

Anyone still playing D&D in favour of the more-mindless computer or video games (or TV) is probably at least in some ways "smart", although probably a lot less dedicated to the development of the hobby than yourself, so I don't buy the jock-vs-nerd argument. The jocks, apes, and 'roidheads of yesteryear are watching football and drinking beer, NOT reading and criticising D&D blogs...

I recognize that your blog is a journal of sorts, meaning that you are expected and entitled to share your thoughts and feelings in addition to whatever content you may feel is worth sharing. What I think a lot of readers don't understand is that this isn't a "how-to" website. This website is an Alexis-dumps-his-ideas-and-thoughts-for-public-consumption website, with the probable intent that some good discussion and/or ideas and/or benefit to someone arises from it.

Anyone who doesn't get that can just read selectively, or not read at all. So you go, man. Post whatever non-hate you want. I'll keep reading it.

Stephen Grey said...


On the one hand, if you are getting torrents of hate like that you are probably doing something right. In some cases that's detractor fallacy but in this case it's true.

On the other hand, with statements like the above you make yourself an easy target. You may not be able to deny them hits but you can deny them the knowledge of having made hits.

The dnd community is full of extremely churlish people. The best advice is to ignore them and continue to do what you do.

I am a veteran of some very nasty forum wars and I can assure you that any reaction you show to misbehavior will only make the misbehavior worse. Now that they know they can provoke a reaction, why stop?

Off to read the post that provoked so much ire.