MUSH conflict... sad face?



  • So I'm not sure that I should share this here. Small world and all... But I feel like I'm at a cross roads with this hobby. I think I still have friends here, but the last time I played a game where I didn't have at least one person making it an exhausting tight rope walk was over 5 years ago. So I thought maybe someone out there might have some advice.

    There's a thing that keeps happening to me over and over and over... I will be having fun on a game. All feedback from fellow RPers will be positive. Then out of the blue, some other player will decide they don't like me and start a passive aggressive campaign to make it difficult for me to RP (usually without a single conversation with me directly), no matter how hard I try to please them. Usually they are friends with staff. Sometimes they actually ARE staff.

    Usually I think everything is perfectly fine until suddenly, I find out they have been trying to convince other people that I am the devil, without ever even having a conversation with me to discuss their grievance. To the credit of the staff of most games, they seem to recognize this behavior as childish and inappropriate, but the only staffer who has been willing to handle it in a way that doesn't effectively kill the game for me is Fara. (Thanks Faraday!)

    I used to get angry. Then it started being funny. Now I'm just so weary of having an otherwise healthy and fun activity turned into the opposite of fun.

    Normally my solution would be to avoid the troublemaker. But somehow it always seems to be the most active person on the game (I am talking like present for 90 percent of all rp that happens on the game...) Since my RL job makes my availability limited, if these people don't choose of their own volition to take a break during the limited days I can play, I have to either court trouble by joining a public scene knowing they also want to join, or just skip that day and know it will be a week before I get another chance.

    My question is, is this just me? Does this happen to other people? How do you handle it, if so? Is there an option besides just giving up on yet another otherwise fun game?

    I'm not down for forcing myself down the throat of people who don't like me, but it's also a bummer to constantly feel forced off fun games by active people who hate me for reasons they won't share, and refuse to address like adults.

    Does this hobby just not want me here and most people are just too nice to say? Or am I just having bad luck with nonconfrontational staff who don't know how to deal with toxic members of the community?


  • Tutorialist

    I mean, granted, I don't like a whole lot of people and will go out of my way to avoid quite a few of them, when reasonable. That said, I'm not sure who you are, so I don't think we've got beef.

    That said, this doesn't sound all that uncommon, and I'm pretty sure it's not you personally. Some people get their rocks off by playing the gender-neutral catty mean girl archtype that just has to stir the pot.

    Best to ignore it.



  • On the one hand, I think some of what you're describing is unfortunately pretty typical. I think a lot of MUSHing isn't looking for the perfect environment but the good enough environment where the bad outweighs the good. And sometimes, that's not possible the bad definitely is overweight and the good is being starved.

    But I will offer some gentle feedback that you may want to examine your narrative about what's happening and try to run through an outside perspective.

    You describe yourself as being hated and I grant that this may be hyperbole to emphasize how bad your experiences are but just in case, that's not the situation...

    Hate is really strong term and unless you're being told by totally different individuals that they very specifically hate you every time, then I think you may be overly stacking their feelings about you or the situation at hand. And are you actually evaluating the situation with an even hand or are you letting your emotional outlook on the situation paint everything with a galvanized brush?

    It's also the case that you may not get along with some people on some games some of the time and if you like the same games, you're probably going to run into them over and over across games. I think everyone on this forum has at least one person that they don't particularly care for but having to learn to co-exist on a game with them is part of the deal and you learn ways to cope with them being there.

    And just... I think it's worth examining that the only common denominator in all these experiences is you. And I'm not saying you are the problem but I am saying that you are ultimately in charge of how you react to these situations and you may be biasing your reactions with the expectation that you're going to have a bad time, you'll generally find it.



  • That used to happen to me often. My story isn't a great one.

    I used to get angry and frustrated about it, but not much good came from it. You can't win against things like that, especially if you're coming at it with negative feelings.

    Eventually, I just left MU* games altogether and moved to local and online tabletops. But the really shitty thing is that I loved MU*s the most and wouldn't want to give up on them. So I keep coming back every now and then to see if things are different, only to be disappointed. But only slightly, because my expectations are very low.



  • @ThoughtBubble I can really only advise as a former player who, maybe a little over a year ago, decided to delete the apps, website bookmarks, etc and move on with other night hobbies.

    For me, it got to the point where the games were synonymous with the OOC politics. I tried going in-cognito but I'd get grilled in pages about who I am, or how my PB was a PB of someone who hurt a 3rd party friend and ruined it for them, or unrequested personal details about how the person I'm roleplaying with was a leg-pissing slut. Then, i tried going in-cognito and playing undeclared female PCs, but that resulted in page harassment. It got to the point where no matter my better efforts the OOC politics, the circlejerk of staff friendship benefits, and the extreme pushiness involved in the murky half-truths of character romances just became constant and uncomfortable.

    I think the general MU culture has become a cult in the sense that it can be very bizarre to outsiders, and the moment you start to grasp for more mature, rational behavior the discomfort becomes all the more apparent. There is a way things are done and the cycles have repeated for decades with few changes. There are many people who arent half as honest as they claim to be, and villain figures who arent half as evil as some problem people (who may or may not be considered problem people, yet they are) make them out to be.

    My advice is that if you feel that there's no way to escape whatever you find negative about the hobby...then dont dedicate another decade to trying to find a place where it works. Some people have good successes with clinging to very specific bubbles of trusted players (while weathering the bizarre/corrupt/dishonest behaviors), but even then I hear a lot about how it's an obstacle course to enjoy the game as a whole while navigating these types.

    For me, I ultimately decided that what I originally wanted was a large group of people working together to have fun, but I realized that I couldn't remember the last time I felt an environment so welcoming/rewarding without little political/social camps and hierarchies.

    I've talked with people who also agree that social life outside of MU can be stunted from the drama of MU. I've focused these days on PS4, board game nights, mmorpgs, tabletop rpgs, and disc golf. It's been fun and rewarding for me, and I dont feel so much like I'm having to swim upstream against a bunch of challenging personalities to simply enjoy my evenings.

    So all I can tell you aside from this is that I cut the cord and my general evenings are way less frustrating and self-esteem compromising than they used to be.



  • Others have already addressed the other issues (and I am inclined to agree with Ghost as a relative newbie that there are definitely The Way Things Have Always Been Done Here in this hobby). So I'll just tack an opinion onto one thing in your post:

    Since my RL job makes my availability limited, if these people don't choose of their own volition to take a break during the limited days I can play, I have to either court trouble by joining a public scene knowing they also want to join, or just skip that day and know it will be a week before I get another chance.

    There are games out there, run on the Ares platform, that try to cater specifically to the fact that not everyone can be around every night in US prime time to catch all the action. Some do it deliberately, others simply have a player base in which a lot of people can't sit around all the time for various reasons.

    Personally I can't because health and European time. Most people I play with are any combination of fellow Europeans, chronically ill, chronically fatigued, or just don't have much time. So we do asynchronous scenes instead, and, well, it works.

    Not going to claim this play style never has drama or player politics, but there does seem to be less of it. Probably because play time is that much more precious when you have little of it, and you're not going to waste it arguing.

    Just tossing that out there to help remove at least one obstacle.



  • @ThoughtBubble said in MUSH conflict... sad face?:

    To the credit of the staff of most games, they seem to recognize this behavior as childish and inappropriate, but the only staffer who has been willing to handle it in a way that doesn't effectively kill the game for me is Fara. (Thanks Faraday!)

    Follow-up. I agree with the shoutout to @faraday. Even when we disagree on things she provides a mature counterpoint and keeps things civil, which I have always appreciated. I'm a supporter.

    One thing that came to mind while I was thinking about this thread was the concept of self-esteem and insecurity that I regularly ran into on these games. I think it's important to recognize the number of people who at any given time worry that they're being avoided, blacklisted, shunned, making a fool out of themselves, disliked, that their poses are being judged unfairly, that people don't want to RP with them, that someone's spreading false rumors about them, etc, etc, etc. There also seems to be a number of people out there who can be fairly vocal about how great they and theirs are, how they don't believe there to be bullies, cliques, etc, and I've always found that somewhat telling.

    Throw a rock on this forum and you'll hit someone who feels that they're being judged unfairly and takes great care to constantly consider whether or not there will be retribution drama for speaking up or standing up for themselves. Throw a rock and you'll hit someone who worries about being silently judged (and then overtly judged through pages, IMs, cliques, etc) in a way that will leave them unable to enjoy the hobby. Throw a rock and you'll hit a staffer who had to weigh whether or not disciplining a problem player would result in drama/accusations that would destroy their game.

    I don't believe these insecurities to be 100% on the shoulders of the insecure, because I think a much larger number of people are well aware of how much nastiness goes on behind the scenes with some fairly prevalent players. A lot of people just want to have fun without having to prove themselves as being worthwhile to others, and I've always find that somewhat depressing that this insecurity is as pervasive as I saw it to be.

    Like Warma, the part that sucks is that there's something this hobby really could provide that I couldn't get anywhere else, and I occasionally check back in to see if the landscape has changed. Personally, I don't think the landscape WILL change until some key people go away,



  • @Ghost said in MUSH conflict... sad face?:

    There also seems to be a number of people out there who can be fairly vocal about how great they and theirs are, how they don't believe there to be bullies, cliques, etc, and I've always found that somewhat telling.

    +1



  • @GangOfDolls I went through this exact line of logic. In this last case, I convinced myself I was being overreactive until they explicitly told me that they have no desire to interact with me, and the fact that they detest me was confirmed by staff.

    But ya know, you have the point. I am the common denominator. Except that this happens no where else in my life but within MUSH culture. So I am at a loss to explain what I am bringing to the table to cause it. I tend to be pretty open to self-improvement, but it's kinda hard to self-improve when you can't get feedback about what's going wrong. :/


  • Pitcrew

    @ThoughtBubble said in MUSH conflict... sad face?:

    Except that this happens no where else in my life but within MUSH culture.

    While standing far away from any rocks because my house is glassier than Willy Wonka's elevator, I would point out that this hobby is not known for attracting or retaining people who are skilled at social interaction. It could be you, but the community's part in it can't be discounted. These things are by definition a two-way street.



  • Thanks for the feedback everyone. :)



  • @ThoughtBubble

    I think @GreenFlashlight has a good way of explaining that it can be a mix of things.

    The thing that I can advise which takes some time and grit and fortitude even when it feels like you don't have any to summon is to try and seek out one or two people that you know in the community who is apart of this issue but has enough information to make an assessment.

    I would ask them for candid feedback about what they view might be happening. I would commit to making it clear that you're asking with good intent and further to commit to not react poorly, get angry at them, or otherwise, shoot the messenger. And they might say some things that are painful to read (but they also may not!) but do your best to just take it in as information and nothing more in the moment. You can have assessments and emotional value judgments later but often how we feel about what's being said and what's being said can be very different things, and one can drown out the other in the moment.

    I think it's sometimes better to ask people who aren't quite friends but not people with whom you're in conflict with and have no skin in the game, as they won't avoid saying things to avoid hurting your friendship. But at the same time, I wouldn't pick out people who are overly blunt or indelicate for the sake of being so.

    And then just kind of sit with it for a while. Sometimes the feedback ends up being right once you're done sort of processing it and taking it all in. And sometimes it's not actually accurate and you're free to file it in the circular file.


  • Pitcrew

    This came up on my fb today and seemed related.

    alt text



  • @GreenFlashlight said in MUSH conflict... sad face?:

    While standing far away from any rocks because my house is glassier than Willy Wonka's elevator, I would point out that this hobby is not known for attracting or retaining people who are skilled at social interaction.

    triggered cat



  • @silverfox said in MUSH conflict... sad face?:

    This came up on my fb today and seemed related.

    alt text

    I wish I could not only remember these things but also actually take them to heart.

    That's the hard part.



  • @GangOfDolls said in MUSH conflict... sad face?:

    @ThoughtBubble

    I think @GreenFlashlight has a good way of explaining that it can be a mix of things.

    The thing that I can advise which takes some time and grit and fortitude even when it feels like you don't have any to summon is to try and seek out one or two people that you know in the community who is apart of this issue but has enough information to make an assessment.

    I would ask them for candid feedback about what they view might be happening. I would commit to making it clear that you're asking with good intent and further to commit to not react poorly, get angry at them, or otherwise, shoot the messenger. And they might say some things that are painful to read (but they also may not!) but do your best to just take it in as information and nothing more in the moment. You can have assessments and emotional value judgments later but often how we feel about what's being said and what's being said can be very different things, and one can drown out the other in the moment.

    I think it's sometimes better to ask people who aren't quite friends but not people with whom you're in conflict with and have no skin in the game, as they won't avoid saying things to avoid hurting your friendship. But at the same time, I wouldn't pick out people who are overly blunt or indelicate for the sake of being so.

    And then just kind of sit with it for a while. Sometimes the feedback ends up being right once you're done sort of processing it and taking it all in. And sometimes it's not actually accurate and you're free to file it in the circular file.

    I'm quoting this because it's good advice. For many, many years I have felt this way. Sometimes it's been in my own head, sometimes it has legitimately been others freezing me out. When that stew is simmering in your brain, it's difficult to assess what's actually happening.

    I have a number of friends but there's only one or two whose judgment I trust with this sort of thing. Our friends want us to be happy so when I come to them and say, "My brain is telling me this, I'm really down/hurt/angry about it," their instinct as people who care about me is to want to make me feel better. They will say it's rejection dysphoria (sometimes it is!), or not me at all (sometimes it isn't!), or that 2020 is a nightmare hellscape seemingly custom designed to suck our very souls out through our pores and leave us as shivering puddles of gooey and sentient misery (it is!).

    But the one or two friends I know I can trust for a balanced response will say these things and also tell me "I think you are conflating a lot of different stressors and pinning it on this online issue because it's a lot safer right now to freak out about this online issue than it is to aim that mental and emotional energy at the greater real world, especially if you don't feel like spending the next six months in a jail cell."

    They tell me "Yes, this seems like a hurtful situation and I understand why you feel harmed by it."

    They tell me "No, you're not crazy, these comments seem innocent but I can see why you read them this way right now. Here is how I read them, let's figure out if the truth is somewhere in between those two points or outside of them."

    They tell me "Whoa, I haven't seen you react this strongly before to something. Let's breathe together for a minute and when you're feeling stronger we can pick this apart."

    Every one of those examples are things I've been told over the years. I'm grateful to have these sounding boards and I try to be the same for them. Nothing was fixed or solved or made better in the moment but that's usually the first step towards me coming back to a more constructive place, to adjust my behavior or expectations or thoughts. Or, sometimes, to realize I actually am in a toxic situation and didn't realize it at the time.



  • @silverfox Yeah, I had just about convinced myself this was the issue until I was explicitly told they secretly hated me for a while now, and apparently I didn't pick up on it.


  • Pitcrew

    Sometimes when people say /everyone/ hates you or they all secretly hate you and etc, they are trying to stir up drama for their on reasons and benefit.

    I wouldn't trust a third party going everyone hates you or they all hate you or this person secretly hates you. First of all it might not be true or it could be only partly true. They might be trying to stir up trouble and spark a drama between two people.



  • @Caryatid Thanks guys. This basically confirms that I am doing everything I can to be adult and not toxic. I have actually sacrificed my rp time for the past two weeks over this latest one, trying to do exactly what you described, and got no where. It was pulling teeth to get them to even admit there was a problem. (And my free time is exceedingly small, as I usually have to work 11 hour days or more.)

    If I attempt to address things openly but everyone involved rejects that attempt, I guess there's no where to go with it. Even typing this up is making me realize it's coconuts that I spent this much time trying to make things work, given my life situation.

    It's a small MUSH community, and it's time to take the hint, I guess.



  • @kk It's never "everyone". It's always one individual with similar behavior patterns. Like to the point that it could be the same player each time for all I know. I don't generally waste time trying to guess what alts a person might have had in the past... But given how different my characters are from each other, it would be WILD if it really was the same player.


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