Meltdown Recovery with John

Evidently my Reflections by request video from Febuary 14 wasn’t too badly done, as I’ve received a lot of inquiries about continuing the discussion, especially the topics raised at the end.

John Stephens contributed a lot of thoughts and attention to the development of role-playing, during what some think of as the strongest period of the Forge, when Sorcerer and Trollbabe were still shiny. He later did me a good turn in helping us contact some people in Sweden. Most recently, he spoke up in a G+ thread led by Ramanan S, regarding his experiences with Zak and me. Then he connected by email to discuss some more, thus leading me to think about a possible series of relatively unconstructed conversations.

To summarize the topics I raised originally:

  • Assessing the alleged community to see whether it even was one, then focusing upon and recovering the activity which was supposed to be the topic
  • Regarded rejecting a given person, considering personal severance and group exile, specifically in contrast to shaming and shunning
  • Reflecting upon what one internalized and normalized while interacting with a toxic person, in order to avoid continuing to think those things even after rejecting the specific person

In this conversation, I admit we meandered a bit and became too focused on certain things that cropped up rather than our intended goals, but the result is not too bad, I think.

  • Part 1 (embedded below) examines the too-simplistic “good ideas, bad person” construct and begins some OSR history talk; the latter was supposed to lead to thoughts on why that online designation led people to be vulnerable to such individuals as Zak, but …
  • Part 2 stays on that topic until about halfway through and then veers to focus on Lamentations of the Flame Princess and Jim Raggi, and veers again to get into personal experiences of the Satanic Panic …
  • Part 3 dissects Zak’s intellectual dishonesty in closer detail, with thoughts and facts that were not in my first video; it’s turning out to be pretty important to understand how a person can fabricate intellectual status and stature
  • Part 4 manages to get back to Jim and our positions thereunto, but never gets back to why we were talking about the OSR in the first place; on the other hand, we finish strongly on one of our original topics, regarding the concept of exile and how it’s much better than shaming/shunning

John’s blog + his excellent Twisted Tunnels: The Deep Six Delver


2 responses to “Meltdown Recovery with John”

  1. Spine-chilling…

    A friend of mine recommended this series of videos to me in relation to something we were talking about.

    I have only watched Reflections by request so far. I wasn't playing role-playing games when this controversy with Zak S. happened. I am aware of it and know people that were affected by it in the sense that they had bought his stuff and played it, and they felt betrayed.

    I don't have much to say other than that Ron's characterization of Zak S. scares the shit out of me.

    I've led a similarly colorful life through my personal involvement in the punk rock community and my professional involvement in computer security. My experience with physical violence checks the same boxes as what Ron describes from his own past. I have dealt with charismatic neo-nazi organizers and violent psychopaths from that community. I've had close personal relationships with people who turned out to be rapists and murderers. Professionally, I've dealt with people in the intelligence community and been in situations where I've had to seriously consider who is working angles and what those angles were.

    I have also seen it from the lens of people trying to do good in the world through my past personal involvement in things like SHARP (Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice) and ARA (Anti-Racist Action). I have worked on security and privacy software under the funding of the US state department, with all of that baggage that this kind of work and involvement entails. I don't harbor much trust for the "good guys" in many of these instances because I have also seen similar toxic, abusive, and manipulative behavior from certain individuals in those communities.

    If my colorful resume of life experiences is anything comparable to Ron's, then by proxy I think I can say with some authority that Zak S. is a very bad person.

    I think this series of videos makes for an excellent companion to John Battle's Alt-Right in Tabletop Games video. But in terms of my own colorful resume, I am not really the audience for John Battle's video because my experience with these kind of people is too extensive. John's video is good for awareness raising and does offer some good advice. But Reflections by request actually fills the gap for me with my own set of experiences.

    Even at the end of the video, Ron's take on social media, technology, and community building is dead-on. What he proposes are the types of communities I want to be involved in and build. We have one of those functional, healthy communities here at Adept Play. Adept Play is a pretty good template and Ron's principles are an excellent starting point. I would like to spend some part of the rest of my life looking at finding better technological alternatives to support such communites. I look forward to watching the rest of this series of videos…

    • I greatly appreciate it –

      I greatly appreciate it – thank you, and I'm looking forward to thoughts on the conversation with John.

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