Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Thanks for the Memories

You know, I don't tend to hold onto grudges.  I mean, sure, there are those, "You accused me of having an affair with my brother-in-law, then tossed me on the street" or "you lied my country into a devastating war and reamed the Constitution while you were at it" stiffies that never completely go away, but, for the most part, I'm a "let it go" kind of person.  Which is why, often, I find myself not remembering why someone else deeply dislikes me.

There is one small pocket of utter unforgiveness in me, though.  A little bubble of bile that--well, I'd say it defies healing, but I don't have any desire to heal it.

I like it.

You see, years ago, I was an active, vital, contributing part of an online gaming league.  A rather LARGE gaming league operated through Myleagues.  This one?  Dedicated to a game once offered on a free gaming site.

It was a skill-based game, and it required a lot of smarts and "outside the box" thinking.  In a nutshell, a cluegiver was given a word to clue, and, in eight spaces, they needed to give a clue that would bring players to the answer without using the word itself (except when we played phonics format).  We would play in teams, but each seven-word game would have individual players on opposing teams matched against each other.  Sadly, it did lend itself to cheating (friends who would message the answer to each other), but, for the most part, it was great fun.

Viciously competitive, but fun.

The league had an admin team, with a Head Admin who owned the league (and earned a portion of league profits).   I'll call her Joody.  Joody was . . . erratic.  Authoritarian.  Not particularly smart.  Histrionic.  And one day, after I'd been one of her "Admins" for maybe a year or so, she offered me the league.  Said she'd had enough.  She'd "inherited" the league from someone else, and now she wanted to hand it over to me.  It was too stressful.  I was the only person she trusted with it, the only one of her Admins who wasn't a dishonest, conniving incompetent (by her reckoning).  So, while I wasn't thrilled at the prospect (because she was right--it WAS stressful), I agreed because I really did love the league and wanted to do right by it.  She handed the mess over to me, and off I went.  She stayed on as a tournament director.

And then things got ugly.

Joooody began acting increasingly erratically.  She flipped out on other tournament directors.  She groused incessantly about everything from contests to other staff to new cluing formats.  And, finally, after better than half a year, she became the subject of one of our Admin meetings (we had online meetings a few times a week to discuss player problems, tournaments, monthly promotions, new rules and test formats, etc.).  After this meeting, in which it was agreed that, while her behavior was a problem, we were going to remain hands-off because she was the former Head Admin, all hell broke loose.  You see, one of my admins went back to her and shared with her the meeting transcript.

Jooooooody lost it.  She demanded "her" league back.  She arranged a viciously effective campaign to undermine me by absolutely smearing me to our league members.  None of it in the open, all behind the scenes.  She founded a new, competing league and recruited my "problem" tournament directors, had them stir up battles between other staff members, set them to work causing grief and turmoil in the tournaments, etc.  She had members, on a regular schedule, announce their defections in the message forum.  If I let the messages stand, it was "evidence" that I had lost control of the league, and if I removed them, it was "evidence" I was a tyrant.

And if I responded to them?  I was obviously a "bully."

After a few weeks?  She threatened to SUE me.  At which point, I told her to bring it on--I could hardly wait to see it.  No, there never was any hot attorney action.  Like anyone ever thought there would be.  What a git.

Oh, and a couple of months into the dispute?   She tried to hack the league and pull my earnings out.

As more and more members left to join her new league, the stress level got increasingly high.  I struggled to keep the league going, worked to keep tournaments on schedule, keep peace between my tournament directors, who were being told awful things about each other.

And two of those tournament directors?

A  married couple going by the names "Duck" and "Mopsy."  Theirs was a weird, creepy relationship with her being decades older, him being sickeningly lounge-lizard-y, and both being viciously vindictive and breathtakingly impressed with their own wittiness.  I felt pretty confident they were in Jooooooooooody's camp, but didn't dare dismiss them because they were very good at the game, i.e., the world thought they were just the nicest folks because the world didn't have to work with them.  They targeted my most productive, best contributing, most creative tournament director/admin and made it their life's work to torment her, which made her increasingly paranoid and snippy.  Stealing her graphics, scheduling tournaments to conflict with hers, spreading rumors about her, and all the while denying it.  It was hell.  Duck and Mopsy necessitated more meetings, the creation and implementation of more rules.  And all the while?

All the while, they were heading over to Jooooooo-oooo-ooody's new league and sharing promotion ideas, monthly contest ideas, graphics, etc., so that they could roll them out before we could and leave us scrambling.

Yes, this was for a GAME.  A LEAGUE.  Yes, I should have walked away, but I have this THING about not letting bullies win.  I know better now--sometimes fighting the fight is what gives them the victory.

It finally came to a head when Duck and Mopsy created a tournament graphic that was a direct attack against their target.  I called them into a meeting, asked them to explain, and they played absolutely, stupidly innocent.  And I lost it.  In the middle of their wide-eyed defense, I told them to "shut the f*** up."  Told them it was positively insulting, how stupid they seemed to think I was.

And that was it.  It was over.

They left the league, screaming that I had persecuted them, punished them, treated them oh, SO badly!  The thieving of ideas and plans continued, so I always knew I had spies in my house.  Duck and Mopsy linked me in search engines to dozens of porn sites, so that any search for my legal name brought up horrid pornography sites and images.  Yes, I know it was them, they bragged about it to certain "double agents."  And Jooo-ooo-ooody was the only person in this mess who knew my whole, real name.  Everyone else knew me by my married name, which isn't the same as my LEGAL name.

Again, "double agents."  In a gaming league.

The league, of course, struggled because it was always a fine line between defending myself and not engaging in the mudslinging.  I tried so hard to take the high road, which is nearly impossible when you're beset by sodden, dripping pigs.  The league staggered, foundered.  That I was able to get Duck and Mopsy in deep trouble for stealing graphics and contest ideas from yet another league?

Didn't help.  Not enough, because no one in their circle believed it.  Or, more accurately, no one in their circle cared because they could ignore any sin in the pursuit of harming me.  Yes, it really was that single-minded, that focused.

Eventually, I handed the league over to . . . I don't know who.  I don't remember.  Hell, now that I think about it, I may have shut the league down completely.  I really don't recall, I was so terrifically stressed by then.  This went on for a couple of years, and it helped nearly destroy my marriage.  This ate up, literally, 7-10 hours a DAY of my life.  I cried every day for over a year, so hurt by the betrayals and defections.  I took it all so personally because I thought these people were my friends, I thought I really did have some dippy duty to do a good job and give folks a fun site.

What a maroon, huh?

Of all those people, there was exactly ONE whose loyalty stood out.  ONE who was in it, not for the league, but for ME.  The rest of them?

Well, the competing league is still hobbling along with 40 or so members (the original league had over 2,500).  Most of the names I recognize (including Joooooo-ooo-ooo-dyyyyy), most of them I still dislike.  I guess that, with it being that difficult and emotionally devastating a time, they've become simple one-dimensional figures representing betrayal and hurt.  I don't much care about them anymore, but when I see their names, I admit, my eyes narrow a bit.  The lip maybe curls just a titch.

Except for Duck and Mopsy.  You see, Mopsy died a few years back.  Died hard, apparently.  There's no lip curl there, no narrowed gaze.  No, there's nothing but smiles there.

Hope the loss hurt, Ducky.  Bad.  Because you're the guy who screwed me over, lied to me, betrayed me, lied about me, had me linked in search engines to porn sites in an attempt to professionally harm me, and all around assassinated my reputation. And all for a game.  I'm glad you lost her.  I hope it hurt then, I hope it hurts now, and I hope it hurts forever.

Yes, I mean that.  Of all the characters in this vicious play, Duck and Mopsy are the ones who still inspire hurt and rage.  I'm glad she's dead.  I'm glad he's hurt.  Couldn't have happened to a more deserving couple.

On the "bright" side?  I will never let myself get pulled into another online community like that.  Facebook?  Doesn't even begin to approach it.  I ditch people on Facebook like tossing old snot rags--there are, perhaps, three dozen people on Facebook who actually mean anything to me (relatives aside, of course).  The rest?  Fun to have around, no loss if I decide to drop them.  I don't have to suffer, I don't have to bend over or contort myself for perfect strangers.

I will never again torture myself for an online group, community, whatever.  I will never again count myself responsible for the happiness of a bunch of strangers.

So hey, Joody, Tish, Duck (but not Mopsy!)?  Thanks for the lesson.  I admit, I was a slow learner, a spit-poor pupil.  But I did learn.  And I do remember you.  Every one of you.  And even today?  If your teeth were on fire, I wouldn't piss to put them out.

1 comment:

  1. The internet sure does bring out abhorrent behavior in some people. Things they might not ever do in real life, and it seems like it's easier to smear someone with the rapid spread of rumors and lies. Linking you to porn sites? Pretty harsh.
    I'm sorry that happened to you. I do understand the difficulty in just walking away. If it had been a group you met with once a week in real life, you could stop going, ignore it, and not see or hear what they said about you. But on the web, it's in your house, every time you sit down at the computer you're going to be tempted to check it. Plus there's that added pull of wanting to play a game you enjoyed, talk to people you were used to talking to.
    I've had to walk away from a whole group of "friends" after the big Breakup of 2012. Not because they chose to be friends with him, or because they were his friends first. No, it's just because they sided with him about the abuse that went on. They either don't believe it, or they think that I was "asking for it". In fact, I haven't talked to a couple of dozen people that we used to hang out with all the time, and it stopped well before we broke up, just because I felt like they were against me. I miss them, but at the same time I know they must not have been good friends after all. Then again, I haven't talked to them so it's possible that it's partly imagined by me. But yeah, it's been hard.
    And here's my take on the internet feuding. When I first learned to make soap and other cosmetics, I joined several mailing lists to talk to other people and learn more. There was a very active community and we all talked to each other every day. We'd often join a co-op when ordering supplies, so that we could get better prices on luxury ingredients. Well, there was a woman that disrupted the entire community. She was getting very nasty, complaining constantly that she was being harassed, and doing a lot of name calling. I stayed out of it until I noticed that what she was complaining about was that she'd taken a lot of orders for some co-ops, and then accepted money, cashed checks, and never filled the orders. She claimed that she hadn't received the merchandise and therefore couldn't fill the orders. But she wouldn't return the money, because she said she had paid for the merch. I realized that she'd taken MY money too, and sent me part of my order - a couple of pounds of beeswax pellets that she'd poured straight into a mailing pouch and sent to me, all dirty and spilling everywhere. Well, after she continued the name calling and responded to my polite inquiries with extreme rudeness, I did a little research and found out that you can report mail fraud very easily on the USPS web site. I told dozens of people how to do it, and if she'd cashed checks and didn't fill the orders or refund the money, she could face jail time. I didn't hear anything back from the post office but, within a week or so she completely disappeared from the internet. Her web site was gone, her email addresses were deleted, everything. I never got my $25 worth of stuff, but it felt SO satisfying that I stopped her. And I didn't even have to resort to linking her to porn sites or spreading lies about her. :)