The problem with that thing all WoW players know as “DRAMA” is that once the drama ball starts rolling, it’s hard to stop. You get caught in this sticky web, and the more you try and get out of the drama-vironment, the worse you seem to make it. It’s like there is a panic in the streets, and anything you say or do can and will be treated as MOAR DRAMA.
It usually doesn't stem from one source. We've got it running rampant in our Alliance right now, and it's not just from one person, I assure you. It's like a disease that is spreading quickly through our ranks. Hell, I've been suckered in myself, and contributed a lot more to it than I meant to.
The underlying sources of drama
The relative anonyminity of the internet allows us all to release our inner jerk. Yet, even despite this, the biggest problem is miscommunication, and even that comes down to basic human flaws. People are wimpy. It’s so much easier to tell someone they are doing a great job, than to tell them they suck. Now, for some people, it’s a helluva lot more fun to tell people they suck – but in general I don’t like spending time with those people anyway. Except my fiancé, and that’s just because he’s cute.
It’s not easy to step up, and privately tell someone you don’t like what they are doing. It requires a lot of diplomacy. Doing it in anger will only make it worse, and if you can’t be calm and rational when expressing your grievances with someone, then you will most likely just make it worse. I’m a big proponent of positive honesty, and I have been accused of many things because of it.
It’s not easy to be that person who gets criticized – even when it’s done in a private, calm, rational way. I don’t take criticism very well and I’ll be the first to admit it. I know some people who always seem to assume the best about themselves – unless they are told they are doing a crappy job, they believe they are doing quite well. They give too much credence to kind compliments. I’m the extreme opposite of that particular type of benevolent arrogance. I always assume I’m doing everything wrong, and that I am crap at everything I do. Unless someone tells me I’m doing a good job, I assume I’m not. So if someone shoots criticism at me, it really shakes me – because I don’t need confirmation of my own failures.
If you cannot stand up and explain to someone how and why you are disgruntled with them, if you cannot appreciate the bravery it takes for someone to express their grievances about you TO you, then you are failing at mature human interaction. Being a WoW player doesn’t excuse you from mature human behavior.
From where I’m standing, that’s the source of the drama. People are being unfair to one another, and it all comes back to that fear of honesty. So let’s break it down.
It is unfair to expect others to fix a problem they do not realize exists.
Most people do not read minds. A lot of people who play this game are really dense. There’s no point in getting pissed off about something they cannot change about themselves. If you want more positive outcomes, you have to adapt. You cannot realistically expect others to know you are upset with them unless you TELL them – and tell them why.
Informing others that you are upset with them will likely not have a very positive response if you do it in a public fashion that is meant to attack, alienate, or accuse them.
If someone takes great pains to apologize to you for something they’ve done to upset you, or if someone goes to great effort to rectify their previous actions due to your criticisms, it is unfair to attack them in such a public setting. They are doing all they can to rectify their mistakes. Get over your grudges, and try to come at it with a clear head. Did they listen to your criticisms? Have their words and activities since you expressed your concerns shown a marked improvement? Are they at least trying? Give them credit.
Venting your frustration
Everyone gets pissed off about the ways things are being run in a guild or alliance from time to time. Sure, sure, if you had the ultimate power, I'm sure you could make it all better. Just ask Stalin.
Sometimes, all you want is to rant. It's cathartic. The thing is, you need to pick your rant location and audience carefully. Yesterday I was subjected to quite possibly the most amusing and annoying rant ever by a pretty good friend of mine. I could hold it against him, but truth be told - I'm glad he ranted to me instead of behind my back, or in a public forum. I'm especially glad that he chose to take it out on me instead of on the people who were the true sources of his anger. If we had been in the same room I probably would have punched him in the neck, but see, that's why the internet is so awesome. I would like to believe that he went off at me because he knew it was safe, and that I wouldn't hold it against him or anyone else. I know that my part in contributing to the current drama from which our group is suffering is due to my poor choice of rant locales and audiences. Go ahead and get out your frustrations, especially before you address them to the source, but take care not to influence others into a grudge they are unlikely to forgive anytime soon.
Drama can be prevented
I recently had a misunderstanding with a very dear friend of mine in the WoW universe. Luckily for both of us, it was only semi-public; Only a handful of people saw what we had to say. We both shed a lot of tears about it, and then talked about it privately, and understand a lot more about one another. Now we’re back to mutual adoration. It all stemmed from taking things too personally (on both sides) and possibly being less than forthright with one another. Why didn’t this escalate to full on guild/alliance level drama? Because instead of attacking one another in increasingly public spaces, we decided to handle it privately, and accept one another’s apologies.
We’re both girls. I am trying to decide if I think this has any bearing on the outcome. I am the anti-sexist, so I usually try to avoid such generalizations. But there’s a lot of testosterone in WoW, and there sure are a lot of temper tantrums. Is this a solid trend? Moar research required! I need a flow chart.
Basically, most drama can be prevented by calm honesty, discreet disagreements, and rampant forgiveness. We all screw up. And most of the time? Our mistakes are not malicious. We can’t always see things from another perspective, unless that perspective is specifically explained to us.
I have multiple examples of people with whom I disagree on a regular basis. Anyone who reads both of our blogs knows that Ful and I are polar opposites on a lot of issues – but despite the fact that we annoy the hell out of one another, we are equal opponents, and we consistently remain friends. Perhaps this is borne out of mutual respect. But that respect came from being honest with one another when we piss each other off. If it were not for that fact, we could easily continually instigate loads of drama.
Maybe it’s due to the fact that I know from experience such drama can be prevented, but I have very little patience for people who, instead of approaching disagreements with a clear head and a calm tongue, decide to spark drama. Is it a need for attention? Do you want people to beg for forgiveness so that you feel more powerful? Or do you simply feel that it’s not worth the energy to try to rectify the situation through more appropriate channels?
Regardless, I find the best way to deal with these types of misplaced acrimony is simply to ignore it. It doesn’t mean I don’t care – but I’d rather let it blow over, and instead focus my attention on those who find more productive means of conflict resolution.