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Suicide, Online Communities, & Responsibility

By Duende in Op-Ed
Mon Apr 01, 2002 at 05:32:47 PM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)
Culture

It sounds like an April Fool's joke, but it appears to be true. In the ongoing quest to blame corporate entities for individual failures, an online game called EverQuest is being blamed for the suicide of a twenty-one year old man. As reported in the Miluakee Journal Sentinel his mother is publically blaming Sony Online Entertainment for his death and threatening to sue. Once again, a cadre of experts appears to have sprung up to support her claims and present arguments completely detached from reality.


At first glance this may appear to be a story about the computer entertainment industry, but as I read the articles I found myself amazed at how some people can detach themselves from the reality of personal responsibility, and appalled (if not surprised) at how experts have appeared decrying the massive injustice of the boy's death and jockying to enjoy their piece of the inevitable monetary settlement.

The story describes the suicide of Shawn Woolley, a twenty-one year old man who lived alone and played EverQuest for around twelve hours per day. In a search to find reason behind her son's suicide last Thanksgiving (perhaps ignoring the existing diagnosis of depression and schizoid personality disorder), Elizabeth Woolley has pointed the finger directly at Sony Online Entertainment (EverQuest's backers), and is seeking a number of remedies including:

  • Warning labels indicating the game may be harmfully addictive.
  • Records of her son's conversations and actions in the game.
  • Financial penalties.

A number of the complaints made by those quoted in the article range from incindiery to completely illogical. Not surprisingly, these are many of the same ill-concieved arguments used by the families of those involved in other cases of violence where the entertainment industry was blamed for the tragedies. Like the cases recently thrown out involving Michael Carneal and the events at Columbine High School, guilt is once again being shifted away from the actual responsible parties and toward an entertainment providers.

At what point do we stop assigning blame to those responsible? The young man's mother blames Sony for not providing sufficient warning that the game was habit-forming, while at the same time admitting that her epileptic son knew he was being harmed yet continued anyway. "Probably the last eight times he had seizures were because of stints on the computer."

While distraught family members continue to have statements proclaiming that in all cases of addiction "either you die, go insane or you quit" heralded as fact, scare-mongering experts such as Jay Parker continue to cash in by implying that these online entertainments carry a level of addiction akin to "powdered cocaine and crack cocaine." Both Ms. Wolley and Mr. Parker seem to blame the other players themselves to some extent. She provides examples of when Shawn was betrayed by a fellow player, when she advised him that "he couldn't trust those people." Of particular interest to those of us who frequent community sites such as kuro5hin, Parker singles out the social aspect of the game as a potential trigger for the suicide, reminding us of the "false sense of relationships and identity" created by a community where people "say they have friends, but they don't know their names!" He blames Sony for making a game obviously designed to make players want to continue to play it over a long period of time. Entertainment people enjoy! The horror! Those who play the game do joke about its addictive qualities, giving it names such as EverCrack. This is no more a scientific proof of addictive properties than that provided by Knitters Anonymous" or A Chess Addict.

What has happened to concepts like personal, or even community responsibility. In this case someone an obviously troubled individual disregarded all common sense and medical advice. In the absence of proper medical care he continued a self-destructive lifestyle, and eventually pulled the trigger to end his own life. Unable to take assign responsibilty to the victim, and unwilling to exam their own roles, the family and professional community that should have helped Shawn are once again pointing the finger of blame at the two easiest targets: a faceless corporation, and the vast online communities that have few spokesmen. How will we defend ourselves, and what guilt will be assigned to us if this sort of blame-shifting continues?

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Favorite Online Addiction
o MMOGs 7%
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Display: Sort:
Suicide, Online Communities, & Responsibility | 115 comments (98 topical, 17 editorial, 0 hidden)
Interesting BBC story saying the opposite... (4.66 / 18) (#1)
by TheophileEscargot on Mon Apr 01, 2002 at 04:09:21 PM EST

...here. Quote:

A suicide attempt that was reportedly foiled by a community of people using an internet chatroom has been praised as an example of online community spirit...

Internet chatrooms had become increasingly popular places to discuss feelings that might otherwise remain suppressed, said Dr Jeff Gavin from the psychology department of the University of Bath, UK.

"People, particularly guys, can be a lot more honest in a chatroom and people feel that they won't be judged as you are in face to face meetings."


----
Support the nascent Mad Open Science movement... when we talk about "hundreds of eyeballs," we really mean it. Lagged2Death
say what? (4.25 / 4) (#5)
by KnightStalker on Mon Apr 01, 2002 at 04:20:03 PM EST

people feel that they won't be judged as you are in face to face meetings....Chatrooms are very supportive environments particularly with regular users.

Is there another Internet that I haven't been exposed to, or is this another April Fool's spoof? I think Dr. Gavin needs to do a bit more research. :-)

[ Parent ]

The other Internet (4.83 / 6) (#11)
by TheophileEscargot on Mon Apr 01, 2002 at 04:26:20 PM EST

In non-teen-dominated chatrooms, especially on proprietary networks, there do tend to be fairly supportive communities. From what I've seen of IRC (not much admittedly) there seems to be a big cultural difference.

Neither Kuro5hin.org nor #kuro5hin are very supportive tho. Whenever you think they've hit rock bottom, they have a depressing habit of going lower...
----
Support the nascent Mad Open Science movement... when we talk about "hundreds of eyeballs," we really mean it. Lagged2Death
[ Parent ]

Focused communities (5.00 / 2) (#15)
by Duende on Mon Apr 01, 2002 at 04:35:33 PM EST

The difference seems to be in how much focus the community has. A community with a more adult audience with a specific trait in common (like a support group or background) tends to be more supportive than a site with wider appeal. Compare a small local community site with a small membership to kuro5hin, and then kuro5hin to /., and you'll see the pattern.

================================================
"The Yatta dance is not a martial art."
--Midnight Phoneboys
[ Parent ]

No experience with AOL.... (4.66 / 3) (#18)
by KnightStalker on Mon Apr 01, 2002 at 04:40:10 PM EST

but between local BBSes, nationwide BBSes (anybody else remember the Bark BBS that some record company sponsored for a while?), Usenet, a tiny bit of IRC, /., and K5, I've yet to see an "I'm going to kill myself" post that didn't have at least one "please, do us all a favor and go ahead" response.

None of these places advertise themselves as "easy to use" or "family friendly", however. :-)

[ Parent ]

Depends on the community (none / 0) (#85)
by Cro Magnon on Tue Apr 02, 2002 at 02:08:34 PM EST

In an online group I belong to, there was a recent conflict between one person and a bunch of others which led to that one threatening to leave the group. Most of us requested that he stay, including some of the people he argued with. There's no doubt in my mind that if anyone talked about suicide, the rest of us would take it very seriously and do whatever it took to talk him/her out of it. We may be smart-@$$es, but not deliberatly hurtful.
Information wants to be beer.
[ Parent ]
You sure? (none / 0) (#98)
by axxeman on Wed Apr 03, 2002 at 12:24:21 AM EST

Remember the Signal11 suicide article?

Not yet. Don't come before we have finished humping...
[ Parent ]

Yup (none / 0) (#109)
by KnightStalker on Wed Apr 03, 2002 at 12:53:52 PM EST

and I remember the comments were about a third "please find help", a third "I understand", and a third "you're an asshole". Obviously not *all* the replies are of the "please kill yourself" variety, but there are always a few, and they're often the majority.

[ Parent ]
Similar story, horrible twist.. (4.50 / 6) (#13)
by StephenThompson on Mon Apr 01, 2002 at 04:30:55 PM EST

On another internet game platform not so long ago, a woman I know came in contact with a player who was threatening to commit suicide while online. She took the threat seriously and coaxed enough information from this person to call the authorities. Indeed, when the paramedics arrived, the person as overdosed on an anti-psychotic drug and would have died if not for the phone call and the paramedics help.

The unhappy continuation of this story goes like this: the person was an obsessive compulsive psychotic [hence the antipsychotic drugs] who became dependent on the woman's online persona. When she went on vacation for a couple of weeks, the person cracked completely, and began stalking the woman, making death threats against her and her family and friends, and attempting to destroy the woman in any way they could. The authorities were unwilling or unable to help. The person did end up in the mental ward for several months on unrelated issues, however is currently on the streets.

The woman now lays low hoping the psychotic will find someone else to stalk.

[ Parent ]
This is news? (4.75 / 4) (#36)
by Tau on Mon Apr 01, 2002 at 06:19:27 PM EST

I (co)own a small IRC network and this has happened twice in the year and a half it's been online, so it can't be that rare. (though oddly enough in both cases the suicide attempts were girls, make of this what you will...)

Both times it was a real incident, and this sort of thing is even mocked by some people on there. I dunno what to make of this, I just maintain the servers...

Perhaps, as someone's suggested, the fact that it's a tightly focused community explains it; almost everyone on the network, myself included, is between about 13 and 23 years of age, and it's supposed to be a general purpose net though it's mainly focused around a handful of communities (gaming, anime that sort of stuff). I can attest to the fact that it's a lot nicer than just about every other IRC network I've been to, in that it isnt crawling with h4xx0r kiddies or arrogant morons (well, ok we did have some twat DDoS'ing it a while back, I think it originated from some kid in Jordan with nothing better to do). A few people I know very well go there often to unwind and talk to others; through no fault of their own they've been landed in really shitty circumstances.

Apologies for the crap phrasing of that, I'm half asleep at the moment... =\

---
WHEN THE REVOLUTION COMES WE WILL MAKE SAUSAGES OUT OF YOUR FUCKING ENTRAILS - TRASG0
[ Parent ]
She wants to blame something (3.90 / 11) (#3)
by baronben on Mon Apr 01, 2002 at 04:14:20 PM EST

She doesn't want to blame her self, which is understandable. You can't blame the deseise, as it is now gone. While you can blame the man, it is often wrong to speak ill of the dead, and I don't think the monther would confide that it was her son's fault.

She's filled with greef now. I don't think that she is a perticular greedy or vindictve person. Lashing out at people is a natural way with dealing with the loss of a loved one. She chose to lash out at a large corporation. They'll probly settle out of court to avoid the cost of a trial and the bad press. I hope she gives the money to a charity to help people with depresion.
Ben Spigel sic transit gloria

On the other hand... (4.60 / 5) (#19)
by CluelessNewbie on Mon Apr 01, 2002 at 04:43:00 PM EST

If you had a little less faith in human nature you might conclude that she doesn't believe that she was responsible in any way. Further to that, all the hassle that she's had from the kid whilst he was ill, possibly she thinks she's owed something.

Now, imagine the scene, lawyer walks in and says he thinks they may settle out of court for a hefty sum of money...

You may be right, but then again you might not. For me the issue is whether the mother should be able to sue at all.


-------------------------------------------------
"Do you know what nemesis means? A righteous infliction of retribution manifested by an appropriate agent. Personified in this case by a 'orrible cunt. Me."
BrickTop
[ Parent ]
Everyone thinks they're owed something... (3.75 / 4) (#21)
by Duende on Mon Apr 01, 2002 at 04:51:49 PM EST

At least that is the impression I get when I read the newspaper. I don't think we have enough information to form an opinion about her true motives based on the single article, but I'd say that they are at least questionable.

================================================
"The Yatta dance is not a martial art."
--Midnight Phoneboys
[ Parent ]

Doesn't mean she can... (5.00 / 7) (#23)
by dipipanone on Mon Apr 01, 2002 at 05:02:42 PM EST

These threats to sue don't necessarily mean that the person complaining actually *can* sue. All too often, people make these claims in the press in the hope of shaking a few dollars out of major corporations by hoping that the bad publicity will be enought to get them to make an offer. And for the company, there's always the fact that an offer of a few thousand is always going to be cheaper than the cost of paying lawyers to defend any action.

Nevertheless, this is the sort of action that, as soon as it gets before a real judge gets thrown out of court on the grounds that there's no basis for a legal action there. Kid puts gun in mouth and shoots himself. How the hell is Sony supposed to be responsible for that?

The thing I found most interesting was the way that the addictions counsellor was whoring herself -- prepared to say anything in order to get her name in the papers, it seems. Once again, it's shoddy journalism we're seeing here. Obviously the reporter couldn't dig up a real addictions expert who was prepared to say that computer games are equivalent to drug dependence, and so they've obviously gone to the ambulance chaser's paid shill for a quote in an attempt to give the story legs.

Sad.

--
Suck my .sig
[ Parent ]
re: She wants to blame something (3.00 / 1) (#63)
by Maserati on Tue Apr 02, 2002 at 12:57:30 AM EST

In an ironic twist, the Everquest EULA may be Sony's way out. Shawn Woolley had to click through a license agreement that surely included a disclaimer of all liability on Sony's part.

--

For the wise a hint, for the fool a stick.
[ Parent ]

the "looking for trouble disease" (4.25 / 4) (#24)
by speek on Mon Apr 01, 2002 at 05:04:09 PM EST

I wonder if one searched if one could find a story about someone who spent 12 hours a day praying, going to church, etc, who nevertheless ended up committing suicide? It seems to be such a case could probably be found, but then - who would do such a thing?

My point is, there seems to be something which causes certain types of people to go looking hard for correlations between Things They Don't Like. Obviously, anecdotely, correlations can be found. Thus, in their minds, justifying their opinions of the Things They Don't Like.

Opon further thought, maybe this isn't something that just "certain" types of people do. Maybe we all do it. And that is my sad thought of the day :-(

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees

Compulsive behavior (4.00 / 2) (#25)
by Duende on Mon Apr 01, 2002 at 05:08:54 PM EST

I would tend to think that any behavior, whether it be an online game, or submitting articles about a suicide blamed on an online game, can appear evil if carried out compulsively. Some actions may lend themselves better to compulsive behavior (like some games, or washing one's hands), but you would still have to be predisposed to compulsive behavior to end up in this drastic a situation.

Then again, I'm not trained in these fields. Any care to enlighten me?


================================================
"The Yatta dance is not a martial art."
--Midnight Phoneboys
[ Parent ]

+1FP Good Article...very insightful. (2.80 / 5) (#26)
by m0rzo on Mon Apr 01, 2002 at 05:09:57 PM EST

It's funny isn't it how most of us don't succumb to such addictions. Addictions, I believe, are genetic; some people are more prone to them than others. I think it's absurd that this woman is trying to blame Sony. They, afterall, didn't force anyone to play the game. It's like someone crashing a car due to their own incompetence, then blaming the car company...non compos mentis, my friend.


My last sig was just plain offensive.

Well that's mostly true, (3.00 / 2) (#32)
by This Eloquent Fool on Mon Apr 01, 2002 at 05:44:04 PM EST

Nobody forces people to drink coffee, but we're all addicted to that, aren't we? Seriously, it's the thing or action that's the addiction. Creating a addictive (to some) substance, which in this case is a game, could carry some weight of responsibilty, but it's so indirect that it's a waste of money and manpower to attempt the lawsuit.

[ Parent ]
Why are you surprised? (4.33 / 6) (#28)
by MKalus on Mon Apr 01, 2002 at 05:26:12 PM EST

Having lived in quite some parts of the world (and currently residing in NA) I have learned one thing here:

Nobody is at fault, unless you can stick it to someone else.

That is true in personal experiences as well as in the job.

Everybody and everything else is blamed (Oh, it was gods will) but not one self.

I was sitting in Post Mortem Meetings where it was VERY VERY clear what had happened, and who made the mistake, but there was not ONE person who ever got up and admitted that they did wrong.

That is the society you're living in, and of course the blame is now shifted to the corporation because you can sue them and at least get some money that will ease your pain.

Did I mention that this attitude is something that ticks me off?

Oh yea, +1 FP. I think we need to talk about this.

OK, you caught me... (4.00 / 1) (#29)
by Duende on Mon Apr 01, 2002 at 05:33:41 PM EST

Stating that I was surprised and amazed is a bit of rhetoric on my part. A few years ago I probably would have been, but that was before dealing with users on a daily basis and working in a corporate environment. These days I hold individuals I know to a very high standard, but I expect this sort of behavior from groups of people and those I don't know. Sometimes I wish I had my old attitudes back.

================================================
"The Yatta dance is not a martial art."
--Midnight Phoneboys
[ Parent ]

Not only at work... (4.00 / 1) (#31)
by MKalus on Mon Apr 01, 2002 at 05:39:30 PM EST

... unfortunatly that isn't only true at work... At least not by my experience.

Sad sad sad... But hey, tell you what, why don't you buy the new gizmo you just saw the other day, I am sure you'll feel better after that ;)

[ Parent ]
Well written (3.33 / 3) (#30)
by snappy on Mon Apr 01, 2002 at 05:39:10 PM EST

So good that I apparently pushed it to the frontpage (had to mention it - I'm a newbie here you know). But anyway, it's not unique for this industry- it happens everywhere. I think it got something to do with the very individualistic trend in the society.

If she was so worried by this.. (4.62 / 8) (#33)
by RandomAction on Mon Apr 01, 2002 at 05:50:17 PM EST

..couldn't she have applied some 'tough love' and trashed the PC? Couldn't she have applied help more aggresively? Hitting out at Everquest seems churlish.

He lived alone (5.00 / 1) (#51)
by Woundweavr on Mon Apr 01, 2002 at 08:29:05 PM EST

He didn't even live with his parents anymore. He lived alone and had a history of depression and schitzophrenia

[ Parent ]
Then why on Earth (none / 0) (#73)
by Turkish Delight on Tue Apr 02, 2002 at 11:47:10 AM EST

was he allowed to live alone?

His mother sounds like she was in denial over a few issues, chief among them being that her son was mentally competent.

The kid should have never left his parent's home if he was riddled with mental illness. Plain and simple. Perhaps someone should sue the parents for gross neglect?

[ Parent ]
With ya but for one thing (none / 0) (#81)
by Woundweavr on Tue Apr 02, 2002 at 01:24:41 PM EST

I agree, except for one thing. He was 21 and legally an adult. Not that that gives the mother the right to sue either, but she's not gonna listen to reason.

[ Parent ]
involuntary commital (none / 0) (#93)
by rantweasel on Tue Apr 02, 2002 at 07:01:48 PM EST

Depending on his degree of mental competance, there's always involuntary commital. Even if that isn't an option, if you have a friend or relative with a history of depression who is getting that obsessive, it's time to do something. Show up and go for a walk or out to lunch or anything, just talk, anything really. Willfully ignoring (or disregarding) an 8 hour a day everquest obsession is simply asking for disaster.

mathias

[ Parent ]
No argument here (none / 0) (#94)
by Woundweavr on Tue Apr 02, 2002 at 07:11:45 PM EST

Yep.

Conclusion : Mother didn't do the best job. Mother needs a scapegoat. Lawyers want money. Lack of accountability + Greedy Lawyers = Lawsuit.

[ Parent ]

You're all my friends right? (4.83 / 12) (#34)
by LilDebbie on Mon Apr 01, 2002 at 05:54:15 PM EST

Then why didn't any of you come to my birthday party? Oh yeah, I didn't have one.

Personally, I enjoyed the bullshit explanation for why they were suing. "We're trying to whack them with a verdict significantly large so that they, out of fiscal self-interest, will put warning labels on," is a rather weak translation of, "instead of just suing the crap out of them and then allowing them to settle for warning labels when it becomes apparent they will lose, we will sue the crap out of them, maybe let them settle for millions of dollars, and then they'll put warning labels on to prevent being sued again."

Yeah, it's disgusting. If only we could show our Founding Fathers what their civil court system has wrought...

My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
- hugin -

Addiction (4.50 / 8) (#35)
by drivers on Mon Apr 01, 2002 at 05:54:23 PM EST

The press loves the term "addiction." Doctors speak of dependency, and compulsive behaviors.

There is no such thing as computer addiction recognized by the medical community. Supporters of the idea tend to be people who want to make money treating it, and the press.

Follow the Money (4.66 / 3) (#38)
by Lord of the Wasteland on Mon Apr 01, 2002 at 06:23:51 PM EST

Jay Parker, quoted several times in the article, runs a for-profit counseling buisness. Here is an article about it from the Seattle Times. My favorite quote is from his partner, who defines Internet addiction as "using the technology of the Internet in an addictive way." Brilliant.

[ Parent ]
My reactions (3.75 / 4) (#37)
by krogoth on Mon Apr 01, 2002 at 06:23:18 PM EST

I think overall, as many people have already said here, Everquest was not the problem, but there are some other interesting things:

She effectively claims that online communities are worse than not knowing other people at all, just because you don't know very much about the other people...

One person said that the graphics are so thrilling that they draw people in. I want to know how they got Everquest running on the Quake3 engine...
--
"If you've never removed your pants and climbed into a tree to swear drunkenly at stuck-up rich kids, I highly recommend it."
:wq
And a warning would help how? (4.66 / 3) (#39)
by bobm on Mon Apr 01, 2002 at 06:45:34 PM EST

ok, cig's have warnings that they will kill you and that doesn't stop people from smoking, if you're a bit off how would a warning on a box really help?

The mother should blame herself since she was aware of the problem and didn't do enough to rid it, however since he was an adult he was within his rights to off himself, at least he didn't take other people with him.

And yes, I'm aware that it's against the law to do it but then there are lots of laws that we break everyday link

this may seem cruel but it really isn't.

Missing poll option (4.00 / 1) (#40)
by DrJohnEvans on Mon Apr 01, 2002 at 07:08:08 PM EST

The Threshold RPG.

It has amazing powers of addiction, especially considering that it's entirely textual. I managed to break the habit about a year ago; I've never looked back. Don't consider playing unless you a) are retired and bored, b) have incredibly powerful time-management skills that can control such addictions, or c) haven't found an online multiplayer RPG that meets your high standard of quality, detail, interaction, immersion, and all-around amazement.

Stop the Finger Pointing (4.62 / 8) (#41)
by jenlane on Mon Apr 01, 2002 at 07:15:40 PM EST

Since when were twenty-one year old men considered children? Shawn Woolley's mother was more responsible for her son's actions than Sony was for triggering his epileptic seizures or his suicide. If Ms. Wolley insists on finding someone to blame other than Shawn, she has to look no further than the mirror. However, because the "boy" was legally a man (and I am assuming that he was mentally and physically capable of making his own decisions), the only one responsible for his game obsession and eventual suicide is Shawn Woolley himself.

Human nature. (4.25 / 4) (#42)
by Apuleius on Mon Apr 01, 2002 at 07:24:11 PM EST

When you lose a kid, you have the most overarching desire to prove to the whole wide world that it wasn't your fault. It wasn't your fault that you didn't spot the warning signs of an impending disaster. Someone else had a closer look and should have spotted them. It wasn't your fault that he was depressed. It was the pills or the computer or the circle of friends or the lack of one or something, anything. I've seen this at some distance twice, and I can't blame the mother too much. The lawyers, however, are preying on her and are a prime example of how lawyers in the US have gotten out of control, and why they are so despised.


There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
My firm beliefs (4.63 / 11) (#43)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Mon Apr 01, 2002 at 07:25:12 PM EST

I have some firm beliefs on this subject.

You can become addicted to anything. I've been a 'problem gamer' before, never on the level of Shawn though. It did affect my grades in college. I've known drinking addicts, gambling addicts, gaming addicts (some near Shawn's level), food addicts, TV addicts, drug addicts. I'm sure there's a K5 addict around here somewhere. This has nothing to do with your 'drug of choice', it has everything to do with you. Addiction appears to be a similar biochemical response no matter what the person is addicted to. Those who would attack a drug, or a game, or a movie, for the horrible consequences of one person's addiction, are fools. Every one of them.

Addiction is a mental illness. It isn't a choice someone makes, it is a disease that some people are more susceptible to. Yes, people need to take responsibility for their own actions, but we can't look at it as something that affects the weak-willed, we can't ask addicts to just 'snap out of it.' A lot of people ask people with depression, 'why don't you just stop being sad?' It's the same thing. People with addictions need the support of those around them, in addition to accepting responsibility for their lives.

Watch out for 'counselors' such as the article's Jay Parker.. it's a noble idea to make a center specifically for Internet and computer addicts, but this guy sounds like an idiot. He is clearly not an educated mental health professional. He loses all credibility as soon as he starts comparing the addictiveness of EQ vs. the addictiveness of crack. Also look for pearls of wisdom such as, 'The graphics are absolutely thrilling. They just haul you in.' This is EverQuest we're talking about, right? It was ugly when it came out, and that was like 4 years ago..

'But they are all the same. It's like cigarettes.' Hey, I do agree with the guy there. Until he says, 'They need to come with a warning label.' Doesn't he realize? It's all the same, meaning drugs, gambling, games, food, sex, work. Do we put a warning label on EVERYTHING? For some reason a simple alternative comes to mind: Accept the inherent dangers of living in this world, and take responsibility for your actions. Live a balanced life. When something screws up, take a deep breath instead of going on a mad quest to place blame.

--
jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.

addiction vs. obsession (3.00 / 3) (#48)
by n1pper on Mon Apr 01, 2002 at 08:07:35 PM EST

Throwing around the word "addiction" seems to contribute to the problem of denying responsibility. A dictionary.com search for "addiction" has this definition " 1. Compulsive physiological and psychological need for a habit-forming substance", notice _physiological_, did this kid PHYSICALLY crave EQ? Do _compulsive_ gamblers PHYSICALLY crave gambling? Addiction involves both the body and the mind. Obsession or compulsion sound like much better descriptions of this kids, and many other "addicts", problems.

[ Parent ]
I confess (5.00 / 1) (#53)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Mon Apr 01, 2002 at 08:49:31 PM EST

I confess, I am pretty liberal with the terms. I guess I see them as being more interchangeable than they are. Using more exact terminology, I don't believe physical addiction (as you describe it) is very common, by itself.

More common is when someone compulsively engages in some behavior. I believe no matter what the object of the person's compulsion is, it is the same underlying biochemical response. Yes, compulsive gamblers physically crave a feeling their body gets ONLY during the excitement of gambling. It might as well be a drug. I see no reason why a game addiction should work differently. If it weren't for the obvious health risks of addictive chemicals, I'd say that compulsive behaviors were MORE dangerous than physical addiction. This is due to depression, people giving up social contact, suicide, etc.

Throwing words around is also an excellent way to dodge responsibility. Do you really think that people with obsessive-compulsive tendencies, as opposed to 'real addiction' just need to 'be responsible?' It's clearly a mental disorder that needs to be addressed through support, counseling, possibly medication.

Also, is it a new fad to use a dictionary as your medical and scientific reference? Someone pointed that out in another discussion where people backed up their claims with the old pocket collegiate dictionary. Before you look up 'bipolar' in your trusty Webster's, why not get a better reference?

--
jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]

Selective Literacy? (4.00 / 1) (#58)
by ratdesang on Mon Apr 01, 2002 at 10:05:32 PM EST

Interesting how you completely neglected to include the definition from dictionary.com #2:

2a. The condition of being habitually or compulsively occupied with or or involved in something.
2b. An instance of this: had an addiction for fast cars.

--

Addictions can be physical or mental or both. It's not simply limited to what you feel in your veins. Often times, the worst addictions can be the ones that rest firmly in your mind.

EverQuest appeals wonderfully to those that are easily prone to addiction. A whole world outside of our own. One can have love, money and power if one is willing to work at it. It's an escape.

Don't get me wrong. It's unfair to blame Sony, or Variant. These people need something. That kid probably needed something.

What IS wrong is to deny people that really suffer from these addictions any less care, or sympathy, or treatment.

[ Parent ]
Deja Vu all over again. (4.00 / 10) (#44)
by slick willie on Mon Apr 01, 2002 at 07:27:21 PM EST

Desparate parents trying to blame someone for their teenager's suicide is nothing new.

It has happened before...

...and before...

The desire to place blame is probably as old as the hills -- it's only recently that we've been able to litigate to try to find some reason behind suicide.

The simple fact is, there is no "reason" for suicide. There are a myriad of excuses, but reason never rears its head in the decision.

"...there is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn't mind who gets the credit."
--Ronald Reagan, First Inaugural Address

Why not? (2.50 / 6) (#49)
by joecool12321 on Mon Apr 01, 2002 at 08:15:27 PM EST

Why can't reason ever enter into the suicide equation? I think that illogic is often the only thing keeping people here! As Shakespeare says (to the best of my memory):

...To die, to sleep
No more. And by a sleep to say we end
The heartache, and and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consumation devoutly
To be wished. To die, to sleep
To sleep, perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we shuffle off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause. There's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life.

Why do we stay? Out of fear of the undiscovered country, from whose bourn no traveler returns.

It is logical to commit suicide. It is the illogical fear of death which stays our hand.

--Joey

[ Parent ]
Did you actually read the play? (5.00 / 4) (#59)
by Kalani on Mon Apr 01, 2002 at 10:58:31 PM EST

He's explaining why he himself cannot kill himself (and likely why others who, faced with similarly grim situations, cannot kill themselves). He is not saying, "if people were reasonable they'd all kill themselves." You can extrapolate that from an earlier statement he makes to R&G: "... I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams."

You failed to continue the quote (from his soliloquy), which I recall continues thusly:

For who would bear the whips and scorns of time, the oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely, the law's delay, the insolence of office, and the spurns that patient merit of the unworthy takes, when he himself might his quietus make with a bare bodkin? ...

And recall that it begins, "whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing end them."

Also, Hamlet is very wishy-washy. He cycles back and forth between self-loathing and bloody determination. One of the big messages of that play is that there is a point at which rationality only hurts a righteous cause. He puts off revenge (revenge for his murdered father and the defilement of his mother no less) until he realizes that he's been poisoned by Laertes's sword, thereby costing the lives of his mother, Polonius, Laertes, Ophelia, and himself for no purpose other than that he was a coward.

The cause that this guy had for killing himself, when compared to Hamlet's, is trivial (at least in as far as we know about his life).

In any case, Hamlet isn't the one to idolize and live up to. The only characters who are admirable in that respect are Prince Fortinbras, and possibly Horatio and Laertes (certainly Laertes was a man that Hamlet would admire greatly under different circumstances).

-----
"I [think] that ultimately physics will not require a mathematical statement; in the end the machinery will be revealed and the laws will turn out to be simple, like the checker board."
--Richard Feynman
[ Parent ]
I did, and you missed something (none / 0) (#111)
by joecool12321 on Wed Apr 03, 2002 at 02:23:34 PM EST

I wish I had responded to this sooner, some people apparently didn't like my analysis based on your response.

He does go on to say that which you says he does. A quietus is the final payment, the last 'montly installment' if you will. He is saying, "Hey, all this bad shit happens (whips & scorns, law's delay, etc.) and we could be released from the debt of life with a bare bodkin (unsheathed dagger). It does begin with the question -- but it *ends* with the answer: if it were not for the fear of death, man would slay himself.

"The cause that this guy had for killing himself, when compared to Hamlet's, is trivial (at least in as far as we know about his life)."

All our whips and scorns are different. Just because it seems trivial to you, doesn't make it so. He obviously didn't find it trivial.

Hey, I'm not saying Sony is at fault -- I'm just saying that to call all suicide 'unreasonable' is unjustified. There is 'reasoned justification' for suicide.

--Joey

[ Parent ]
No I didn't miss that (red herring) (none / 0) (#112)
by Kalani on Wed Apr 03, 2002 at 03:48:47 PM EST

First of all, you got the low ratings before I even responded. I wasn't going to respond, because it seemed pretty clear that others also saw your comparison to Hamlet as being pretentious and pointless (you could have well made your point without Hamlet), but I did respond only because I've studied the play and felt that you misrepresented that aspect of it.

He does go on to say that which you says he does. A quietus is the final payment, the last 'montly installment' if you will. He is saying, "Hey, all this bad shit happens (whips & scorns, law's delay, etc.) and we could be released from the debt of life with a bare bodkin (unsheathed dagger). It does begin with the question -- but it *ends* with the answer: if it were not for the fear of death, man would slay himself.

You don't need to translate for me, I know what the words mean. And here's where the red herring is, because you say that it begins with the question and ends with the answer, but then you completely misrepresent the question. The question is, should men who are put under insufferable conditions spite the source of those conditions by ending their own lives? It is not, "if it were not for the fear of death, man would slay himself," as you've said, but, "men who would otherwise resort to suicide from undue strife do not do so by reason of a fear of death." The answer you give does not match the question that he asked.

All our whips and scorns are different. Just because it seems trivial to you, doesn't make it so. He obviously didn't find it trivial.

Are you trolling? If you go back and read my statement, I said that they were trivial in comparison to Hamlet's problems. Many fairly well-off people kill themselves in the United States while folks in the third world suffer much much harsher conditions and choose to live. It doesn't mean that the person who killed himself didn't suffer, it means that they didn't suffer as much as somebody else. The point is that different people have different thresholds of psychological pain (something that Hamlet also analyzed himself with the arrival of the Player King).

Hey, I'm not saying Sony is at fault -- I'm just saying that to call all suicide 'unreasonable' is unjustified. There is 'reasoned justification' for suicide.

I never said that you did claim that Sony was at fault (nor do I think that you intended to say that). I understand that your point was tangential to the one of the story (and even unrelated to Hamlet -- though you used Hamlet as a vehicle to deliver that message). For my part, I believe that suicide can be a viable option in certain conditions -- but I don't think that it's rational to choose suicide when there's a great deal of hope that your condition can be changed (thus I agree with suicide for victims of fatal diseases, terminal conditions, or severe and long-lasting psychological trauma and do not agree with suicide in the case of a dull, unsocial life). In any case, my response wasn't to the point of your message but to the use of Hamlet (and the misrepresentation of his message) to get to it. I actually agree (as I've said above) that suicide can be a good choice in a very narrow set of conditions.

-----
"I [think] that ultimately physics will not require a mathematical statement; in the end the machinery will be revealed and the laws will turn out to be simple, like the checker board."
--Richard Feynman
[ Parent ]
Does kuro5hin.org need a warning label? (3.60 / 5) (#45)
by michaelmalak on Mon Apr 01, 2002 at 07:52:22 PM EST

Seriously, try replacing "kuro5hin.org" (or your favorite discussion forum) for "EverQuest" in the article and see what you get...

--
BergamoAcademy.com  Authentic Montessori in Denver
Social prejudice when diagnosing disorders (4.44 / 9) (#47)
by dolarhyde on Mon Apr 01, 2002 at 08:05:51 PM EST

The simple goal of putting warning labels on online games is noble, although I don't know if it would actually be any use to the people who end up playing such long hours. The story made some very questionable, and very common, generalizations about addiction, the 'validity' or 'reality' of online relationships, and prejudgments about anyone heavily involved with online communities. (The most easily refutable quote was about addiction, "Either you die, go insane or you quit. My son died." I've encouraged my father to stop smoking for many years, and he's expressed a desire to quit along with frustration at being unable to do so. Nevertheless, he's not insane--he spent some years as a psychotherapist, in fact, in his earlier career--he hasn't quit smoking, and he's probably got another few decades before anything kills him.)

The disorder diagnosed by a Mental Health Professional with limited information about the 'disordered' person may in fact be a valid choice that is simply unfamiliar and unpalatable to the MHP (being homosexual was long considered a disorder); it may also be simply the most sane option available to the person at that point in his life given the resources available to him (or her). Psychotropic drugs don't work for everyone; the platitude "you can get help" is largely true, but it is extremely optimistic to suggest that most people can get past all of their major problems simply by following a program suggested by your average MHP; among other things it depends vastly on the skill and education of the individual MHP.

The news item posted contained this paragraph:

"Woolley knows her son had problems beyond EverQuest, and she tried to get him help by contacting a mental health program and trying to get him to live in a group home. A psychologist diagnosed him with depression and schizoid personality disorder, symptoms of which include a lack of desire for social relationships, little or no sex drive and a limited range of emotions in social settings."

This prompted me to look up schizoid personality disorder and related latent schizophrenic disorders in a psychiatric textbook based on the DSM IV. The social components of the symptoms were more subjective than I thought was justified; they rely somewhat on what the individual psychologist finds acceptable behavior, based on his own ethics, morals, cultural standards, life experiences, and so on. This is a common complaint from laymen about psychological diagnoses, and I'm not in a position of authority to convincingly argue the point. Gary Greenberg is, and does so very eloquently. Below I'm including a section of a post by Greenberg, a psychologist who was discussing the implications of diagnosing Ted Kaczynski as a paranoid schizophrenic. The thread is available on the Well via the link below.

http://engaged.well.com/engaged/engaged.cgi?c=inkwell.vue&f=0&t=46&q=16-

>Serious mental illness is always (or should be anyway) diagnosed
>within the context of ones' culture, or subculture. In that context, a
>nun's belief about her marriage is not seen as pathological, although
>many nuns are referred for treatment by their superiors when they fail
>to distinguish between a symbolic and spiritual marriage and a
>delusional one. Subcultures that share beliefs outside mainstream
>culture are well aware of a line that is crossed over by ill members of
>their community. I think most people, regardless of their sub-culture,
>would feel TK crossed that line.

This is a good example of the unremitting nature of the problem of
psychiatric diagnosis. AT first glance, it seems that saying thatdiagnosis
must always take culture into account ought to solve many of the
objections I'm raising here. This new-found cultural sensitivity means.,
for instance, that a conditio like ataque de nervios, which looks to Anglo
eyes like a pathological condition, will not come under the psychiatrist's
gaze because in certain Latino cultures it is normal, or at least not
pathological.

But you can begin to see the problem if you consider that someone has to
decide what constitutes a valid culture or subculture. Let's say I take
all the paranoid schizophrenics who believe that thoughts are being
implanted in their heads and I gather them in one community. Is their
belief no longer delusional? In order to say that it is, you have to point
out that this isn't really a subculture. And who is going to make that
determination? The person making the diagnosis. The psychiatrist.

Here you can see that the cultural sensitivity of the DSM is also a
subterfuge. It's another attempt to hide the inescapable and usually
repressed fact that mental health professionals are agents of social
control. By creating this category, shrinks can make the claim that
they're not really exercising power in making diagnoses; indeed, they can
claim that they are going out of theier way to be fair. But the fact is
that they have just re-concealed their power in response to changes in the
society (in this case, the recent upsurge in cultural awareness, what some
call pollitical correctness).

This is not the first time this has happened. Precisely the same thing
happened when homosexuality was depathologized. The sexual reevolution of
the 60's made it clear that psychiatrists had pathologized a behavior that
was in no way a disease, and gave impetus to gay people to insist on being
taken out of the DSM. Psychiatrists had simply been acting as agents of
social control by "treating" homosexuals, and now society no longer
insisted that they exercise this control. But rather than recognize what
this meant -- that the psychiatrist's claim to authority is moral and not
scientific -- and realigning their practice accordingly, the psychiatrists
claimed that science had proven that homosexuality was not a disease, and
that the real disease was ego-dystonic homosexuality, i.e., people who
couldn't accept their being gay were the sick ones. Suddenly (and this
really happened virtually overnight), the same shrinks who had
"treated" homosexuals were supposed to start helping them overcome their
oppresssion.

Mental health professainlas are not value-neutral. We decide all the time
what behavior is good and bad, only we tend to call it helathy and
unhealthy or appropriate and inappropriate. And no amount of fiddling
around with cultural sensitivity is going to change this.

disgusting abuse of tort law (4.76 / 13) (#50)
by demi on Mon Apr 01, 2002 at 08:18:45 PM EST

Whenever I read this kind of story (there should be a warning sign/label on these things, dammit!), I always read to see what the brave, crusading plaintiff's attorney has to say about the matter.
"We're trying to whack them with a verdict significantly large so that they, out of fiscal self-interest, will put warning labels on," he said. "We're trying to get them to act responsibly. They know this is an addictive game."

"I am sure we are going to find things akin to the tobacco industry memos where they say nicotine is addictive," he said. "There is a possibility of a class-action lawsuit."

Yeah, and this jerk will walk away with 1/4 to 1/3 of the settlement; I can see that he really wants to 'send a message' to Sony Online Entertainment. Fuck him.

Plaintiff's litigation is an incredibly lucrative industry, and not without its important beneficial side, but at some point the social backlash aginst cases like this may eclipse ATLA's political clout, and our rights to legal recourse will be curtailed. As it is, civil lawsuits are often regarded with such cynicism, no matter what their merits, that gigantic publicity machines are geared up during the pre-trial and judgement phases (full-page ads in major newspapers, investigative reports on TV 'newsmagazines', ubiquitous flyers citing new scientific studies, just-add-water advocacy groups, etc.) just to hedge against judicial activism or legislative intervention. These class-action lawsuits are bigger monentarily than US Senate races or Gubernatorial elections.

Personally, I have been addicted to online gaming on some occasions, at least I sure did play a lot of Counter-Strike. Although I don't know if your average Counter-Crack player puts in 12 hours a day, it wouldn't surprise me if some did. Also, I've known people that were perfectly fine, excellent students, until they met a girl that they became obsessed with, fucked over their lives completely and were driven into deep depression (and people have done far worse than commit suicide over love). However, nobody files lawsuits over spurned lovers because there is no single, vulnerable, wealthy target from which money can be extracted using the legal system.

Someone has to pull in the reins on these parasites or more important tort cases will increasingly be trivialized and dismissed as frivolous.



I agree (4.00 / 1) (#66)
by MKalus on Tue Apr 02, 2002 at 07:18:40 AM EST

with your analysis, I think you're right to the point.

Living back in Europe people make FUN of things like that, and the fact that everything, but really everything in the US seems to have a warning label that warns the people without brains what NOT to do with certain equipment.

It's just hillarious.

Michael

[ Parent ]
You can thank modern life. (4.11 / 9) (#52)
by derek3000 on Mon Apr 01, 2002 at 08:44:33 PM EST

What has happened to concepts like personal, or even community responsibility.

Clinton had sex without having sex, Bush was an alcoholic but he doesn't have a problem now, people blame insanity for their killing sprees.

Ted Nugent (white rockstar) has tons of illegitemate kids and it's cool, Shawn Kemp (NBA problem child) has 7 kids and he's a disgrace.

People with broadband access blame the music industry for all sorts of things and then steal said industry's products.

In short, who are we accountable to? You can't be accountable for your own actions if you don't have any morals. Our society is one built on a foundation of immorality. Don't worry though: one more advancement in technology and everything will be OK.

What do you expect?

-----------
Not too political, nothing too clever!--Liars

Can't think of appropriate subject line (none / 0) (#67)
by jesseerdmann on Tue Apr 02, 2002 at 09:33:40 AM EST

In short, who are we accountable to? You can't be accountable for your own actions if you don't have any morals. Our society is one built on a foundation of immorality. Don't worry though: one more advancement in technology and everything will be OK.

This paragraph seems out of phase with the rest of your post. I don't think you can claim that our society has NO morals. However, you can make the claim that we have arbitrary, contradictory and conflicting morals.

Who, exactly, would you have us be accountable to? Regardless of who or what you pick everyone one will have their own warped view on what that person/thing actually means. In the end, we are beholden only to ourselves and those we care the most about. I guess we simply need to have faith in ourselves and each other that if we work together to figure out what is right, we'll eventually get there.



[ Parent ]
You must have misunderstood. (none / 0) (#68)
by derek3000 on Tue Apr 02, 2002 at 09:48:11 AM EST

I don't think you can claim that our society has NO morals.

That isn't exactly what I said, but I can see where you might get confused. I said that our society is built on a foundation of immorality. So we do have morals: anti-morality, also known as doing whatever the fuck you want to. It's been turned on its head and reinforced by society.

Who, exactly, would you have us be accountable to?

I think you know the answer to that. It's simple really.

In the end, we are beholden only to ourselves and those we care the most about. I guess we simply need to have faith in ourselves and each other that if we work together to figure out what is right, we'll eventually get there.

That's the attitude that got us here in the first place. If we answer only to ourselves, then there is no reason to adhere to a good moral foundation (except for looking cool to everyone else). Maybe you should think about how you got such a materialistic worldview.

-----------
Not too political, nothing too clever!--Liars
[ Parent ]

It's simple really. (none / 0) (#69)
by jesseerdmann on Tue Apr 02, 2002 at 11:04:44 AM EST

>Who, exactly, would you have us be accountable to?

I think you know the answer to that. It's simple really.

Oh really? Assuming you mean God, which particular interpretation do you wish us all to subscribe to? Which particular religion is it that has no such inconsistencies in it's foundation? Who has this irrefutable proof of what is right?

If we waste all our time trying to figure out who was actually given the correct divine word we get absolutely no where. If, on the other hand, we rely on what we all can experience and have in common, maybe we can make some real progress.

How is it that we take responsibility for ourselves when we depend on someone else for the answers to life's questions? Blind faith seems to me to be how we started on this path of not taking responsibility for our own actions. Gee, I don't know why I did that, it must have been God's will. God told me that homosexuals were the devil's spawn and need to be destroyed.

I think taking responsibility for your own actions starts with determining what's right and why it's right, not pointing at some text and saying this is what's right because that text says so.

I honestly don't care if you believe in a Creator. I can't say whether one exists or not, I have no friggin' clue. But you cannot tell me that I must follow rules divinly revealed to someone or several someones at some point in the past and expect me to accept it for that reason alone.



[ Parent ]
Simple but elusive, apparently. (none / 0) (#72)
by derek3000 on Tue Apr 02, 2002 at 11:44:42 AM EST

Who has this irrefutable proof of what is right?

Your conscience, something you may have chosen to ignore.

Blind faith seems to me to be how we started on this path of not taking responsibility for our own actions. Gee, I don't know why I did that, it must have been God's will.

Actually, free will isn't contrary to Christianity in the least. It seems you have no idea what you're talking about.

I think taking responsibility for your own actions starts with determining what's right and why it's right, not pointing at some text and saying this is what's right because that text says so.

Humans have a great capacity for justifying their horrible actions. History can back me up on this one. I know what you're thinking--but religious wars seem to be more political than anything else. But this comment betrays your disdain for literature--why do you hate reading so much? Surely there are people out there who can articulate your thoughts better than you can.

But you cannot tell me that I must follow rules divinly revealed to someone or several someones at some point in the past and expect me to accept it for that reason alone.

No, that's where free will comes in. We know intuitively that stealing is wrong, killing in cold blood is wrong, etc., but you can always choose to ignore those things.

-----------
Not too political, nothing too clever!--Liars
[ Parent ]

Urm... (none / 0) (#76)
by jesseerdmann on Tue Apr 02, 2002 at 12:50:21 PM EST

Your conscience, something you may have chosen to ignore.

I don't ignore my conscience. Some people feel really bad about saying the word fuck. I don't. So, just because stealing something makes me feel really bad doesn't mean that other people's conscience is programmed the same way. We don't all share the same conscience and they are not equal at conception. Perhaps thorough discussion of morals and why various things are wrong rather than pointing at something and loudly proclaiming it to be wrong would reduce those differences of conscience.

Actually, free will isn't contrary to Christianity in the least. It seems you have no idea what you're talking about.

I didn't say anything about Christianity. I was talking about blind faith. The kind of faith where you put someone in a position of infallability and believe everything they say. I know many Christians that don't do this.

Humans have a great capacity for justifying their horrible actions. History can back me up on this one. I know what you're thinking--but religious wars seem to be more political than anything else.

I never said anything about religious wars. Nor did I say that religion is solely responsible for these actions. I didn't even say that religion is the only thing that people use to justify bad things. However, religion is used for all of these purposes and therefore, perhaps blind faith isn't the right base for a sound, decent society. That doesn't mean religion can't be a part of that society, only that it shouldn't be used as the base.

But this comment betrays your disdain for literature--why do you hate reading so much?

WTF? I read all of the time. Fuck, I'm even reading K5 right now. I do have a problem when people take a text, or a portion of a text, and proclaim it to be the ultimate truth without further discussion.

Surely there are people out there who can articulate your thoughts better than you can.

Why are you making personal attacks? How does trying to make me feel bad make your point more valid? How do these personal attacks even fit in your own "morality?" If I haven't said something clearly, ask for clarification. I know that I sometimes incoherently communicate my ideas and would appreciate the opportunity to clarify. I generally try to provide the same.

No, that's where free will comes in. We know intuitively that stealing is wrong, killing in cold blood is wrong, etc., but you can always choose to ignore those things.

Do we? Why do children not feel bad about taking things from their playmates and screaming, "MINE"? Why is it so much fun for many children to pull the wings off of flies? Why was the Bible even written if these things are intuitive? Granted, most people eventually figure out that these things are wrong. What about grey areas like homosexuality? What about things like drug use? Some supposedly Christian folk claim these to be the source of moral decay, while other supposed Christians claim the opposite.

I don't know how you can say that we know the absolute right and wrong for every situation. In an ever changing world we have to be vigilant and keep challenging ourselves to be better. We have to keep questioning our perception of what is rigt and wrong. I actually think my old Catholic priest taught me that.



[ Parent ]
Look. (none / 0) (#80)
by derek3000 on Tue Apr 02, 2002 at 01:11:18 PM EST

I don't know how you can say that we know the absolute right and wrong for every situation.

This is the heart of your problem. Can you say that the morality of the Nazi regime is bad? Of course. Can you say that the morality of...say Switzerland's government was better? If you can't, you are either an idiot or being deliberately obtuse. If you can, than you have already made a judgement about right and wrong.

To clarify this, let's say I base my morality on three principles: killing, raping, stealing. Now, let's say you base your morality on a different set of three terms: charity, chastity and hard work.

Before we go any further, I want you to answer which is better and why.

-----------
Not too political, nothing too clever!--Liars
[ Parent ]

RE: Look (none / 0) (#84)
by jesseerdmann on Tue Apr 02, 2002 at 02:06:26 PM EST

To clarify this, let's say I base my morality on three principles: killing, raping, stealing. Now, let's say you base your morality on a different set of three terms: charity, chastity and hard work.

Before we go any further, I want you to answer which is better and why.

I would say charity, chastity and hard work. Doing positive work obviously is better than simply not doing bad things. Given that criteria, I don't see why chastity is in there, but whatever. Great. Wonderful. Most religions teach this. You don't have to believe in God or the Bible (since you've referenced Christianity in the past) or any of that bullshit to be a good person. That is my primary bone of contention with you.

This is the heart of your problem. Can you say that the morality of the Nazi regime is bad? Of course. Can you say that the morality of...say Switzerland's government was better? If you can't, you are either an idiot or being deliberately obtuse. If you can, than you have already made a judgement about right and wrong.

So, my problem is that I'm not a cocky asshole and I don't think I know what's right and wrong for everyone else? Can I have a knee jerk reaction and say Switzerland was better because they didn't actually kill anyone? Can I have a equal and opposite knee jerk reaction that they were just as wrong because they didn't rush in to try to stop the Holocaust? Yes, I can.

I do think that right and wrong exist. I don't think anyone has a full grasp of what they are. I'm certainly willing to offer my opinion and rationally discuss it with others as needed to figure out what the right thing to do is.



[ Parent ]
almost there... (none / 0) (#90)
by derek3000 on Tue Apr 02, 2002 at 04:19:41 PM EST

Doing positive work obviously is better than simply not doing bad things.

OK, but what is it that makes those things positive? Can you use logic to prove that they are positive without making some assumptions that need to be proven themselves? Or is there something innate in those acts that makes them Good?

So, my problem is that I'm not a cocky asshole and I don't think I know what's right and wrong for everyone else?

I'm sorry, but if you can't say that the Nazis were Wrong with the utmost confidence, arguing with you is pointless. It should console my Great Grandmother, though, a Jew who left Germany so she wouldn't get killed on a fucking assembly line.

-----------
Not too political, nothing too clever!--Liars
[ Parent ]

Don't get so cocky (none / 0) (#104)
by jesseerdmann on Wed Apr 03, 2002 at 10:18:20 AM EST

I love how you consistently take my statements out of context. I was talking about the role of Switzerland and you say that I must be unsure whether the Nazis were wrong. The Nazis were wrong to kill 6 million Jews because we have decided that we shouldn't allow one person to kill another.

Why have we decided that killing is bad? Because we don't want to die. We all have a common interest in not letting others run around killing any one they feel like because then they could do it to us. I could make the argument that we innately know that there is no God and no afterlife because we do not want to die.

No, not everyone fears death their entire lives, but not everyone considers it wrong to kill their entire lives either. Shit, some people even take pleasure in killing just like others decide to kill themselves rather than continue living. It appears our assumptions are at loggerheads.

So, we can't really know if there is innate goodness or badness. We can't really know if there is a God. Maybe we should just do the best we can with what we've got. You know, there's a hell of a lot of grey area and moral discourse on things other than murder.



[ Parent ]
No. (none / 0) (#105)
by derek3000 on Wed Apr 03, 2002 at 10:25:34 AM EST

This would be taking your statements out of context:

I love...killing...others.

This whole thing is simple. If you compare the Canadian government of today to the Nazi regime of the 30's and early 40's, you can see (I would hope) that one is more moral than the other. So you are comparing it to some ideal.

This would suggest some 'correct' view of morality. If you can't see that, I don't really know how to carry on with this.

Sorry that this couldn't be more productive.

-----------
Not too political, nothing too clever!--Liars
[ Parent ]

WHAT??? (none / 0) (#106)
by jesseerdmann on Wed Apr 03, 2002 at 11:02:35 AM EST

Taking a sentence out of a paragraph and using it to whatever purpose you feel like regardless of the rest of the paragraph isn't taking things out of context???? Isn't that why people get pissed off at reporters when they take a sound bite that makes them look like an ass when the entire speech made it a perfectly reasonable comment to make?

Also, where did I say that there is no such thing as morality? I just don't think our morals are bred into us, they are the result of rational discourse and decision making. The root of our moral code seems to be our sense of self-preservation and our own happiness. We've realized that for our own goals, etc, to be reached we must treat each other the way we wish to be treated. That's just the way an ordered society works. Is that because God made it so? Maybe, but not necessarily.

On to the Nazi-Canada comparison. Did I not just fucking say that Nazi Germany killing millions of Jews was wrong. In your original question on the subject, I (perhaps wrongly) thought you wanted me to compare Nazi Germany's extermination of Jews to the Swiss government's position of neutrality at the time assuming they knew what was going on. Modern day Canadian government is a different situation.



[ Parent ]
Root of our problem... impasse??? (none / 0) (#107)
by jesseerdmann on Wed Apr 03, 2002 at 12:04:22 PM EST

I've been reading and thinking over and over our comments trying to figure out why we seem close, but so far apart.

If I understand you correctly, you believe that there is a moral code that just is. There is a right, there is a wrong. The end. If we all live according to this code we all live happy fulfilling lives and we get to go gaze at the glory of god for an eternity. Nice, tidy, simple.

I think that the purpose of a moral code is that if we all adhere to it our lives will be better. If we put together the perfect code and all live by it we all live happy, fulfilling lives, the end. The problem is, my model allows that our world and our society may be so intricate and complex that the perfect moral code may not exist. Maybe our goal is simply unattainable.

We can both agree that running around killing people is a Bad Thing. To you, it's just wrong. To me, it's contrary to our goal.

Hopefully that clears the air without anymore hard feelings or name calling. I know I've been harsher than I meant to be, though I think I deleted most of the negative comments before posting them :) Anyway, I hope we can amicably agree to disagree rather than leaving the topic pissed off at each other. It's really not worth it since there is no way to know the true answer.

Thanks for the interesting discourse.



[ Parent ]
You're right. (none / 0) (#110)
by derek3000 on Wed Apr 03, 2002 at 01:03:59 PM EST

I was harsher than I needed to be to.

You are right about societie(s), though: one of the first things I learned in anthropology class was that anthropologists never (or rarely) say "always" when it comes to studying different cultures.

The only one thing they've agreed on is that all societies have an incest taboo. That's it.

It is especially tough to say, without being intolerant, that one code is better than the other. Thanks for ending in this way--I look forward to talking to you in the future. No hard feelings. :)

-----------
Not too political, nothing too clever!--Liars
[ Parent ]

Everquest Addictiveness - What do you think? (4.00 / 3) (#55)
by agent 0range on Mon Apr 01, 2002 at 09:10:49 PM EST

It seems as if I have heard the "Everquest Suicide Stories" about three times now, and considering I dont play Everquest, im not real sure how it is that hard to put down. How is it that the hardcore addicts spend up to 12hrs a day playing this game?

I know a few people who have talked about how they literally lost 3 or 4 months of their lives from playing these type games (mostly MMORPGs and MUDs) and had to force themselves to drop it completely. I wanna hear some theories as to why this type of "addiction" is different from other physiological addictions such as chocolate.

As a Diablo II Addict... (5.00 / 4) (#57)
by cyclopatra on Mon Apr 01, 2002 at 09:47:12 PM EST

...I can't, unfortunately, tell you too much about the workings of the addiction, but I can try to describe my experiences with it:

I come home from work on a normal day, say hello to my mother (yes, I still live with my parents, but it's been less than a year since I graduated from university and I'm moving out to go to grad school - paying my own way - in the fall) and sit down in front of the computer. I light a cigarette and fire up Diablo: Lord of Destruction. Unlike many of my fellow addicts, I don't sign on to Battle.net - too much lag and I'm sort of antisocial. From now until it's time for bed, chances are I'll be killing every monster in sight. When I've built up a character to a certain point, the game seems to lose its savor; time to start a new character. My favorite classes are melee characters, like the Barbarian and the Paladin - characters that get right up in the face of the monsters and hack away.

On the weekends, I play Diablo, except for a couple of hours a day when I go out to get some lunch, drink some coffee, and read a book. It's not unusual for me to play 24+ hours Friday-Sunday.

Lately I've been trying to cut down on my Diablo playing. For a week straight, I managed to avoid the seductive horned icon on my desktop - but only because I was playing Dungeon Keeper instead. I don't think about the game constantly, or develop tics or anything when I'm not playing - the symptoms of withdrawal are not that overt. But when I sit down in front of my computer at home, it no longer appears to be a multifunction device, capable of surfing the net (unless it's to check out the rarity of the item I just found), compiling my code, and displaying websites I'm working on. It just looks like a big box that runs Diablo for me. If I shut the game down and remain sitting in front of my computer, I have on average about 10 minutes before I start it up again - to do anything else seems pointless.

It doesn't help that many of my associates at work are confirmed Diablo addicts as well - one of the favorite topics over coffee or a cigarette is the new sword we just found or how rich (in Diablo $) we got killing cows in the Secret Cow Level (moooo) the night before. Our conversations are filled with runes, mules and perfect skulls in 4-socketed long swords.

In the month before I bought Diablo II, I had written five chapters in the novel I'm working on, put in hours of overtime at work, and made a new duvet set for my bed. I went out with friends, I talked to my boyfriend on the phone. Since then - about 3 months - , I've written a total of 500 words of fiction, sewed a dismal 7 buttons, and work outside the office has become a memory. My friends have all made new Friday night plans, and my boyfriend exclaims his surprise when I call him more than once a week.

In conclusion, do not play RPGs. Ever. MMO or vanilla, they will take over your life. Unless it is acceptable to you to accomplish nothing outside of work, RPG is always a bad decision. Just say no!

But if you do play RPGs, consider Diablo II - it's fantastic!

Cyclopatra
All your .sigs are belong to us.
remove mypants to email
[ Parent ]

A solution that worked for me (none / 0) (#79)
by GhostfacedFiddlah on Tue Apr 02, 2002 at 01:11:03 PM EST

You don't seem too concerned with your habit - I wouldn't be, they tend to run their course eventually anyway.

But if you're looking for a way to get your computer to look more like a multi-function device again, you may want to install Linux. It has games, but it has yet to tap the hugely addictive gaming market. I found that after I installed Linux my productivity-to-gaming ratio went way up. It's a good way to sit there without having that horned icon looking at you the whole time.

Or, of course, you could always go outside :-)

[ Parent ]
heh... (none / 0) (#87)
by cyclopatra on Tue Apr 02, 2002 at 02:36:29 PM EST

I do have Linux installed - but it's terribly hard to boot into it when the horns call :P and for reasons relating to both work and family, it's not feasible for me to get rid of WinBlows all together...

But then again, as you said, these things tend to run their course eventually. I went through a similar phase when Diablo I came out, and I imagine in a few months I won't be able to understand why I spent so much time on the game in the first place...

Cyclopatra
All your .sigs are belong to us.
remove mypants to email
[ Parent ]

"DEA declares Everquest an illegal narcotic&q (5.00 / 1) (#60)
by Dyolf Knip on Mon Apr 01, 2002 at 11:28:11 PM EST

The program doesn't do anything to you. It's not a physical addiction. You do not become addicted on it in any way other than in your mind. One could just as easily be addicted to Checkers or romance novels or Beanie Babies or sky diving. Unlike a chemical substance, the only way to become an addict is if you let yourself do so. You don't blame the bookies for your gambling problem.

I'm quite familiar with the grip a good game can get on you. I've spent >12 hours a day playing one single game (SMAC and Star Trek Armada come to mind) until my eyes bled. But if someone actually kills themselves over it, they had problems entirely unrelated to computers which would have shown up through some other means. If he was willing to commit suicide over something like losing a game character (assuming that was what drove him over the edge), what would have happened if a girl he loved ever dumped him? Or he lost a fortune on the stock market? Or had a valuable collection (stamps, coins, vinyl records, whatever) stolen? This is not about addiction to a video game, this is about how he reacted to losing something important to him.

---
If you can't learn to do something well, learn to enjoy doing it poorly.

Dyolf Knip
[ Parent ]

Repetitive Actions? (4.50 / 2) (#61)
by Duende on Mon Apr 01, 2002 at 11:47:54 PM EST

Have you noticed that most of the truly addicting games include repetitive tasks that allow you to 'get in the zone.' I played Asheron's Call with an almost religious fervor for over a year. I discussed it with coworkers (4 of whom I recruited to play with me), gave it to a girl I wanted to date to get us doing something together, and enjoyed almost every minute of it.

I noticed, however, that most of the nights when I completely lost track of time I was either carrying on conversations with friends (most of whom lived near me) or running quests and hunting. Most of the lost time episodes occured performing actions that I repeated so many times I could perform them by rote, literally in my sleep. I think that part of the reason people associate games like these with addictive tendencies is that the repetitive actions within the game fit so well with compulsive personality types. If you provide someone with compulsive tendencies with a socially acceptable and entertaining behavior to fixate on, of course they are going to latch onto it. Is that any different from someone who crochets, or plays solitaire, smokes cigarettes to pass the time?
Visit me at shrouded.net
[ Parent ]

Entertainment addicitons... (5.00 / 2) (#62)
by bodrius on Tue Apr 02, 2002 at 12:43:22 AM EST

I have literally lost more than just 4 months of my life playing, just to give an example, Cilization (I/II/III). I'm sure if I included other games that have become more important than "life" I could push it to a significant percentage of my lifetime.

So what?

Some of my friends have each wasted similar amounts on one (and only one) of the following activites: sports, fiction writing, painting, reading, videogames, and for a lot of them it's watching TV (all day).

These are all psychological addictions. They differ from physiological addictions in that the addiction is not to the stimuli and/or the physiological (chemical) reaction to it, but to the reaction to the mental states(and their chemical reactions) the stimuli gets you into.

The states tend to be more varied, less extreme, and perhaps more importantly, it's never a sure bet you'll get into that mental state by following the activity. Some people may be more susceptible to drastically change their mental state during some activities, others not.

Phsychological addictions are unavoidable, they're part of what we call "life". For example, sex may be a physiological addiction, but romantic interest is definitely a psychological addiction.

I would dare to say most people define themselves by their individual addictions. I know kids who define themselves by the sports they play and their team, their life centered around that group. The effects are not dissimilar from those who center their life around their (real or virtual) RPG group.

Would this kind of accusation be made if it had been a college kid involved in a fraternity? The quarterback of the football team? A political activist? Spend his free time in car shows? Train modelling? A music band? Religion? If he had been a work-aholic and his complains and seizures had been work-related?

Sure, there would have been rumors of a causal relation, but the blame would have been put on the subject.

The only reason this is even discussed in Court is because these are activities that are too hard to understand for the general population. They are either too new, or too geeky to be socially accepted. They can't just tell they're neighbors "sure, my son is into EverQuest", it doesn't sound "normal" yet, and therefore there must be something wrong, creepy about it.

If her son had been into something more mainstream, she would be able to see millions of people happily doing that every day and not killing themselves and realize that her son was the exception, and accept that if there was something specifically wrong it was probably not in this activity or a lot more people (more than three) would be dying. But if the first time she hears about this is from her son, she has no point of comparison.

To her it's not different from a cult, because almost always that is the used definition of a cult.

Freedom is the freedom to say 2+2=4, everything else follows...
[ Parent ]
Needles, baby, needles (none / 0) (#95)
by pietra on Tue Apr 02, 2002 at 07:29:41 PM EST

I sew. A lot. I make clothes for myself, occasionally for my boyfriend (an Australian drover's coat, etc.), and various household thingies (curtains, cushions, etc.). I have a battered old Singer sewing machine that has been threatening to give up the ghost for about 4 years now, and I also do some stuff by hand. I think about a third of the clothes in my closet are handmade. I *love* to sew. One of the single best ways I can think of to spend a weekend is cutting a pattern out, tinkering with it, and sewing it up, listening to music all the while (DJ Tiesto's Magik mixes are especially good). I get obsessive, to the point that I forget to eat when I really get into it ("I'll stop for a break when I finish this seam... no, that next one... no, the next one!"). If you know me, you know that's a tall order. I also occasionally get cramped muscles from holding the fabric under the needle, etc. I have dreams about how to cut a certain pesky piece out. When I'm in the middle of a major project, I don't sleep much, and will often wake up at 3 in the morning to work on it. If that ain't an obsession, bordering on addiction, I dunno what is. Here's the difference, in my book: When I'm done, I have a useful (or at least attractive) item of some kind or another. I put a lot of work into my sewing, and it looks good. It's practical, and it saves a bit of money (sometimes; I spent more on my boyfriend's coat than it would have cost to buy a similar item, but his is tailored just for him). Drug addictions leave you with needle marks/a hole in your nose/hepatitis C/HIV/etc, are certainly not practical, and definitely don't save you any money. Computer games leave you with awesome eye/hand coordination, frequently make you type like a rat on speed with incredible accuracy, and (most importantly) give you something to talk about with a large subset of people in the computer industry. Don't laugh--you'd be amazed how many connections get started at parties or online by a random comment about GTA 3 or how good the Quake engine is.

That said, even the most innocent hobby can be a crutch of one kind or another, particularly if it involves soothingly repetitive motions. In addition, if there really is some kind of practical use for your obsession, it's a lot harder to give up. Myself, I think I'll stick with sewing.

[ Parent ]

Sue me but (5.00 / 1) (#99)
by axxeman on Wed Apr 03, 2002 at 12:45:29 AM EST

soothingly repetitive motions

That ain't the first time I wished I owned the "Obsessive Wanker" crapflooder account.

Oh and apologies for the awful pun.

Not yet. Don't come before we have finished humping...
[ Parent ]

yeah... (3.50 / 10) (#56)
by trener on Mon Apr 01, 2002 at 09:26:32 PM EST

there's always going to be some moron that takes something perfectly harmless to the extreme. whatever. darwin knows what's up.

i'm gonna go huff some gas now. maybe my parents can sue exxon or something.

EverQuest is not the problem (4.92 / 14) (#64)
by dcloues on Tue Apr 02, 2002 at 01:46:53 AM EST

I've faced several computer-related addictions over the past few years. However, in the case of each I don't blame the object of my addiction because I know that I viewed them merely as an escape from the true problem.

I've always been an introvert, and I've always had a difficult time finding friends. The transition from junior high school to high school was difficult for me, because I wasn't prepared for the social changes that would take place. I started playing Everquest during the summer before I started high school and when I started feeling uncomfortable in high school EverQuest seemed like the perfect escape. I started playing it more and more; I never played it to the point where my grades or health started to suffer but my social life was more or less nonexistant throughout most of 9th grade. But again, I don't blame EverQuest. I was stuck with a social situation in which I wasn't particularly happy but for which I had no real situation, so I fled. Had EverQuest not been there I would have chosen some other game or some other similarly pseudo-social activity.

I burned out on EverQuest about a year and a half after I started playing when the group of friends I had met over the year and a half suddenly dissociated, leaving me guildless and confused. Not having the desire or motivation to look for more friends I simply quit. I tried putting up with it for a few weeks but I simply had no motivation left. It didn't bother me much, however, because I had recently acquired another addiction that gripped me as strongly as EverQuest had.

While playing EverQuest I frequently browsed the messageboards that many people created for different classes, guilds, etc. One messageboard that I visited frequently was a non-EQ board that spun off from an EverQuest board after a community dispute. I was fairly welcome there and I spent a lot of time browsing the posts and also posting. In a group in which I feel comfortable, I can be quite social; I only withdraw when I feel uncomfortable for some reason.

After I quit EverQuest I continued to visit this message board and I did so very frequently. I spent a lot of my free time there - when most of my friends were off socializing during their free time at school, I would be down in the computer lab checking message boards obsessively. This only stopped when my school installed a site filter that blocked, among other things, ezBoard's domain. In a day the time I spent browsing the message boards at school instantly reduced to zero and I suddenly found myself with a *lot* of free time on my hands.

I decided to give the old social life a try again. For some reason, it worked. I slowly started spending more and more time with my friends. Now, a year later, I only have a small group of friends, but I consider myself a much improved person compared to what I was last year at this time. I still visit the message boards that I was so obsessed with a year ago, but I don't spend every waking minute of my life at them. It has also become a lot harder for me to become addicted to games or other activities. In the past I viewed them as escapes from my life, but now, I don't see myself as needing any such escape. This is, on a lesser scale, very similar to the problem that the suicidal EQ addict faced. There were other problems in his life that he was unable to address, and he looked to EverQuest as his escape. His mother admits this, and yet she did very little to stop him or aid him in seeking help for his problems. It's easy to blame a game, but in the end, the true problem lies with the person. I was antisocial and secluded, so I played EverQuest; however, those conditions existed *long* before I ever heard of EverQuest.

EverQuest is not the problem here. The problem is this woman's inability to accept that she and her son are at fault for his death and not some online game. Placing blame on the manufacturers of the game is easy but eventually pointless and even harmful, as she will undoubtedly remain oblivious to the true causes of this sad situation.

I disagree on two points ... (5.00 / 3) (#65)
by Kalani on Tue Apr 02, 2002 at 02:39:51 AM EST

The problem is this woman's inability to accept that she and her son are at fault for his death and not some online game.

I think that he is the only one at fault for his death (unless she suggested suicide or otherwise helped him in that way). He was 21 years old, and she shouldn't be expected to make his choices for him. I imagine that she expressed her concern to him, since obviously the point about the game has stuck in her mind, but he didn't make the choice to talk to her about what was bothering him or to get out and give life another shot himself. There's nothing that she can do to make him decide things that he does not want to decide.

Placing blame on the manufacturers of the game is easy but eventually pointless and even harmful, as she will undoubtedly remain oblivious to the true causes of this sad situation.

I agree that it's incorrect (and I seriously doubt that any judge would take her side in the case), but I don't agree that she'll remain oblivious to that fact. It takes years sometimes, but I think that most people eventually come to the realization that there was little that anyone else could do to help a person in that state (somebody who's chosen to turn their back on society). Something like that happened with my music teacher, whose son killed himself (leaving behind a wife and child). My music teacher was very visibly shaken by it (in fact we only saw him every now and then after we heard the news -- and even then it was a very awkward situation as he would sometimes break down crying in the middle of class).

There's a lot to go through, and when you're in that emotional state of having lost something very dear to you, you aren't likely to spend much time on rationality. It's something that you gradually fall back into, and I believe that it'll happen with this lady as well.

Great work on the rest of the points though, I completely agree.

-----
"I [think] that ultimately physics will not require a mathematical statement; in the end the machinery will be revealed and the laws will turn out to be simple, like the checker board."
--Richard Feynman
[ Parent ]
well ... (none / 0) (#70)
by karb on Tue Apr 02, 2002 at 11:41:48 AM EST

I think that he is the only one at fault for his death (unless she suggested suicide or otherwise helped him in that way). He was 21 years old, and she shouldn't be expected to make his choices for him.

If somebody is having potentially dangerous mental problems, like she knew he was having, you have to intervene. You can't expect somebody with a dangerous addiction and mental problems to 'heal' themselves, or even to want to heal themselves. Sometimes you have to say "I know this isn't what you want, but I'm committing you" or whatever (interventions, and the like).

If you don't get your proactivity on, because people are 'old enough to make their own decisions', then you may end up with the same results as this mother.
--
Who is the geek who would risk his neck for his brother geek?
[ Parent ]

Of course you're right, if that's the case ... (none / 0) (#86)
by Kalani on Tue Apr 02, 2002 at 02:34:34 PM EST

... but I don't know for certain that it is the case. It's not as if all suicidal people walk around with a sign saying, "I'm about to kill myself." Often they'll behave completely normally, and there won't be any signs at all. If she did speak with him, and he did tell her that he was considering suicide, then yes I would agree that she had at least a chance to keep him from it for a while.

But I don't think that we know that this was the case.

-----
"I [think] that ultimately physics will not require a mathematical statement; in the end the machinery will be revealed and the laws will turn out to be simple, like the checker board."
--Richard Feynman
[ Parent ]
Nobody knows if people are suicidal (none / 0) (#88)
by karb on Tue Apr 02, 2002 at 02:56:42 PM EST

But it is obvious that the mother knew he had a problem, and didn't do enough to try to help him. In fact, she describes his mental disorders in the article. She knew he had an addiction. Only after these things finally manifested themselves did she take effective action, after it could no longer help her son.

At any rate, the idea that, somehow, a warning message on a game would have prevented this tragedy is ludicrous. It will just make normal people self-conscious, and is unlikely to help those with problems.
--
Who is the geek who would risk his neck for his brother geek?
[ Parent ]

I agree that it's ridiculous ... (none / 0) (#92)
by Kalani on Tue Apr 02, 2002 at 06:01:30 PM EST

... but don't agree that it was necessarily so clear that his problem was really as severe as it was.

-----
"I [think] that ultimately physics will not require a mathematical statement; in the end the machinery will be revealed and the laws will turn out to be simple, like the checker board."
--Richard Feynman
[ Parent ]
The Parents' Role (none / 0) (#71)
by dcloues on Tue Apr 02, 2002 at 11:43:39 AM EST

I agree that as a 21-year old, he should have been able to make most of his decisions. I guess I have a different opinion of what should be the role of one's parents in their life. Seeing as how EverQuest was apparently causing a large health problem for him (seizures), I would have expected his mother to take a stronger role in helping him. Addictions are very difficult to get out of alone; I know I wouldn't have stopped playing EverQuest if the decision had been left solely up to me, and I certainly wouldn't have known to seek help had I needed it, because I didn't perceive that there was even a problem.

I agree that his mother will eventually come to accept the true causes. I didn't mean to imply that I think she will remain oblivious forever, but I do think that it will be a gradual and tough process, as she seems fairly convinced now that her son's death was EverQuest's fault.

--------
"I'm a pacifist. I don't own a gun because if I did, I'm terrified I would use it." -- Unknown
[ Parent ]
Unique Tangent (4.00 / 1) (#74)
by ZephyrAlfredo on Tue Apr 02, 2002 at 12:03:36 PM EST

I basically agree with the personal responsibility theory, but one point which, I believe, has not been raised, is the possible actions of other people around him in EQ. The mother wants "a record of the son's conversations", which might actually be important, methinks. I can easily imagine a situation where Shawn Woolley, with his mental instability and obvious problems, is influenced by actual suggestions from his friends or guildmembers online. Chatting in or out of EQ with other people is usually a fun experience, but it can also be detrimental.

I strongly suspect that Shawn suggested he was about to commit suicide online. I also suspect that someone he knew online knew enough about him to have contacted game admins/police before his suicide, but didn't.

Ah, here we go: "Elizabeth Woolley remembers when her son was betrayed by an EverQuest associate he had been adventuring with for six months. Shawn's online brother-in-arms stole all the money from his character and refused to give it back. "He was so upset, he was in tears," she said."

If we are responsible netizens we could at least find out Shawn's characters and ask about them on his server, or we could encourage the release of his conversations. We hear about wackos on AOL all the time. Isn't it possible that a similarly manipulative or malevolent writer could have played a role in Shawn's death?

I think there's a difference. (none / 0) (#77)
by MKalus on Tue Apr 02, 2002 at 01:00:11 PM EST

If you meet in a chatroom and talk, you talk as two people. That means you tend (or probably tend) to take things they say rather serious, be it suicide or something else.

In a game though? I wouldn't. Betrayal and other things are part of a game. You'll never know if the person on the other end is taking it seriously (if they do, they have a problem, and no, that might no be apparant to the other gamers).

Case in point. If you read some of the emails that go back and forth between friends and myself you would get the idea that we are all suicidal and should get restrained, just because we talk in a way that could give you that impression.

Is any one of us suicidal? NO, but then we all know each other in person.

To blame the medium for the death is absurd, that's like charging the postal service after someone killed himself because an anonymous person sent him a letter with a threat in it.

People should get a grip and understand that what happens in a game has absolutly NO influence on their own lifes, if that line blurries (as it seemed to have in this case) the person needs help, but please, stop blaming the game for things like that.

[ Parent ]
It doesn't matter (3.00 / 1) (#96)
by flesh99 on Tue Apr 02, 2002 at 08:18:17 PM EST

Who he talked to.. Each and every time one of my friends has threatened suicide I always tell them to make sure they don't fuck it up. If someone wants out let them the fuck out. If they are too damn weak to deal with life anymore then oh well. I am not responsible for anyone's action save my own. If I was an ever-crack addict and some schlep came to me and said they wanted to end it, I would more than likey tell them to have a nice afterlife. While this a cold attitude to take, I will never be responsible for anyone comitting suicide.

Elizabeth Woolley remembers when her son was betrayed by an EverQuest associate he had been adventuring with for six months. Shawn's online brother-in-arms stole all the money from his character and refused to give it back. "He was so upset, he was in tears," she said.

You have got to be kidding me, anyone so fucked up that they cry over a computer game is not right to begin with and to try and blame the maker of that game for his death is laughable at best. The mother, while I feel for her, needs to accept that her son killed himself and he is to blame, not Sony. Before she goes suing people maybe she should look at her own mothering skills and ask what she could have done better. Even entertaining the idea that a game is blame, or the characters in a game are, begs the questions of how much of the really real world this guy subscribed to in the first place.


It takes 47 muscles to frown, but only 4 to pull the trigger of a finely tuned sniper rifle.
[ Parent ]
Jay Parker deserves a punch in the face. (3.00 / 1) (#75)
by democrap on Tue Apr 02, 2002 at 12:43:50 PM EST

...scare-mongering experts such as Jay Parker continue to cash in by implying that these online entertainments carry a level of addiction akin to "powdered cocaine and crack cocaine."

This is just plain offensive. I've had (and surmounted) addictions to both narcotics and computer games. I hope that nobody humours this comparison for even a second, because it's absurd.

Cocaine creates a physical dependency, not just a psychological one, and the two are very, very different. I suggest Mr. Parker try doing cocaine for 12 hours a day, then stop (if he can) and tell us how much it feels like getting over an EverQuest binge.

If someone develops a problematic addiction to a computer game, that speaks to deeper issues.

The logs are on HIS computer. (4.00 / 1) (#78)
by chulbert on Tue Apr 02, 2002 at 01:08:11 PM EST

If any logs of his conversations exist, they'd be on his very own computer provided he had logging turned on (an option within Everquest).

I also find it extremely unlikely that Verant logs all the conversations of all the players on all the channels at all times. It'd require a massive amount of storage space and a real nightmare if you ever want to try to find something.

They're not handing over anything because they don't have anything to hand over.

"I weep for the species."
Not his (none / 0) (#83)
by Duende on Tue Apr 02, 2002 at 01:30:58 PM EST

Actually, I believe what the Mother is trying to get are all the logs, if any exist, housed on Sony Online's servers. She probably already has access to his.

================================================
"The Yatta dance is not a martial art."
--Midnight Phoneboys
[ Parent ]

She has the important ones. (none / 0) (#89)
by chulbert on Tue Apr 02, 2002 at 04:14:33 PM EST

The logs on his computer, if they exist, will contain all the text of all the conversations he had with people, as well as give an outline of what he did. If she's not a money digger and actually wants to find out why her son killed himself, they're all she needs.

The only things Verant logs by default are integrity data to make sure people aren't cheating or doing anything they're not supposed to.

"I weep for the species."
[ Parent ]
Sadly... (none / 0) (#91)
by Commando on Tue Apr 02, 2002 at 05:00:22 PM EST

The problem is in the US you can sue for your own incompetence. How many McDonalds hot coffee law suits (and similar) are there?

Clearly courts need to do a U turn, more power to the customer is good but there is a balance and it is being seriously overstepped currently.

I know this would show up. (5.00 / 1) (#100)
by DavidTC on Wed Apr 03, 2002 at 01:13:14 AM EST

How many McDonalds hot coffee law suits (and similar) are there?

I don't know how many time I have to say it, but the McDonalds lawsuit is a bad example. The woman got third degree burns over 6 percent of her body. She was in the hospital eight days, and had to have skin grafts. That's some fucking hot coffee there.

You do not hand people in cars cups of liquid at 185 degrees, period. 185 degree liquids are capable of completely destroying human skin they are in contact with in about 5 seconds. People obviously cannot drink this, and can seriously injury themselves trying. Compare this to the fact that while McDonalds claimed that most people took the coffee to work, their own research showed this was not true, and most people drank the coffee within a few minutes of purchasing it. McDonalds was handing out something that seemed designed to harm a large proportion of the customers, and was extremely dangerous.

We're not talking 'Ow, that was hot', we're talking 185 degrees here, 30 degrees less than boiling. If you don't think that's hot, I invite you to stick your hand in water that hot some day.

So why did only she sue. She wasn't the only one, McDonalds had had over 700 records of people complaining they were burned by the coffee for the ten years previous, some of them with third degree burns.

Oh, and she sued for only $20,000, the cost of her hospital bill. Claiming it was 'frivolous' is insane.

But don't take my word for it. Search google.

-David T. C.
Yes, my email address is real.
[ Parent ]

Still her fault ... (none / 0) (#102)
by vrai on Wed Apr 03, 2002 at 04:32:49 AM EST

... you shouldn't be drinking coffee in the car anyway! Cars are for driving in: not phoning, eating, smoking, or drinking coffee. If I pick up something that is too hot I put it back down again or I throw it away, I don't pour it over myself then sue the person who handed it too me.
If it had been an ice cream that turned out to be hot then maybe she'd have a case. But in my book coffee == hot and so I take care when handling it. If she was too stupid to realise this then sorry but she deserved to get burned: perhaps next time she'll be more careful.

Incidentally 700 cases over ten years of sales is statistically insignificant: more people die every year putting on their trousers (pants if you're American), perhaps their estate should sue CK for making such dangerous jeans?

[ Parent ]

She didn't 'pour it over herself' it. (5.00 / 2) (#113)
by DavidTC on Thu Apr 04, 2002 at 12:06:47 PM EST

She didn't pick up something that was too hot and drop it. The defective lid popped off when she set it between her legs. (You know the lids, the ones that pop off if you apply the least amount of deformative pressure to the perfect circle of the cup.)

I have no idea how she was supposed to tell it was that hot. After a certain amount of time the heat would have gotten though the styrofoam cup, but she was just handed it, and it was just poured.

And if you don't think people should be drinking scalding hot coffee in the car, perhaps McDonalds should have been handing them cooler coffee? It's not like they have big warnings 'Caution, our coffee can cause third degree burns.'. Most coffee you purchase, and could purchase at the time, was around 150 degrees, well under the threshold that could burn you seriously and destroy your skin.

And while 700 people is statistically insignificant, I didn't say it wasn't. I said it showed they knew, because they themselves had the record of 700 people, about the fact their coffee could cause serious burns, and decided to ignore that in pursuit of profits.

I don't know why people can't seem to grasp concept that just because something's slightly dangerous that a company can't decide to make it much more dangerous than anyone would have the right to expect. If a company sold you a screwdriver with a razor sharp blade don't you feel you'd have a legitimate grief with them if you cut yourself? Yes, we all know they're pointy, but they aren't supposed to be that pointy.

-David T. C.
Yes, my email address is real.
[ Parent ]

I see your point(s) (none / 0) (#114)
by vrai on Fri Apr 05, 2002 at 03:23:41 AM EST

But still disagree ;)

She didn't pick up something that was too hot and drop it. The defective lid popped off when she set it between her legs

Right, now I have no sympathy what-so-ever for her. The coffee that burnt her was at (about) 82 degrees C. I've always made my filter coffee (which is what they serve at McD) using water was 80 degrees C. Thus I would assume any freshly brewed coffee I was handed would be hot, perhaps not as hot as it was in this case, but hot enough that I don't want it on my skin right away. Thus I would place the coffee somewhere safe while it cooled: i.e. in the cup holder standard in most vehicles. I wouldn't wedge it between my legs, right next to the most sensitive part of my body. Even coffee at 65 degrees would hurt in this case, and she should have known better. If her car didn't have a cup holder then she should not have bought the coffee in the first place (this goes back to my original point about not drinking in the car).
Yes McD had 700 complaints; what does this tell you? That there are 700 really stupid people who couldn't figure out what millions-upon-millions did.

If a company sold you a screwdriver with a razor sharp blade don't you feel you'd have a legitimate grief with them if you cut yourself?

No. During normal use of a screwdriver the blade should never come into contact with your skin. Thus even with a sharp blade the tool is safe for its intended use. I have stabbed myself with a screwdriver before (stiff screw, I put too much weight on the screwdriver, slips and embeddeds point in my hand) but I didn't sue Draper Tools. Why ? Because it was my fault - I screwed up (no pun intended) and should have been wearing gloves or using a powered-driver.

This blame the company whenever something goes wrong is one of the few things I truly hate about American popular culture. Its like that idiot woman who put her dog in the microwave to dry it with rather predicatable consequences. Then sued the manufacturer for not having put a "Don't dry poodles in this device" sticker on the door. It is not the companies job to teach people how to use something correctly and safely. Had she known how a microwave oven worked she would never have put a small mammal in it; as it was she didn't know how it worked and so never should have bought it.

If I were to use our sharp-screwdriver to clean under my fingernails (with bloody consequences) I should not blame the manufacturer, the fault lies with me for not using a screwdriver the way a screwdriver is intended. Similarly filter coffee is mostly water that has been heated to a high temperature at some point during the coffee making process. Thus while most coffee isn't dangerously hot, the possibility for it to be so is always present. A smart person would therefore always treat it with respect until they had determined how hot it was. This woman was either reckless or lacked this basic common-sense. In either case she shouldn't blame McDonalds for what happened, and really shouldn't be driving a car.

Oh, and apologies for translating the temperature units, its just that I'm not really au fait with degrees Farenheit.

[ Parent ]

Okay. (5.00 / 1) (#115)
by DavidTC on Fri Apr 05, 2002 at 10:04:58 PM EST

(BTW, I'm pretty certain that microwave thing is an urban myth.)

[Celsius mode engaged.]

There's a pretty large difference between making your coffee at 80 degrees and serving it to people without warning that hot Anything over about 75 degrees is simply too hot to get on your body. Yes, this one was partially her fault, but what about the next guy who gets it spilt on himself by the window guy? If you want to risk your own skin like that good for you, but people do not expect to be handed skin destroyers at drivethough windows. They don't expect to have to wear protective gear to get breakfast.

McDonald's had been warned the coffee was too hot. It had settled other lawsuits from people who said the coffee was too hot. It had 700 complaints from people who had been injured by the coffee. Its own studies said the coffee was too hot. Everything and everyone said the coffee was too hot to be serving people in a car, or even inside. Every single person agreed the coffee was too hot, McD's couldn't find a single person to argue that was a useful temperature to serve coffee at. The only slight excuse McDonald's offered was 'People buy it and take into work, so it has time to cool.', but their own research clearly stated that almost everyone drank their coffee in the car, just like they eat their sandwiches. (After all, most people already have coffee at work.)

So why did McD's keep doing it? It let them keep the coffee fresh for an hour longer.

That is the reason the judge went crazy and awarded the woman several million dollars, dispite her only asking for the twenty thousand dollars in medical expenses the hospital racked up. Companies that blantently disregard people's safety repeatly will eventually get hit with a huge whopping judgement against them.

People didn't leap into lawsuits with McDonalds. She didn't say 'Hey, I can make some money from them.'. As far as she knew, she was the only person hurt. But then her lawyer did some research, and showed the court what was going on, that people were continually injured over a period of years and the courts said, enough is enough, we're going to give every single person, from now on, who's injured by the scalding coffee several million dollars. McDonalds changed its tune almost instantly and brought the temperature of its coffee in line with everyone else.

And I count that as a success of the legal system. The other option is to let a company continue to endanger people for profit, or pass a law for every single safety issue in the world. this way companies make reasonable efforts to protect people. If they don't make a reasonable effort, they get hit with medical bills. If they keep getting hit with medical bills because they're irresponsive and irresponsible, eventually the court hits them with punative damages.

And even you have to admit it really doesn't prove anything about frivolous lawsuits. ;) The woman sued for medical expenses when she got seriously injured by something with no warnings.

Yes, make all the jokes about 'I know coffee is hot' that you want, but that doesn't change the fact that McD's was serving it a good 20 degrees hotter than everyone else with no warning. It doesn't matter how the process of making the coffee works, people expect things they are handed to be in a reasonable temperature range, or else have a warning with them. Coffee, yes, they expect to be hotter, but they expect to be around 60-70 degrees, not 85. Just like I expect my freezer to be -10 to -5 degrees, not -65 degrees and give me frostbite when I touch anything in it. (And, as an aside, that seems like a large jump, the coffee was only 20 degrees hotter, but I'd rather touch something that's -65 than something that's 85.)

-David T. C.
Yes, my email address is real.
[ Parent ]

Coffee is hot ..... (4.00 / 2) (#103)
by craigtubby on Wed Apr 03, 2002 at 04:59:03 AM EST

> We're not talking 'Ow, that was hot', we're
> talking 185 degrees here, 30 degrees less than
> boiling. If you don't think that's hot, I
> invite you to stick your hand in water that hot
> some day.

When I make myself a cup of coffee I boil a kettle, yes boil it - thats 100c, then pour it into a cup, allow to cool and then drink.

If a McDonalds employee had thrown or dropped it over the woman then I can see where she is coming from, but lets face it a car is never the best place to try and drink coffee - even if you aren't driving or even moving and coffee is hot.

try to make ends meet, you're a slave to money, then you die.

* Webpage *
[ Parent ]

Not when you serve it (none / 0) (#108)
by xvathojn on Wed Apr 03, 2002 at 12:05:02 PM EST

When the coffee is served it should be ready to drink. Not when it is made (she did not make it), but when it is served. When it is made, it is hot, then you allow it to cool down and drink it. As served, it should be ready to drink, especially from a fast food restaraunt.



[ Parent ]
This is so familiar (none / 0) (#97)
by Dphitz on Tue Apr 02, 2002 at 09:27:30 PM EST

Speaking of familiars, this sounds like all those cases in the 70s and early 80s about parents trying to sue TSR for their children's suicides supposedly caused by playing D&D. The industry shrugged it off back then because no jury would side with the parents. Today it isn't so easy. Our litigious society has created an atmosphere where Sony will most likely settle out of court before any great amount of bad press can be generated over this, even though they would probably win in court. Wait, not so fast. Who knows what a jury might decide? They give morons 3 million bucks who can't drink coffee like a normal human.


God, please save me . . . from your followers

designed to be addictive... (none / 0) (#101)
by phunhippy on Wed Apr 03, 2002 at 03:24:02 AM EST

He blames Sony for making a game obviously designed to make players want to continue to play it over a long period of time. Entertainment people enjoy! The horror! Ok.. so are these lawyers really in the pay of the MPAA and RIAA.. now seriously think about this for a moment ok? They use this case to require Game Developers to create boring games no one will spend money at 20 dollars(or whatever the price) a month and that 20 dollars goes to buying EXCITING NEW CD's that wear out musically on the buyer in a month and they can buy a new one from the next crappy band next month!! ditto for movies/dvd.. I mean the concept of someone other than the Music or Movie industries providing content that people will pay for thats exciting! and addictive!! how dare they... just a few thoughts...
New Jersey is like menthol, Its Just Wrong
Suicide, Online Communities, & Responsibility | 115 comments (98 topical, 17 editorial, 0 hidden)
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