The Mute Button & You
Content/Trigger Warning: mentions of suicide
Let's talk toxicity. As you go through life you'll encounter toxicity everywhere: at work, on the street, and games are certainly no exception. So what do you do? Do you get upset, mad, or sad? All of these things are completely reasonable to feel when you're dealing with toxicity. Not everyone can shake off someone telling them that they should kill themselves for doing poorly in a game. And you shouldn't have to. That’s where the mute button comes in.
The trick to knowing when to mute someone really comes down to knowing if they are willing to work with you as a team player or if they're truly, simply a troll. More often than not someone commenting on your actual gameplay is just wanting to help you get better even if it comes across poorly. It is when people start attacking you as a person or threatening your well-being that you know that person is no longer a team player and you can safely mute them without any fear of losing valuable communication. We've all been there, we know we're having a bad game. But here comes Negative Ned to top it all off. “You're playing like garbage,” reads the screen. This is a comment a large majority of players can shrug off, and that alone isn't really worth muting someone for. They're just as frustrated as you probably are. Did you need your performance pointed out to everyone in the match? Probably not but with a little work on your part, (kill them with kindness, kids) you can probably turn that person's attitude around. After all, communication wins games and you don't want to get too happy with the mute button.
There is also knowing the game you are playing and the community that plays it. While I love League of Legends it does have a notoriously toxic community. I have received threats, been told to kill myself, and been told that I deserve to be raped over my performance in a game, and a low ELO one at that. No game is 100% free from toxicity and if you're going to play in a toxic community it benefits to have slightly thicker skin. Some games have a reputation of toxicity while others have reputations of a welcoming community, and it’s important to know which you’re playing in.
That said, imagine my surprise when last night I was playing a Battleground in World of Warcraft, defending a point by myself against three other players. I was up there on damage meters and, by my viewpoint, having a pretty solid match. That said, after I died we lost the point and I was promptly told “kill yourself but you'd probably mess that up to”. I was shocked to say the least as this is not what I've come to expect from World of Warcraft. It was a solid reminder that toxicity isn't limited to one game or when you’re doing poorly. I went through the steps, I muted, blocked, and reported the toxic player. I wished my team good luck and I left the Battleground. I wish that I could tell you that I stuck it out and we won but I'd rather tell you the truth--that it shocked me and I immediately stopped playing for the night.
So to those of you who might be too quick with your words, you never know who you're talking to on the other side of the screen. You will never know if that person just lost their best friend or if they're facing depression or if they've just had the best day of their life. So, stranger, I know you don't know me and I know you probably didn't mean it, but I didn't need you to tell me that when I already deal with those thoughts on a daily basis. As someone who struggles with mental health issues, and as a suicide survivor, I ask you to consider what you say to people that you do not know and I hope that you consider my words and choose kindness. To those of you who struggle dealing with toxicity like I do, I welcome you to use the mute button. It’s an act of self-care, after all.
The mute button can totally be an act of self care. And it's up to you you know when you need to utilize it. If someone is telling you to kill yourself, go ahead and mute them. If you struggle with suicidal thoughts it's completely self-care to take yourself out of that situation. If someone has done nothing but yell at you the entire game, and you suffer from self-deprecating thoughts you don't have to sit and listen to that. You are worth more than that.