We Need To Stop Telling People To Kill Themselves

Take this however you want. Get angry. But I think it might be time for us -- as a community -- to stop telling people to kill themselves.

Last week US Talk Show host Jimmy Kimmel did a spot on eSports and professional gaming. He doesn’t understand it. He made jokes. Basically he did what comedians tend to do: make fun of things.

I can’t decide what bothered me more: the overwhelmingly negative response or the sheer mind-numbing predictability of the overwhelmingly negative response. The inevitability of it. It was as certain as it was bewilderingly embarrassing.

And Jimmy Kimmel did a follow up segment. That segment was dedicated to the response. Over the weekend he said, he had to deal with an incredible amount of online vitriol. The segment was light-hearted. Jimmy made fun of the comments, he also made fun of himself. Some of the negativity directed at him was generally light-hearted: you’re fat, you look like a gorilla, etc. Some was darker: kill yourself, get cancer, get AIDS.

Jimmy then mentioned that much of the abuse was directed at his wife and child. You got the sense that the absolute worst of the comments weren’t being shown.

At the start of the segment, Jimmy said something that surprised me. He said something along the lines of, “this happens two or three times a year”. Jimmy makes a silly joke about the wrong thing and the wrong group gets super angry about that.

The surprising part: this only happens three times a year.

See, I had assumed this would be a normal thing. I assumed that for someone with the profile of Jimmy Kimmel -- someone who makes jokes for a living -- this would be a constant, consistent theme. I assumed he’d have to field this kind of abuse all year round. Apparently this isn’t the case.

No, Jimmy Kimmel has to field this kind of abuse when he makes a joke about video games.

Yes, it’s a few bad eggs. Yes, #notallgamers. But there’s a connection here: as a community we tend to dramatically overreact each and every time there is a perceived attack on our culture. Why is that?

Is it because, as a group, dedicated gamers tend to skew young? Is it a sign of immaturity? Is it a problem with gaming as a culture? Is it a habit? Have we become so used to being under attack as a community that we tend to lash out every time someone wants to make a silly joke?

I think back to a comment made by Michael Atkinson, back in the R18+ days, back when gamers actually had something to legitimately be angry about. He said that he and his family were more scared of gamers than they were of biker gangs. Atkinson made enemies of both groups during his political career, but he was more worried about gamers. Not the group with connections to organised crime.

Back then I laughed. It felt unbelievable. It felt ludicrous. It felt like point scoring. Like Atkinson was trying to demonise gamers in an attempt to ‘win’ an argument. That was almost certainly part of it, but sometimes I wonder: if this is how gamers react when someone makes a joke, how bad would it get if someone was actively and actually trying to attack video game culture?

I think it’s time that we accept that we, as a community, have a problem in how we communicate with people we disagree with. You can say it’s an ‘internet’ thing, you can say it’s a byproduct of anonymity, you can blame YouTube comments. I’m not too sure. Jimmy Kimmel did a follow-up segment on abuse and video games were the focus. Gamers were the group that got angry to the point where Kimmel felt the need to address it publically. Not gun nuts, not the Christian right. Gamers.

Online abuse in video game culture has been normalised and it’s not right. I’m so used to this shit it barely even registers. It’s only when it’s placed in this context, by a person like Kimmel who is genuinely confused by it, that it sort of clicks: this is not okay. It’s bullshit and it needs to stop.

Maybe let’s just start with not telling people to kill themselves. Or attacking their family and children.

Maybe that’s a decent starting point.


Comments

    If you care what some scrub on the internet says about\to you, then the internet is not for you.

      Tell that to those nasty commenters, amirite? eh, eh? -_-

      I think you missed the point there. Nasty comments are just one of the symptoms, it's the toxic culture that needs to be examined and fixed. Take doxxing for example, can you still say "just ignore it" when your personal details are made public? Yes nasty comments can be (and should be) ignored but the society will be in much better shape if this toxic culture can be eradicated.

        It's a bit much though to say this is just a gaming issue. People are becoming more horrible across the board.

      This article. This article is about you and those like you with a response like that.

      Last edited 02/09/15 2:01 pm

        Exactly smurf. Thank you. Bloody over the immaturity I see. I swear we will have a massive bunch of degenerate middle ages in the coming decades on this planet. What the hell happened to having some class and restraint put into what one says.
        "The internet is not for you", what the hell is that crap. It is a utility used by most of the population not the Matrix with another set of societal expectations outside the norm.
        Like "gamers", it is not a thing like people think it is, just like a "movie buff" is not ones entire existence but a hobby.

          Well someone has to take the boomer' places when they're gone...

      Going by those votes, I'd say the internet isn't for YOU, douchebag.

      I use to think like this. I have to look around and realise the world has changed dramatically. Being online isn't a geeky niche thing to do anymore. It's a 'normal' thing to do. I might have grown up accepting of this kind of behavior. This generation is growing up online.
      As I look at my nephews though, looking up at their cool gamer uncle, would I want them to be subjected to that? Would I want them to participate in this kind of behavior? No, to both questions. I accepted getting abused, but I refuse to be so accepting of it now. Younger kids growing up deserve a better online world than I was subjected to growing up.

      This is just excusing shitty anti social behaviour. I've been the target of some pretty horrible vitriol but I'm a fairly confident 38 year old and am able to shrug it off. However replace me with an anxiety ridden 21 year old and you suddenly have a suicide risk on your hand. It's very easy to de-humanise a username/avatar, but there is always complex personality behind it.

      "If you care what someone says about\to you in person, then real life is not for you."

      Look at how stupid you sound.

    The even scarier part is that he got off lightly. If you really rile up the gamer nest then you can get doxed, swatted and all other manner of things that actually affect your life outside of your online presence.

    It would be great if people stopped and thought a little about what they were saying and the impact it could have on others but as long as there are no repercussions for saying whatever comes to mind then there's no hope of things improving.

      People know what they're saying, it's just the lack of consequences as you say. The internet gives people the opportunity to show what they're really like inside if they didn't have any social or other pressures (like the risk of getting punched in the face) keeping them in line. Unfortunately, there are a whole lot of people who are complete douchebags at heart, and the internet gives them both a safe haven to be themselves without consequence, and an easy avenue to find other like-minded douchebags to hang out with and live in an echo chamber where all their douchey behaviour seems normal.

      I mean, just look at the toxic hostility in some online gaming communities like League of Legends. It sucks, it's getting worse, and it's probably not going to change.

        that is a part of the problem, but the bigest part is how widespread the internet is. Ive been using the internet since 1994 and im sure there others on here who have using it longer than me and we have all seen how the number of trolls and such have grown the more the widespread the net becomes.

        Remember the internet didnt become extemely popular until the iphone and its ilk come out 10 years ago. even back in 1994 when my family got the internet it was extremely rare for anyone to have it due needing a rather expensive computer

        Its like the Letters to the Editor in newspapers. the ones we see in the paper are the ones that were deemed fit to print (yes some of them are out there). Now just imagine if a newspaper showed every single letter they recieved, it would be just as bad as the youtube comment sections and the like.

          Pretty sure the iPhone only came out 7 years ago, and the internet was massively popular before then. Personally I think the reason that the iPhone became popular was because it made access to the internet, something already mainstream and popular, much easier on the go. I think the internet boom started around '02 or '03

            You're both actually correct. The internet boom happened around then with the net entering almost every house in Australia (and the developed world) and the iPhone and it's ilk created a second 'boom' with the more accessible 'internet in your pocket'.

          Nah... The proportion of trolls is way lower now compared to the 90s.

        Exactly. Equate this to Facebook where yous see constant things of people saying "I always say what I think in real life, I never hold back". Or words to that effect.

        No. People don't. They never, ever do. It's complete utter bullshit. Because in real life, there's absolutely consequences, but online there's literally none as you said.

        In real life, if you rant at someone, call them a """"ing piece of blah blah blah and threaten to kill them or **** their mother, you'll be sat on your ass quicksmart, or, if violence is threatened, the police will likely be called. Consequences, solid consequences restricting this moronic behaviour.

        In real life if you said out loud in company of someone "You need to get cancer and die", you'll quickly find yourself seen as the lowest piece of shit in the room, with people aghast at your comments.

        So it puzzles me, why are people ok with acting this way online? I get stupid online now and then, but I try to reign it in a lot. I try to be a good person on here and elsewhere, I try to be a good example to my kid who goes online as well, to show him how to behave, but the lack of consequences, it's just so appealing to some... so appealing to turn everything into a cowboy free for all. *smh* I guess the only thing left is to name and shame people publicly for saying this shit. Irony of ironies, we'd end up saying the same things to them anyhow...

      Somehow, I don't think it is just limited to the gamer, but rather the internet persona, where they will infect games, twitter and youtube with this sort of toxicity.

      http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2004/03/19
      http://xkcd.com/202/

    go...have a lovely day...Mark

    Also GGers came from the gaming community, look how terrible they are.

    I think as a whole the gaming community has some terrible people in it, at least 52,000

    Last edited 02/09/15 1:14 pm

      *whoosh*
      Sorry ... I don't know what GGers is ... Good Gamer's? Like Bajo and Hex? I feel like the 52k is significant ... :P

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gamergate_controversy

          Ah, Gamergate. Fanx. Makes much more sense now. :P

          Yawn... The problem there is that both sides of that controversy are part of the problem.

            yes both sides have been terrible, but I only used GGers as the example of bad gaming community people.

        Bajo and Hex....oh man....that's so old school for me. I watched that show aaagggeeesss ago. Didn't even think it still was going.

        EDIT: I do remember the days before Hex was on and there was the other bloke. I forgot who he was though.

        Last edited 03/09/15 9:10 am

          Haha, Junglist. He fills in here on Kotaku when @MarkSerrels goes gallivanting around the world living the high life of a gaming website editor.

    I really wish that articles such as this didn't need to exist.
    But sadly, they do. They really, really do.

      My thoughts exactly. While there will always be unpleasant people this really needs to get at least toned down. It should not be accepted as normal.

    The internet has given everyone a voice. Sadly a lot abuse that voice. Point is, now people can directly respond to TV host, celebrates and what not and that makes most feel the need to be disrespectful jerks.

    The first image made me laugh. I am not a good person :(

    Last edited 02/09/15 1:13 pm

    The issue is that the internet is one massive playground with no boundaries between 'communities'. Anyone can create an anonymous account for basically any website/forum and be 'edgy' just for shits and giggles.

    Then there's the kids who've basically grown up on the internet instead of in the real world and think that comments like this are the norm and that's acceptable behaviour because they don't see any consequences of their actions. Basically it's resulting from a need for peer recognition and the only way for some people to do that online is to use shock comments

    I'm pretty sure the only way to stop this is ban children from youtube.. best get used to it.

      thats all well and good, but the adults are even worse.

    Got told to kill myself in Rocket League this week - made me feel pretty darn awful actually. But then I remembered that it's online and there's no cure for people.

      I thought Rocket League only had pre-determined messages to send? Ouch, that sucks.

        Hit the touch pad button, brings up a chat keyboard, but I think they were PC players (PsyNet?) so they probably can punch out mean comments quicker :/

          Also BT keyboard on ps4 lets you type faster, also playstation app on your phone lets you type.

      Until Rocket League, I'd never really bothered playing online. I, too, was surprised at the level of abuse I copped over the chat for just, you know, being slightly competent at the game.
      I'd never really come across toxic dickwads online before and whilst I found their reactions to being pummeled amusing, I can see how being immersed in it non-stop can become an issue for many people.
      I also felt gratified and complimented when I was called a "hackass". Yeah, dude, that was a pretty awesome goal wasn't it? A shame you suck so hard.

        I always feel great when people in battlefield start abusing me and calling me a hacker because it means I am doing pretty darn good.

          Don't lie Pirate Pete. Since you're a pirate, I bet you know all about the cool aimbots the kiddies are using nowadays. You can't just steal to be a pirate. Rape and murder is part of the gig as well.

      Yeah I had a team mate trash talking me because I missed stopping a couple of goals, so I spent a bit of time just knocking him about instead of going for the ball.

      Was this because you were good at the game, or crap at it? Not that it makes a difference, just curious.

        *shrug* Dunno - I hold my own I guess. I was the only goal scorer, and he was on my team - just a general all-around griefer I suppose :/

    You only need to jump on twitter for a few minutes to witness the cesspool of awful internet insults. The anonymity of the internet has done nothing for the development of a tolerant and pleasant society.

      You only need to spend some time on news posts on Facebook to learn that anonymity has little to do with it. People are more than happy to throw horrible things about with their name and photo attached to it.

        True, but I guess it depends on who you have on Facebook too. I haven't noticed it so much there, but Twitter...my God...it's like pre-school for douchebuckets.

        Last edited 02/09/15 1:51 pm

          Go to Facebook and follow something like The Lad Bible or any of those popular user content generated pages - cesspools

        Disagree. Vast majority of comments are from fake profiles. Or at least fake profile pictures.

      The scary part is, these days even in places where your full name and profile is on display, you'll still find people saying awful things I would have trouble saying even anonymously.

      **edit** Yeah what @freezespreston just said, lol (bit slow on the trigger, i was)

      Last edited 02/09/15 1:36 pm

    It's a nice thought but the internet will never be a nice place to other human beings in general.

    I think a lot of this has to do with the Vocal Minority. you never hear the reasonable arguments because the people who are intelligent enough to form a sentence and say their opinions without getting mentally / physically / verbally abusive, have learned that there's no point in the sea of noise and to just stay out of it.

    there's zero policing online, there's zero control from parents. and the people who are level headed don't make the news.

    these days I honestly feel like its best to just sit in the back of the theatre and let the animals tear themselves apart while we find out a way to separate our real culture away from the cesspit of hate that its perceived to be.

    It's not cool to be kind, I guess. Fuck that.

      No joke about that.

      Last year, I bought some books and when I finished paying for them I said, as I usually do, "Thank you, ma'am."

      The female clerk reared back and I seriously thought something bad was behind me. Then she said to me, "Didn't expect to hear that."

      Unlike others, I'm well mannered by choice; I don't need a reason. But it does dishearten me when people confuse my manners as an overseas accent or think I'm either flirting with them or I'm up to something.

      Last edited 02/09/15 2:09 pm

        Maybe it's the first time someone called her ma'am and she went into an existential crisis. :P

          I worked in retail when I was a teenager, and it bothered me when people called me ma'am. I did like it when people were polite though.

            It bothered me when I was in my early 20s and people in retail etc started calling me "sir".

            Still bothers me now, even if they are being polite :P

          Maybe she thought that @wisehacker said Madam, and was wondering what it was about her appearance that day which made him think she ran a brothel

            Might explain it. Ma'am is a contraction of madam but like most others, I know it first by it's formal definition and not by it's after dark definition.

            I was even once told off by an older female for just saying to her "Thank you, ma'am".

            It doesn't stop me being polite but it does sadden the mood at time.

            Last edited 02/09/15 3:21 pm

              My missus says it's because it make them feel old. She prefers Miss.

              Had the same reaction.
              Some women will not know how to take "ma'am", and one confused woman even thought I'd called her "mum".
              It doesn't stop me from saying it, and I generally ignore the reactions of people who cannot accept a courtesy, or feel the need to find offence in it.
              Keep saying it, we'll get them used to it, even if it's just the two of us doing it.

    also is it me or does he look like a younger Tom Hanks in that video? :) lol

      I thought he actually looked younger with a beard, but I can also see what you're saying!

      Didn't till you said it. Now I can't un-see it.

    This was a really nicely written article about a really horrible phenomenon.

    But without the internet I would never know who has slept with my mother....

    I think Roy from The IT Crowd sums it up best "People, What a bunch of bastards"

      To take it a step further, from the very first time I heard it I got that "People = Shit" (Slipknot)... I was a early teenage idealist still. I don't mean you or anyone here as an individual or even collectively (Kotaku AU is a freaking refuge in the unending space that is the internet)...

      I mean if you drive to/from work in peak hour(s) you already know what I mean. If you have to deal with people on a regular basis you know what I mean. It's a crazy mad infuriating sad truth.

      Last edited 02/09/15 2:55 pm

        Off topic but a great song from an awesome band. In the 2000's if it wasn't System, Slipknot, Manson or Korn I wasn't interested.

    Could not agree with you more Mark, people just don't think about the meaning behind their words, nor seem to even care. I think its wrong, but can't see it ever changing. Its not just gamers either, as said above, just go looking around facebook or twitter and you'll see thats its everywhere on the net. People just don't care, even with reported cases of people killing themselves from this kind of shit

      This is happening because some think that actions on the Internet are not accountable to real world consequences.

      And it's because of this myth we see the worst in humanity being easily played out. Some even think making threats to one's well being or even life only counts if done in real life and not if done on say Twitter.

      In the end, it just shows they just don't care, like you said, but the same kind of people tend to think lesser of people who do report such cases to appropriate authorities and try to brand them as resource wasters.

      Last edited 02/09/15 2:13 pm

    Yeah, many wise heads in the thread. It's the internet factor to begin with, just look a the vitriol on Twitter from many people who are identifiable. I've stopped looking at Twitter because the sheer negativity and horribleness is overwhelming. Are we losing the capacity to have a civil, logical argument? Not a lot of role models for good behaviour in politics or the press that's for sure.

    Then you have gaming. I'm 43 and enjoy throwing out a GG to adversaries who've bested me in original, honourable or against-the-odds ways in BF4 or world of tanks. I often get a GG back. But on the whole the level of communication is dismal. When kids are playing I've come to expect a lot of stupid trash talk but sometimes you even hear it from obviously grown men. Often people will start screaming abuse at their team mates, accusing them of incompetence. You can only conclude that gaming is full of people who's parents did a bad job raising them. I sound like some kind of reactionary old grandpa here but honestly, that's what it comes down to. I won't make the same mistake with my kids; for one thing they never see me playing games.

    Rant complete, now back to work, thank you.

      Not that I should/could/would tell anyone how to parent (I believe the responsibility is to great for me), but have you considered the idea that showing the kids yourself playing games, while displaying appropriate behavior and with good sportsmanship, is more valuable than just simply not exposing them to... well I just talked myself out of that train of thought.

      Maybe examples of how NOT to behave... ERGH too hard. Being a parent would be far too hard.

    Doesn't bother me so much, because it's just proof of what little imagination you have, and how little respect you must have for other people. And if you conduct yourself this way online with any regularity, you must have a really tough time dealing with the real world.

    But in the grand scheme of things, it's just a really shitty thing to say. It might not affect me, but what if I was someone with severe depression or any number of mental/health issues that this could adversely affect? It's just all too common these days.

    Happened as recently as about 3 or 4 days ago in WoW - some guy in the raid was screaming his arse off, telling everyone they're awful, etc, the usual. Several people - including myself, told the guy politely to knock it off and stop being such a tit. He stopped immediately, but took the time to whisper me the moment the raid was over some 30 minutes with 'kill yourself irl, bud' Didn't respond, and reported him immediately.

    Don't put up with this shit. Same as everything - racism, homophobia, whatever - don't propagate such horse shit, and if you see someone else doing it - call them out.

    Last edited 02/09/15 2:14 pm

      I'm glad you reported it. That's a big step in the right direction. There needs to be more consequences.

    Don't be a dick and think twice before talking. Do this and life will improve.

    Last edited 02/09/15 2:26 pm

      Think before you speak, wise words most parents of any skill drum into their kids yet it doesn't seem to stick to most people on a whole.

    In today's society, with the ever increasing suicide rate, we should damn well be more careful of what we say to people. Great article @markserrels

    Great article Mark - I thought the majority of Gamers are supposed to be adults, I find it depressing how when someone has a little bit of anonymity it's like a free pass to be a complete heartless arsehole.

      Being an adult has never been a reliable indicator of maturity. That you "grow up" is a myth sold to young children...

    It's really concerning that people need to be told this. Good article

    im still waiting for the day that technology enables me to reach into my screen and slap the shit out of whomever i click on for making shit-ass comments about people. you know, the keyboard warriors.
    the other thing that pisses me off are the sausage fest comments aimed at not only women, but underage women.

    There are loads of complex cultural and social reasons that could have easily contributed to the generalised perspective of almost everything the layman/laywoman and their subsequent reactionary behaviour. The thing is... " We need to stop telling people to kill themselves." Is the name of this article.

    Who cares why? Who cares you have a misplaced sense of entitlement? Just stop. F$&@ing stop telling people to kill themselves and abusing everyone because you have no concept of what you're doing. Feels like this is turning into an epidemic.

Join the discussion!