Funny how social anxieties can make even one’s online life very difficult. I used to think playing WoW would be my chance to liberate myself. Each of my characters could look and behave very differently from me – I could try out new personas and outlooks. To a certain extent I have done that. I am reluctant in real life to smite anyone and my fireballs and exorcists rarely work. I can stomp quite well though & have frequently stunned my husband. I can also eat & drink although unlike my characters can’t do it at the same time without dribbling. But while I thought I would really run wild in WoW and unleash lots of aspects of my hidden self – that turns out not to be true. As night elf, blood elf, corpse or cow I am still me. Me with horns. And still in fact the bits of me I don’t much like – the over-thinking, neurotic, worrying me.
This anxious me shows itself while I quest (frequent dilemma – is it ok to skin a mob just lying there or will I annoy someone who killed it 30 minutes ago and is hiding somewhere just to see who dares skin it), when I decline a guild invite (frequent worry- have I now hurt their feelings, did they have to pluck up a lot of courage to send that to me) and when I fail to say gratz quickly enough when someone gets some new achievement like exploring the whole of Elwynn Forest or killing 100 squirrels. For these people my guilt reaches unscalable heights – I picture that person barely able to see through their tears so badly have I snubbed them. I even worry about the feelings of my pets (my imp definitely looks at me funny when I use my felhunter too much).
Oh the guilt of it all. And one of the worst fears I have is of being seen to be greedy. This poses a problem when it comes to one particular dungeon activity- rolling for loot.
Even before I went into dungeons I had a phobia about this. I had read all the horror stories about players who terrorised dungeons, rolling need on items that they couldn’t wear (items so bad for them in fact they were virtually the equivalent of Kryptonite to Superman). I think I even saw a report about one scandalous ninjaing on the evening news (some reporter was interviewing shellshocked friends and neighbours talking about what that blue dagger would have meant to the victim). Forget war, forget terrorism. This was the real threat to all things honourable & decent in our society. I knew even before going into my first dungeon that it was going to be rough. People would steal the clothes off my back (or at least my cloak and helm).
My worst fear though was accidentally rolling need myself. I was terrified of that. I did not know what I would do if I did it. I knew I could just apologise & offer to roll again. But I also feared I would not get a chance to explain myself. I would be the object of hatred and vitriol from the moment I clicked the button and my guilt ridden typos as I tried to apologise would not help (“I am so sorry” would inevitably come out like “It’s mine all mine!” combined with cackling laugh. Bloody typos).
So my first few dungeons I was petrified. My OCD reached new heights as I found myself checking & doublechecking before clicking. Sometimes I used to wish no loot would come up at all so I could relax (even thought I was running dungeons for better gear …). The mantra I recited was “It is ok to need if it’s an upgrade”. But that didnt’t help. How did I know if something was an upgrade? It took me ages to find out you could hit the shift button over the item to compare it to what you were already wearing. I used to think people had memorised all their stats (some probably do) and knew in an instant what was an upgrade or not. I used to hate myself for not knowing this. I cursed my short attention span. Sometimes I forgot what character I was playing and made dire mistakes (no one respected my mage who thought she was a healer). If I could do that I could never remember what particular level chestpiece I needed.
And the time we had to decide seemed all too short. I felt under enormous pressure the moment something appeared. Need or greed I whispered, sweat glistening on my face. I could not have been more tense if I was deciding what wire to snip.
And other related doubts assailed me. Was it bad form to pick greed or need in the middle of a fight? Did that show you were somehow less committed to the group than anyone else? And if you were dead what was the protocol then? Does a ghost have needs I asked my priest.
I blame my mother (she’s always my first port of call). She always told me it was wrong to appear needy. “No man likes a needy girl,” she said. She also told me I had a face that needed make up. She said greed was bad too. In a party you should never go first to the buffet table and never take too much on your plate. To do any of this was to be looked down on, to show the family up, to be common.
It’s funny how this stuff stays with you in adult life and even in a virtual life. I must be the only person in the world who as a Paladin is really glad when cloth appears because I can simply roll greed. And even that’s progress. When I first started in dungeons I used to pass on those because I thought greed meant something you kind of needed (but not enough to cry about) and need was something you’d kill your own mother for (wrong comparison but I’m still thinking about that make up comment). Now I understand that some greed is acceptable (although I’m not at the Wall Street heights of claiming greed is good). I have survived an existential crisis and I am now at least comfortable with my right to vendor or auction that which the others would also vendor or auction (is that the 11th commandment?).
But if something appears that I can use I am immediately in turmoil. Does it have it the stats I need? As I’ve said I’m not great on knowing what those are even with the shift compare thing. I once rolled need on what I innocently thought was a cloak upgrade for my warlock. It had better armor, strength & stamina. Yes I can already see some of you rolling your eyes. Please no one whisper noob. It hurt enough seeing it in party chat. Five times. You’d swear I had pushed the nuclear button. I was called everything. I now know I was wrong. It was definitely an upgrade in pure armor terms & as warlock I thought I needed stamina because that’s health and that converts to mana. But I didn’t need the strength. I thought that was sort of an optional extra that no one would begrudge me- but how wrong was I! And I didn’t even win it! But it didn’t matter. Immediately my warlock was a shamefaced pariah.
Now I do know my Paladin needs intellect & as a tank I need stamina & strength so I look out for combinations of all those. I also know mail intellect & plate intellect don’t come up often. I basically should be jumping for joy when I see them. But I’m not. Because I don’t want to get it wrong again.
So I have a lot of rules I apply (to myself only) in dungeons:-
Rule 1- If it’s something I’ll never use – like a pattern for one of the professions or a lockbox- then that’s easy – I just pass on it. All I’m going to do is lazily vendor it not auction it or find a locksmith so I think someone prepared to put in more effort than me should have it. My laziness should not cause suffering to others (it’s the same philosophy that makes me to feed my dog even when I’m very tired- thank god- did anyone hear the news today about two dogs who have allegedly eaten their owner after he deprived them of food. Quite possibly a literal example of the underdog overcoming adversity).
Rule 2:- if I’ve joined half way through I don’t even think about rolling need for an upgrade until I’ve killed a good few mobs and proven myself. I must earn the group’s love and respect first (and we all know how easy that is to find in dungeons…). So if something awesome appears that I can use and it is a proper upgrade I just roll greed and hope that if the universe wants me to have it I will have it. The universe never wants me to have it.
Rule 3- If it’s something I can’t wear or use (not even at the Xmas party when anything goes) I rejoice and just hit greed – another moral crisis averted.
Rule 4:- If it’s something I could wear & it is a slight upgrade in some capacity I anguish long & hard & reach for the Prozac. This is the real tricky ground for me. But like all compulsive over-thinkers I have come up with a coping strategy. I now wait for everyone to roll first. If anyone (even the annoying dpser who has pulled everything in sight) goes for need I go for greed – I always believe the other is more entitled than me. But if all go for greed I take a deep breath, recite the mantra (even though in this case it’s only a slight upgrade), roll need & wait for the abuse to flood in. I won’t even wear it until I’ve left the dungeon, a good hour has passed and I can finally believe the shiny new boots in my bag are mine.
Pathetic isn’t it. As I say these are sides of myself I really dislike. The neurotic, anxious, worrying self. I never thought I’d care so much about what people think of me online. I know I worry too much in real life about what people think of me. Always have. But I thought I could lose myself online. But I can’t. I’m everywhere. Even when I’m nowhere.