What Counter-Strike can teach us about toxic behavior: The Power Dynamic

Toxicity.

We’ve all experienced it before, whether we were the one being toxic or the person that people were being toxic too. It happens everywhere, in your competitive gaming matches, your twitter followers, or the basketball team you support.

Why are people so eager to put people down? Why do I scream at my teammates in Counter-Strike for baiting me or for missing a spray? Why do we flaunt our grades and followers at other people only making them feel worse about themselves?

Steel, Dazed, m0e, that one guy that rage quit TGL after going 4–20, what do these guys all have in common?

Insecurity.

The first time we see people or even something as insignificant as their Facebook bio, we are already making judgements and impressions based on their voice, their twitter followers, the way they look, and the way that they play Counter-Strike. The first time I interacted with someone like Kami for example, I was already making judgements based on the low amount of followers that he had. I unconsciously punched the numbers in my head and calculated that (no offense Kami) that he was a worse person than me, that because he had less followers than me, he was almost like a child, and I was an old wise man.

Funny enough, this was something that immediately shifted when I heard his voice for the first time. I immediately shrank down after hearing that voice, realizing that reality might not be what I thought it was. I wouldn’t rage or get mad in front of him, and I would basically be the closest thing to a yes man, careful not to make him angry or upset.

Now what if, though, I took someone who I from the start unconsciously thought was worse than me, and still unconsciously think that? What if I took one AndyJ and one BIGGEST Tabsen Fan, and played with them in a matchmaking game?

Well, I’m sure you all know what happened. A twitter block, two removals from the steam friend list, leaving the team they were on, and an angry message from me after a TGL game, it’s obvious that this experiment didn’t go too well.

Why did I get so angry? What caused me to blame them for my problems? Why did I go to the extreme points of blocking them and unfriending them on twitter?

Because when I thought I was better than them, I wanted to prove it to them. I wanted them to heap praises on me, call me insane or something, carry me so they could’ve thanked me for the carry. I wanted to establish my dominance and show how much better I was than them in any single way possible.

So when I fail, it genuinely hurts me. I can’t accept that I’m not the person that I thought I was, or better yet, they thought I was. So instead, I start blaming my teammates for distracting me, for not holding site, for dying early. Little things like Andy’s BM when playing and Brady’s frustration started setting me off, and I projected my issues onto them.

The truth is that I was more angry at myself for screwing up. In thinking that I was better than people, I feared that I would not be able to show that superior side of myself. I was dealing with a stressful situation that I didn’t have much experience with. And it’s in this not being able to accept my failure where I start to put the blame on other people.

These kinds of situations are momentum based, whereas the more you think about it the angrier you’ll get until you find yourself in a rabbit hole of seemingly never ending rage. We don’t scream at teammates because we are assholes, toxicity comes from humanity’s endless cycle of making judgements and also our insecurities. We can try to not react during a matchmaking game, or not think of someone a certain way when we first see them, but it’s impossible not to, it’s part of the beauty of being human.

We all make mistakes. Sometimes we even make the same mistakes twice, three times, too many times to count, while we might not even be aware of the problem in the first place. I’m sure even now S1mple struggles with his toxic impulses, I’m sure even the nicest person ever is also struggling with keeping his or her impulses in check.

I’m sure Vibrancy’s egotistical ass wanted so bad to prove that he was better than us, or at least better than what a level 1 should be. I’m sure I’ve said some terrible terrible shit sometimes in expressing my frustrations at people.

Being human is learning to take failure, accepting it but also not dwelling on it. Realizing you messed up, realizing you could mess up over and over, but having the courage to forgive yourself and use it to try and not screw up as much.

This was an apology to anybody I hurt.

Thank you for reading.

Just wanna write