An Asshole Webmaster

More than anything, when I think back on Humanity, I remember being excluded. Ostracized. Either kept from playing with others through one form of social control or another— ‘get out of here, kid, you’re not old enough to be in this fandom about cartoons/video games’— or, it was always something. I wanted to play an online video game, but my Ping was ten milliseconds too high. It was always something. And it was always bullshit.

Nothing re: interacting with Humans really affected me more than loving some sort of form of media, be it a video game, or a cartoon, or something, and then meeting the gatekeepers of said ‘fandom’. When I was a kid, it was adults dominating the conversation about games or cartoons; not to mention grooming us, but that’s another story.

The thing that I remember the most, is, there’s a video game series that I loved. I was its biggest fan. And, for my birthday, I wanted to get a poster of the game’s artwork. The game company’s website’s store had previously sold posters, as well as keychains of the prominent symbol. (My step-Mother would later get me the keychain; but would otherwise be unable to provide me the poster. But that was fine.)

This was in the 1990s. Buying things online was not something that was fully facilitated, as it were. Credit card payments online weren’t even really a thing, back then; you’d have to transmit your credit card number in the clear, in plaintext, in an e-mail, back then. It’s a wonder more people didn’t get robbed blind.

In any case, my mother suggested that I e-mail the company, to see if they’d get the posters back in stock. And so I did.

What followed was a fucking nightmare.


Melancholy

The game company’s website webmaster, in typical 1990s dudebro flair, was an obnoxious asshole. He would regularly put people ‘on blast‘, and would post their e-mails, and make fun of them.

This man put me ‘on blast’, in front of the entire community.

I don’t think you really understand what that does to a child’s psyche. One minute, I’m happy to be playing a video game, and joining a community; the next, I have grown men telling me to fucking kill myself.

The webmaster, for his part, posted my full name, my e-mail address (hence: the death threats, as well as a few weird sexual threats that I’m not quite sure qualify as ‘rape’ threats– though, somebody said they were going to ‘fist’ me, and turn my vagina inside-out), and summarily made fun of me for an extended three paragraph screed, which he capped off, calling me a loser. He then invited people to send e-mails to me, making fun of me. I think it ended with telling me to kill myself.

I was 8 years old.

I just… wanted a poster of my favorite video game.


Anger

I woke up the next morning, or sometime shortly thereafter, to find this entire meltdown. My Guardians got involved. My father demanded that my name be removed; he was made fun of, though, due to a subsequent e-mail, telling the webmaster my age, and how ashamed he should be, the webmaster removed my surname, leaving only the first character of it, and a period; but then, because he was angry at my father, he decided to leave it up, saying, simply: Fuck you, asshole. You can’t tell me what to do.

A lawyer was soon involved.

The entire e-mail section of the website was removed, and the ‘asshole webmaster’ schtick ended pretty quickly.


But not Greed.

My step-Mother got me the very rare keychain. In part it was offered to me by the company, in some sort of ‘good will’ gesture. She did not accept it.

The poster, I never got. Until, years later, I managed to figure out that I could simply ask the original artist— the game company had contracted this fantastic concept artist, who licensed their work out— for a signed poster. I paid for it, and received it. It is hanging on my wall— and it is completely free of the game’s logo.

I don’t know why that man chose to hurt me. I also don’t know why, in general, 1990s video game ‘bro’ culture was so goddamned vicious.

I remember, I once wrote into a video game magazine, telling one of the writers to stop making fun of kids.

You can guess how well that went.

It’s a real shame that I cannot hate.

In my life, when I think of Humans, I think about offering them a hug, and then getting punched right in the face.

That’s been my experience with you.