Looking back at the last few weeks, there was one thing which has been nagging at me. But, thinking about it, I had to realize that I too am part of this problem.
What I am talking about is pushing people into classifications, and the resulting cliques which form. If you read Tamarinds post, and some of the comments, you should see what i mean. In the end, there are two things. One is the use of The Felchers to describe a group of people. Now, this may be a completely correct description for a number of people, but unfortunately, it also includes an evaluation – a negative one, in this case. Negative in two ways – none should want to be member of this group, and the members of this group are not considered friends.
The other is the topic of cliques. And as i wrote in a comment to his post, i do think it is almost inevitable that cliques will form. And it is not necessarily a bad thing. Any larger group of people will consist of a number of smaller cliques of friends who hang out and talk about things. People tend to move towards those with similar / the same interests, and it is not unusual that there are some in your group to whom you have little contact. I see little wrong with that. Quite the contrary – by demanding that a group is homogenous across its members, the group’s size and diversity is severely limited. That, in my eyes, is a bad thing. After all,for example in discussions, it is usual the controversial points which give the best results. When everyone agrees, the discussion often turns very short. And i do believe the same to be true in a guild. Yes, it does need a common ground, and a set of rules, but built on that ground and kept within the rules, diversity is a good thing. Here, i would like to quote a line from one of the comments :
… The problem comes when the cliques start polarizing so people feel unwelcome, or as your example above, excluded on the grounds they belong to another group. …
That is what lies at the bottom of this, really. People feeling uncomfortable or unwelcome – that is rarely good for a group.
Now, I would be claiming to be a better person than I am if i didn’t admit that there have been people whom I thought had no place in the guild I am in. Fortunately, this is not my decision to make, because my views are not necessarily right, and not necessarily what is best for the guild as a whole. I have been in such a situation before (being an officer in a guild, responsible for getting new people in), and it is not something I want nowadays. Therefore, I am left with two main options when something like that happens. I can accept that said person is part of the guild, and stay because I want to stay with the rest of the guild, or i can decide that it is really unacceptable – and leave. The often perceived third option – trying to convince the guild that this person really is not good for them – that is in my eyes invalid.
Unfortunately, things do not end here. If we take a closer look at the event which Tamarind mentioned, things get very difficult. Just to make things easier for me, i will proceed with calling said person “Max”. Taking a big step back, there were a number of reasons which spoke for inviting Max into the raid. On the other hand, there were several (valid) reasons not to. Unfortunately, there was also the ‘clique’ issue. So, whichever decision was taken, it was in any case tainted by the fact that the clique issue exists.
This makes things doubly dangerous. One reason, obviously, being that only one person knows (or should know) exactly why a specific decision was taken. And looking in from the outside, it is extremely hard to judge if this one issue had any bearing on the final decision or not. Now, I said should know, because more often than not, some gut feeling decisions are based on feelings which even the person deciding does not fully comprehend at that time. And again, I too am not exempt from this, both on the decision-making side and on the side that questions the reasoning behind certain decisions.
So, what is the bottom line of this ? For me, there are three important things.
- I need to stop thinking of people as part of a group or category. Throwing Max in with The Felchers (rightfully or not) is a bad thing. Because when I do, i judge his possible behavior based on the group’s reputation.
- I need to get better with judging people based on their actual behavior. I doubt if anyone would begrudge me if I do not invite Random Person A into my raid, simply because i know he is prone to long, unannounced afk and sudden bouts of disappearing, and has done so with me before (Although, even in this case it might be The Right Thing™ to do to tell him ‘you can come, but…’)
- I need to give people the benefit of the doubt that their decisions are based on reasons which are free of favouritism and unconnected to any clique effect. Especially when my mood is already not too good. As I wrote in a previous post – WoW is like a mirror – you get out of it what you put in.
Heeding these three things should help improve things greatly. Both for me and for the guild. And that should be well worth it.