2020 was the year when all the crap hit the fan. But it was also the year that a lot of us realized we actually have nothing in common with other people. We had suspected it all along and there were red flags...but they were easy to ignore. For example, there were the HOA's that most people deal with. Some people actually love those things; others hated them. But more often than not, I was warned (when house shopping), "You won't want to live in that neighborhood. The HOA is pretty strict." But...they didn't know that I was a person that liked strict things, because I believe that people need to be held accountable for the crap that they do. In any event...suffice it to say...none of us were ever on the same page. And things that you thought "everyone hated" kept sticking around. For example, if everybody hated HOA's...why did they exist. The answer was a bitter pill to swallow: a lot of people actually liked them. Hmmm...interesting, right?
The same can be said of mass shootings. As a society, we have the means to deal with them. But the truth of the matter is a lot more complicated than that. A lot of people don't mind them at all if it means that they can keep their guns. It's a small price to pay. Additionally...those same people...they don't want those guns to hunt. It was never about that. They just want the option to do the unthinkable...if it ever comes down to it. But none of them say that. They still want to hide behind a veneer of civility, but their hearts are (and always were) filled with hate.
When 2020 came along though, it pulled back the sheets and exposed everything. We suddenly saw how actually bigoted and racist people were because they could be unapologetic about it. We saw terrible people just go on being terrible, and there was no "shaming" them into getting them to behave. The Covid 19 response was an absolute disaster, and we saw just how little empathy and how much selfishness pervades this country from top to bottom. It can never be unseen.
This x-ray vision that has exposed everyone has permeated every facet of society. For example, here in Salt Lake City, they can't find workers for $15.00 per hour. Shockingly, no one is signing up. I have Republican friends that say, "It's all the stimulus money. Why work when you can get money for free?" I respond, "No that's wrong. Why work for you for crap wages and run down their bodies when you should be paying $30.00 per hour to start for even the most basic job? That's a better question. And if you or your organization cannot afford to pay that, it's my opinion that your organization doesn't deserve to exist because it was built upon exploiting others for profit."
This of course, gets a lot of shocked looks, and, "Damn! I didn't know you were extreme Left in your views!" As an aside...that comment makes me laugh, because (apparently) getting paid a living wage and having healthcare makes me "extreme left." Something about 2020 made it easier to call people out on this kind of grifting...this kind of exploitation...and now we all see it.
I see it in games too. The liars, the narcissists, the cheaters, and the control freaks stand out like they've got a big red "X" painted on their foreheads. You see it in what other people define as "fun." I got this post from the D&D Facebook group I belong to (it boggles my mind that this guy was having fun because this is not how I would define "fun"):
"Proud GM moment. For the last 5 months I had my group fighting monsters and other servants of evil all the while fighting off curses that were slowly taking over their bodies. They also earned money and were able to purchase magic items that they wanted. This last session I dropped the bomb on them. Upon returning back from cleaning out a vampire nest, the group is greeted by their superior who thanks them for destroying all the rebel factions that would have threatened the servants of the Deep Gods plans to bring the all powerful Cthulhu to the world. He then changes into a monster, their magic items stop working, and they discover that the curses that they fought to remove from their bodies were actually symbiotes trying to protect them from being brain slaves. Then they all essentially died."
If you don't know why this is a terrible idea to do in a game, but would probably make a good story for a novel or a movie, then we are definitely not on the same page. But I have no doubt that this guy will probably struggle to find players who want to play in the future, and he will be shocked and wonder why. "But I'm so good. People know that my games are difficult." And he will bitch at how the new system put out by Wizards of the Coast (owners of D&D) coddle the players (it doesn't). "I remember back in the day, the game was hard!" No no no...you remember back in the day that you could be a complete asshole and abuse people and waste their time and they sat there and took it because they secretly wanted your approval and mistook your abuse as a challenge. I would cap that comment off by saying, "You don't understand how the game is played, you don't know what fun is, and your games are incredibly short because you see it as you against them and you can't run powerful characters, because your brain is too small to come up with challenges. So you prefer this dark fantasy crapola that you try to spin into some testimony that you are somehow a genius."
Anyway, I wish I could unsee all of the toxic people out there, but I can't. I've been inoculated by surviving 2020, and those antibodies are in my blood. I now have bullshit and gaslighting detectors that run at 110%. Toxic individuals are everywhere. Our very society is a sponge that is dripping with the urine of toxicity created by abusers and their ilk. I wonder if there is anything any of us can do about it. The answer seems murky at best.