Griefer Nation

Griefer Nation
Real World Grief

Allen Varney | 15 Nov 2005 07:06
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Individualist anarchism, a political philosophy hundreds of years old, has now been conclusively discredited by massively multiplayer online games. These cyber-societies give players anonymity and freedom, and what happens? Five percent of them start attacking, disrupting or harassing their fellow players, sowing chaos and misery for absolutely no reason. Without social hierarchy, regulation and punishment, these griefers would behave the same way in real life. Mutualism and utilitarian principles would break down - or anyway, all the victims would waste their lives airing their grievances in online forums. Therefore, individualist anarchy can never work.

Don't believe it? Look at some of society's many, many non-gaming equivalents of online griefers.

Couple Breakers
You know how in City of Heroes, some guy will beg to join your team, and as soon as he does, he teleports you into some nearby solid object? The closest equivalent in Japan are the wakaresaseya ("couple breakers") - separators for hire, professional destroyers of relationships. Want to divorce your spouse without paying a lot of alimony? Hire an operative from Office Shadow or Lady's Secret Service to seduce the spouse, make her (or him) fall in love with the operative, and sue you for divorce. Then, the job done, the operative abandons the spouse and vanishes. Dump your girlfriend, lose your husband, drive away that mistress or fire that longtime employee. It costs about $100,000 - a bargain!

Founded in the early 1990s by private detective Kiyoshi Hiwatashi, the wakaresaseya business skyrocketed after a 2001 TV drama about a glamourous young breaker. Half of Japan's 2,000 detective firms started engineering freedom from unwanted partners.
By 2002, a backlash rose amid rumors of yakuza (mob) connections. The largest private detective trade associations banned couple-breaker services. Now, many of the same agencies offer fukuenya ("professionals who restore relations") services. People who previously hired a firm to split off a troublesome partner started hiring the same firm to get them back together with the same partners. And you thought your love life was screwed up...

Disease Carriers
Irish immigrant Mary Mallon (1869 -1938), AKA "Typhoid Mary," was the first recognized carrier of typhoid fever. She worked in New York City as, oh god oh god, a household cook. Immune to the disease herself, she infected 22 people between 1900 and 1907, of whom one died. Health officials tracked her by the trail of victims and apprehended her, though she fought them vigorously with fists and a fork.

The NYC Health Department confined Typhoid Mary against her will to North Brother Island in the East River. She sued in 1909, and in 1910 the Health Commissioner released her on the condition she never work as a cook. Mallon agreed, but apparently couldn't find a decent job outside the kitchen. After five years, she changed her name to Brown and resumed work as a cook. She infected 25 more people (two deaths). The Health Department confined her again to North Brother for the rest of her life, 23 years. She died of pneumonia.

Mallon wasn't the only typhoid carrier known in her time, nor even the deadliest; Tony Labella caused 122 infections and five deaths. Mallon also wasn't the only carrier to break her promise not to work in food; restaurateur Alphonse Cotils kept working after being informed of his contagion. So though Typhoid Mary is history's most notorious disease vector, she's just one example. Then there's all those World of Warcraft players who tried hard to contract the corrupted-blood plague and then rushed back to the nearest city to spread it around...

Thrill Killers
Leopold and Loeb weren't even close to the first PKers (player killers), but they were among the most notorious murderers of the 20th Century.
Nathan Leopold, Jr. (1904 - 1971) and Richard Loeb (1905 - 1936) were a couple of rich 19-year-old Chicago college students who thought they were criminal masterminds. For kicks, they spent months planning a "perfect crime," kidnapping and murder. On May 21, 1924, Leopold and Loeb abducted and murdered 14-year-old Bobby Franks, a friend of Loeb's kid brother. The perfect crime rapidly fell apart, and the two masterminds were quickly caught. In prison they reveled in their media notoriety.

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