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Memories - Part Four: Tall Poppies

Virtual Realities: Memoirs of an internet spaceship politician
by Sugar Kyle CSM9, CSMX

Who are you to try?

But before I could see where I was going, I had plenty of reality to deal with. With my finished product ready, I started to watch the forums. The second summit for eight council had happened during my preparation. I had expected more excitement about the current council and the upcoming elections. Something to echo the roar of anticipation in my own body. Searches me with silence on the official and player run forums. Fanfest would be in May. During the keynote was when the results had been announced for the last few years. It was mid February. We only had three months. It was both an eternity and far to short. Every day, I waited for someone to announce that they were running. It would let me know who my competition was. Maybe, that perfect person would announce and I could withdraw bashfully before I took it to far. I waited, and waited, and waited, and finally moved. If no one else would post then so be it. I would go first.

Have mercy on me.

On February 14th, 2014 I announced that I was running for the Ninth Council of Stellar Management. Suddenly, this decision that I had made expanded and engulfed me. I fell into it. I refreshed my post countless times. I breathlessly handed out links to my friends and corporation. I made a mirror post on my blog. I announced it on Twitter. I allowed myself to enter into complete obsession. It was only later that I realized it was valentines day.

Later, I would think of more rational methods. I could have asked a current member of the CSM if they had any news. I could have even made a polite request of CCP. But that would come later. My choice demanded action and so intense was my need to make the leap that I crouched on the edge of that I did not think things trough very well. Fr instance, I picked a poor day to post. It was a Thursday and I was at work that Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I cannot remember much about that time but my excessive refreshing and the fact that other’s started to announce their posts within hours of mine.

In a moment, my announcement became the focus of my world. It seemed that everything and every one shrunk down and rotated around this tiny corner of the internet and a page that I asked to check for fresh data every few minutes.

It is a poor sign for a campaign if the candidate cannot even get friends to fill the first page of their forum post. My supporters came out in mass. It is also popularity contest. I’d love to deny that aspect of it but that is only because people would often say that it was only a popularity contest. Being known mattered but it was more than that. The election meant that I was asking to go interact with strangers well enough that they would listen to me and create a productive relationship. Personality did matter. Candidates were trying to stand out from the crowd, screaming, “Pick me!” into the hearts and minds of voters. 

The forum response was that first step. In the first few hours of a post, many a campaign's future can be told. So, I waited and watched and saw that it was not just my corporation and close friends who responded with support. People I had never spoken to who had followed my blogging and through it my game activities, stepped up to speak for me. I was surprised at the momentum that I started to gain. 

Things moved smoothly. That was bad. I could not absorb the positive praise because I knew that it was a calm before a storm. I was three pages into positive responses and support before Doomchinchilla wrote, "Also I've really never heard of you, and for LS that really means something. It's not like someone from Snuff running, when most of their members are such loud personalities and are recognizable... I just don't really know you. And because of that I'm not sure if you could fit the bill for a LS representative."

It would have hurt if the negative, aggressive question was not expected. I played an aggressive and competitive part of the game. A game where interaction with other people was the game play. Now, I asked people that I played against to support me in something that would affect us all. I was saying that I was open minded enough to listen to them and not just those around me. I had to be clear and believably so that I support more play styles than my own. But, it was not just that. By standing up and running for the CSM, I had stated that I believed I was good enough to be listened to. That I had what it takes to sit around CCP’s table and attempt to influence the future of the game. It was a lot to ask and even more to say. The harsh words did not insult me. I had asked myself the same questions.

"I understand that you have not heard of me. Part of this path is trying to be seen so that people can decide if I am a candidate that they wish to have on their ballet.” I answered his question without adding things he had not asked for. I also skipped the insults. I knew little about him, but would would voicing that do? What I had to offer was a modest track record and an open mind. It was what I could give. It was what I offered. But, none of that was his question. His question was not just meant to ask me ‘who’ I was. It was to see how I answered. I did not at any point believe that I could give him an answer that would make him happy. What I could do was conduct myself as I wanted to be seen.

Do these words sound confident?  Confidence was what I pretended. It was a reaction to how suddenly I started to drown. While my mind spun at the turn of my forum topics, one of my closest friends in the game decided to grill me on several topics. That hurt. I thought that he knew me. And he did, but he wanted my reactions to his list of things. It became a technical back and forth. He knew the areas that we did not agree and he dug into them and ripped the conversation wide open. While it was fair for him to do so, I found myself flabbergasted that he was so gleefully attacking me. When I asked him why he said, “You have good answers. You will be fine.” I choked back a response.

How I wished that it was only hours before when my post sat quiet. In the list of things unaccounted for was that my supporters might defend against attack. Not just because they believed in me. I was not sure if some of them believed in me or if I was just an inoffensive choice. It was that the people that I wanted to represent had a long history of antagonistic behavior to each other. It was part of the game play but it was a deeply ingrained part. One of my corporation members decided to step forward and write a smart, sharp tongued response. It was what he would have written on another forum that both he and the attacker visited. There, battles were done with words and whit and acidic statements about ability. Here, it caused a fight between my corporation and supporters and those that didn’t think I should have put myself forward. In the space of a few hours my post burst into flames while people sharped words and stabbed with their clever words.

I was horrified. They enjoyed themselves and I found myself screaming at them to stop. I asked asked my corporation members to shut up. “I am going to be attacked!” I said. “People are going to be mean to me just to see what I do. Let me struggle alone. I appreciate the support but please, stop.” They pulled back with mumbled apologies. The habits of another place had taken over. Whit and condescending opinions where not going to win this battle. Not in a war where I was asking for the people to support me.

How does one answer an attack that seems only there to harm. Every word was an opportunity for failure. It became a tightrope over which I walked. I allowed myself time. I could respond back quickly but I took the path of reasonably. I could wait a day to respond. It gave me time to ponder my words. It also had the effect of allowing other people to speak up. And they did, but it was W0wbagger, called out by Doomchinchillia to run for the CSM that said, “A candidate that doesn't know many people, and doesnt have experience of the majority of the lowsec play styles, cannot do this effectively.”

It was a hard blow. A fair one but still painful. He went on to count all of the types of game play that I would be expected to represent and how little experience I had. I was not perfect but I was willing to try. But, I had to read to the end to see that I was not the only one that understood the difference between the best person for the job and the person willing to do the job.

“In all fairness to sugar, she would probably get my second vote, after this imaginary FW-experienced person, furthermore, all of this said - this thread is a discussion and I'm sure if Sugar can address the points raised - some minds will be changed,” W0wbagger continued.

W0wbagger was the leader that Doomchinchillia spoke of. He and I had never spoken. Our paths were not ones that would cross. He was a high level corporation leader with hundreds of skilled players under him. His play style involved fights in the hundreds of players. I was a member of a small group. We often moved in wolf packs of a half dozen, striking where we could. Our pride was in taking on and winning against greater odds. But, what was a proud tradition to us was looked down by others. Where we found the hunt a thrill, others found it boring compared to the elegance of conducting a battle of a hundred players.

And in my response? I offered to them what I believed had the most value. To go to them and talk. The knowledge that they knew more than I did and I was willing to be a conduit. That this was not about me. That seemed to surprise people. What, I wondered, had they expected?

Previous: Part Three
Next: Part Five


  1. "I offered to them what I believed had the most value. To go to them and talk. The knowledge that they knew more than I did and I was willing to be a conduit. That this was not about me."

    Very powerful statement! You'd be surprised how many 'successful' people do this same exact thing in real life to continue spurring success in their chosen areas of expertise.

    A fool thinks he knows everything, a wise man knows he doesn't.


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