Evil.

30 03 2012

The psychology of evil is a real brain-bender, but then most things that are tied to:

  • “cultural relativism”;
  • the undeniable but unknowable balance of “nature vs nurture”;
  • the question of whether we are machines or magic;

are (to put it politely) difficult to grasp. It’s not a new thing, this question of whether a person that enjoys hurting others is “evil” or is somehow “broken”. Sanity is at least clear; it’s purely a legal term about competence. Evil, on the other hand, is much harder to nail down. It’s not purely a question of technicality or a question of belief; not purely one of spirituality, nor simply one of science. How then do we classify it?

I have no direct answer, other than the way that I classify it. I’ll share that with you now.

It is a question of responsibility.

I don’t know a Bobby, so we’ll talk about Bobby. “Bobby isn’t a bad person,  he’s only acting that way because his parents abused him” or “he’s got a chemical imbalance” or maybe “he suffered a tragic loss at a young age.” Okay. At what point, then, are we allowed to assign responsibility to Bobby for  his choices and his actions? If it’s always the history or the chems talking, at what point does Bobby talk? When does it become Bobby’s fault?

Put in a more relevant way, “Bobby enjoys hurting people.”

Some would say it’s because he’s “not quite right in the head” or he’s “imbalanced.”

Some might say “it’s stress” or “he’s finally snapped.”

Still, others could say “his father never hugged him as a child.”

And there are those who would say “if he enjoys visiting pain on others, then he is evil.”

I would say that 1. all are valid, and 2. none of them are satisfying.

The only way we’ll ever be truly satisfied is to see Bobby actually take responsibility for his actions; to apologize, to own up, to make amends; to set things right, or at least try. No amount or style of punishment ever really does it. Removing them from sight can help, but doesn’t really solve whatever “problem” there is, and that may grate you.

Whatever the case, one thing is absolutely clear.

There’s no path to this satisfaction on the Internet.

No wall of text or contrived online petition will ever truly sway Bobby to change his behavior. If he enjoys hurting people, he’ll likely continue to do so. You can’t change things here.

What can you do?

You can realize that it’s 90% show-boating and that, in all likelihood, his real-life aggression amounts to no more than grumbling at a Wal-Mart Service Desk clerk over returning a Playstation he clearly bought over five years ago. He just wants your attention. No need to guess at underlying motivations; Bobby really just wants to see their “numbers” go up while you fall for the trap and troll their sites.

“If good men do nothing, that is evil enough.”

Posting comments to blogs pretty much amounts to nothing. Do it for fun. Don’t do it to save anybody.

This blog is still a blog about video games.

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