The Final Fantasy XIV Official Forums can sometimes be an interesting place. When I say interesting, I mean that it can either be headache inducing or heartily enduring. One thread was meant to be the later, but ended up becoming the former, insulting a slew of people in a manner that nearly made me facepalm. Thankfully I was working on my final project and too busy to even think about wanting to break my keyboard with my ginormous head. FusionX, fellow podcaster over at Aetheryte Radio, wrote a bit about it on his Tumblr, and anyone interested can read the original thread in all of its glory right here.
For those who just want the summary:
A poster on the forum decided to wish Rukkirii (aka Bethany Stout) farewell and good luck since she will be resigning from her post as part of the Community Team for Final Fantasy XI and XIV to move to Seattle, WA. The forums then broke down to two primary camps:
a.) This group also wanted to wish her good luck, farewell, and a “we will miss you”.
b.) A handful in this group felt disturbed that people were “stalking” her and pulling information off of her “personal” accounts.
First, let’s take a look at the word stalk:
verb (used without object)
1. to pursue or approach prey, quarry, etc., stealthily.
2. to walk with measured, stiff, or haughty strides: He was so angry he stalked away without saying goodbye.
3. to proceed in a steady, deliberate, or sinister manner: Famine stalked through the nation.
4. Obsolete. to walk or go stealthily along.
verb (used with object)
5. to pursue (game, a person, etc.) stealthily.
6. to proceed through (an area) in search of prey or quarry: to stalk the woods for game.
7. to proceed or spread through in a steady or sinister manner: Disease stalked the land.
8. an act or course of stalking quarry, prey, or the like: We shot the mountain goat after a five-hour stalk.
9. a slow, stiff stride or gait.
1250–1300; Middle English stalken (v.), representing the base of Old English bestealcian to move stealthily, stealcung stalking (gerund); akin to steal
If the original poster is the type of person that “stalks”, then he is doing a rather poor job of it. Stealthily implies that the person is doing so with great care, so as not to arise detection or awareness of their actions. I think it would be pretty damn silly to “stalk” someone and post up all of their information where they can: a.) see it, b.) hunt you down because of it (let’s not forget she may still be employed as an SE Community Rep), and c.) have you easily taken care of due to the public nature of the forums itself and the upper hand she has due to her position.
The forums are not only trying to shame the people wishing Rukkirii/Bethany good luck and farewell, but have also managed to insult the intelligence and integrity of Rukkirii as well. As someone who has been stalked and is aware of how easily I can be stalked, the last thing I would do is make it easier by telling hundreds of unknown strangers what my real name is. I also would not tell people about my Facebook page and let them know to follow it if they were interested or have a public Twitter account that literally anyone can follow or read. I also wouldn’t take up a position that puts me at the forefront of being under public scrutiny because, let’s face it, the community team at SE plays a HUGE role of disseminating and delivering information to us from HQ. We aren’t talking to just some random schmuck off of the street here; we are talking to a small handful of real people, with real names some of them have chosen to publish, and with real lives that some of them willingly share.
I follow the community team on twitter because I happen to like them. I don’t know them personally, but their hard work and steadfast dedication to the communities of Final Fantasy XI and XIV is admirable. They have helped shaped our public view of SE’s MMO franchises with the forums and their ongoing online interactions with the community. I may be biased because of my clear love for Final Fantasy XI and XIV, but their presence reminds me of the human element that I remember missing from my earlier experiences in other MMOs. These aren’t just people working for SE; they are real people with real lives and emotions. Imagine that!
Some of the community team members are more private than others. That’s ok. Some are more public than others, and that is ok too. I feel it is awful that people look down on others that happen to like someone because she is a girl and they find her interesting. Well, hello, I’m a girl and I think Rukkirii is interesting, too. Am I weird? Wait, don’t answer that. The point is that there is no reason to demonize people who are just wishing someone good luck on their future endeavors. They aren’t stalking her, being creepy, or weird. If they were, I’m pretty sure her Twitter and Facebook accounts would be closed, deleted, or made private by now. Some may be stalking her, and I don’t doubt that. But what harm is there in saying good bye and good luck? I think that is a better question to answer versus why people are happening to follow public social networking accounts of a public figure in an online community.