Kids! I Don't Know What's Wrong With These Kids Today
I have a friend I've known since I was 9 years old who still lives in town. He is getting married soon, and introduced his wife to WoW. She is not nearly as into it as he is, but she was willing to play if we would get on an Alliance server that some other friends from her hometown are playing on. Me, my friend, and Muschie have been raised Horde tough. Muschie was gracious enough to be willing to go Alliance for this girl (hmm...sounds hot).
My friend already had a level-36 character when we started. I was 8 levels behind Muschie. The only reason I can think of that I played was to catch up a little so we could do some instances together.
After playing for half an hour, someone I don't know asked me if I wanted go to RFK. Strange request, but why not? Over an hour later, the group is about to start, and one of the people in my party says he's eleven years old. I am not too excited about this news, but decide to be chill about it since the kid's not given me any problems. Aware of the irony (I'm 26, unemployed, and playing WoW in the daytime), I say "Why aren't you in school?" Spring break, I find out. Oh, and guess what?! Two of the other kids are on spring break too! In fact, it seems that all four kids in my party are in elementary school, two of them being eleven years old.
I couldn't believe it. "You're kidding me, right?" I asked. "You're not really 11 years old, are you?" I'm asking this because they're unbelievably mature and polite and their spelling isn't actually that bad. Not even a "2" for a "to" or a "u" for a "you" emerged on screen. I remained silent. "I'm the third most popular kid in my class," one soon explained. "I would be second, but I let my friend be second." I smiled. "How do you figure that out?" I said. "Do you all take a poll?"
Refreshingly, he laughed and said he didn't know. Other miracle is that even though I'm specced as a balance druid at level 30, no complained thatI can't heal (I can--the restoration or healing spec actually doesn't help with healing at this point), which has happened more than once when I've tried to go to Gnomeregan, and everyone followed proper rules of etiquette for marking enemies, distributing loot, and handling mistakes and bosses.
The run was a breeze. We were a little bit high-powered for the instance, but much could have gone wrong. I gained a lot of experience. I tried to figure out what was so strange about it; kids who were polite! On the Internet! Guarantee a kid that he'll get away with something and he'll almost always do it, right?
Maybe, since they were all 11 and had WoW accounts, it's because of a higher socioeconomic situation with a stay-at-home mom and good parenting. While encouraging, I think it may have been for another reason. I've worked with kids before and I have studied human development, and I remembered something: kids between 8-11 or 12 can often be easier to work with than teenagers who are 13-19.
And that knowledge makes this experience my crowning anecdote for a case against the Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory: maybe it's not a matter of the Internet causing people to become ruder. Maybe the normalcy of the Internet has made life online just an extension of our real lives. And people who are scam artists and jerks aren't that way because of anonymity, but because that's how they are anyway, and the Internet and anonymity is just an opportunity to act in a sphere with no consequences. After all, stick a teenager in the middle of a party complete with drugs, alcohol, and a lot of strangers, and you'll get a similar result--a whirlwind of obscenities, attention-whoring, and destruction.