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It’s Not Me, It’s…
It will be a boring, plain day in Gielinor when it happens. You’ll be killing imps in search of a bead for a quest when it will wonder into the Al-Kharid desert mine. Your character will chase it at a leisurely stroll as you frantically click the run button, desperate for any burst of run to speed things up. A scorpion will take interest, joining the parade and attacking you. Then you’ll see a character, wearing a full set of armor and wielding some fancy pickaxe. You’ve seen them before and you know they’re valuable but the name escapes you. You right-click on me and see a combat level astronomically higher than yours and sigh slightly.
You see something in the chatbox and notice it’s me typing a greeting. You look around and see that there’s no one around, and wonder who I’m talking to. Could it be you I’m addressing? You walk past me as you finally strike the imp, knocking off half its health before it teleports off, out of melee range.
Still distracted from the imp, you wonder what to do. You remember the guy who taunted you about your skill levels last time. You remember another who made inappropriate comments about some body parts. You cannot forget the time a person scammed you for the 200k you spent all day earning. But still, somehow for the sake of politeness, you shyly slide your hand across the keyboard and type “hi.”
“No bow?” I ask, the yellow lettering glaring at you through the screen. Is it a real question or another taunt? You shrug slightly in real life but type nothing. Flat and expressionless, your eyes sit fixed on the empty rocks behind me. “Follow” I offer, and take a couple of steps away from you. Hesitantly, you take a couple nervous steps and stand behind me. But as we walk slowly to the bank, your fears ease. I trade you, then hand you a bow and some arrows. Your jaw almost drops at the gesture, even though you know I must have a million times the value of what I just handed you.
You’ll follow me back, slightly dazed and more than somewhat entranced. Your feel warmth in your feet, something more than just heat from the desert sand through your old, worn pair of boots. Suddenly that imp won’t seem so important, and you’ll sit on the warm ground behind a rock, mostly shaded from the harsh desert sun. We will talk for quite a while, as I powermine, extracting ore after ore and flinging them onto the floor. We’ll talk about how school is different, halfway across the world from each other. We’ll chat about the update released last week that we’ve been enjoying or annoyed about. I’ll encourage you to train to get the levels you only dream of training.
Even though I’m 97 mining and gaining xp fast, as you glance at your single digit level, there’s something different you can sense. Something more than a relentless pursuit of xp at all costs. Something…interrupts your train of thought. You need to log off now. You figure you might as well go for it and ask: “Will you be my friend?”
I’ll sigh deeply in front of my computer, as my character stands motionless and you wait anxiously for a reply. It won’t be any easier for me to say as for you to hear.
Because if we are friends, I see how things will play out. We’ll walk into the Grand Exchange and people will start making inappropriate comments about you or certain body parts. I know that I may well be the only one with the courage or guts, or what-have-you to stand up to it. Then there will be the incessant irritant of comments about being boyfriend/girlfriend. Beyond the fact that they are false, those matters really aren’t any of their business anyway.
Then there will be other comments like asking how much of my bank I gave to you. How do you even reason with people who operate with the assumption that every female is a prostitute?
And yes, I know that there’s a report button and an ignore list but the damage will be done. Watching your feelings get hurt would be like seeing a friend being beaten up and forced to watch.
But now that I think about it, perhaps I’ve just been going about this all the wrong way. I’m starting to think the community had the correct approach all along. After all, no one on this game has feelings, and it’s not like there are actual people that really care behind the screen. And instead of extending an invitation of kindness to anyone new, I should ignore them and put them down and let them find their own way to our level and earn it. I should have let them be buried in an avalanche of elitism and never tried to save them.
I’ll wonder if it would have been different had we both been guys, but the reality I’ll assure myself of was that this simply wouldn’t hold. We would be nerds and losers and blah blah. I remember there was a guy I dungeoneered with daily. Working side by side, we accomplished level after level. We even achieved level 99 on the same day and bought the skillcape. You could almost say we were…friends? No. That is silly, and thank goodness the community has prompted me to see the error of my ways.
I am really truly sorry to have lead you on like this. I just couldn’t do it right away.
Does better late that never apply to breaking hearts? I don’t know.
No. I won’t be your friend.
It’s really difficult to say this but…it’s not you. It’s them.