In one of the games I've been playing, where the multiplayer feature is unavoidable, I was minding my own business when another player approached me.
Occupied with other things, I barely noticed them, and when I returned to playing the game, that player believed I was running away from him. The player, possibly a toxic kid, called me a "coward" for leaving their presence. For some reason, he also called me "gay", a false and baseless claim.
In such games where I have to be online, I just prefer to mind my own business and not talk to anyone, especially when I can play these games alone. Sometimes people approach me and ask me to join their in-game organizations, otherwise known as guilds, but I just decline and fly solo.
The appeal in such games is that they usually are free to play, so even if you can pay for things, you don't actually have to buy the game. This, in theory, is a good business method, because it can attract just about anyone, just like the fact that this very site is free for you too.
It is a good thing that free games are available because it does not create inequality between those who can afford the product and those who cannot. I enjoy free games because I have more important things to pay for.
An important question came to mind in this anecdote. Even if I was not distracted when this happened, I would have ignored this player anyway, due to my philosophy of playing alone.
That means, the counter-argument of distraction is invalid. Thus, was that player right? In other words, is wanting to play alone, in order to have peace of mind, necessarily a cowardly policy?
I have played this genre of games with other people before, so I already know the experience of interacting with other players. I am not shy anymore, but I still don't see the reason to make the extra effort to talk with strangers, when I can "pretend" that the game I'm playing is for single players.
For me, the other players in the background are just that: background characters, even if they are controlled by real people behind a screen. Playing together can help progress one in certain games, and in other games, it's even imperative due to the benefits. However, more benefit does not equal to necessity.
Therefore, I could have replied to them, but I saw no need to, and even after their insult, I just pretended they did not exist. It's not also because I wanted them gone, but also because getting into conflicts, especially with potential children, are a waste of time. It doesn't contribute in any way whatsoever, and it is true especially when conflicts lead to stress and frustration.
The internet can be a very toxic place, and indeed, that game is technically a part of it. It's virtual, not private, and online. The virtual world can easily make many people desire to be toxic, because they are safer behind a computer, and not in front of a person.
Because of that, the danger of retribution is significantly reduced, especially when your identity is hidden by a persona such as a username and a character. This even pushes further the possibility of being more audacious, even if it makes the victim of the audacity to suffer as a result.
Some people don't hesitate to act like jerks, even to the point of harassing and bullying, when online. It seems like, no matter how many of their victims might kill themselves, they wouldn't care less, in the absence of awareness.
This creates the need to compromise in the hearts of those who just want further peace in their lives. People like me. The fact that I ignore people in online games, is technically a compromise, as playing together with them could potentially give me greater benefit in the game itself, even though it isn't always the case.
Even though I don't like compromises, it is at times inevitable for solving problems. The reaction of others to your presence might not be under your direct control, but you can always ignore them or minimize their worth.
The problem with compromises, however, is that they could serve as an indication for cowardice, or at least, create the impression of it.
Nonetheless, compromises and cowardice are not mutually inclusive, necessarily. That's because when you are in a wheelchair, for example, and can't walk the stairs, you have to compromise by using other means of navigation. The fact that some people are in wheelchairs, does not make them cowards, obviously.
Then, the question remains: is the need for serenity a cowardly thing? What is serenity, at all? Serenity is best defined by what it does not have: stress, struggle, anxiety, and so on. Those who truly have peace of mind are relaxed and not anxious. Therefore, serenity could be defined as the utter lack of anything that is opposite to it.
My grandparents, who are very old, also need serenity, and I wouldn't necessarily call either of them cowards. My grandfather was a paratrooper and liberated Jerusalem from the Arab military forces during my country's Six-Day War.
Whatever he saw as a paratrooper, will forever be hidden. Being a combatant, requires bravery and mental fortitude, not everyone has. In many countries, the paratroopers are an elite infantry force. Those who are too cowardly to fight are easily bound to the possibility of retreating.
Also, not everyone has the courage to jump from an aircraft directly into enemy territory. As you are in the process of landing, the enemy can shoot you from above even before you make it, as being in the air makes you very visible to anyone who looks up at the sky. Anyone armed, included.
It only makes sense, then that some of us want to just live in peace. And avoid conflict, especially if infantile.
Because even war veterans need to rest and live peacefully. Wouldn't you agree? Then, the desire or need for serenity is not necessarily a product of cowardice.
And I have my own traumas. It may require a lot of mental fortitude to still live.
Avoiding poisionous behavior online does not make you a coward at all times, then. And yet, if you are not doing what you are expected to do during a group effort, then you are likely to be ridiculed and insulted by the rest of the team.
I once chose a role in a group activity that required a specific thing to do, which I was not aware of. When the activity began and I screwed up, the group's leader was extremely mad at me, calling me an imbecile and other words unworthy of this site's dignity. Obviously, losing shouldn't always be taken so harshly, but some people are like that. Some people just do not care.
Would you want to be bullied in a game for making a mistake, or even worse, for existing a certain way?
No, and if I could, I would remove all the players from the server and just play on my own, or simply be a "ghost" and not appear to others. After all, it's just a game, and I'm here to entertain myself. I don't need the stress and the conflict.