Life as a Meme

When you’ve been around a place, even a virtual one, for years, you tend to develop a reputation. Sometimes, this reputation can grow to eclipse you. That’s the situation I’m currently finding myself in on RPGnet. I’ve been kicking around those forums since they first came online, years ago. I’ll admit that my posting style can be abrasive, blunt and confrontational…at times. Certainly not 100% of the time, but the truth never makes for a good campfire story, and so the reputation grew. I’ll even admit that early on, I liked the reputation. The appreciation of the audience for the occasional skewering of some random jerk is, bluntly, addictive. So I would play to that audience, not realizing that I was obscuring myself in the process.

However, over the years, despite trying to leave that reputation behind, I have been unable to negate my own press. All it takes is one post in anger to reinforce the reputation, and no number of regular, non-inflammatory posts ever seems to make a dent in the image that is “GMS.” Never mind that on a per-post basis, there are plenty of others equally blunt and scathing, and some even more so. The meme is firmly in place. It’s referenced in discussions where I don’t even participate, and in a few cases, leaking onto entirely seperate sites where I’ve never visited. I’ve had people that I’ve never heard of telling publishers that they shouldn’t hire me because I would represent a Public Relations problem for them, because of my persona online.

It’s frightening…and also frustrating and exhausting.

So much so, in fact, that I think the only option that I have is to abandon “GMS”…to just walk away from RPGnet entirely. I’ve taken breaks from it before, but never tried to make it stick. It’s gotten to the point now where I feel like the public impression of “GMS” is seriously impeding me as Gareth.

I realize that this is a helluva lot of drama for a simple RPG-focused internet forum. It’s more than that to me, though. It’s a place where I’ve spent a considerable amount of time over the past 8 years or so, and where my public persona has gotten to be a liabilty. I’m not going to post a melodramatic “farewell” thread over there. This post is melodramatic enough, but I felt that I owed people some amount of explanation, and this seemed as good a place as any.

I expect that “GMS” will continue to be a presence, even if I’m not there. Hopefully, though, after a while, the meme will die out, and people will find something else to talk about. In the meantime, I’ll be concentrating on writing, and less on my PR concerns.

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