(Note: Sorry for the missed weeks!)
I was sitting on my room reading the other night when Munchkin came home. She wanted me to talk to, which was absolutely fine. Then she wanted to investigate my World of Darkness dice bag (three or so sets of 10 sided dice), which was less okay. I told about how it’s often considered rude to touch other people’s dice (which I only sometimes apply to my own dice), but I really couldn’t explain why. We act like other people touching our dice will change their luck even though, intellectually, we know that there’s no such thing. This got me thinking about gaming traditions, how they get started, and how these occasionally very odd behaviors bind gamers together as a group, a very widespread group. There are dice shaming posts on Facebook with contributors from all over the country, or even world. I, personally, have threatened to put my dice in the freezer when they’ve misbehaved (seriously! eight dice and no successes?!?). We pick up behaviors and vocabulary (I’ve never had to deal with THAC0 tables, but I understand they’re a thing) from each group we play with and become part of a huge web of people over space and time. It’s amazing really.
Of course, it’s not just role-playing games where a shared set of vocabulary and traditions and in-jokes bind together a far larger group of people. All my crafts and knitting friends and experiences connect out into millennia of crafters – both professional and amateur. We fondle yarn and knit in public and talk of frogging and SABLE and FOs, and thousands of miles away complete strangers are doing the same thing. I’ve participated in the SCA with all of its traditions and culture, which have spread across the globe (aka The Known World). My recent entry into the running community has certainly come with a new set of vocabulary (bonking and Fartleks, anyone?). Even friends and families have sets of idiosyncrasies that create a personal feel to your own nearest and dearest but connect to other groups of people over distance and generations.
I love the feeling of inclusion when I start on a new hobby or meet new friends and start picking up habits and lingo. You get a new tribe and find your people. The only danger is that shared behaviors can also become exclusionary to people outside the group. That big web of connections may spread far and wide but be isolated from other webs. People are people, and we love to feel special, so sometimes we use our private languages and group traditions to keep other people out. Each of us is part of a lot of different webs, which sometimes intersect and sometimes don’t. Sister thinks my new-found desire to run is crazy, and probably doesn’t really need to know about some of our terminology, but I still try to share with her my excitement – hopefully without boring her too much with details. That’s what I hope most people try to do, open up the edges of their web so that people can join or at least share. True, sometimes you really “had to be there” to understand a reference or joke that keeps coming up with one group, but if we find other ways to connect between groups and people then I think it’s still okay. And, wow, this is not where I expected this post to go.