Top 10 worst video game clichés

Like any other medium of entertainment, video games often exhibit clichés that repeat themselves over the years, whether it’s to do with the story, or the overall gameplay. Sometimes, we don’t mind these clichés, but in other times, there are clichés that gamers hate because they ruin their gaming experience. Games are supposed to be fun, and anything that ruins it is guaranteed to make you mad.

That being said, this third entry in my new series of video game countdowns is dedicated to all the design choices that are so jarring you’ll wonder why they keep appearing in games. As a rule, I’d like to focus on clichés that effect actual gameplay. Even though there are many annoying story clichés, those same clichés can be found in movies and TV shows, so on this list, they don’t count.

With all that in mind, let’s get this list started.

#10 – Useless Weapons and Abilities

magikarp used splash

Plenty of games give you a variety of weapons and abilities that at least have some use. Conversely, there are also plenty of weapons and abilities that are next to useless. Of course, I’m talking about the plethora of weapons that you get, but won’t want to use because they’re useless compared to the weapon you already have. This is common in RPG’s, but it also happens in action games. For example, in Eat Lead: The Return of Matt Hazard, you get an ability that temporarily lets to infuse the element of fire into your weapons. Throughout the entire game, I’ve almost never used that ability, and that’s because the ice upgrade was far more useful in the long run. Turning to RPG’s, depending on your stats, and how good you are with a weapon, you may or may not need the next best weapon. In fact, some weapons can’t even be used by certain characters to begin with.

Another problem I have is when games give you the ability to use magic, but make it seem useless, whether by weakening magical abilities, or limiting how often you can use them. In many fantasy action games, you do get magical abilities (depending on the setting), but you won’t need them as much as you’ll need physical attacks. This is just as true in RPG’s like Bravely Default, where in the first half of the game, your ability to use magic effectively will be limited by the job system (you have to level up as a Black/White Mage to transfer the usability of certain spells to other jobs), the MP system, and the rarity of the game’s underpowered MP-restoration items (in Bravely Default, the regular ethers only heal 40 MP).

Sometimes, the problem is that certain games tend to be biased in favour of physical fighters. In games such as Dungeons and Dragons: Tower of Doom, the game itself is much easier if you play as a fighter, and supposedly much harder if you play as the elf, because using magic actually consumes items, while the fighter doesn’t need items to do what he does best. Is that fair?

And let’s forget about Magikarp’s Splash, the most useless move of all time.

#9 – Unskippable Cutscenes & Credits

sonic unleashed
Straight from a game that can single-handedly make playing as Super Sonic suck.

Even though I said I’d focus on gameplay, this particular cliché is

Ever since the advent of 3D graphics, cutscenes have become more prominent, and eventually reaching the point where all the mainstream games now have cutscenes. I don’t mind cutscenes, but they tend to delay the gameplay in annoying ways. Plenty of games let you skip the cutscenes if you want to, but some games have the nerve to make you watch an entire cutscene without being able to skip it.

This is a disease known as the unskippable cutscenes, and many games have this, sometimes in conjunction with forcing the player to see that cutscene again after retrying a certain point in the game. This happens a lot in games today, but the most jarring examples are in some Sonic games, mainly because the Sonic games used to flow so nicely, and though some of them still do, the cutscenes in some games were annoying because they wrecked the flow, and if you couldn’t skip them, it was even worse. For example, in Sonic Unleashed, you couldn’t skip any of the cutscenes if you haven’t already seen them. Even worse is the game’s 15-minute credits sequence, which you can’t skip.

It’s bad enough if you couldn’t skip any of the cutscenes, but if you can’t skip any of the credits, then that’s even more annoying. After all, do you really imagine spending about ten minutes watching some text scroll by? The opening text of a Star Wars movie is infinitely more bearable than a credits sequence in a game that you can’t skip. Why would a game designer not allow you to skip the part that you’d obviously want to skip?

#8 – Having to Level Up in Order to Continue

level grinding in final fantasy xii

Anyone who’s played an RPG will know exactly what I’m talking about. There’s always a point where you are roadblocked by a boss that you can’t beat, but you have to beat that boss in order to progress, so you travel across the map defeating enemies in order to grow enough levels so that you actually can defeat the boss. This is the frustration that we call level grinding.

In many early RPG’s, including the original Final Fantasy, level grinding was almost a necessity in order to progress through certain points of the game, and it only serves to make these games more tedious. Even some later RPG’s have this problem, including Dragon Quest IX, which itself may as well have been a love letter to everything frustrating about the old days, and Bravely Default, in which nearly every boss you fight requires intensive level grinding for you to be able to beat.

One of the reasons why I thoroughly enjoyed Child of Light and South Park: The Stick of Truth is because you don’t have to don’t have to go through hours of level grinding just to finish them. In South Park, the enemies grow stronger as you do, which defeats the point of level grinding to begin with, and in Child of Light, level grinding is simply not an issue. Many traditional RPG’s, however, continue the cycle of painful level grinding, almost as the game designers get some sort of sadistic catharsis from making gamers suffer.

I’m pretty sure that all RPG’s have this problem, even the Pokémon games. But in Pokémon, you at least have some idea of what level you need to match up to, while many RPG’s leave you in the dark, forcing you to figure it out for yourself (or look it up on the Internet).

#7 – Auto-Scrolling Stages

castlevania 3
If only there was a GIF for this.

In many old 2D platform games for the NES and SNES, there were often stages that automatically scrolled at a constant rate, and if you couldn’t keep up, you would die because you’re no longer visible on the screen. Does that make any sense at all? I know it’s not one of those things you’ll care about when you’re a kid, but when you’re older, it ultimately matters more. For example, in Mario’s world, did the TV screen kill him?

Many side-scrolling platformers have this cliché at some point. Many levels in the Super Mario games have them, many Sonic games have them, Mega Man 4 has one, Kirby’s Dream Land 2 has one, and there’s one or two in Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse. Whenever an auto-scrolling stage appears, it can be fairly agitating to finish, especially when they’re usually paired with other annoying obstacles and enemies. In some games, the screen scrolls in such a manner that you can only go forward. In Kid Icarus, the screen scrolls vertically, and since the screen doesn’t scroll back down, you die if you fall out of range.

In case you’re wondering, I have no problem with this in 2D shooter games, since you’re a spaceship flying through the cosmos. Any other time, however, it makes no sense, and they only really serve to add an artificial layer of frustration onto games that were often already difficult enough as it is (like Castlevania). Besides, if I wanted to kill a video game character, I’d use anything but the TV screen.

#6 – Ridiculous Combos in Fighting Games

blazblue 2

One thing I hate in fighting games is that the best combos are ridiculously difficult to execute because they require the stupidest button combinations imaginable, some of which seem like they were meant for arcade machines. What’s worse is that most of the popular fighting game franchises have this, including Street FighterMortal KombatTekkenMarvel vs. CapcomSoul Calibur, and King of Fighters.

The only fighting games I’ve noticed that doesn’t have this feature are the Super Smash Bros. franchise and Sonic Battle. Those games eschew the overly technical combos in favour of simple gameplay that’s fun for everyone. Instead of ridiculous button and D-pad chains, the moves are performed using B or A in combination with the D-Pad (as in Super Smash Bros.). Sonic Battle does that differently, but it’s really easy to figure it out.

My point is that I don’t see what’s fun about trying to pull off stupid combinations that will probably miss before they deal as much damage as their supposed to. Also, in the time it takes to pull them off, you’re vulnerable to an enemy’s attacks, and let’s not forget that the CPU can pull off these amazing attacks in mere milliseconds, but you can’t, and that’s not even fair.

#5 – Resource Management

resource management

This one is another cliché that’s more or less specific to RPG’s, but it’s still a pretty jarring one. When I say resource management, I mean having to raise money in order to stock up on items so that I have enough to survive the next obligatory dungeon. I’m not exactly bad at it. I just find resource management to be pretty jarring because I play RPG’s to enjoy the story and immerse myself into a fantasy world. In my opinion, resource management makes that much harder.

In nearly all RPG’s, you have to buy items, weapons, armour, and often magic spells in order to make sure you’re well-equipped to deal with the challenges ahead. The problem is that getting the money to do all that is almost always in conjunction with tedious level grinding because you win money by killing monsters. Every Final Fantasy game has it, including spin-off titles such as Bravely Default, which has consistently proven to be so horrible and tedious that I can’t stop bringing it up. I’m pretty sure every Dragon Quest game has this too. As far as I know, this is a cliché that can be found in all JRPG’s.

Once again, I need to bring up Child of Light. In that game, there’s no money, so the only items you get are the items you find in treasure chests and from enemy encounters. However, if you’re concerned about healing party members, you only need the firefly to heal people, in or out of battle. In South Park: The Stick of Truth, the items have more realistic prices, and since you completely recover your HP and MP after every battle, so resource management is not an issue whatsoever.

It will probably be years before other RPG’s start following that lead, but many RPG’s still make resource management a pain in the ass just because it was like that in the old days. Of course, I’m literally saying that resource management in RPG’s has become an archaic concept.

#4 – Luck-Based Events

mario party 5
Because one of the most stressful things about being ten years old was trying to bring a sunflower back to life.

If there’s nothing I hate more, it’s when anything in a game is based on luck. I’ll admit that luck-based events can be used to spice up the gameplay, and that it has often worked, the real problem is when the difference between survival and death is based on luck, and when you die because you happened to be unlucky, you’ll wish the game would burn in the fires of silicon hell.

At some point, every gamer has fought a certain boss where your survival hinges on that boss not using a certain moves, which means certain doom if the move is used. Many RPG’s have this happen, but some action games also have this happen. In Sonic Battle, your enemy will block a certain kind of attack, but you have no idea what attacks he blocks, and so you have to alternate between your attacks in order to attack your enemy.

There are two franchises where the core of the gameplay is based around luck: Mario Party and Pokémon. In Pokémon, successfully catching a Pokémon is based on pure luck, and I’m sure we all had fun chasing legendary Pokémon across the goddamn planet in nearly every Pokémon game since Pokémon Gold and Silver. In that scenario, the legendary Pokémon you want to catch will easily move to the other side of the planet, and there’s very little you can do about other than not using Fly to change location.

In Mario Party, everything is based on luck. You can hope for a certain outcome, but your hopes will always be dashed. You can play the Mario Party games every day, and you still won’t be able to predict anything. Even the mini-games are based on luck, and some of them, I swear, you can’t even win most of the time just because the game decides you can’t.

#3 – Backtracking

retro city rampage

Nothing makes a game longer than it should be like backtracking. Simply put, this is when you have to go back to areas you’ve already explored in order to advance the game. In fairness, backtracking is sometimes optional, such as in the case where you backtrack in order to find things in previous areas you didn’t find before. Of course, the reason why backtracking is on this list is because of the times where the game forces you to backtrack in order to advance the plot and/or go to the next area.

I can think of a ton of examples of games where you have to backtrack, including Retro City RampageDarksiders, the Jak & Daxter trilogy, Sonic Rush Adventure, the Legend of Zelda franchise, the Metroid franchise, almost every Castlevania game since Symphony of the Night, the Great Maze in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, and every RPG. Speaking of RPG’s, Bravely Default, in my opinion, is the worst RPG of all when it comes to backtracking, because the game makes you reawaken the crystals in five identical worlds to get the true ending, effectively meaning that if you want to really beat the game, you have to travel the same goddamn map five fucking times. All that serves to do is make an already tedious and frustrating game even more tedious and frustrating. Also, when you do all that, you eventually find out that you were doing the bad guy a favour the whole time.

To me, backtracking is simply what happens when a game designer wants to make a game more drawn out and complex, but has no idea how, so he resorts to putting in some backtracking to make life hell for the gamer. In the case of RPG’s and non-linear action-adventure games, backtracking is almost inevitable, but it’s still really painful to have backtrack so much, especially if the game itself was already tedious to the bone, and that’s just as big a problem with the next entry.

#2 – Arbitrary Length Padding

bravely default
Be prepared to fight this boss at least five times.

Does anyone remember the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, when games used to be straightforward, and relatively short and sweet? A lot of today’s game developers apparently don’t, since most mainstream fantasy games try and stretch out the plot for as long as they can under the false assumption that a longer story means a better game.

There are many ways to pad length, so much so that I could just as easily make a list of them as well, but here’s a short list of ways game designers have put in arbitrary length padding.

  • Forcing you to go level grinding in order to beat a boss (which I mentioned earlier)
  • Backtracking
  • Fetch quests (often in conjunction with backtracking)
  • Unskippable cutscenes
  • Having you do slapdash objectives (the ones that serve only to thicken the plot)
  • Repeating previous sections of a game
  • Moments in the story that could easily have been solved in minimal time.

As I already mentioned countless times on this site alone, Bravely Default, in my opinion, is the worst offender, because it forces you to repeat the same core objectives over and over again until you find the real ending, never mind that there’s an optional alternative ending that you get by breaking the cycle (which is done by destroying one of the crystals), and the alternate ending makes much more sense than the true ending, therefore making the upcoming sequel completely useless.

Quite a few Final Fantasy games also suffer from artificial length padding, but none worse than Final Fantasy III (the actual one, not the US version of Final Fantasy VI), which has you saving villages from minor villains until the game decides that something plot relevant should happen. Sonic Unleashed is also a big offender here, forcing you gather Sun and Moon Medals in order to advance the plot, which requires going back to previous levels to fetch them, all while the plot isn’t being advanced in any way unless you’ve gathered enough of those medals. Very few Sonic games out there could be any slower than that.  Also, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 has some arbitrary length padding, but most of that is due to backtracking.

What I’m trying to say is that just because a game is long doesn’t mean it’s fun. Besides, how are those long sessions used anyway? Most of the long gaming sessions are probably going to be used scrambling to do everything right according to the game’s ultimately flawed design.

#1 – Cheating AI

pokemon
Ever wondered why status ailments work more often on you than on the enemy?

The thing I hate the most in games is whenever I lose in such a way that it makes me feel like it’s the game’s fault rather than mine. When this happens, gamer rage quickly takes over your system, and every time you lose, you’ll think it’s because the computer AI is a cheating son of a bitch. If you thought that, then you might be half-right.

I mentioned earlier that in fighting games, you’re completely vulnerable to an enemy attack when you try and pull off some wicked combo. In the same scenario, you can try to uppercut your enemy, the enemy could intercept you, and beat the crap out of you before you can even land a hit. The enemy always has an opportunity to pounce on you whenever you waste time trying to pull off a complex move instead of just punching the crap out of the enemy and blocking when necessary.

In RPG’s, you’ll most likely find enemies or bosses that use moves that cause status ailments. Isn’t it a little fishy that whenever you try to inflict a status ailment, it almost never works? Conversely, if the enemy tries inflicting a status ailment on you, it usually works. In racing games like the Mario Kart games, you can be cruising to first place in the last lap, but then the AI decides to cheat ahead of you. It’s moments like these that make you blame the game for your failure, which is not the mark of good game design. If this is supposed to add challenge, then the game designers are really sadistic.

When I want to immerse myself in a fantasy world, cheating AI will almost immediately take me out of that world, because I’m staying in the same part of the game trying to beat the CPU. For this reason, and possibly many others, cheating AI is the worst game design cliché that still exists today, and the only thing worse is that everybody’s suffered with cheating AI because it’s nigh omnipresent in nearly all video games. You just never know when it’s going to strike.

The dark age of the video game industry

There might be people who think that the days before Nintendo were the glory days of the video game industry. To those people, I would say that this is completely wrong. Before the video game industry was the nigh unstoppable juggernaut we know it as today, it was basically a stagnating swamp where very little companies did anything new, and video game companies saw video games as little more than consumer products.

old atari poster
That has to have been one of the biggest overstatements of the 1980’s.

Back when Atari released Pong in the early 1970’s, Magnavox sued Atari because of its perceived similarities their console, the Magnavox Odyssey. What they actually wanted was to monopolize the new industry that wouldn’t have been possible without competing companies. Eventually, the Magnavox Odyssey got killed in the marketplace, due to the mass proliferation of “Pong consoles”, home consoles that could only play Pong, and costed less to make and purchase than the Magnavox Odyssey.

After the advent of the Atari 2600, Atari dominated the video games industry, and they were determined to preserve status quo, but in doing so, they became exactly the kind of entity that Magnavox was in the previous decade. In the early 1980’s, Atari attempted to gain complete control over the video games industry. They didn’t allow third-party companies to make games for their consoles, and they didn’t credit the game designers who worked for them, and I suspect that it was mainly because they wanted all the credit and all the money. Before Activision were one of the big monoliths of the video game industry, they were a bunch of Atari employees who got tired of their employers not giving any credit for designing the games, which would prevent them from putting that on their resumés if they wanted to get new jobs in other video game companies.

Of course, in the early video games industry, there were very little rules. Video game companies could make the same kind of game over and over again and still make money from it (and to be honest, not much about that has changed). If that wasn’t enough, the early video games industry was plagued by lawsuits, with Atari suing Commodore over the design of the joystick, Atari suing Coleco over the ColecoVision Expansion Module (which allowed the ColecoVision console to play Atari 2600), Coleco suing Atari back, and Atari suing Activision over the production of games made for the Atari 2600.

Of course, in spite of all that, Atari still managed to maintain their grip on the video game industry, until the video game market began to crash in America. Consumers were so spoiled for choice when it came to video games and consoles that to them, the majority of video games released at the time were just inferior copies of other titles. It was also becoming apparent that Atari was cutting corners on licensed titles. Because Atari knew that Pac-Man would be a hot-selling game on the system, they cut corners as much as was necessary to release the game as fast as possible, because back then, video games were seen only as consumer products. Of course, Atari also faced heavy competition from the early home computers, which not only offered better graphics than the Atari 2600, but were more flexible, meaning they could do more than just play video games, whereas consoles like the Atari 2600 began to seem so linear by comparison.

amiga 500
Just like today, where PC gaming is more popular than console gaming.

Many video game journalists credit the Atari 2600 for being the console that “the entire video game industry is founded upon”, and they’re pretty damn foolish if they think that, because the video game industry is founded upon multiple consoles, and the games played on them. Besides, Atari could only relevant during the unenlightened era where video games weren’t considered an art form. After Nintendo rose from the ashes of the video game crash, Atari wound up being nothing more than a relic of the days when money was the only motive for making games and consoles.

Today, there are only three major players in the console race, and each one at least tries to do something different, and there’s an enormous variety of games out there. I can understand how some would prefer the NES days, since I myself enjoy plenty of NES titles, but given how far the video game industry has progressed since the last video game crash, the idea that the Atari days were somehow better than today just seems really baffling to me. Those were the days when the video game industry was like a freshly baked pie, and businessmen would do anything just to get their slice. It took until the early 1990’s for video games to evolve into the new art form we recognize it as today, but before that, many people saw it just the next craze of the early 1980’s, and that mentality almost caused the putrefaction of the video game industry.

Why machismo is outdated

hypermasculinity

Throughout the annals of human history, there have always been unrealistic ideas of what “the perfect man” would look or act like. Somehow, the media likes us to think that “real men” are supposed to act like they own the place, and should never show their feelings or else they get labelled as “pussies”. This, of course, represents and exaggerated and false view of masculinity that has been around for ages, and it is one that we are somehow still afraid to discard.

In modern times, being a “real man” involves discarding any part of you that might be construed as feminine, regardless of whether or not it’s really who you are. To me, this machismo culture of self-denial is baffling. If you were really confident about your masculinity, why would you suppress your individuality just to conform to the stereotype of hypermasculinity that we see so often?

The media likes to portray men who have everything and can do anything, even in bed, and this, I feel, has always been a corrosive influence on young men and boys for generations, because it has influenced them to try and live up to unrealistic expectations, in the same way that photoshopped images of celebrities influence young girls to live up to unrealistic standards of beauty created by the media.

Of course, this is nothing new. These stereotypes have been around for ages, and people have always set unrealistic expectations of image. For example, many statues from ancient Greece and ancient Rome often depicted men in a state of unrealistic physical perfection because they were made to portray an ideal of physical excellence. Much like today, they look nothing like what many ordinary people could achieve, and in that department, not much has changed. The only difference is that we now have a means of instilling that idea into people’s heads before they’re intelligent enough to resist it. We call it the media.

spike tv
There’s also the dank pit of sewage we call Spike TV.

I’m not a “macho man”, and I would highly discourage the pursuit of hypermasculinity, mainly because the “macho man” culture discourages intellectual thought, and promotes an archaic, outdated and unenlightened view of how men should act. Besides, one thing I notice about stereotypical hypermasculinity is that it’s mostly about domination, mainly because the stereotypical “macho man” feels compelled to dominate whatever and whoever he wants. Isn’t there something wrong with that?

I don’t obey any of the stereotypes of masculinity, and that’s because I like being an intelligent, creative thinker, which is something that a macho man’s culture would despise. I think we should stop making standards that we can never achieve, and start thinking about what’s great about ourselves as individuals. If we think about who we want to be, rather than what other people want us to be, I think we’ll be much happier people, and more likely to enjoy life rather than hating every waking moment of it.

Why Bravely Second is going to suck

bravely second

If you didn’t like Bravely Default, there’s a good chance that the very thought of a sequel might make you bash your head against the wall. That sounds like my reaction, except for the fact that I didn’t actually bash my head against the wall, I just gave it a good old “what the f**k?” reaction.

For many months, not much was known about the game. However, last month, several details about Bravely Second were unveiled, including the horrible plot twist that Agnès, the main character from the previous game, becomes’ this game’s pope. What were they thinking? Agnès was the worst protagonist of any game I’ve played, but because Square Enix passed her off as a sex symbol, she got popular enough to stay in Bravely Second, almost as though they’re rewarding her stupidity.

Set seven years after the game’s true ending, the game’s story once again takes place in the fantasy world of Luxendarc, just with several new locations to be explored. In this game, you play as a new set of characters, all of which have ridiculous names. The main character is Yu Zeneolsia, one of the “three musketeers” whose job is to guard Agnès. The other two musketeers are Jean Engarde and Nikolai Nikolanikov, both of whom are joined by Magnolia Arch, the only female party member in this game.

I think Bravely Second is a stupid investment, mainly because I’m very sure that it’s going to be very indifferent to the first game. Just like last time, the game still uses the Asterisk system for job classes, complete with bosses that you have to defeat in order to get a particular job asterisk, implying that Bravely Second will use pretty much the exact same job system. I’m also very sure that the Asterisk bosses will still be horribly annoying, but that’s more of a personal experience than anything else.

Most of the gameplay is going to be identical to Bravely Default, complete with the “Brave” and “Default” commands, which are likely to be identical to the previous game. The only real difference is that, because Airy is absent from this game, there’s a “Tell Me Agnès” feature, in which the holy moron Agnès assists the party as their navigation guide, never mind that Agnès herself had a terrible sense of direction in the first game.

All that aside, I’ve said plenty of times that Bravely Default was an overrated, overly convoluted mess of a game that felt like torture to finish. With that in mind, why the hell would I waste £40 just to go through the exact same thing a second time? If I’m that confident that it’s going to be exactly like Bravely Default, in that it’ll be tedious and frustrating to the core.

If the Bravely Default series is supposed to be the next Final Fantasy, then I really have no hope for it. It’s just going to be a repeat of the same old clichés that were prevalent in Bravely Default, and that’s way Bravely Second is, for me, a really stupid investment.

For the good of their souls?

For some reason, a lot of people seem to be having their babies christened, in spite of the fact that that the babies have no conception of religion, and are thus unable to decide what they believe in. For me, the mere concept of Christening an infant child is is totally unethical, mainly because you’re submitting your infant child to a religion that they know nothing about yet, while they lack even the senses to think for themselves. To me, it’s just the same as taking advantage of an infant’s vulnerability in the name of religion, and that’s simply unacceptable in my eyes.

christening
You’d think that there’s nothing wrong with this, but there is.

As an individualist, I believe that freedom of choice is the most important principle in human society. To deny this, therefore, is a grave crime against nature. I’ve heard that infant baptism is supposedly “for the good of their souls”, so that if anything bad happens to them “they won’t go to Hell”. For me, this has absolutely nothing to do with protecting an infant’s soul, and everything to do with conforming to archaic dogma that serves to do nothing other than impede social progress, and stifle free thought. I also find it silly that parents let their kids choose their religion when their older, but don’t let them decide for themselves when they’re younger. For me, freedom of religion should apply to everyone. After all, isn’t the soul a private matter?

The worst part is that a lot of people seem to have a “go with the flow” attitude. It’s the same “go with the flow” that allowed the church to rule Europe like a king during the Dark Ages, and people aren’t questioning that? I’m wondering if a lot of people who get their babies christened really believe in God at all, or if they’re just trying to keep up with the Joneses.

I have no problem with parents introducing religion to their children, but submitting your child to a religion before he or she can outwardly express their faith is crossing the line. If this is what it takes to preserve the outdated values of the church, then it’s clear to me that there’s simply no room in today’s world for a religion that hasn’t grasped the concept of free choice, and won’t for years to come.

Free speech on the web

The internet is a place where people can say things that they don’t have the courage to say in real life. While it’s very easy for us to take online anonymity and free speech on the internet for granted, it’s also easy for us to forget that the freedom we have online is also fragile. It’s also important to remember that the level of freedom on the internet can easily be abused by people who use online anonymity as a cloak, so that they can spout random hatred at people who don’t deserve it (whether it by real, identifiable human beings, or other anonymous users), and go almost undetected. Of course, we call them internet trolls.

internet trolls

Internet trolls are a plague that has swept various websites, spreading mindless hatred and stupidity wherever they go. Deep down, we all wish we could get rid of them, but can we get rid of them all? Sure, we may be able to stop one, or even a few of them simply by reporting them, but to put an end to all forms of online trolling is not as simple as it sounds, because the only truly effective way to get rid of them would involve either censoring the internet, or increased online surveillance powers, and neither suggestion can ever be morally justifiable.

Freedom of speech is a two-way right. If we’re all allowed to say whatever we want online, then even the worst of us must be allowed this right. If we selectively take the right to free speech away from certain individuals for any reason, then we can’t honestly stand for the right to free speech. Of course, the only thing you can do about trolls is to somehow try and track them down in real life, which the police have often done.

What many people may not know is that the police can see what goes on in the Internet, but they only take action if they can see that you’re doing something illegal. In the UK, they’re able to track down and arrest any internet troll who posts grossly offensive, and or menacing messages online, as is defined under section 127 of the Communications Act of 2003. Don’t be too alarmed, because this only involves tracking down internet trolls who go far enough that they break the law, and in all fairness, this is at least a more reasonable approach to dealing with trolls than censoring the Internet as a whole.

Aside from all that, the Internet is essentially the only truly free place on Earth, and that freedom is very fragile, and constantly needs to be defended, because there are individuals out there who want tighter control over the internet, and there’s nothing they won’t do to make sure that happens. Whoever they are, they can’t stand the fact that there is a place where you can say or do virtually anything, and would stoop to any low in order to wipe out whatever freedom there is left. There are people out there who say horrible things online, but they get dealt with somehow. In my opinion, the best way to deal with a troll is to either ignore it, or report it to whichever authority is appropriate (usually the moderators). If we want to make the internet a better place, we simply need to accept that freedom comes with responsibilities, whether online or offline. If we choose to shirk these responsibilities, however, we may lose the very freedom we take for granted.

What’s wrong with virginity?

We live in a society where a lot of our values conflict with each other. In this case, society is pretty squeamish when it comes to sex, but our culture is so obsessed with and permissive about sex, that being a virgin has somehow become undesirable in the eyes of many. Of course, the fallout from this hypocritical, self-contradicting attitude towards sex is obvious, as many young people are now rushing to lose their virginity, with or without protection, and many of those young people now know the hardship of being parents before they’re ready.

single teen mom
A sight that’s all too common in Britain today.

Of course, when it comes to teen pregnancy, the media has a two-faced attitude. The media treats teen parents with harsh discuss, while simultaneously glamorizing young love, and seemingly encouraging early sexual activity in teens. Either way, it’s the parents that are constantly worried, whether it’s for the wrong reasons or for the right reasons.

With all this in mind, I think we should ask ourselves two questions.

  1. What’s wrong with being a virgin?
  2. What’s so great about sex that it has to be rushed?

As a society, we have advertised sex very well, whether it be through raunchy music videos, or through conservative, attention-seeking old men and women pretending that sex before marriage is bad. The problem here is that it’s worked too well. In Western society, we now have an attitude that sex is somehow the be-all and end-all of existence, and all this serves to ostracise and lower the self-esteem of young virgins, some of whom may end up caving in to peer pressure, and if they’re not careful, having children they didn’t want (never mind that abortion is an option, but most of these youngsters ignore it, and have the baby anyway).

In general, find the whole attitude of having sex as soon as possible to be completely illogical. Wouldn’t it be best to wait for the right romantic partner, as opposed to losing your virginity to some moron, or worse, a guilt-tripping gold-digger, and marrying said person just because it seems right at that point in time? It’s a simple matter of common sense that, unfortunately, is constantly ignored by a society gone astray.

I’m not trying to say that anyone who has sex at a young age is automatically reckless. There may be some who are more careful than many others out there, and are happy that they made their choice. I’m merely trying to say that society’s hypocritical attitude towards sex is causing more and more young people to be reckless, to the point that the United Kingdom has the highest rate of teen pregnancy in Western Europe. It’s not as though we’re the only nation with this attitude. America has the same hypocritical attitude (though in America, it manifests itself in more childish ways), and they have the highest teen birth rate in the developed world, and their rate of teen pregnancy was even higher during the so-called “happy days” of the 1950’s.

happy days
I bet they only smiled for the camera. After that it’s probably all fist fights, peer pressure, and the kind of things that would later be called “sexual harassment”.

From my personal experience, I can honestly say that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being a virgin. It has its downsides, but it’s certainly better to wait for the right time than to recklessly try and rush yourself into a sexual relationship, as so many people often do. I also don’t see sex as anything worth brainwashing entire generations for. Say what you will, but I think that the only reason sex is such a big deal now is because we’ve been told by a the Catholic Church for a thousand years that we can’t have it, and now that we can, we as a society don’t know how to handle a liberalized attitude towards sex.

Of course, due to the pervasive brainwashing of society, many people still see virginity as undesirable (unless of course you happen to be religious), but if you just dive into a sexual relationship with just anyone, or if you think you need to start having sex before you’re 20, you’re only conforming to social norms and caving in to the media’s brainwashing. If I have any advice to offer young people, it’s this. If you’re going to do the deed, then it should be because you really love someone and want to, not because doing it while you’re young sounds cool.

The Internet Home of Stefan Grasso

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