Games people play on LinkedIn—2: «Bring it on!»
This game has two sides, White—who has to play alone and who will turn on anyone who tries to help him—and Black, who can be played by any number of people. As far as White is concerned, the more the better. Bring it on!
All must be members of a LinkedIn discussion forum. No message is intended by the choice of colours or the allocation of colours to roles in the game: the analogy is with chess. No sexism is intended by the choice of gender of the players. This is a game open to all.
Bring it on! is just one of a number of games (within and outside LinkedIn) designed to satisfy a deeper game. Noone has ever observed this deeper game played in its original form, for which reason researchers call it proto-Look at me, I’m right again!
White initiates a new discussion by posting a remark so contentious, or so stupid, that the various people playing Black will not be able to bear keeping silent. (Note that the purposes of this type of remark are wholly different from its use as described in Expert, round 4c.)
For White to win, the assertion has to contain within it
– a seed of illogicality
– an implied, or actual, criticism of Black.
It’s like the yeast in breadmaking, it gets the whole thing bubbling. For example, “Why Are Atheists So Totally Ignorant Of Basic Christian Beliefs?” will do nicely. It helps to capitalise every word of the assertion because that will just annoy everyone outside the US of A.
The people playing Black duly oblige. This will involve the independent, and more or less simultaneous, posting by a number of people of rebuttals to White’s effort..
These posts will vary widely in their length, appeal to other sources, relevance, sanity, comprehensibility, use of paragraph breaks, etc.
Those playing Black will often be playing their own games, often spread across many discussions, such as “Look at me, mummy, aren’t I clever!”. This will involve a closely argued case (not necessarily, or even remotely, plausible), a lot of long words (like epistemological and numinous) and the citing of obscure writers.
Some players will be gulled into thinking that White actually just wants a conversation and will happily point out the basic illogicality of the premise. Others will just pretend that they believe this and will include in their response a trap for White to fall into so that Black can deliver the coup de grâce (this never happens).
Yet others—the bravest yet most foolhardy—will attempt to persuade White of the error of his ways in varying tones ranging from genuine kindness and concern, via mockery to ill-disguised contempt.
All of these people are playing directly into White’s hands.
White now systematically demolishes (as he sees it) each of Black’s posts one by one.
He has an almost unlimited array of weapons to hand including:
1 falsely attributing to Black statements he/she didn’t make so he can demolish those statements instead
2 gratuitously misunderstanding statements that Black does makes
3 ignoring statements made by Black which damage White’s argument, and yet are so bleedin’ obvious that a small, deaf, blind puppy would enthusiastically signal its agreement with them
4 resorting to arguments based on his chosen field of expertise of which, by White’s definition, Black is ignorant
5 wilful refusal to accept anything said by anyone who criticises him (though to be fair this is a ploy used by almost everyone in LinkedIn discussion forums almost all the time)
6 ruthlessly pursuing side discussions foolishly raised by Black
7 mildly veiled abuse
8 condescension by the bucket load
9 gibberish and
10 the simple, plain, unvarnished untruth.
It is essential that each of White’s replies is couched in a triumphalism which, the more misplaced Black thinks it is, the more Black is goaded to respond.
White has to be utterly consistent in his conviction of his own rightness. One slip and he will be wounded; pounced upon by those of the Blacks who are canny, and who time their riposte well.
Not only do all those playing Black reply, many spectators are now drawn to contribute.
White will reserve his most withering responses for anyone rash enough to believe that he needs defending. It is essential that White is a Man Alone, fighting the good fight against those who would follow the path of the unrighteous.
It is important to recognise that everyone playing Black who has posted a second contribution is now colluding with White to keep the “discussion” going. This may be for a variety of reasons:
– it’s as amusing as any other way of filling in time before the bloke with the scythe shows up
– they are playing their own version of proto-Look at me, I’m right again! (this can get nasty if perpetuated for any length of time)
– they assume that the rejection by White of their previous comment must be to do with something they (Black) said, so they try again (it wasn’t)
– they are playing Look at me, mummy, aren’t I clever?—ie, their contribution isn’t really addressed to White at all; it’s addressed to the others playing Black and to the spectators
– and so on.
Rounds 5 ad nauseam
Because White has essentially set up an illogical game in a, hopefully, reasonably logical forum, Black is forever on the back foot. White will win unless either
(a) he makes a fatal mistake (see round 3, final para) or
(b) the people playing Black, collectively and simultaneously, leave the game, and even then it’s doubtful.
If White gets bored and slopes off, Black may choose to declare victory but again it’s a doubtful decision.
In any case White is unlikely to get bored any time soon because the underlying motive of the game isn’t a rational discussion intended to spread enlightenment: it is solely a mechanism with which White can prop up a seriously flagging ego.
So, this is a game that can go on a long time. In a sense White cannot win decisively either. But he can gain any amount of righteous justification along the way (in his eyes), provided Black is prepared to give him the chance to generate it.
> blog: Games people play on LinkedIn—1: “Expert”
With admiration, apologies and grateful acknowledgement to Eric Berne, whose book Games people play (Deutsch, 1966) remains the exemplar in this field.
© Jeremy Marchant 2014
Lovely! And I thought I was being so clever…