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A mosaic of my identity

I am a fan of the Counter-Strike series of games. My avatar was taken from Counter-Strike: Condition Zero. I love to play as a counter-terrorist every time, and team up with my allies to punish the terrorists as much as possible.

Despite my considerable experience with the game, I frequently play on the Easy or Normal difficulty setting. I can often hold my own on the Hard or even Expert settings (sometimes), but I usually prefer Easy or Normal. Reason #1: I often feel that I am not good enough to compete on Hard mode (or even Normal mode, on some days--just depends on the day); Reason #2: I love to exceptionally dominate the comparatively unskilled terrorist AI players. To combine both of the previous reasons: I play on Easy/Normal modes because I honestly believe that amassing an imperfect score (such as 20-2, or 34-1) is basically unacceptable. I always demand perfect, no-death runs of my CS missions, my goal being to garner scores of 25-0, or 29-0. In truth, even a score of 10-4 is not bad, but it will seem awful to me while I'm playing.

This is because I have great contempt for terrorists. This is in large part because of the tragedies that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001; but, truth be told, I have always hated playing the bad guy. I love sticking it to the bad guy, instead.

I love heroes. I identify with them. I'm not talking about the flawed heroes that are so popular today, like the psychologically-conflicted Batman, the vengeful Wolverine, or other "heroes" who seek to fulfill their own agenda and wind up doing the right thing almost by accident. When I was quite young, of course I loved Superman (though I was too young at the time to realize how conflicted even he was inside his own head), and I was also a fan of Mario of video-game fame.

The next heroes to assume an important place in my heart came a few years later, when I played Final Fantasy. I thought the Light Warriors were the perfect examples of what heroes should be. They were young but capable, inexperienced but devoted, and they persevered and triumphed over incredible foes. I came to realize that the main reason I loved them so much was that they didn't talk. The heroes of Final Fantasy don't come alive, and they have very little character. So I found myself infusing them with an idealized character before I even knew it. In my mind, the Light Warriors were incorruptible pillars of near-perfection.

Many film adaptations of Final Fantasy games have taken a drastically different interpretation, going the route of the highly flawed, borderline immoral hero, ambiguity between right and wrong, and the good guy winning out of blind luck--if the good guy wins at all. That's assuming the "good guy" label would even apply to any character! Nevertheless, I refuse to allow these disillusioning representations to supersede my conception of what true heroes should be.

So I like heroes who don't talk. I like my heroes to have almost no personality. It would kill the imagination. The counter-terrorists in Counter-Strike have no background, and the one I control doesn't talk (unless I program specific radio commands). This leaves me to be in charge of who they are.

The counter-terrorist in my avatar wears a mask. I think this is appropriate. His mask represents the mask I don every day when I go on the Internet. I wear this mask everywhere, including when I am on Chess.com. I have learned that one's identity on the Internet must be guarded with great care. I do not say this out of suspicion, skepticism, or cynicism. I speak from experience, remembering freshly several tangible, devastating encounters with unscrupulous people on the Internet, all because I placed too much trust in those who had no business being trusted. They come in all guises. Too many people think they could easily identify the Internet's resident twisted freaks. They are not only the 47-year-old unshaven men sitting in dim light, pretending to be 12-year-old girls. Absolutely anyone can lie. I'm not saying everyone does lie on the Internet, but anyone can. And lies beget more lies.

One trap is thinking, in response to a claim (no matter how innocuous-sounding): "That's believable." Of course, it's believable (i.e., able to be believed)! But it's also "unbelievable" (i.e., able to be disbelieved). Saying something that is believable does not verify anyone's honesty.

Another mistake is wondering, "Well, why would he/she lie about something like that?" That is a big mistake, because it is the wrong question to ask. Asking that question generally leads to the answer that the statement is probably true, and so the potential victim will brush it off and possibly even forget about it entirely. Absolutely any claim or statement (whether overt or implied) may be a lie! Why would they lie about it? That's for them to know!

I try never to say anything on Chess.com forums unless I believe it will do some genuine good or somehow edify. Talking leads to more attention, and plenty of people lie to get attention. I say, we have enough cacophony on the Internet, so I certainly won't contribute to the clutter. I remain masked to the cyber-world, and I remain largely quiet, yet stand ready to lift someone up when necessary. This is my vision and aspiration of being a true hero.

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