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Life is TOO Short for Jerks

Life is TOO Short for Jerks

Sep 11, 2009, 11:31 PM 5

Life is Too Short for Jerks


I read a book, by Paul Mirer, M.D. - a Christian author titled "Don't Let the Jerks Get the Best of You".  He suggested that even in the church, 40% of the people were nominal jerks and 10% were simply outrageous jerks.  The other 50% were decent people.


My life experience of 50+ years tells me that his numbers are about right.  He suggested both inside and outside the church, the numbers were about the same.  I agree.  What about at Chess.com?


Well, I cannot cite any research, but my gut tells me that like all competitive sports, it brings out the worst in people.  But Chess?  It is a sport of gentlemen.  A thinking person’s sport.  But yet, I believe the number of outrageous jerks is much higher than 10%.  I would say at least double that or more.


The solution to playing jerks, according to some, is to simply turn off the chat.  Actually, that works.  But for me, it defeats one of the things I love about Chess.com -- getting to know people.  I have met Boeing Engineers, a True Sultan, the nicest lady from Scotland and a gentleman who has become a good friend from the UK.  I have also had the honor of playing one of the best games ever with a Vietnam Era Marine.


Also a gent from the UK who goes to Argentina, a nice lady from Australia. Several who like to play turn-based chess, but faster like me.  A nice high school senior from North Carolina.  I could go on and on.  Please do not be offended if I left you out.

I am leaving out all kinds of people I have met in my 2 months here (at the writing of this blog entry) and my 250 games of which 40 have been Chess.com greeter games.  You meet all kinds of people.  Chess.com’s motto is “Play, Learn, Share.”  I am sure they spent a lot of time thinking of the motto, because it brands the product and is hard to change.


For example, Walmart has gone from “Made in the USA” when Sam Walton was still alive to “Always Lower Prices” to “Save Money, Live Better”.  It is hard to change a motto, so they are carefully chosen.  I believe that Chess.com does a pretty good job of upholding their motto, especially the parts about Play and Learn.   Share is sometimes out-of-their control.


But the main control against jerks is to turn off the chat.  You can also “block” people so they cannot send you messages or post on your page.  Good measures.  But I think they need to go one step further.  They need to keep the game between good sports.  More trophies about sportsmanship than blunders are needed.  Who wants a “drunken blunder” trophy?


They also need a good reporting mechanism.  Trash talking in a game can be reported.  If a person is found to be trash talking, a rating penalty could be applied.  Too many and their IP address could be, and should be, banned.


Of course, the violation, in my mind, would have to be outrageous in nature.  But it would do more to promote the “Share” part of the motto.  Messages too, would be scrutinized.  Emails, unfortunately, as we have seen with the USCF, are uncontrollable.


But you can block email on your own, so that is less of a problem.  Trash talking on the chat, on the TV shows, etc. should be monitored.  Lets get a group of honorable people involved at Chess.com.


I suggested more people should start chess clubs for kids.  I got a couple of complaints that there is no funds available from the USCF to do that.  So what?  Does every kind thing come from other people's money, or from wonderful people who spend their money on kids instead of new cars, etc.


If I had the money (I was severely hurt in a car accident in 2001) I would hand out Diamond memberships.  My budget cannot handle it, but I have done that for people a few times.  Money for friends, to me, is more satisfying than a new car for example.


So for my time and money on Chess.com, I would like to play nice people.  Maybe a system like ‘tweets” like on Twitter might be an idea.  You would get sportsmanship points.  If done as a number and a percentage, you could decide if you want to play a jerk, or not.  I would always choose “not”.


Ideas.  I am full of them.  Some may say I am full of something else.  But I am a pastor so I decide to live my life differently -- and not all pastors do.  Hypocrisy is just as prevalent in the church as it is in the world.  But, as a pastor, I can make at least a small difference if I choose to.


One of my friends here on Chess.com is pretty anti-Christian - but we are great friends.  I spoke Arabic to a Muslim (with the help of the Google translator).  Chess brings people together.  Trash talking is an export that we as Americans do not need to export.


Play, Learn and most of all, Share.  Would that not make this a nice place?   But not to the kids whose only adjective is the F-word.  My son said that at our local Taco Bell, when the manager leaves, the high school kids spit in all the food, just to be mean.  Life is too short for those kind of jerks.


If you have something to say to me in private, please email me at clergy@chess.com.

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