Over the course of the Smash Quarantine Series I've been adding top placing players on Twitter, so my Twitter feed has gradually shifted to have a pretty good pulse on the Smash community. This week browsing my Twitter feed I can only sum up this way:

I won't recount any of the stories I've read, but more so wanted to comment on the state of the community and things I have learned through hosting locals, online events, and sponsoring players.

  1. Communities are complex. Communities will attract people of varying ages, backgrounds, political views, religions, sexuality, ethnicity, and worldviews. They are in essence a melting pot that have been drawn together for a common hobby or purpose. That's both what makes communities so amazing and at the same time so fragile. You will find everything in a community, both good and bad, and it's a constant effort to try to root out the bad and foster growth of the good.
  2. Communities need leaders. In my experience community leaders are not chosen as much as they are self-made. The most difficult part of being a community leader in Smash relates to the high level of drama the community experiences, which can sometimes be traced back to the maturity of the player base. Leading a vibrant community is tiring, often thankless work, and leaders who volunteer with no pay often burn out quickly. We should all appreciate the work these community leaders put in.
  3. Communities die from within. We are seeing it now on Twitter, these self-inflicted wounds on the community by members generalizing the whole as the total of its worst sums. Negativity and toxicity is contagious and attractive, and it will consume a community in a downward spiral. Instead the focus should be on providing our unconditional support to those coming forward, and I'm happy to be seeing a lot of that from within this community.

When things go wrong in a community you'll often see blame being placed and individuals being attacked or shunned. Sometimes that's justified - like the entirety of our Twitter feeds this week - but sometimes that's an overreaction from the community. Certainly as an the owner of a gaming venue I won't shirk any blame heaped on me for an event that goes poorly, or a community that's hit a bump in the road. Even if so many things are out of my control, and it's impossible to please all of the people all of the time, and those loud toxic voices can attract attention away from every positive thing that is happening, the responsibility is still on me to help get things back on track and try to find a path forward. And that is an attitude that we all must take towards this community, from participants to leaders to organizers. We have a responsibility to each other to make this work in a positive way.

My best advice at a difficult time like this is stay positive. I know it's hard with the whirlwind all around us, but this is the time for the better qualities of this community to shine. There are still many good people in this community, people who are learning from what's coming to light now and preparing for a better future for all of us.

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