The Fault in Our Heroes Lies with Us
Back when I used to blog about politics there was a staunch group that called themselves the 'Dittos.' The term was originally used as a pejorative to describe their thoughtless parroting of Rush Limbaugh's political statements; yet over time these people proudly took on that term. I have been in discussions with these people where they defiantly stated that, "If you would only understand that Rush has it all figured out, and we just have to get behind him, everything would be alright."
For years it mystified me that anyone would cede their own intellect for that of another. Then I realized that for many of these people they just felt like they didn't have the time to investigate the issues and to really form an informed opinion about what was going on. So they listened to someone who seemed like they knew what was really happening and allowed themselves to parrot them instead of doing the thinking themselves. It was easier and it allowed them to see the world in shades of black and white rather than be confronted with a nuanced world view.
It happens on the right, left, and middle in politics; and for a time I had deluded myself into believing that it didn't happen in our hobby. I wanted to believe that in a hobby that held so many innovative and inspiring people within it that we wouldn't fall into that trap. But it's there just as clear as the nose on my face.
Look for the divides within the community and you'll notice us lining up parroting one and another with countless quotes and links to back us up - even though most of them don't actually say what we hoped they would. Think of the debates and controversies you've seen crop up in the hobby. Gygax and Arneson? How many blogs have you seen bring out quotes from these two or describe themselves as adherents to some imaginary tenants that they supposedly espoused?
Don't think it happens?
Hell, you're reading someone who used to describe his play style as Arnsonian and who has dogmatically quoted Gygax like he was a divine prophet that wrote the words of Jove in stone. Why do we do that? Why do we choose to find greater wisdom in the words of others than in ourselves?
Over time I've come to the conclusion that we quote other sources for our hobby because it gives us a form of legitimacy that our own words lack and frees us from the responsibility of owning the words we've written and said. Sometimes that last part is what people are really looking for when they quote another person.
I don't have a point here. I just needed to say these things out loud.