It's the only phrase – stolen directly from "Seinfeld" – I can think of when jumping online.
I don't do it often but when I do, I typically don't even use my headset these days. While some will say the Xbox Live contingent is more immature than the PlayStation Network or PC online crowd, the fact remains that civility isn't often a common trait anywhere. Given the many, many strides we've taken in this industry, and considering the fact that we are involved in a legitimate form of entertainment that desperately needs a better reputation, this type of behavior can only hurt us. Thankfully, those in the mainstream group that continue to stereotype gamers aren't aware of this ugly trend…if they were, we'd never hear the end of it.
And I don't blame any specific game; in fact, this doesn't really have anything to do with video games. This is more about what happens when adolescents and woefully underdeveloped "adults" are allowed to compete and interact under a blanket of near-perfect anonymity. Psychologically speaking, it's one mass superiority complex and a social deficiency that apparently turns the majority of participants into raving idiots. I don't wonder at all that female gamers have to remain mute, nor am I surprised when I hear people say they simply won't play with anyone they don't know. I'm just wondering if, given the multiplayer boom, the online community will ever grow up.
Maybe with the ever-increasing average age of the gamer, that growth process is inevitable. I'd like to think it is. I'd also like to think parents might start being parents at some point, and restrict the playing of "M"-rated games online with complete strangers. He'll learn all sorts of things; none of which are pleasant. The bottom line is that the games can make all the strides they want; unless those who play them look up words like "dignity" and "sportsmanship" in the dictionary, the reputation of video games – and gamers – will remain mired in the muck.