JOURNALISM: Anti-Vacciners in Everquest

    Recently I had the chance to log into one of my all-time favorite MMORPG’s from my youth: Everquest. I got into EQ for a few years in the early 2000’s and journeyed through Norrath, slaying its fiends and had a grand ol’ time. But life has a strange way of pulling you away from some passions and replacing them with others, as if to place them in a time capsule for later enjoyment. 
For the past few years Daybreak, the company that owns EQ now, has been hosting several servers for Everquest that focus on the original experience when the game was in its heyday. These servers are called Time-Locked Progression servers, or TLP. Think of it as a cross between Project 1999 and World Of Warcraft’s classic servers. I’ve been drawn into nostalgia as of late and since I’m playing on the Aradune server, that recently just unlocked the Planes of Power expansion and the Froglok playable race, I wanted to dive right back in, but what I found was both bizarre and disturbing.

So there I was, killing small fodder to get some XP on my new Froglok, and I noticed the chatter in the General chat was moving very fast. After quick examination I saw that there were people responding, in mass, to two players spamming insane messages that said the COVID19 vaccines are a bioweapon, and people that take vaccines are idiots and causing a health crisis. These asinine remarks continued for hours. Their messages weren’t all the same, so it wasn’t bots programmed by someone trolling.
I eventually got one of them to talk to me one-on-one in a private chat. I figured there was absolutely no way someone actually could believe this imbecilic jargon. I tried to interview this person, but it was difficult; they kept trying to change the subject in order to avoid answering questions while becoming more and more unhinged. I think it’s best to post the conversation in its entirety, and then reflect.

Strangely enough, Anfen didn’t block me. So he’s definitely not a man of his word. And I have no regrets for trying to spark a challenging response from him with insults. After that the anti-vaccine messages died down in the main channel and I’ve never seen the rabble about vaccines again. 

In Folklore class we called them “anti-vaxxers” because they push insane propaganda that implies vaccines cause problems or are made to create major medical issues or “become autistic.” The gossip they spew is not only damaging to society but also serves to “poison the well” and create distrust in the government and pharmaceutical companies. These people get lumped in with the Alex Jones enthusiasts–they truly hold no credibility, but they cater to an audience that is already distrusting of helpful authority for whatever inane reason. Here’s the problem: these people are just now figuring out 2005-era swarm tactics used by radical activists and loosely moderated websites like 4chan.

What troubles me the most is these people saying things like “stick to your own blood” and “oh I know because I know.” It does nothing but create further division and spread harmful banter that targets societal health, as if to weaponize ignorance.

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