An online encounter can be anything these days. It can be anonymous, but increasingly this is becoming more and more infrequent. More likely our online doings are public and end up revealing something about you to people you know, or are simply broadcast into what we perceive to be an electronic vacuum. But be cautious: someone is always watching. I say that to warn off the guy I played NBA Jam against earlier, he of the Israeli flag background and the violent right bumper spam maneuver. Now every corporation in the world knows that you are the equivalent of the kid who would spam the same one move in fighting games over and over again to extract a long, joyless win from an increasingly unenthusiastic opponent. Congratulations, I hope you feel accomplished over how fast you can twitch your right index finger for seven minutes.
Maybe some background is in order: Back in February, I was waiting by the train station to Damen when I spotted someone I knew from work. “Hey man,” he said as he spotted me. I gave him one of those half-handshake, half high five greetings in return. “What’s up, Chris?” I asked. “Not too much.” He pointed to my Bulls hat. “Are you a hoopster?” I was confused for a half-second. “You mean, do I play in a rec league?” He laughed. “No, like, a hipster that follows basketball.”
Instantly, and with minimal effort on my part, I had earned a new label.
What’s a hoopster to do but get sloppy on beer and play NBA Jam every other day or so? There’s only so much time to do it after all, since I have other important activities to do, like: nod my head pompously at art gallery showings, critique the latest dive bar’s newly hired mixologist, argue with others over Pitchfork’s score for Bath’s new album, or just generally be a passive-aggressive jerk about art, pop culture and life in general. So in my spare time I like to unwind with something that is directly confrontational, fueled with alcohol, and still satiates my appetite for inconsequential entertainment. NBA Jam provides this in spades.
So this is how I came to be battling with some ass who was repping Israel as the Dallas Mavericks, using the Turbo Shove command that had Dirk Nowitski and Jamal Mashburn making the Laimbeer-era Pistons look soft. Was this guy actually having fun? Was he actually from Israel? Or was he just a Hasid that hated my bike and wanted to make me suffer for using it?
I didn’t feel curious enough to find out for good. I sunk a between the legs three point trick shot, quit the game, finished my beer, and made plans to meet up with some people at an album release party taking place a few blocks away. Stay at home and get Mashburned by a vindictive Xbox Live internet hero? Ain’t no hipster got time for that.