This post has a video companion that I recorded after writing the post instead of before as I normally would:
I am writing this at work while things are fresh in my mind so please forgive me if this does not appear to be in my usual form. I also intend to record something to go with this but that will have to wait until I get home. It will be posted tonight.
I was bumming around Twitter today as I often do on my lunch hour and felt my heart drop into my stomach to learn that Ryan Davis from Giant Bomb has passed away. He was my age (34) and had just gotten married. He was actually not on last week’s Giant Bombcast (a rare thing) because he was on his honeymoon. How he passed has not been revealed but like many others, I feel like I’ve just lost a friend, despite having never met Ryan myself. He was an incredible force of personality, always sounding cheerful and full of vigor and able to bring a huge energy to any room he entered. He could take a room full of otherwise stuffy gaming industry personalities and make it sound like a bunch of friends just shooting the breeze. It was an incredible talent that came naturally and one I admired a great deal. Truly, the gaming press and gamers as a whole have lost a special and unique individual today. Though I didn’t know Ryan at all, my heart is a bit broken today.
Rather than reflect on Ryan’s amazing general contributions to the discussion about video games (something many others will do far better than I could), I would like to relate a small personal tale about my limited interactions with him and the harsh lesson I was taught upon his passing this is making this more notable for me. I apologise if this initially sounds self-centered, it’s not intending to as I believe this story is a great compliment to Ryan.
A couple years back, Ryan blocked me on Twitter. Now, he’s well known for making a bit of a spectacle out of blocking people who are the usual kind of Internet asshats that permeate many gaming communities. It’s usually funny I’m glad he did it. I actually don’t know exactly why he blocked me because he didn’t call me out. My guess is it was either a comment I made about the “rivalry” between the Giant Bombcast and Jeff Gerstmann’s Nintendownload Express podcasts that sounded unintentionally harsh or me poking fun at him for the many tweets he used to like to send in all caps. At the time, I was frustrated and angered by him blocking me and basically went “Fine, fuck that guy!” and moved on. Funny enough, I never gave it much thought beyond that and continued to read his stuff, listen to the Bombcast and watch the many videos he was in with as much enjoyment as ever. Yet every time someone retweeted something of his and I would click on his name to receive the “you have been blocked” message, I would get momentarily angry again and that tiny loop repeated itself.
The thing is, I was deeply depressed at the time for reasons that aren’t important now and maybe I’ll talk about some day. The depressed state I was in caused a lot of things I said on social media to have a much harsher tone to them than I actually thought the statements had. It’s weird because though I was writing the words, I didn’t realise just how big of an asshole I was coming across as. When you’re really angry all the time, you tend not to see the more subtle elements of hostility in many things. I’ve never been once to mince words or to shy away from stating what I think (look at the name of this blog for Pete’s sake) but there is a way to be blunt while still being polite and while in the state I was in, that line became very blurred. For a time, I became one of “those commenters” in a lot of cases and undoubtedly, it was that mentality that caused Ryan to block me.
I offer that explanation as only that, not as any kind of an excuse. I knew I was depressed at the time and it would have been smart of me to reduce my usage of social media or just stay off it entirely. But I didn’t and as a result, I made a guy I otherwise admired, probably think I was a prick and he would have been right to. Since then, my job that I found since and its associated benefits have allowed me to seek help for my depression problems and they are being well handled. I’m much happier than I ever was and though I’m still opinionated and a jerk sometimes, I like to think I actively avoid the level of smug hostility that caused Ryan to block me. I’ve gone back and found the two tweets I sent him that I think were the cause of my getting blocked. I feel ashamed to read them again. I truly deserved what I got.
The problem is, I never had the courage or initiative to make it right.
Given how much I still admired Ryan and adored his content, I wanted to reach out to him to make amends, to ask for his forgiveness and hoping that he would ultimately unblock me on Twitter and we could talk again. My plan was just to PM him on Giant Bomb, explain what I did, tell him why it happened and simply ask forgiveness and leave it at that. If he believed me, he could do what he wanted, or not. But I never did. Also for reasons I won’t go into, asking forgiveness, even for something as simple as a Twitter comment is not something that comes easy to me and that combined with my masterful levels of procrastination, meant I always would mean to get around to doing that but never actually did it. They’re both issues I continue to work on but which I haven’t fixed yet. And now it’s too late.
Ryan Davis was a force unto himself and a man that was clearly loved by a great many of his peers and his fans. He and the Giant Bomb crew made talking about video games not only informative but funny and entertaining in its own right, separate from the medium itself. And because I said something stupid and couldn’t just step up and tell him that and ask forgiveness, now it will never happen. It makes my heart break that much more because I wanted to tell him how much his work meant to me and that I didn’t mean to be such an asshole then but I never had the guts and now I can never do it.
So what did Ryan Davis teach me? Don’t be a jerk without a good reason. Think before you speak (or tweet.) Don’t procrastinate. Don’t be afraid or too stubborn to ask forgiveness. Admit when you’re wrong. Above all else, he taught me that life is too short to focus on stupid Internet bullshit. The longer you wait, the more likely it is that something random and unexpected will end your chance to make it better.
So Ryan, wherever you are, I’m sorry for what I said that offended you. I wish I’d asked your forgiveness sooner and I’m also sorry I waited too long to do it. You have left a void with your community, your fans and with gaming as a whole that no one can fill and you will be so very missed. Thank you for the great many hours of enjoyment and happiness you and your friends have brought me over the years and the dark times they helped carry me through.
My deepest condolences to Ryan’s family, friends and everyone at Giant Bomb. If anyone gets word of somewhere donations are being accepted either for his family or for a charity in his name, please leave a comment and I will update this blog post if I get word as well. We are all poorer having lost Ryan Davis today and though I know Giant Bomb will continue and still be my favourite place to learn about video games, it will never be the same again. My heart hurts.