Why You Should Never Message Strangers on PlayStation Network

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Photo: Roman Kosolapov (Shutterstock)

It won’t come as much of a surprise to hear strangers who play games online aren’t necessarily “nice.” Anyone who experienced a Modern Warfare 2 lobby back in the day has the battle scars to prove it. But even in 2022, trolls are alive and well, looking to make your online gaming experience a living hell. If your instinct is to respond to harassers to tell them what’s what, here’s some advice: don’t.

In a now deleted post on r/PS4, Reddit user findingclarityhere told their story of messaging a group of strangers on PSN. According to the Redditor, this group was constantly harassing them in a game of Red Dead Redemption 2, making the experience essentially unplayable. As you might do in real life, findingclarityhere sent a message to the group, effectively telling them to buzz off.

While the Redditor only went so far as to call the strangers “losers,” that offense was, apparently, unforgivable: The group reported findingclarityhere for harassing them, using the message as proof. Almost instantly, PSN banned the Redditor from online play for seven days. Justice.

While the story itself was removed by r/PS4 mods, the discussion below is very much active, with readers sharing similar stories of frustration with PSN trolls. One user talked about their kid’s experience in RDR2 online, and how he was targeted and killed every time he would spawn in-game. The kid quit playing, which is likely the goal of every troll online. Others talked more generally, saying how it’s never a good idea to message strangers in online games, with others swearing off online play for good.

There are a few things to unpack here. First, I tend to agree with the sentiment that it’s almost never a good idea to message strangers who are trying to mess with you, whether that’s on PSN or elsewhere on the internet. “Don’t feed the trolls” is an adage for a reason: Anonymous assholes get off on any attention at all, even if you try to keep your cool. Of course, their ultimate goal is to get a rise out of you, whether to laugh at your anger, or to play an UNO reverse card and have you suffer consequences for their bad behavior.

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Unfortunately, it seems PSN’s policy in particular is one of no-tolerance: If they receive multiple reports against you, and see you’ve interacted negatively with those reporters in any way, that’s a ban. Is it a bit extreme to ban a paying customer for a week because they called another player a loser? Probably. But with how absolutely toxic online gaming can be, it is good to know Sony takes action against harassment this seriously.

So, the moral of the story here is this: Don’t message strangers on PSN. I mean, don’t message strangers ever, but especially not on a platform that can be quick to punish you instead of the trolls. Make no mistake: the trolls are keenly aware of PSN’s stance here, and will use that against you. The better approach is to simply ban any harasser that comes your way, and try to play your online games in peace.

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