“It’s fine, everything’s fine.”
Iwas bunkered down in a featureless building with the other members of [bog] squad, my medicissue MG36 light machine gun pivoting from entry point to entry point. There was a lot of time left on the clock, and the enemy forces had pushed us back to the final point awfully quickly. Their tanks advanced on us, and the building we were in was already being torn apart. As long as I lived, I could keep reviving anyone downed; as long as someone on the squad survived, I could warp back quickly after death. But the writing was splattered on the wall in human brains, and we all knew it.
I’d been playing Bad Company 2 with [bog] squad for a while at this point, and I decided, as my teammates started to admit that defeat was coming, that it was best to maintain a positive attitude. ‘No, it’s fine’, I said, whenever someone bemoaned our situation. ‘Everything’s fine.’
I don’t remember, honestly, just how much sarcasm was intended in these remarks. What I do know, though, is that after a while I started to believe it. “No, it’s fine. Everything’s fine. We’ll keep killing them when they come, I’ll keep reviving you, the building won’t go down. It’s fine, guys. We got this. Don’t worry.”
Eventually the building went down, and we lost the match with a solid four or five minutes left on the clock. We continued to play the game for months, getting together at least twice a week. We were a strong team, and my stats were better than they’ve ever been in any other online shooter.
That practiced assurance really stuck with me. What I loved about Bad Company 2 was that, if you were good enough at it, you could go and get shit done even if the rest of your teammates weren’t pulling their weight. There’s a very noticeable shift in how a team is playing after one member runs ahead and captures B by themselves. All you have to do is look at that ticking clock as your teammates explode around you and think ‘it’s fine, everything’s fine. I’ll just deal with it.’
It's been a long time since I’ve played Bad Company 2, and I never really got into future Battlefield games in the same way, as much fun as Battlefield 1 is, but ‘it’s fine, everything’s fine’ became a mantra that I adopted into my everyday life. I’ve got another friend who started using it too, although over the last six years it has softened, for him, into ‘it’s probably fine’.
At some point, a cartoon dog in a burning house made ‘this is fine’ a meme, and I realised that other people do the same thing. The older I get the more I wonder whether it’s a good attitude to have, and whether it was a coincidence that it came to me a digital battlefield. Haven’t wars, traditionally, been fought by young people who signed up under the assumption that everything would be okay? Isn’t this an attitude that leads to deaths? Could it be that, in that moment, hunkered down in that house, I experienced the brand of apathy that might have doomed us all by the time we realise that we badly needed to care more about the things that were happening in the world?
I mean, it’s fine, though. Everything’s probably fine.