'Development and diversity depend on independent initiatives and competition. When everyone thinks alike not much gets thought.' -Johan Norberg

Back to Gaming and Personal Blogging

by Ethan Glover, Wed, May 02, 2018 - (Edited) Wed, May 02, 2018

Many years ago I resolved to live by an acronym, SCE-CHI. SCE stands for Sarcasm Cynicism Exaggeration. Three things that I decided defined the world of the internet. (And things to avoid.) CHI stands for Curiosity, Humor and Impudence. Three things from the book "A Good Talk" by Daniel Menaker that he says improves conversation.

The idea of adopting this was to ditch the world of nerdy things like computers and video games and enter into a more fulfilling world. Studying serious subjects and finding serious conversation. I stopped playing video games, stopped watching TV and movies and stopped reading fiction. It felt great for awhile. But burn out came on quick.

Fast forward 5-7 years later and I'm maintaining a daily habit list that would have caused a similar burnout. Meditation, journaling, exercise, maintaining a no-sugar low-carb diet, reading the news, practicing vocabulary or math, reading fiction, even making the damn bed (bucko!) and shaving. Every day. I've been keeping these habits up for around 6 months without issue.

At the time that I discovered "SCE-CHI" (which I still value) I didn't have a very good understanding of how I, or people in general, work. People need a way to take the edge off, including me. It sounds like common sense, something everyone should know. But finding a balance between doing "healthy" things and things to get your mind back in place can be difficult.

The book "Chasing the Scream" by Johann Hari got me thinking about this deeper recently. The book is about addiction and there wasn't much in it that I didn't already know from reading "In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts." But, for those who don't know that there is no such thing as a chemical or physical addiction, even for heroin and crack, they might want to check it out.

There was a short analogy that Hari made about users of different drugs. He mentioned that most people, with a normal amount of stress, often drink on the weekends or smoke to take the edge off. But for some, that isn't good enough. People who grew up homeless, have never known where their next meal is coming from, were severely physically abused as children, etc., a few drinks on Friday night isn't good enough.

What it made me realize is that you can't physically remove yourself from stress. Going from work to serious reading (textbooks on programming for example) doesn't relieve the stresses of work. Going from serious reading to work doesn't relieve the stresses of serious reading. Again, this should be obvious. I'm not going to pretend like I'm revealing anything that everyone doesn't already know.

Rather, this is why I've begun to get back into gaming as a real past-time as an adult. As opposed to casually playing a few big releases. Video games are something that I ditched because I saw them as entirely unproductive and an illegitimate hobby.

I've even started playing World of Warcraft again. There's always been a level of shame in playing a game with the reputation it has. WoW may be the most cited game in news stories about game addiction. Game addiction is a real thing. But addiction is a broad term with many causes. Primarily social, and often tied to stress and trauma.

Breaking a drug addiction requires social support and being able to replace the addiction with something more fulfilling. Such as work, good habits, and socialization or love. Drug users who have these things don't get addicted. And I believe it's the same for all things that people can potentially get addicted to.

What I have always liked about WoW (even before the game got good with Cataclysm and beyond) was the socialization. It is obviously not a replacement for real-world friendships and love. But the social interactions within a guild are always so much healthier than what you see on comparable mediums like Facebook.

I've had so many honest and intimate conversations with people in guild chat. And I've never been in a fight with or gotten angry at a guildmate. Most of the conversations among guildies are, of course, about the game. It's not about what's in the news or the news that the Facebook algorithm is feeding you.

WoW gives people common goals and challenges to work at that create stronger bonds and more positivity. Facebook is a wall of politics with your soon to be former friends' opinions underneath. Its machine learning approach to social interaction encourages fighting and obsession over things that don't matter. Maybe that guild achievement doesn't actually matter, but it's a shared goal, not some nonsense to get worked up over.

As I keep moving forward, this website will start to move away from political opinion and toward personal blogging. The politics honestly bore me. I wrote about it for a long time but inevitably burned out. Arguing about utopias doesn't get anyone anywhere. As I age, I feel like I'm normalizing again. Turning back into a gamer who can play World of Warcraft all day Saturday and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Without destroying myself trying to be something I'm not.