I once had a friend; Addendum.
November 17, 2009 § 6 Comments
Warning, this post is a gooey mass of confusion. It’s a follow up to a post I wrote a few weeks ago. It takes me a while to get to the point. Settle in for a long read. Also, after writing this post, I realized it belongs in two parts. The first part wherein I ramble on about the difficulties I had in actually writing this post. The second, where I finally get around to my previous conversation about social interactions in the game. You’re welcome to skip down to the 2nd part if you like.
The first part:
I’ve written and rewritten this post so many times that if I were writing it on a piece of paper I would have gone through an entire ream by now. My previous post felt a bit…unresolved if you will. I wanted to make an addendum to it but just haven’t found the words. I think I’ve tried to force it a little too hard. I’ve tried to craft it into some marvelously insightful treatise on online social dynamics. But who am I kidding? I’m not a psychologist, just a simple gamer with a story to tell.
I was a little intimidated I suppose because since that post my daily number of visits has gone up dramatically. I actually broke the one hundred visits per day mark. And so I guess I felt like I needed to write something interesting to keep these new folks interested–especially cause most of them seem to be interested in my current state of affairs. I admit it, I enjoy knowing that people actually read my blog, so if I can actually keep a few people interested then I’m all for it. I thought if my previous post is what reeled people in before, then if I could do another like it then I’d be in business. Which, then led me to try and force a post.
I think the issue is that I’ve never had people be emotionally effected by anything I’ve written before–at least not to my knowledge. So to have someone tell me plainly that they were emotionally effected by and can really relate to something I’ve written is strange indeed. Really I think it’s because I’ve never felt very significant. I’m not saying that because I want pity or someone to say, ‘no Fizz you’re totally significant! You are a unique little snowflake just like everyone else.’ I only put that out there as a point of reference. A starting point if you will.
I suppose I exaggerated somewhat. There are times when I have felt very significant. And I can recognize the influence I have on the lives of those around me. My initial statement was hyperbolic and far too broad. I should specify. I have always been one of the creative types. I’ve been involved in theater (behind the scenes, not as an actor) for many years. I’ve tried my hand at being a musician. I’ve put pen to paper a number of times. My point is I’ve tried very hard over many years to create. To express myself through a creative medium. It’s been a frustrating endeavor because I don’t feel like I’ve been very successful at it. Now, one might suggest the mark of success is that I’m still trying and haven’t yet given up. True. But my goal has always been to create something unique and lasting, something that effects people deeply. This probably seems rather random and besides the point. But give me a moment and it will make sense. Everything is connected.
What I’m getting at is the difficulty I’ve had in coming up with a follow up post because of the pressure I place on what I create. It carries over into everything I do, even into this blog about a video game. But just because it’s a video game doesn’t make the experiences any less meaningful. I’m still creating something, and I still want people to be emotionally impacted by it.
After reading this during the editing phase of this post, it seems a little silly to be so self-reflexive about this post. I imagine it’s not exactly the most interesting thing in the world to read. I don’t kid myself into thinking it’s some fascinating story or anything. My instinct is to just delete it and try again. But that’s what I always do. I always just delete and start again, which makes it so I never get anywhere. So despite my worrying that this post is a little stupid and not written very well and isn’t that interesting (holy crap, self conscious much?) I’m going to make myself keep it the way it is. Because it’s good for me. I need to take a few more risks, especially with my writing. I’m probably way to hard on myself anyway. Besides, how can my writing improve if I don’t put things out there? It won’t that’s how.
My passion to create is directly tied to my desire to be part of a community. After all, part of the point of creating something is to give it to the world. Otherwise we are just selfishly hiding our talents. Sure we can say that it’s just for us–and some things probably are. But if we have a talent for something, why hide it? What good is a light if you hide it under a bucket, eh? No-one will benefit from lighting up the dark. Yourself included. But back to what I was saying. My passion to create is tied to my desire to be part of the community. So when I’m honest about it, a lot of this blog is because I want to create for the community. I just get nervous because I’m putting large parts of myself out there and I don’t know how they will be received. It’s big and scary and wonderful and exciting.
The second part:
Ok, so now to my point.
You know what’s funny is I had always thought of Thistlefizz as a lone wolf, a solitary eagle, a cuddly baby tapir, and that’s why I love ‘im! Wait..hang on…that’s something else…Anyway, I always myself (and Thistlefizz) as the lone-wolf type. But it isn’t true. I need a community to belong to, people to interact with. I think my confusion came in because I hate people so much. Well, maybe that’s a little too dramatic. I find myself easily irritated by the foolish actions of generally well meaning, but more often than not, immature and ignorant individuals. But despite those irritating individuals I need to be part of the group.
I’m lonely. It sucks. I spend these vast swaths of time standing in Ironforge watching trade chat go by simply for the company. I tried just playing the game, working on an alt or some other solo thing to take my mind off of it. But it didn’t help. The game just isn’t the same. It feels like the console video games I used to play. Sure, those games were immersive and had cool story lines and fun game play. But eventually I grew tired of those games. And I would have grown tired of WoW long ago if it weren’t for the interactions with people and a community.
I mean, all my memories of my first weeks in the game involve playing with other people. That’s what made it so fun. Sure, the game itself is engaging and I enjoy the things in it, but ultimately what I like most is sharing those things with other people. To quote Cranius’s new song The Story:
So many stories of where I’ve been/And how I got to where I am
But these stories don’t mean anything when you got no one to tell them too.
What good are the experiences I have and the stories I create if there’s no one to share them with? They just sit on shelf and go stale. That’s why I can’t seem to enjoy the game now, because I don’t have people to share my stories with. The endless grind that was the Loremaster was hard and lonely because there wasn’t anyone to share the experiences with. And now, leveling an alt or working on rep just seems endlessly daunting because there is nobody around to laugh with and complain with and just generally share the stories with.
So then where does that leave me? Well, at the moment, sad and alone. Without something changing, I’m just gonna be lonely and unhappy every time I log in. And that’s not really a place I want to be in. So then what do I do about it? Well I don’t have ‘5 easy steps to being less lonely’ or anything like that. I don’t think there is a simple quick fix. I mean, I do have a few ideas that could be marked out in ‘steps’ but I have no idea if they will be easy or even if they will actually work at all. Think of them less as “Thistlefizz’s guide to making friends” and more as “this is what Thistlefizz is going to do to try and be less lonely, and he’s gonna share the process with you.”
My first plan? PuG. Yeah I know, I bet you’d never think I would say that. But truth be told, that’s how you meet people, by doing things with them. And running instances is guaranteed to get me interacting with people. Granted, there will be a lot of morons along the way, but I’ve had a few friends in the past that I met through PuGs.
Next, find a guild. Sooner rather than later, and definitely not a hardcore raiding guild. What I’m looking for is a social group of friendly mature players. I’m not saying that can’t exist in a hardcore guild, I just feel like that’s much less likely. But really, I need a guild, with a bunch of active members so that there are people for me to talk to when I log in. Hopefully I’ll find one with mature people, and one with people who are on late at night.
Also, there are a few people on my friends list now that I contact for runs, but they are certainly a source of social interaction. Right now they are just acquaintances, but they could be friends if I let them.
There’s the key I think. I need to be a little friendlier and less closed off. I’m a pretty closed off person. It takes a long time for me to open up to people. I have a tendency to put up a very large wall, with a door that’s very small and very hard to get through. I know in real life I’ve been told that I often come off as standoffish, rude, or even arrogant. But that’s not it. I’m just naturally cautious in who I trust enough to let in. And I’m not saying I need to be less cautious. But, maybe I can be a little more willing to let people knock on the door, before I release the hounds. Be friendly. Talk to people. Ask them about themselves, listen and remember, and be willing to give a little of myself as well.
Maybe it’s time for this cranky old gnome to be just a little bit friendlier.
I just hope I don’t have to take any drastic measures like paid faction change (to get Fizz into the Shaman’s guild) or paid server transfer (to just start over on a more populated server). I don’t think I could ever do either of those things though. I’m waaaaaaaaay to attached to playing a gnome, and I still have enough people I know on this server to want to start totally over.
The only thing I’m worried about is right now there doesn’t seem to be many people around that are anxiously engaged in the game. Most people seem to be waiting for patch 3.3 to hit. Others may not even come back until Cataclysm. We’ll see though.
Anyway, I’m hoping this feels a little more resolved than my last post. I’m hoping it helps some of the others out there who are feeling sad and alone and that their game play is just an endless grind of emptiness. Cause I get it. I totally understand the feeling when you log in; where you once were totally excited about the game, and eager to get out there and run that heroic, level that alt, or do those dailies, now you just pray that someone, anyone will be online. Even that totally obnoxious 14 year old kid who won’t shut up about how his geography teacher is a total jerk and how he can’t wait until he’s old enough to drive. If it means you might actually have someone to talk to while you trot around doing your Argent Tournament dailies, you might even listen to ‘that girl’ who insists on telling you all about her best friend who is like, totally in love with this guy at her work, but she totally like, likes him to, cause he’s like totally like dreamy, and like she and her friend are like totally fighting about this guy and about how her hair was like totally messed up that one day and she like had to like take her like lunch-like-break to like fix it and like dear lord why won’t you shut up!? But you let her talk. Because you are that lonely. So I get it. I hope that if anyone else out there is that lonely (like I am) that my story can help you feel better.
Because you’re not alone. And like Larisa said, “I’m not alone in being lonely. You have no idea what a comfort that is.” It really is nice to know that I’m not the only one feeling sad and alone. And that I’m not the only one who feels this despite having at least one character in a raiding guild that goes out and does things. But it’s just not quite the same as back in the day when I would log in and be whispered by people who were genuinely happy to see me online.
Well this post has gone on far to long so I’m just going to end it here.
“[Insert clever sign off phrase here]”
PS: Ok, so the crazy in me is totally freaked that this post is just too much and that people are going to be totally sick of hearing me talk about this, that people are going to think this post was a little over kill and that I should have just let it go with my last post. The crazy is also telling me that my ‘solutions’ are stupid and that no one else will find them useful. And then the crazy in me is thinking, why did you type that? Nobody wants to hear about your crazy. They are just going to think you are fishing for compliments or reassurance. And that they will call you out on that. And then you’ll feel bad, and will totally close down and not share things in the future. I don’t know why I’m dumping so much of it out right at the end of this post. There’s a lot of crazy in me. Maybe it’s 3:30 am and I’m too tired to really judge. Maybe I just post this and get it over with. Blurg.