Tuesday, October 2, 2012

RTMT: FOMO

I am sitting here with my super-charged protein-packed bowl of flax and granola, heavy-duty black Starbucks coffee, and a whole lot of ideas in my head, while it struck me that I am really, really tired. Like the kind of tired where it takes all I got not to call in sick and crawl back into bed. And it's only Tuesday.


When is enough enough?

The original title of this post was: "RTMT: To G-Quit or Not to G-Quit, and is the / cue?"*

Over the weekend, I felt this thing, this weight, pressing down on my heart that I couldn’t explain.

Many in the normal dungeons were expressing envy over guildmates reaching level 90 and running heroic dungeons, getting the gear, rep, and mounts, and asking over and over, "How did you do that so fast?"

Let me state this: The expansion came out on Tuesday. These were feelings expressed on Sunday, not even a full week after one of the most mind-blowingly rich expansions ever. Achievement after achievement kept being  announced, cherubs with gossamer wings and angelic putti holding up the banners for all to see, “These Heroes Have Bent Time and Space! Not Only Have They Reached Level 90 in 48 or less hours, mortals! But they are now geared to run heroic runs AND get achievements! Tra-la-la-la!!!”

And, then on Monday, I found this article. I am going to copy/paste the whole thing, but will try to highlight those things that jumped out at me:
Turn Off the Phone (and the Tension)
Source: Jenna Wortham/ New York Times/ August 25, 2012
One recent sweltering afternoon, a friend and I trekked to a new public pool, armed with books, sunglasses and icy drinks, planning to beat the heat with a swim. But upon our arrival, we had an unwelcome surprise: no cellphones were allowed in the pool area.
The ban threw me into a tailspin. I lingered by the locker where I had stashed my phone, wondering what messages, photos and updates I might already be missing.
 After walking to the side of the pool and reluctantly stretching out on a towel by the water, my hands ached for my phone. I longed to upload details and pictures of my leisurely afternoon, and to skim through my various social networks to see how other friends were spending the weekend. Mostly, however, I wanted to make sure that there wasn’t some barbecue or summer music festival that we should be heading to instead.
My revelation — relearning the beauty of living in the moment, devoid of any digital link — may seem silly to people who are less attached to their devices. But for many people, smartphones and social networks have become lifelines — appendages that they are rarely without. As such, they can sway our moods, decisions and feelings.
One side effect of living an always-on digital life is the tension, along with the thrill, that can arise from being able to peep into people’s worlds at any moment and comparing their lives with yours. This tension may be inevitable at times, but it’s not inescapable. It’s possible to move beyond the angst that social media can provoke — and to be glad that we’ve done so.
Anil Dash, a writer and entrepreneur, called this phenomenon the “Joy of Missing Out,” or JOMO, in a recent blog post.
“There can be, and should be, a blissful, serene enjoyment in knowing, and celebrating, that there are folks out there having the time of their life at something that you might have loved to, but are simply skipping,” he wrote.
JOMO is the counterpoint to FOMO, or the “fear of missing out,” a term popularized last year by Caterina Fake, an entrepreneur and one of the founders of Flickr, the photo-sharing Web site.
“Social media has made us even more aware of the things we are missing out on,” she wrote in a blog post. “You’re home alone, but watching your friends’ status updates tell of a great party happening somewhere."
It may be that many people are in a kind of adolescence with social media and technology, still adjusting to the role that their new devices play in their lives. One day, the relationship may be less fraught.
The influence that technology can wield over our lives may lessen with time — as we grow accustomed to our devices and as the people who use them mature. In Mr. Dash’s case, the birth of his son, Malcolm, an adorable toddler who knows how to moonwalk, curbed his appetite for a hyperactive social life.
“I’ve been to amazing events,” Mr. Dash said. “I still am fortunate enough to get to attend moments and celebrations that are an incredible privilege to witness. But increasingly, my default answer to invitations is ‘no.’ ”
Social media sites, which ask you where you are, what you are doing and whom you are with, can cause people to exaggerate or feel the need to brag about their daily lives, said Sophia Dembling, the author of the coming book “The Introvert’s Way: Living a Quiet Life in a Noisy World." 
“There is a lot of pressure in our culture to be an extrovert,” Ms. Dembling said. The trick to managing that, she said, is self-awareness. It’s crucial, she said, to remember that most people tend to post about the juiciest bits of their lives — the lavish vacations, the clambakes and the parties — and not about the trip to the dentist or the time the cat threw up on the rug.
“I have to remind myself that what I enjoy doing,” like spending time alone and reading, “is not what they enjoy doing,” she said. Those moments, while valuable in their own right, can be trickier to catch artfully on camera.
Joshua Gross, a developer living in the Dumbo neighborhood of Brooklyn, says he thinks that as a modern society, we are “overcommunicated.” There is simply too much information flowing across our devices at any moment, he said in a blog post.
A lot of the real-time information on the Web “isn’t stuff you need to act on right away,” he said in an interview. “And instead of one source vying for your attention, there are hundreds. It becomes too much for a person to handle, and it’s only going to get worse.”
“There’s no rhythm to the way we get information right now,” he said. “You never know when you’re going to get a buzz. If we develop a rhythm to the way we get information, we’ll know what we’re getting and when.”
Mr. Gross is among those working on solutions to the problem by creating services — including an application allowing users to save content from around the Web — that help stanch the flow of data that is streaming in at any moment.
Heavy users of social media can also adopt coping mechanisms — similar to training oneself to eat healthily — said Wilhelm Hofmann, an assistant professor who studies behavioral science at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. “It’s a problem of self-control,” he said.
For those of us who don’t have a cute tot to help distract us from the siren call of social media, as Mr. Dash does, Mr. Hofmann recommends setting up a kind of screen diet, building in a period each day to go screenless, either by going for a run and leaving your phone at home, or by stashing it in a drawer during dinner or while hanging out with friends.
“Ask yourself: How important is this, really? How happy does it actually make you?” he said. “Harness that feeling of pride when you do resist and stick to it.”
That day at the pool, when I was forced to part with my device, reminded me of the charm of a life less connected — one that doesn’t need to be photographed or recorded, or compared with anyone else’s. 
Eventually, the anxiety passed. I started to see my lack of a digital connection as a reprieve. Lounging in the sun and chatting with a friend without the intrusion of texts and alerts into our lives felt positively luxurious. That night, I even switched off my phone while mingling at a house party, content to be in one place for the evening and not distracted by any indecision about whether another party posted online looked better.

 Now I am sitting here reminding myself of a few things:
 1.       I have an amazing life. Take Friday for example. I stayed at the Edgewater Hotel , where both the Beatles and Led Zeppelin hung out.
2. I did take a picture of my dinner and posted it, for heaven's sake. Never again. (It was really good though.)
And while I am sitting here chastising myself for feeling any envy or anxiety over "not keeping up with the Joneses," the selfish feeling was probably more akin to guild loneliness. My guildmates in the big guild are wonderful folks, but I don't seem to have one "go to" like I did before at the start of an expansion (Guarf, I miss you!) It's not that I don't have great friends in game, but they're in other guilds. And I kept asking myself why I was feeling so damn lousy and sad? I didn't seem to when I went back to my little cottage guild, and it was just me and my buddy figuring the new stuff out. I didn't feel bad at all. And there was no reason--I was busy doing things in real life. But those 'real life' achievements don't count for a whole lot in Azeroth, and that is where I slapped myself. This FOMO, or fear of missing out, had taken over my better sense.
Social loneliness comes from when I find myself not being able to relate or connect to someone else, or a group, and there's a room full of people. I find what I say goofy-footed, and I get distracted by guildchat or announcements, so much that I am just like those folks in the article - so concerned or distracted by the stream of others' information that I forget to enjoy my own little world.

What I am wondering is for those of you in larger guilds, how do you handle any pressure, self-imposed or otherwise, to get "there," however ill-defined "there" is?  
My guildmaster was funny yesterday---he called Blizzard a needy girlfriend. Used to be you could visit her on weekends and have fun, but the week days were for work. Amen, bro. 
The NPCs no longer say the mantra, "Time is money, friend." They are telling us to "Slow Down." 
Good advice.
But--there are those that to be ready for raiding with the best gear they can get, and reputations, and professional skills - that is what relaxes them and makes them happy, and I think it's important to recognize that, too. Others used to label me a "workaholic," but what I was doing made me happy, so it didn't feel like it.
But, two last thoughts:
1. If any of you overachievers complain one time, ONE TIME, that you are bored and went through the new content too fast, I swear to RNGs as my witness I will gank your gold and pinch you. 
2. Ricky Gervais is pretty funny.

Told you it was random.

*the /gquit part comes from deciding if you should put down the metaphorical "cell phone" of the social aspects of the game, by not obsessively comparing oneself to others, like other social media venues seem to promote.



9 comments:

  1. I don't own a cell phone but that's probably because I'm an introvert and it comes naturally. My idea of a fun time is sitting in the back yard watching my dogs smell the world.

    So in-game I'm pretty much the same, totally oblivious to what everyone else is doing. This expansion has to last me two years so I'm going slow. This works for me for the most part, I just get occasional bouts of gear envy at the end of expansions, lol.

    You can talk to me anytime and pretend we're in the same guild! Hope you find what balance works just right for you.

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    1. I'll just keep buggin you with bad puns!

      Brewceli-- LOVE IT! Glad you get me, Tome!

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  2. It's well documented I don't Tweet or Facebook, and heck I don't own a cell phone anymore (for about two years now). So, one could argue I can't relate to that. But I would counter, that I can. It's the people that do use social media as a literal extension of their own body 20-24/7 that I don't want to become and that's why I don't have or do those things. That's just who I am.

    Speaking of which, I used to be the player who would be 90 by now. Had I bought Mists, I would be 90 by now. That's not the type of player I want to be and nor can I be that type of player in my life anymore. I recognize that. Fortunately all my friends and couple guilds I'm in understand that. Now, sure, I'm the Guild Leader of the Alliance social one, but the Horde folk actually wanted to groom me as a raid healer if you'll recall. In the modern game, they've not put any pressure on me for staying behind.

    And I choose that wording for a reason. I literally stayed behind and that's exactly how it feels. My post the night Mists launched about Siori watching the ships leave and wiping tears, hey I did that. I was watching everyone go on to the new content and part of me mourned that. But I haven't second-guessed my decision not to be in the 85-90 crowd (for lack of a better term). I see people doing this and that and getting this and that and some of it makes me go "oooh, shiny" in a jealous sense. But that's human nature.

    As I said, I run my Alliance Guild. The one thing I have always told my members (and as they're all subsequently friends) is play how you want to play. I won't force you to change. If there's certain things you want to do in the game, understand that might require you changing to meet the challenges that come about. But otherwise, don't compromise your own enjoyment at the expense of what others want. I nearly did and I hated even logging on to WoW when I was in that phase.

    Yes, this is essentially what I told you when we talked about this the other day. If I didn't honestly believe it's a good personal code, I wouldn't suggest it in the first place. World of Warcraft is a ridiculous game when it comes to options for the playerbase to find enjoyment. Mists only turned that up to 11 (quality of options is another discussion completely). As such, if I were in a place where I wasn't sure about my happiness in-game, I would stop and re-evaluate. If you think things will get better, then by all means try. If you don't see things improving (and really, we're talking in-guild here) for whatever reason, then that means you're just going to continue to be miserable. In a guild is not the place to just grin and bear it especially when, as you suggested early on, you don't have that "someone" in your guild you can talk to.

    That means for all the sagely wisdom the rest of us can dote upon you, we can't truly relate to the situation and its quirks like someone else on the scene could. It means all these words can be helpful, but could be misguided. There could be a simple solution or a vantage point of a terrible aspect neither you or any of us could point out. Ultimately the decision is yours, and in the end you need to be happy.

    Holy shit, that was probably my longest response to anything. Ever.

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    1. Haha! It was a thoughtful response, and always appreciated.

      But I am looking at this not only for myself but other players: we are told time and time again "play how we want, make ourselves happy, don't do things for others" but the counterpoint is what if what makes us happy IS playing with others, but there is no room? I think of a poor little hunter friend who finally gave up and quit because he kept trying to be part of the social network, but kept getting locked out of the house.

      Speaking for myself: I can be cliquish. I can partner up. I tend to trust a small circle of friends. I don't mean to leave anyone out, or shut the door on anyone. I remember Vidyala writing a post about these a long time ago, about how she eventually started her own clique, and though at first it was for survival, it became kind of exclusive. This is completely normal, and even healthy, human behavior, and in no way do I think those who form cliques are wrong in any way.

      Getting part of a group that works for all its members is a rarity among rares. It's epic. And if it turns out that others happiness is not having me on a team, then I have to respect that of course. I am really happy, actually--that article was a big epiphany for me. My true happiness comes from my good relationships, my friendships. When that is there, all else falls to the wayside. I don't think many would find a friend as loyal or as caring as I am, so that's my contribution.

      Right now, it's a beautiful fall evening. I am going to go for a walk and make sweet Italian sausage and spaghetti for dinner. I'm going to get some work done I need to, and then if there's time, derp around the brave new world for a bit. One bubble at a time.

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    2. Looking at it from what if being with others is what makes you happy, then I say find the others you are happy being with. I realize that is MUCH easier said than done but it doesn't deny the fact. The game is pretty big and I've learned first hand that for every three asshats logging onto my servers, there's a couple decent people as well. People like me. It just takes a little interaction to find them.

      I recognize the most difficult form of solving this riddle is in fact finding the guild for you. There are so many out there and each one will offer the same thing in seven different ways. On occasion it involves changing servers or factions, but it's one of those things where if you're determined then you will find a way.

      WoW is still sitting around 10 million players and rest assured, there's a group of 8-10 somewhere and many of them are just like you. Possibly even more. Just look at the popularity of Laid Back Raids. It's a ridiculous niche, I recognize. The fact is, it's still popular and its success is built upon people getting to do something they really want to do, in an environment where everyone (well, 99%) is in it with the same approach and attitude.

      I'm still getting people wanting to be added to the list, so there are still those out there who are still looking for what they want. Finding that raiding guild, or amazing RP guild, works the same way. It's just enduring the journey to get there that can be hard.

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  3. Cassaberee3.10.12

    Hey didn't you just cook for the family a month ago? :-)

    Great post, unfortunately in today's world it is hard to turn off the tools of corespondance, i know cause i do it too. Although i don't FB often and have yet to use Twitter. E-mail is about the best way to get ahold of me.

    Shortly before the expansion i decided to stop playing (again). I simply decided i needed to focus more on school and i would be stopping at the end of the year anyhow due to the arrival of baby #1. The game was starting to lose interest for me due to alot of old friends discontinuing to play. Bear group was alot of fun, and i am glad i got to join and make some new friends. I might be be on once in a while here and there.

    But whatever you choose just have fun with it! And keep in touch.

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    1. Lol! I know! Crazy family wanting to be fed more than once?! And like weeds they grow anyway...but but but baby on the way! That is wonderful news! That is by far the best expansion of all! I am so thrilled for you and your wife! You have a very full plate now and sounds like making some joyful choices. I am the better person for meeting such great folks too and ask you to check in from time to time, please! I started four monks but have only ventured in with Brewceli; yes I think I am very clever...

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  4. Anonymous3.10.12

    I missed the start as work had me in Canberra for the launch, but since i've been playing I'm really enjoying this expansion. I don't like some, but overall it's been pleasurable and I read thoroughly every quest I'm given just to enjoy the game further. I've got Ayelena to 90 and now I'm working on my ally toon Lanabeth. Just so I can appreciate the game from both sides, because that's what this is, a game. Once i've leveled Lanabeth i'm going to explore the pet battles.

    Ayelena

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    1. Well said Ayelena: a game. Thank you for reminding me.

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