Sunday, December 1, 2013

Dear Matty: Chasing the Endorphin Dragon Edition

Dornaa is cheered by all...

“I don't want to be alone, I want to be left alone.” 

Dear Matty:

I've been in-game friends with a few players for years. I have never had a lot of friends; call me a serial friend-monogamist if you will. This means that the few friends I choose are really important to me, and I strive to make them happy, be there for them, and make life better. Lately, though, with one friend in particular, I feel that something shifted, and I can't put my finger on it. It was really starting to wear on me. You know the old-fashioned thing about lipstick on the collar? That was how I was feeling, that I was becoming boring, and friends were looking elsewhere for fun. The Sha of Doubt has nothing on my ability to over-analyze and spiral out, which only makes things worse. What advice do you have to get me out of this friendship slump?
Friendless in Feralas

(Sorry, I had to repost this; friendships come in all shapes and sizes)

Dear Friendless in Feralas,

Ah, the ever-shifting sands of friendship. I have come to the shocking but obvious realization that the primary reason I play WoW is for the friends. The fact is, if I lost my few friends in Azeroth, I would probably stop playing. That has become clear to me. The reason I am not addicted to games like Candy Crush or other types of pure solo games is because there is another human being acting out a grand character in Azeroth. And, the bonus is, I don't smell anyone's dirty socks, don't have to make them dinner, or pay their medical bills; however, I am there to listen and help if they need, or just go punch a few monsters in the snouts.

However, that is not to say we don't become completely infatuated with this game, or our friends in it. Infatuation is heady stuff, Friendless: it is the endorphin maker. When that spark starts to fizzle, or the connections get frazzled, we feel our endorphins peter out, and start to feel kind of blah. The paradox is you have no control over others, zero: paradoxically time in Azeroth gives us a false sense of control. We say we value loyalty, confidence, honor, and kindness in the real world and in our pixelated ones, but the truth is the layers of emotion sometimes tweak our sense of balance. Add to the fact we can't see body language or facial expression in Azerothian whispers and the communication signals become even further truncated.

I think about real life friends who, for reasons unknown to me, just stopped communicating. And I have plenty of friends who faded out for a bit, and then re-entered in bigger and better ways: we are not static in our lives. For example, I keep a box full of old love letters, but the boy who wrote them is not the man he turned out to be. In many ways, the letters define a moment of my life, and now our friendship defines another. It takes maturity and wisdom to be open to both, that both parts of our lives can exist.

Ugh. I think I made it worse, Fearless. Probably because it can be --it can really hurt when we lose connection with someone we have trusted, no matter the world.

Azeroth is meant for fantasy for most players. It exists only in the box of love letters for most of us, and no where else. The minute reality pushes away that thin veneer we make ourselves vulnerable. If we share too much of our real lives, we cannot help but think of those things when we play. For example, I share with you that my knees are starting to really hurt. Or I have a cold. Or the chili I ate last night made me gassy. You on the other end look at that tall, buxom Draenei and all you can smell are chili farts. Kind of takes you out of the moment. I will say though, that ultimately those funny things make Azeroth better. Unless you have a clear-cut scripted RP connection, all bets are off. Chili farts it is. Deal with it.

Friendships are a great pay-off that come great risks -- friendships form over time, and yet, sometimes they fade away without warning or notice. We're too busy looking the other way, and then we realize that we haven't really spoken with that friend in awhile, or have no idea what their daily lives are like. If we try to reconnect, it can feel like putting a spider web back together. There is another layer of superficiality in Azeroth that can exacerbate your sense of loneliness, FF. But remember that friends in and out of Azeroth come in and out of our lives: the message -- be your own best friend first. Trust the life in your own mind and world.

One last thing: there is a moment in this clip with Louis C.K. is really vulnerable, which is why I love his work so much. Just -- be in the moment, Friendless. Go do something else for a bit--that's what I plan on doing.

What does this even mean?

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