Category Archives: Social Media

Swimming Upstream

I recently wrote a post about being an older woman who plays video games, and one of the things I mentioned was how I felt indie game developers were caught in a bind between pleasing their core community and creating a game for a broader audience. I feel that sometimes, developers listen too much to their core community to the detriment of their game, and Nuclear Throne was the example that sprung to mind. I have to redefine that thought, though, because the game has been released and there are newbies who are terrible at it, but love it. Why am I so upset about the changes of that game and not as much about the changes The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth (Afterbirth) experienced? I think part of the reason is because I played NT throughout Early Access and was in on the relative ground floor. When I first started playing, it was really hard, but I could at least reach and beat the throne. Then they started upping the difficulty to the point of ridiculousness, and my interest waned. I already couldn’t play the game past the first loop, and that’s where they were putting all the neat, cool items. Then, when they buffed Lil’ Hunter to the point where I simply could not kill him, I lost all interest. I think the reason it was so upsetting to me is because besides the fact that I loved that game and played it for hours every day* was because it was moving past me. It’s like a lover who’s broken up with me and has already hooked up with a new partner while I’m like Adele and calling it a hundred times a day. To put it simply, it hurt my feelings, and I stopped playing it.

Why didn’t I feel the same way about BoI:R(A)? Because by the time I started playing it, it was already a set thing. There were no updates or new content until the Afterbirth expansion was released. I already knew going in that I wouldn’t be able to play the Lost (a character who can’t take a single hit), and I was fine with it. I 100%’ed the game except for the Lost shit, and I was fine with never making Real Platinum God. (I’m only Platinum God). When the Afterbirth expansion came out, I started to feel a bit of that, “It’s moving away from me” feeling again. There are two new characters, and on of them is even worse than the Lost (the Keeper). How you unlock him is also bullshitty, although I have become quite adept at Greed Mode (a new mode). I do not like most of the changes to the main game itself, and I think I’m reaching the end of my time with it.

I want to stress that I’m not bitter about these games moving away from me. I’m not the core community, and that’s fine. But, it’s hard, especially with NT, because I feel as if I’m stuck in the middle somehow. I’m not a newbie at it, so I’m not quite as jazzed by the beginning areas. I’ve killed Mad Mike (Big Bandit) hundreds if not thousands of times, and until Lil’ Hunter was buffed, I didn’t have much of a problem with him. So, I’m not getting that dopamine hit of, “Hey, new stuff!” as I’m playing, but since I’m not good enough to loop, I’m also not getting to see the new cool shit, either. It’s starting to be the same with Afterbirth. I’ve done about all I can do with the game, and I’m not going to be able to do the truly elite stuff, which means it’s probably time to move on. I’ll still play Afterbirth once in a while as a vanilla run of it can be very soothing to me, but I’m guessing it’ll stop being a daily thing pretty soon.

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The Illusion of Safety

For a few decades of my life, I tried my damnedest to make sure that I felt safe because I never had that in my childhood. I shrank my world little by little until I was only leaving the house to go to the grocery store. Occasionally, I would go out with friends, but for the most part, I stuck to my house, feeling much like a doll in a glass cage*. I was very fragile, and I felt as if the slightest negative experience could crush me and/or reinforce my belief that my life was worthless. I sat alone in my glass tower until I was practically ossified. It felt safe, but as my last therapist said, “You can’t shrink your world enough to feel truly safe.” I hated her for saying it at the time, but she was right for two reasons. One, unless I never left my house at all and eschewed online communities completely, I was going to run into something/someone who made me uncomfortable/unhappy/angry/etc. Even if it was just a chance encounter at the grocery store, it could happen. Two, I couldn’t get away from the voices in my head. They were with me 24/7, and they were harsher than any external critic ever could be. The goal became making myself more comfortable in my own skin rather than trying to place myself in a bubble to keep out the negative influences.

It wasn’t easy. I can’t say I’ve succeeded completely or even mostly, but I’ve at least put the bubble away. Unfortunately, the tenor of social media, mostly Twitter, has started to put me back in that bubble because everything has become problematic for one reason or the other. I see liberals yelling on the daily about how other people are not as enlightened as they are or as progressive, and it’s not the usual emo prog suspects who are doing the shouting. The sad part is that they’ve taken a good idea, “Be kind to others” and morphed it into something that is, well, ugly. Be kind to others has become, “Be the way I want you to be which is purportedly for the benefit of others or you’re an evil person.” There’s a saying based on the Bible that I’ve always had issues with. It’s, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” On the surface, it seems like a fine saying. Treat other people the way you want to be treated–what’s wrong with that? What’s wrong is that what makes you feel good isn’t necessarily what makes other people feel good. In romantic relationships, for example, people experience love in different ways. Taking a heteronormative example, a woman feels loved when she’s being listened to or given little gifts randomly. Her boyfriend shows his love by making sure the gas is always filled in her car and fixing any computer issue she has. You can see where there might be problems here.

I think the saying should be, “Do unto others as they would have you do unto them”, which is admittedly not as snappy, but it’s better advice. On the other hand, if you know that someone doesn’t show love in the same way you do, then try to accept the love they do show. My brother and I could not be more different, but I know he loves me because if there is anything broken in my house, he’ll fix it or walk me through it. He built my desktop computer for me, and he’s my go-to for all my computer needs. In return, I listen to his problems and help him with them, which is how I show love. Recently, he’s actually voiced his concerns for me and he asks how I’m doing, which is huge for him. I’m touched that he’s making the effort and impressed that he’s growing as a person. But, I don’t think it would have happened if I harangued him about it rather than just accepting him and appreciating him as he is.

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Daring to Disagree

It’s almost mid-December(!), and I’ve decided to take stock of where I am writing-wise. My goal for this month was to publish a blog post a day, and so far, I’ve made that goal. The posts are not as polished as I’d like them to be, but I didn’t want to get caught in the trap of endlessly editing them and letting them languish in my draft folder. So, while the posts aren’t great, I’m pleased that I’m back in the groove of writing one post a day. It gets easier with each post, and I can feel the rust falling off my brain every time I start typing. However, I’m frustrated because one of the reasons I decided to publish a post a day* was because of the reason I stopped blogging in general. That’s a convoluted sentence, but I think you get the gist of what I’m trying to say. In explaining it further, I’m going to have to go own a side road that may take some time, so bear with me.

Twitter has been a boon for many reasons, several of which I wrote about in a prior post. It’s also been a burden, and one of the reasons is because the shoutiest voices are the ones who get the most traction. Even as I’m tying this, there’s an almost physical force in my head squeezing my brain saying, “Don’t write that. Keep it to yourself”, and I phrased it in the most neutral way possible. I used to have that defensive wall around myself all the time, keeping everything in and everyone out. I thought that I was so toxic, I didn’t want to affect everyone around me. I’ve gotten better at letting down my defenses, but Twitter has made me put them right back up again. I see so many people scolding and lecturing on a daily basis about what other people should and shouldn’t think, it’s causing me to pull away from politics** completely and to hunker down back inside myself. I don’t like the terms political correctness and thought police, but I do feel both of them have a germ of truth on liberal Twitter. There are certain trends of thoughts that if you don’t one-hundred percent agree with, you’re considered a traitor. It’s nativism at its worse, and we’re almost as susceptible to it as are conservatives.

In addition, there’s a smug morality to the scolding that doesn’t sit well with me. If someone doesn’t think the way you do, then that person is lesser and worthy of contempt. I’m not saying there isn’t any validity to that as I definitely look down on Donald Trump and his followers*** and think his ideas are contemptible, but I’m seeing it being applied to almost every idea these days, and it’s one reason I don’t use Twitter to express my political beliefs very often any longer. In addition, there’s a piling on mentality that I find distasteful. For example, a celebrity says something that the left deems loathsome. They pile on this person for hours if not days, demanding s/he apologize or get fired. Then, when they’ve dragged this person up and down Twitter, they declare it a job well done and move on to the next poutrage of the day. It’s not even a celebrity, necessarily, it can be anyone who’s hapless enough to get caught in the net. At the same time, these are the same people who decried Martin Bashir getting fired from MSNBC for expressing his views on Sarah Palin. You can’t have it both ways. If you want others to hew to what you deem is correct thought and speech, then others have that same right as well. Me, I don’t believe in getting people fired for their thoughts with some exceptions.**** I hate the recent trend of someone ranting about a barista at their Starbucks doing something questionable and then that barista getting fired because of social media pressure. It feels good in the moment, but it’s ultimately meaningless. I have an analogy I use often that fits this situation. Back when smoking was first banned from public places in Minnesota, you’d see smokers huddling outside the door, miserable in the cold, smoking as the people walking by glared at them and lectured them on the evils of smoking. This, mind you, as there were cars surrounding them belching out exhaust smoke and smokestacks streaming out their effluvia as well. My explanation is that the mass problem (environmental pollution) is so vast, the mind can’t parse how to solve it, so it’s easier to latch on to something concrete and discrete–the individual smoker. You may not be able to stop cars and factories from polluting the air, but by god, you told that smoker off!

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A Little Positivity Goes a Long Way

I have many issues with the internet, social media in particular, and I’ll probably do an epic post about it once I can get past my inhibitions for doing so*. Right now, though, I want to discuss what I like about social media and why I spend so much time on it. Less and less so, granted, but still more than the average person, I’d wager. I was reluctant to join Facebook and Twitter for various reasons. One, I’m a loner by nature. I don’t like talking to people that much on a regular basis. Two, I have OCD traits that would probably suck me into being compulsive about checking both. Three, I’m very conflict-avoidant and don’t like telling people that they are wrong or that I disagree with them. I’m getting better at it, but it’s still something I don’t like to do. Four, I feel the need to talk to anyone who talks to me, which makes it hard for me to ignore people on Twitter or Facebook. Five, I think it’s a substitute for living life in the real world, and while it’s valuable for people who cannot leave the house for physical or emotional reasons.

I joined Facebook before I joined Twitter, and initially, I wanted to keep my friends list to ten. Then it was twenty. Then thirty, forty, and fifty, and then sixty-nine for very puerile reasons. Every time I added someone, I had to take someone off the list, but at some point, I gave up that weird personal tic and just added whomever I wanted. Which wasn’t many people. Early in my foray into Facebook, I had a bunch of people from high school wanting to friend me. For some unknown reason, I accepted. I hated high school. I have some fond memories of a few people, but other than that, it was a nightmare. So, I accepted, but then watched in horror as their true nature came out. This was right after Obama’s election, and one called for his impeachment a month after he was inaugurated, and another identified him as a proud Glenn Beck fan. These are both people I liked in high school, but I just could not stand what they were posting on a daily basis. Then, I got suspended from Facebook because someone reported that I was posting indecent posts, and I knew it was one of my ex-high school classmates and that it was probably for my political views. I managed to get my account reinstalled, but I mass dumped all but two of my high school classmates.

That’s part of what makes social media tolerable to me. I carefully curate my friends list on Facebook and my following list on Twitter because I don’t need that negativity in my life. it’s tricky because part of the beauty of the internet is the diversity of people found online, and it’s too easy to only listen to people just like you. You have to be open to different ideas and different experiences, but at the same time, you have to draw the line somewhere. That line is different for everyone, but I realized my line is people who are entrenched in their opinions. I don’t want to follow or friend anyone who isn’t interested in having a discussion, but only in haranguing his or her viewpoint (and this is on my side of the aisle, too. Demagoguery and ideology isn’t a partisan thing). I’m interested in debate and discussion, both which are difficult to achieve in social media because of the inherent limitations, and anyone who’s a Glenn Beck fan or wants Obama to be impeached a month into his presidency isn’t a rational human being.I have enough negativity in my head without adding exterior voices to the clatter.

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