Social Ineptitude

When I was in junior high I always thought I was an outgoing guy. We did a test on personality types and I came out with a strong leaning towards the extroverted wild and crazy side of things. I hung out with the Â"coolÂ" kids and generally acted as the resident smart ass and sarcastic asshole of the bunch. I played video games about as much as any kid who grew up with Nintendo and SEGA but I never considered myself a gamer in any way. When High School rolled around I started to dislike the constant work required being popular and hanging out with the right people. I came to believe that many of them were shallow, self-absorbed morons who couldnÂ't see exactly how stupid they were. IÂ'd also started meditating quite a bit and getting to know myself as something other than what I thought society wanted me to be. ThatÂ's when I really started growing introverted and turning to games.

Looking back now I can see that achieving any sort of self-awareness was a social death sentence in high-school. The moment you realize how ridiculous your peers are you canÂ't hide your contempt and fake it anymore. My fellow teenagers and their little romance dramas, their petty rebellions in class and the constant desire to fit in no matter what was a sad little existence in my mind. I retreated from it all and maintained a handful of close friends but that was about it. It was when I got a summer job at the age of sixteen that gaming began to replace my friends.

After saving up all summer I bought a black Acer computer (166mhz of pure speed) and a subscription to Computer Gaming World. Suddenly I had a way to entertain myself that didnÂ't require people at all. I could play games, surf the net on my 28.8 modem and really spend some quality time with the vibrant and exciting online porn community. I was a self-sufficient god, one with a pure understanding of humanityÂ's folly as I surfed porn for hours and played X-com until I couldnÂ't stay awake any longer. I found my alternative to Â"playing the gameÂ" of social intercourse in the world behind my monitor. ItÂ's so easy to see your mistakes years later isnÂ't it?

After I graduated from high school I immediately moved out of my home town and into the city to live with my older brother. I cut off all contact with what was left of my friends and joined a Rainbow Six clan. Suddenly I wasnÂ't forced into social situations anymore, I could go days and not talk to anybody I didnÂ't feel like talking to. When I was forced into conversation I could be charming, funny and fun to be around but it was never something I felt inclined to do. My social skills might have really dived if my brother and I hadnÂ't moved into a house with three other people once the summer was over. I was forced yet again to interact with other human beings seemingly against my will.

Karla (hoochie) was one of the people living in the house, you can read an article she wrote about how we ended up together here. How I would have found a girlfriend if I wasnÂ't living in the same house with an actual girl I do not know. The Everquest beta had rolled along and I might have been a goner if I didnÂ't constantly have to take turns with my other house mates who wanted to play it. My attitude towards people coupled with living alone may have completely destroyed me with EQ in the mix.

By this time I had quit meditating, it just wasnÂ't working for me any more. ItÂ's funny really, the act of meditation (perhaps even the point) is to achieve oneness and connect with your fellow man. Instead I felt like it separated me from everyone and dealt a death blow to my social skills in high school. Once I stopped what was I left with? Games. Everquest. Until Karla and I got together that was all I had left. I had just finished a six month computer course and I went off to work for a corporate tech center. I worked, played Everquest andÂ"… did the dishes? ItÂ's all a blur to me now.

That was four years ago and some things have changed while others have stayed the same. I quit my soul-sucking tech job and got into business with my brother for starters. Having to dig up clients and impress people who donÂ't know you really kicks the social skills back up quite a bit. In this line of work if you canÂ't communicate youÂ're not going to pay the bills. Even better, one of the first jobs I did was taking kids aged 13 – 18 out to clean up graffiti since they were expelled from school and on probation for stealing cars or beating people up. IÂ'm not a big guy and I wasnÂ't much older than some of the kids we took out so it forced me to connect when nothing else really could. We helped them find jobs, stay out of trouble and offered support when few people would. Talk about trial by fire.

Today IÂ'm still self-employed and still playing too many games. IÂ'm not a social inept and I can manage in any situation or gathering but I find that I donÂ't choose to all that often. ItÂ's not because I still have the same attitude towards people I had in high school, I just donÂ't enjoy it as much as I feel I should. My mistake in the past was that I thought being true to yourself meant shunning everyone else. Now I can see it was really just escapism at its finest.

I canÂ't help but wonder how different life might have been if I stayed the course and remained in high school what I was in junior high. More friends? More fun?

All anyone can do is move forward and try to find a balance.

coffee_mugsmall.gif

 - Certis

Comments

More friends.  More fun.  More alcohol.

You would be working construction for $8 an hour.  Thats basically what happened to all the people that thought they were better than others and didnt have to work at anything to be popular.

These people went to college and found out that they were a number in the real world and failed because they had none of the skills to achieve.  Everything used to be given to them and now they didnt know how to work to get it what they wanted.

Trust me.  Fitting in during highschool is more of a curse.

Also, dont forget the nostalgia is always seen through rose colored lenses.

Yeah, I agree with fang, I know several people that this happened to. You collapse later instead of earlier. You end up with no friends when you get out of college instead of when you get in college. You still hang around high school buddies during college. Same deal, but youve lost 5 years or so.

Nice thoughtful article, but, like Fang said, be wary of your memories. The chances are pretty good that you came by your opinions of high school antics honestly. People were immature and self-absorbed and petty in high school...just as many are now. I'm convinced we should all just count ourselves lucky to have survived high school at all. It beats a lot of kids out there.

It's also unlikely that your meditation was a waste or a mistake. You may not need it now, but what you need now and what you needed then are probably two very different things. We all regret wasted opportunities, but it's much more exciting just to learn from them rather than dwell on what might have been.

I'll give you a contrasting viewpoint. My wife was one of those who loved high school, had a ton of friends, and probably regretted very little of it. Besides being in the unique position to enjoy the hell out of her recent reunion, it's hard to say it has made her who she is today. If anything, it has frustrated her because she feels like she doesn't have any friends now. I practically have to name them for her because she doesn't realize that what constituted as a "friend" in high school is very different from what contitutes a "friend" ten years out.

High School almost has its own mythos in America. We attach so much importance to four generally awkward years of our lives. It's this little bubble in our personal timelines. Something tells me as we get older and our entire timelines get longer, that bubble will appear relatively smaller and smaller and smaller.

Ahh... High School... don't want to do that again. Certis, good article, though it broght back allot of memories, mostly because its more a like how it was for me. However, instead of killing off friendships, I never had any to begin with. I never understood kids in my high shool. Most of the time I though to my-self that I was in the zoo, and what made it more funnier is that it really looked like it. The only school people I would talk to were the teachers... not with intention to raise my grades or anything, but more to my surprise some of them were gamers with jobs. Much to my surprise, If I would mentoin a game or anime that I was playing/watching at the time, they would actually know what I was talking about. I remember one of my teachers would let me borrow Anime from his collection. So in the end lack of friendships, me being a gamer and watching Anime non stop... never actually effected me. I work, pay my bills/taxs, own my $3k laptop and several desktops (too many I think.). I still play games, watch tons of anime, have few good friends... and everything looks good with the world.

What I'd really like to see one of the 2 CEO's tackle , or colaborate on, is an article dealing with online friends.  Especially important would be the issue of meeting them in person.  I have had the opportunity of meeting friends in my old EQ guild.  It has got to be the strangest phenomena.  You can have radically deep conversations with someone yet the power of physical appearance is SO strong that the first 15 minutes you size each other up awkwardly until you verify that this is indeed the person you got level 10-41 killing goblins, wolves and skeletons with.  Before you go off on whether EQ friends are friends, I'd remind you that there are probably things we share here that we wouldnt say to our best friends we've had since high school.  Maybe its just me but all my 10+ year friends are not gamers (one does have an Xbox) and have never played an MMORPG or Quake or Diablo.

I guarantee you that we all would go through this if we had a GWJ Live event.  And when we got over it, we'd be ripping each other apart with pants jokes and Strong Bad references.

Arh! Sorry for the type-o's... had to post on the fly. Well sense I can not edit my post... I'll repost it here.

"Ahh... High School... don't want to do that again. Certis, good article, though it brought back allot of memories, mostly because it's more a like how it was for me. However, instead of killing off friendships, I never had any to begin with. I never understood kids in my high school. Most of the time I though to my-self that I was in the zoo, and what made it funnier is that it really looked like it. The only school people I would talk to were the teachers... not with intention to raise my grades or anything, but more to my surprise some of them were gamers with jobs. Much to my surprise, if I would mention a game or anime that I was playing/watching at the time, they would actually know what I was talking about. I remember one of my teachers would let me borrow Anime from his collection. So in the end lack of friendships, I being a gamer and watching Anime non stop... never actually affected me. I work, pay my bills/taxes, own my $3k laptop and several desktops (too many I think.). I still play games, watch tons of anime, have few good friends... and everything looks good with the world."

Great article I must say. It is good to know that other people went through the same phase during high school that I seem to be going through, me still being in said high school.

It's not often Certis gets to spill his guts Elysium style, but when he does it sure strikes a chord doesn't it?  A good title for this piece would've been "Portrait of a Gamer".  Not because we're all socially inept, but because we can totally identify with Certis' observations and experiences.  It brought back a lot of memories for me and will no doubt lead to some introspective thoughts this evening.  Thanks for sharing your sole with us Certis.

I should point out that despite the way some of you may interpret the end of the article I don't really feel like I'm worse off for not "staying the course" as it were. For me it's always interesting to indulge in a little "what if" once in a while. I'm very happy with my life the way it is right now and to be honest any change that would have taken me away from meeting Karla would have been a bad one in my books. She's awesome.

As for your idea Fang you just might get your wish. Assuming everything pans out Elysium and I may be meeting face to face at next year's E3 for the first time.  It was only recently (through Elysia, his wife) that I finally managed to beat a real picture out of him. He clung to this twisted sense of mystery until the bitter end, I'll give him that.

Sweet!  Count me in too!  Though that a little far away from now

I may be coming out your way if you are anywhere near Toronto.  My friend just got a job there and hopefully he will be able to work some magic for me in the coming months!

Pfffffffft.  I've completely lost contact with everyone I knew in elementary/middle/high school and all my college friends have gone back to their respective homes (who would want to live in Sonoma County if you called SoCal home?).  Has that harmed my social skills?  Nope.  As soon as I get my ass employed, I'll probably be the office goof-ball.  Well, at least until I'm off probation with the bosses. 

"I may be coming out your way if you are anywhere near Toronto."

Not if you count 21 hours of straight driving close.

 

Maybe I am the minority here, but for me, Gaming was my way of finding friends, not staying away from them. If you were to see me back in high school, I seemed like your average "popular" teenage guy. I didn't have a pimple problem, I had a rather nice build (Basically genetics) and wasn't all that bad looking, but I just wasn't interested in what everyone else was doing. I hated sports, didn't like wrestling, and spent most of my spare time making text adventures with ASCII graphics in QBASIC. I lived in a very poor section of my state, and since my family had a lot of money, I often found myself kept out of populairty circles. Gaming was my chance at finding intellectuals like myself who wore Dockers and polo shirts, and who read Douglas Adams...we were a rare breed in my impoverished school, but there was a significant number of us.

I had about ten "close friends", and we all hung out together almost everyday. Chris would bring his Commodore 64 to one of our houses and we'd download rather "risque" cartoons with his crappy modem. We'd play tabletop D&D for hours on end, show each other the new Nintendo RPG we bought, ect ect... Heck, I met my very best friend when I saw him reading a D&D "Dragonlance" Novel at a lunchtable all by himself.

My point is this: I hate when people compare gaming to being "friendless and unpopular" It irks me. It irritates me. I actually registered here because it bothered me so much. For some of us, it is a way to connect to people who can appreciate our eccentricity. I still don't understand why people blame their problems on their gaming. Your experience with EQ, Certis, was your own problem..not EQ. Granted, I don't play Eq (Tried it, hated it...had no story.) but the fact that you avoided contact wasn't due to EQ but was due to you missing something in your personal life. Some hole was left open, and you needed it filled.

I still know most of the guys I met through my gaming hobby in high school, and have even met more friends like them through the years...and it is all because of my gaming. I find that the best way to get to know someone is to ask them what games they play. I rarely meet someone who doesn't answer, since it seems everyone around my age has played at least a few games.

Welcome Val!  You have some interesting roots.  I believe I can speak for us all when I say its always fun to here stories about different peoples early roots in gaming.

I wouldn't be too harsh on Certis, the author.  He is just being reflective.  So I wouldn't lend too much weight to blaming games for missed opportunities.  Everyone says to themselves "what if" on occasion.

You ought to check out the Forums.  Everyone here is here bcause they are passionate about games yet they refuse to conform to the anti-social stereotypes.  If somethings pickin at your brain feel free to post it so we can contribute or advise.  There are some real good people on here. 

You were warned   Stay away from the politics and controversy section if you are easily offended by diverse political views.  Nobody will attack you and there's little tolerance for name calling.  All views are inherently respected whether we strongly disagree or not.  Its pretty amazing how we test each other to stretch the limits by not flaming and forcing a more constructive approach.

Obviously, this is my take of the ins and outs of GWJ.  I'm not one of the hosts of this site.

My point is this: I hate when people compare gaming to being "friendless and unpopular" It irks me. It irritates me. I actually registered here because it bothered me so much.

I'm glad you registered and saw your way to making a post, you're obviously a well spoken kind of guy and we can always use more of those around here. I don't think I suggested that games make you either unpopular or friendless although they were something I indulged in when I decided to cut down on my friends.

For some of us, it is a way to connect to people who can appreciate our eccentricity. I still don't understand why people blame their problems on their gaming. Your experience with EQ, Certis, was your own problem..not EQ. Granted, I don't play Eq (Tried it, hated it...had no story.) but the fact that you avoided contact wasn't due to EQ but was due to you missing something in your personal life. Some hole was left open, and you needed it filled.

I didn't blame anything on Everquest did I? I know very well that everything (everything) comes from yourself. No one makes you feel sad or happy, no drug makes you addicted and no game makes you an anti-social misfit. That all comes from within.

I can appreciate your feelings towards public misconceptions about gaming and the "scene" but I think you're off base a little in the case of my article. I'm well aware that gaming could have been replaced with long walks on the beach or chronic masturbation and still have had the same end result on my life.

Then again, if I walked more maybe I would be in better shape...

- Certis

I'm just getting ready to start my junior year, and I hear post-high-schoolers all the time talking about how much high school sucked.  Maybe I'm the exception, but I really like high school a lot, as in - I'm not ready to leave this behind me.

No, I don't hang out with the 'popular' crowd (or at least what passes for one in my 120-person class), but I have a tight-knit group of friends and am not a loner by any means.  There are some people who I do think are shallow, but they don't really bother me - maybe because the class isn't the right size for a 'pecking order,' or maybe just because I've got people of my own.

And yeah, I'm a gamer, but I try not to let that define me.  I don't mind it being an attribute, but I don't want it to be a character class, so to speak.  Balance is definitely the thing.