... And I Feel Fine

Fair warning: virtually no gaming related content to follow -

When I was young I convinced myself that I had fallen in love with a girl. This was not a good love, but the kind that one can only feel when expectation exceeds experience, and decisions must wander through a murky haze of hormonal influence on its way down from the cognitive centers of the brain. It was love based on my certainty that by will alone I could alter reality to fit my "plan", and when it became clear that the girl in question was playing her own reality to fit her own plans, and worse that she was better at it, it all crashed down and I lamented in wild and destructive ways. You see, until then, no one had ever had an overactive teenage crush that ended in catastrophe and betrayal. No one had presumed to love as I loved. Oh, I was the miserable figure of some greek tragedy upon whom the fickle gods had unloaded their great and terrible woe.

Of course, now I know that not only was I not the first, but that my all-too common tale was about as unique as a pair of Levis blue jeans, which is to say not at all.

We like to think, in general, that things have never been worse than they are right now. As a species, we are intensely pessimistic, obsessed not only with our own mortality but banking on a disquieting certainty that when we go down everyone else is going down with us. We seem to perversely enjoy thinking that we've gotten a raw deal, hand delivered on the short end of the stick; that all the generations before us enjoyed a quiet peace, and though times may have been tough, there was peace in that too. A perspective of which I'm certain that generations prior would take umbrage.

I wonder if part of the problem is our unique ability to invest ourselves in the misfortune of others that drives us to assume the whole sad show has got a brick tied to the accelerator as we pass the Bridge Out Ahead sign. I suppose not so long ago there was a time that, if death and destruction didn't befall your tiny particular corner of the world, then it might as well not exist. A time when a horrible and devastating event a few hundred miles away might as well have happened in an entirely alternate universe. Now, I can watch in affronted horror as sympathetic old ladies describe how shady contractors scammed them out of entire life savings from the comfort of my couch. I can enjoy great complex and compelling tales of death, murder, and violence while dipping Double-Stuff Oreos in frosty glasses of milk.

Judging by the increasing popularity of outlets that deal in sadness and betrayal there's a blossoming market for bad news. We can't get enough of it, and the worse it is, the better. Sex may sell, sure enough, but it really makes those Hot Pockets and Campbell Soups fly off the shelves when coupled with violence on the innocent, dirty dealers getting away with their crimes, and the science editor's clear description of how it will be when that three-mile asteroids plunges into the soft underbelly of East St. Louis.

Just like with drinking, all we need is a good excuse for conjuring an apocalypse. Sequential or repeated numbers in the calendar? That's an apocalypse. Lunar or solar eclipse? That's an apocalypse. Unusual birth or death of revered figure? Apocalypse. Law you don't like is passed? Definitely the apocalypse. Interesting stellar phenomenon? You better believe that's an apocalypse.

And, if I can't quite muster the gall to proclaim the great fall of all the infinite universe just because my odometer rolled 300,000, then you better believe that something else's structural integrity will be called into question. Bad news, which comes in a constant and unrelenting deluge if you look at enough pieces of information, always calls into question the fate of those associated. From the universe, to the Earth, to the atmosphere, to civilization as a whole, to individual countries, to the integrity of the family, to morality, to small business owners, to PC games, we seem never as happy as when we claim to be witnessing the end-times of something.

After all bad things have never happened to anyone before we came along, and if they did they sure didn't mean as much as they do now.

I suppose I could say something here about relaxing, taking it easy, not immersing yourself in quite so much negativity, and bad news. I could say something about worrying about the things which you can change, doing whatever good you can, and dealing with the bad when it comes as best you can. I could mention the old saying that there is nothing new under the sun, and that it applies as well to the bad as it does the good.

In short: Dear Humans,

Relax.

Elysium

Comments

Elysium wrote:

civilization

There IS a game in there!

I gave up a long time ago on caring about stuff I can't change - like death, or my small peepee - but then the question inevitably arises: what can and what can't be changed? Of those things that can, which are worth my precious time and oil consumption, and those worthy of those... HOW to change them?

So at least for me, even past the Please Gimme Apocalypse Now stage it's often frustrating, as I am a firm believer we potentially hold a lot in our power. Though I also think this will better with time. Thus, along with diminishing erections and increasing back problems will come the wisdom of the years. Cheers for sharing yours in such an elaborate way!

This is about Oblivion and the Horse armor right??

right?

So... What you are essentially saying is that we are too negative, and that this is bad, bad, bad?

So we should be shiny, happy people instead?

I'd feel fine, too, if I had viral marketing dollars pouring into my bank account from Levi's, Oreos, Hot Pockets, Campbell's Soup, and the St. Louis Tourism Board all at once!

Seriously, though, I love the fact that on a regular basis you write columns that I can point my friends toward and say, "See that? See what he's saying? That's what I'm always trying to say when you complain about my gibbering nonsense!" Fine work as always, Elysium.

I like REM too.

Brilliant article. I feel better about my impending doom already.

Somehow, I can't shake the feeling that this was written to me in response of all the Demos Dating Threads.

Heh, anyway, I guess I've come to a rather similar conclusion myself lately. Call it a mix of my Buddhist studies and personal revelations... but I have to admit, since my change of heart, world views, lifestyle, etc... that I feel a hell of a lot better when I stop worrying about every little thing and just enjoy the ride. Now, if you'll excuse me, it's time to register for classes and play some Oblivion/do homework, whichever feels more important in 10 minutes.

Demosthenes wrote:

Somehow, I can't shake the feeling that this was written to me in response of all the Demos Dating Threads. :D

Demo, I think with distance you will remember the threads with fonder memories than the pain that caused them. We love ya man. Oh, and good article, Ely

Get rid of the Ego? Embrace the Id? Works for me.

Ok, ok. That's not the point, I know. Great article. Keep them coming!

At least until 6/6/06 when divine wrath shall be wraught upon us and we shall all be smoted like so much grape jelly on a stale croissant.

Montalban, I have to ask you; ¿Quién es más macho? ¿Ricky Ricardo, o Ricardo Montalban?

IMAGE(http://zwiki.org/gir.jpg)

I'm gonna sing the Doom Song now! Doom, doom, doom...

Fletcher wrote:

Montalban, I have to ask you; ¿Quién es más macho? ¿Ricky Ricardo, o Ricardo Montalban?

Montalban, hands down. Ricardo Montalban no tenia esposa para quitarle lo macho y reemplazarlo con "Ricky, will you pick up my skirt at the dry cleaners?"

Montalban wrote:
Fletcher wrote:

Montalban, I have to ask you; ¿Quién es más macho? ¿Ricky Ricardo, o Ricardo Montalban?

Montalban, hands down. Ricardo Montalban no tenia esposa para quitarle lo macho y reemplazarlo con "Ricky, will you pick up my skirt at the dry cleaners?"

¿Usted vio el pecho del hombre en Star Trek 2?

http://www.drudgereport.com/flash1rc...

The pew poll found that conservatives are happier than liberals. I think that's part of the problem.

A reocurring phenomenon among you humans is that everyone looks back 10 years as the "good old days". In the year 2016 when Tom Cruise is President conservatives will long for the days of George Bush, just like libs long for 1996 with their man Clinton, while Republicans longed for the days of Ronald Reagan, while others reminisced about 1976 and Jimmy Carter....ok so it's not perfect but you get what I mean.

In the words of Brother Mao, "this too shall pass."

I take a different point of view. I agree with the sociologists that say that we are at a remarkable time of peace. I just saw in the U.S. Today that fewer kids are taking drugs. And have you seen Oblivion?

Terrorists can kiss my fannie. I was a lot more concerned when there was a fear that 99 Red Balloons would start World War 3. Most of you weren't born during that period and should be grateful for it.

A lot of the bad news you hear is because Reality TV is the new thing and the media doesn't have a lot of love for George Bush. Schadenfreude. People actually enjoy other peoples' misfortune.

I look on the bright side. The Playstation 3 is on the way, and in the future you will actually be able to smell games. There's a new Superman flick coming out, and a Star Wars TV series on the way. Technology is amazing and I look forward to the future. You can actually watch the latest episode of Lost on your cell phone for pete's sake!

Look at the advances in medicine. There was an article the other day that says its conceivable that people alive today could reach 120 years old.

I love this planet, it's always surprising me. Good news or bad, I don't care, I just want to find out how it all turns out.

I take a different point of view. I agree with the sociologists that say that we are at a remarkable time of peace. I just saw in the U.S. Today that fewer kids are taking drugs. And have you seen Oblivion?

That was, to some degree, the frame of mind that brought this about. I mean, we talk like it's all so very very tough, but I'm not buying it anymore.

I was a lot more concerned when there was a fear that 99 Red Balloons would start World War 3. Most of you weren't born during that period and should be grateful for it.

Fletcher's piece for the Escapist had a great undercurrent of this. I mean, when movies like War Games and Red Dawn frame the beginnings of cultural consciousness for you, it's quite a thing.

I love this planet, it's always surprising me. Good news or bad, I don't care, I just want to find out how it all turns out.

I am agreeing with Lawyeron way too much for my own piece of mind. I wish he had said something negative about universal healthcare or educational spending. But, then again, we don't need to take this all in that direction.

Great point of view. However, it is much harder to really "relax" though. Esp. when everyone around you doesn't seem to accept the idea of relax a little.
Oh how I wish I could stop telling myself to relax everyday and just relax...

I agree with the message of your article Elysium. On a vaguely related note, I don't think it's "tough" for Americans at all - I think you're all spoiled sissybrats born to a country with virtually no problems and yet find things to complain about

Well, at least that was my first impression when I came here in 1995

State of affairs in P&C eh?

Shihonage wrote:

I think you're all spoiled sissybrats born to a country with virtually no problems and yet find things to complain about

You're right, yet I keep complaining. Only now I feel guilty about it. Socrates was wrong: knowledge is not enough for adjusted behavior.

No coming apocalypse? Aww. That thread on firearms and apocalypse got me all in the mood for one.

Well, as I see it... I'll take a stance a kind of like Jesse Wallace from Before Sunset.

If we didn't suffer, we wouldn't learn a thing. Yes, we Americans (and Canadians, and I suspect, a great many people who post here from foreign countries) don't have nearly as much to worry about in the lower levels of Maslow's Heirarchy. But, that doesn't stop us from worrying about sh*t until we hit the tip of the pyramid. Human beings are pretty much designed to worry about something as I see it. If it's not where your next meal is coming from, it's where you're going to eat it, or, when you've got that figured out, who you're going to eat it with, because you damn well ain't gonna eat alone.

Such is life, and accepting the fact that you're going to have concerns is part of getting older, as I'm seeing it now. It's just a matter of how strongly you allow those concerns to affect you.

Quintin_Stone wrote:

No coming apocalypse? Aww. That thread on firearms and apocalypse got me all in the mood for one.

This one?

I made the mistake of re-reading this the other day. It almost makes you sad there isn't an apocalypse coming.

Seriously though, I think one of the problems is that people just don't have to defeat as many things as they used to. Everything is so available. I think we start to confuse frustration from the lack of activity with the stress caused by work or the state of the world. You sit there in your Spiderman pajamas and watch the child molester hunt on TV and when you get up you are upset. You think it's because the accused haven't been brought to justice but I think it's more that you aren't out there catching him yourself.

I think we, as gamers, can appreciate the caged animal feeling we get on a day to day basis, and, having said that I think we are the best suited to deal with the everyday stresses of life. We get to take our other personalities out for a walk every now and again.

Can you imagine a life without Never Ending Assault? I'd go mad!

Chiggie Von Richthofen wrote:
Quintin_Stone wrote:

No coming apocalypse? Aww. That thread on firearms and apocalypse got me all in the mood for one.

This one?

I made the mistake of re-reading this the other day. It almost makes you sad there isn't an apocalypse coming.

Yup, you got it.
.

Seriously though, I think one of the problems is that people just don't have to defeat as many things as they used to. Everything is so available. I think we start to confuse frustration from the lack of activity with the stress caused by work or the state of the world. You sit there in your Spiderman pajamas and watch the child molester hunt on TV and when you get up you are upset. You think it's because the accused haven't been brought to justice but I think it's more that you aren't out there catching him yourself.

I think we, as gamers, can appreciate the caged animal feeling we get on a day to day basis, and, having said that I think we are the best suited to deal with the everyday stresses of life. We get to take our other personalities out for a walk every now and again.

Yeah, human beings are genetically evolved to overcome challenges. It's how we dragged our way to the top of the food chain. So when people have no more visceral, primitive hindrances to our basic survival, some of us get... unsettled. Kind of like how our instinctive fight-or-flight adrenal response gets tripped by all kinds of inappropriate stimuli (like getting into a fender bender or seeing a cop in your rear view mirror). In some respects, we're living contrary to our DNA.

It's just really nice to read someone writing with a positive take. I've known too many people facing too much trouble to believe that US citizens are all affluent sissies... but I do have to say that most kinds of sarcasm (not to mention whining) can get old. After many years of being around extremely smart and caustic gamers, I have come to have an incredible amount of respect for people who can answer a simple 'how are you doing' honestly, and not take every chance available to don the Master Sarcasm cloak. Anyone can be an @$$hole and trash everything. It's not even creative anymore. The real courage is in trying for a moment to be courteous or humane.

These days, even an answer like "Oh, things are good" or, "Oh, I can't complain", said with a half-smile will delight me. Don't even get me started on how honesty, integrity, kindness and accountability get me worked up! My secret weakness is random kindness. Tip a waitress an inordinate amount when she's trying to do her job well... give a stack of cash to some people in need... be very friendly to a tired check-out clerk...wow. That's hot. That's exciting.

Since none of us get out of this alive, I figure we should be willing to let our defenses down and admit when something's good. It's not often the popular thing to do, but it's so refreshing and unexpected!

Dragonfly is my new best friend.

I've been trying to pinpoint that feeling for over a year now. I think, as cliched as this may sound, that the root of the cuastic gamer cynicism is really that good, old nerdic insecurity that we all should have gotten over a long, long time ago. There are many ways of hiding one's insecurities and fears. Sarcasm is but one.

Fletcher wrote:

Dragonfly is my new best friend.

I've been trying to pinpoint that feeling for over a year now. I think, as cliched as this may sound, that the root of the cuastic gamer cynicism is really that good, old nerdic insecurity that we all should have gotten over a long, long time ago. There are many ways of hiding one's insecurities and fears. Sarcasm is but one.

Just so we're on the same page here, it's still okay to hide my nerdic insecurities with homoerotic banter, overly subtle references, and an overabundance of commas, right?

Danjo Olivaw wrote:

Just so we're on the same page here, it's still okay to hide my nerdic insecurities with homoerotic banter, overly subtle references, and an overabundance of commas, right?

Abso-Smurfly

Don't get me wrong. I'm not pretending that I'm above this. For me, it's been a 30+ year journey to get to the place where I'm completely comfortable with who I am and where I'm at, and I'm not fooling myself for a minute about being there yet. I've got a ways to go, I think. It's been a long, hard road, but I'm closer than I've ever been and I feel great. Better than I have in years.

Thing is, regardless of what "mainstream" society or People (with a capital P) think, I'm who I am, I think what I think and I do what I do. Changing or hiding that will only make me unhappy and miserable. I know because I've tried. So people are going to rub against that the wrong way from time to time. Dealing constructively with those people is the trick.

Just so we're on the same page here, it's still okay to hide my nerdic insecurities with homoerotic banter, overly subtle references, and an overabundance of commas, right?

I'm with Fletcher. True to thyself, and all of that, so commas ahoy! I'm certainly not into changing others... I can hardly keep up with my own identity issues. (But hey! I have a new friend! It's like a level-up!)

And I'm not above it, either. As a matter of fact, I openly admit I can be a real twit. (I own my twitness. It's all mine, and nobody can put their foot in it quite like I can.) But I've gotten to know a number of people that I proudly say are "just plain good folks". Every one of these people are authentic... which means that they don't make it a common practice to blend in to a group angst or put other things down only to make themselves look bigger. I admire people like this because I hope to be that mature, and that cool to be around. I may not be there, but at least someone is showing that it can be done.

Dragonfly wrote:

Since none of us get out of this alive, I figure we should be willing to let our defenses down and admit when something's good. It's not often the popular thing to do, but it's so refreshing and unexpected!

Hey, Quintin, I think this means that Dragonfly is totally on board for Z-Day.