Make a Reality Check (Guest Post by Andrew Armstrong of Dawnforged Entertainment)

There is a trap we often find ourselves in as human beings, and this trap takes an all too familiar image: A person, in a chair, staring at a computer screen, browser open to email or Facebook, anxiously awaiting the next notification that they are not alone in the world. I have found myself there more often than I’d care to admit. I’ve found respite in online gaming, where millions have found relationships and connections, but have done so with the safe and secure thought that if ever they are pushed to become authentic, to bare their scars and flaws, the ones we all have, they can merely close the game, and return to the empty solitude of their room.

Even as I write this I am alt-tabbing to my Hotmail every minute or so and I have to force myself to close it. The urgency of not missing out, the need for contact and interaction…why do I regulate it to this electronic box before me? Why is the red dot or black 1 the qualifier for my mood, my well-being, my sense of self-worth?

I remember a time before Facebook, a time when Internet was dial-up and I didn’t have it. I remember going outside and roaming the neighborhood, creating adventure. I remember staying inside and playing Chrono Trigger on the couch we had in the garage. I remember not once worrying about whether I had missed an email or whether anyone had liked my newest status. I was wholly caught up in the moment of whatever I was doing. I could set out on my roller blades before dawn and return after dusk and not once worry whether I had missed a text.

Today I struggle to sit through an entire movie without stopping to check my websites every twenty minutes or so. I alt-tab, out of dragon slaying in Skyrim or head-shotting in Team Fortress 2, desperately seeking the red dot of affirmation. It is perhaps more pathetic that I know what I’m doing, yet am at times unable to control the urge. This awareness has allowed me to avoid getting a phone with internet access, or I fear I would be consumed at all times.

The irony of this age is all too apparent in my life. Our ability to connect has increased in magnitudes undreamed of by our ancestors, yet depression is rampant, and the sense of being alone is pervasive.

During moments of lucidity I strike out away from my digital altar and find incredible solace in the world beyond. Sitting quietly on a small concrete wall I breathe deep the cool mountain air of Colorado. This is well worth 300 Views. A flock of geese flying in V formation earns me a few Tweets. A smile from a passing woman warms my heart in ways 20 Notifications never could. A sip of hot chocolate gets 16 Comments. A discussion on state testing with the guy at the auto repair shop nets me 11 Likes.

In a fraction of the time spent in front of my screen I have been more enriched and elevated, made to feel more connected, my humanity to others’, my reality to the universe.

It is disheartening to know that when I finish typing this article I will tab over to check whether anyone has declared their undying love for me in the last ten minutes. It is discouraging to think that after I experienced such joy outside I spent the rest of my evening hand glued to mouse. But it is a joy to think that reality is always available to me, ten feet beyond my walls. The next time the clarion call of reality proves too tantalizing to resist who knows what other lonely souls I might meet in the world outside.

[Editor’s Note: Thank you Andrew for offering to guest post! Be sure to check out the Dawnforged video channel at YouTube for some great short videos about gaming!]

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2 comments to Make a Reality Check (Guest Post by Andrew Armstrong of Dawnforged Entertainment)

  • We lost our internet connection for several days after the storms that passed through the middle/lower U.S. a little over a week ago now and were completely lost at first. No internet!? Life is over!

    Then we pulled out the Magic cards and for two days we played, talked, laughed, got mad at each other when one of us put the beat down on the other in a game, jumped in the car another day and spent the day just driving around, stopping here and there, and looking at stuff.

    It made us realize how we too sit there waiting for the next newest post/ like/ notification and that we need to break that habit.

    Colorado I hear is a beautiful state. I’m from another state known for its scenery, Maine. Today I stepped outside and smelled spring in the air and it made me think of all the things we could be doing in a few weeks when that warm weather comes.

    I think its a sure bet to say we will step away from the net, head outside and “like” this summer.

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