community

When I was 7, I remember faking sick to stay home so I could play word games on AOL all day. I loathed school, so it was a win-win for me. After winning rounds of off-brand Boggle and Scrabble, I would brag to the other players about how young I was, and then be disappointed when no one was impressed.

I would hop on my brother’s IM accounts and talk to literally any of their friends that would respond. I would go into all sorts of chat rooms and try to understand what was going on. I remember emailing a pen-pal through Juno a few times a week, then later learning that she was schizophrenic and thought that the government watched people through their TVs. (sidenote: it amuses me that this is probably among the more plausible and less offensive methods of surveillance available in 2017)

There was so much raw curiosity, no inhibitions whatsoever. I didn’t care what was being talked about, it was all interesting and I just wanted to talk to anyone and everyone about anything. I liked the challenge of being interesting enough to much older people that they wouldn’t mind talking to a small child.

Later, when I was 12, I was homeschooled. I would spend entire days in my bedroom, alternating between reading textbooks and timing myself to see how quickly I could rebuild my Star Wars Lego sets. At that point I was already obsessed with computers, but we only had the one family PC, so my time was always limited, and I usually spent that time on games.

Once we got a second computer that I could hoard for myself, I explored further. The first forum I ever got invested in was on a site called YouThink. It was a place for debate, where people would submit questions and polls that you could vote on, ranging from opinions about the best action movie to whether abortion should be legal. I had hundreds of lengthy posts where I defended my nascent concepts of fundamentalism.

In high school, I got into blogging, and I delighted in building up a blogroll and a readership. I was super invested in the off-topic forums for the games that I played, and made lasting friendships through those engagements. I had half a dozen different chat clients – ICQ, YIM, AIM, gChat, IRC, each connecting me to a different set of people.

In the past, I had lots of people to talk to from around the world. A diverse network of friends I could hit up at any moment, ask for advice, shoot the shit. If I was up at 4 am wrestling with anxiety again, my friends in Greece would be probably be awake, or maybe my friends in Australia. I didn’t worry about whether I was boring people with my petty problems, whether I was interesting enough to hold their attention.

There were multiple spaces online where I felt at home. Fluent, comfortable, in my element. I no longer have that. Facebook is not, and has never been that place for me.

Objectively speaking, I have spent the majority of my life in solitude, what with spending easily 10+ hours every single day on a computer since I was a child. But it hasn’t been until the last 6 or 7 years that this solitude meant isolation.

Some of it is just the facts of growing up. Children aren’t burdened with stereotypes and presumption. They can freely engage and connect because they’re blissfully ignorant. Adults have motives, schemes, scars, and responsibilities.

I know that some of this shift is from my end. Events in my life lead to me become more aloof. I started worrying a lot more about what other people think, because I knew some people were thinking very poorly of me. I crave respect almost as much as I enjoy attention, and I have often remained silent when previously I might have reached out.

There’s also the premise of connection. Games are no longer my primary hobby. They’re a frequent curiosity, a point of interest to me as a designer and an artist, but my brain can no longer justify the absurd waste of time that’s baked into most online games. But shared interest and experience is the foundation for most relationships in our lives.

I live now in the heart of Brooklyn. I can go out onto my roof at any point in the day and see a hundred other human beings out on the sidewalks. But I have no connection to these people. I have never met my neighbors, and likely never will. This does not bother me, but I acknowledge the irony of it.

I yearn to be a part of an online community again.

de-termination

Up til this point, I have felt okay with my level of participation in the political process. I spend at least an hour or two every day reading the news, trying to learn stuff. I post links. I write my little essays. I vote. I try to stay informed on the issues that matter and share that information with my friends and family. What else is there to do?

But this election has changed the way that I think about the future. I already knew that progress was not guaranteed. But I still figured it was likely. There might be setbacks, but they would be temporary.

I no longer feel this way. There is no hard floor to this descent. There is no inevitable march forward. It will be far easier for this administration to burn bridges than it will be for us to rebuild them. It may take decades to rip down the walls that he builds in a few years.

The point of this being, I think you are going to see me getting a lot more political in the coming months and years. My now perpetual state of anxiety dictates that I take action and do whatever I can to subvert the incoming tidal wave of xenophobia and racism. I cannot abide my own existence if I am not actively working towards a future that doesn’t suck.

I am going to keep pondering what, exactly, this looks like. I know relatively little about law and have a lot of reading to do before I can hope to meaningfully change a system I do not understand.

I will be looking for ways to get involved with my local government so that I can see how the system works at the lowest level. I will be sketching out ideas of tools to build that can alleviate the major pain points in our system. I will be searching for ideas and inspiration wherever I can find them.

And, of course, I will keep writing, trying to improve my grasp on the slippery eel of social media that I have never felt comfortable with. But it is clearly a necessary tool of the trade, now, and I will learn whatever necessary to be an effective actor in this system.

purityrannosaurus

Most people know that I grew up very religious.

(here, I take a deep breath and type very slowly)

In person I’m happy to bring this up and talk about it, because it’s so much easier to gauge the other person’s feelings on the topic. I usually know when to back off or shut up, when someone wants to hear more, and how I should phrase my experiences so that I’m not transmitting any judgment or disrespect. Hopefully, anyways.

Writing about this is far more difficult. Being honest while still showing love and respect is hard enough in most areas of life, and this is people’s raison d’etre. All that’s to say: I dearly hope I can manage to explore this topic with the utmost respect and sincerity, whatever beliefs you (you!) might have.

My religious past is something that strongly informs my worldview. I know what it’s like on both sides of the fence. Usually, that means reading any mainstream (secular) writing about religion is purely obnoxious. The people who feel most compelled to spout are usually those that have no real familiarity with what being part of a church community is actually like. So, it was with a little bit of surprise that I encountered this very decent article on Joshua Harris and the purity movement of the late 90’s early 2000’s.

This was quite the read for me.

As a teenager, I went to multiple purity seminars where I signed my name on a heart to give to God. I went to a bible camp every summer where there were 2-3 sermons every day, half of which were about sex and lust. Joshua Harris was frequently mentioned by folks in these circles and at church – the article does not exaggerate his prevalence in this movement.

One of the core tenets of this ideology of purity is that by having any kind of lustful thought or desire, you are sinning against God. For me, this meant I was in a constant, unending state of sin.

Have you ever wronged someone you love – intentionally or not – so badly that there is no amount of apologizing that would make a difference? The kind of harm that you can only hope that the other person will forgive you for…eventually? You know the way that guilt hangs so heavily from your heart, makes you want to sink to the bottom of the ocean? That is what my guilt over my sin felt like.

It was relentless, inescapable, and all-consuming. For years, I prayed regularly and earnestly for God to take away my lustful thoughts and dreams. I wrote about it in my journals, on my blog, and took up hours and hours of my mentors’ time to anguish about it. And this is as someone who didn’t start having sex until 19 (right around the time I left the church). I barely dated in high school.

Hopefully now you can imagine the strength of my feelings on this topic, having gone and done all of the things I swore not to do, to find that very little of what I was told turned out to be true:

You really can fall in love more than once. There is more than one possible companion out there.

It is possible, and often necessary, to talk openly, without shame or judgment, about past relationships with someone you’re dating.

Sex can be safe. Birth control works. STD tests are accurate. It’s possible to fully trust someone on these issues without being married.

People have wildly different desires and expectations from relationships. Not everyone needs the same thing. For most people, your virginity is not important.

There is no platonic ideal of sex. Sex can be a lot more different than you might imagine and still be perfect.

If you’re with a good person, you will not be loved less for your past mistakes.

Sex is not inherently ethereal, transcendent, or magical in any way. It is made fabulous by passion and creativity.

You might indeed lose parts of yourself through some of your relationships. But this will not dilute you. You will also walk away with a piece of them, too. What they leave with you will make you a far better person than you were before.

These are a few of the things I wish i’d heard as a teenager. What the purity movement gave me was the exact opposite.

I hope that Christianity can embrace sex-positivity, some day. But I’m not holding my breath.

complicated sharing

Vulnerability and sharing are tricky things with social media.

It’s been oft-observed that most people choose to share the positive, exciting parts of their lives here. Vacations, weddings, births, and all the various accomplishments we encounter in life are the meat and potatoes of what people reveal online. They’re safe, they make us look good, they give off the impression that we’re living happy and fulfilled lives.

Certainly, not all negative things get hidden. I see a lot of people sharing their grief over death, especially over time. I remember it being less common in the past, but perhaps we’re getting comfortable as facebook becomes more of a fact of life, in combination with its slow support for varied reactions (until recently, I never felt comfortable liking an announcement of a death).

But there’s so many things that never show up here. It’s not very often you’ll see someone announce that they’re suffering from crippling depression. People generally don’t feel comfortable saying they lost their job, dropped out of school, or failed to achieve one of their dreams. But if you pay attention, you can often tell when something’s up.

We’ve probably all had those moments where you stumble across someone you haven’t kept up with for a while, and the tone of everything they share has changed. They moved. They’re alone in all their pictures. Wait, weren’t they married — oh my god they got a divorce. It’s these moments that remind us how much of our lives remain obscured from most of the world.

Of all the aspects of life that are shared asymmetrically on social media, relationships are probably at the top of that list. It’s universally cool to express your love and affection here. No birthday, anniversary, or wedding dare go unannounced. Even the saltiest cynics will gleefully post every picture with their loved one. But you never see the other side.

It often seems that no one wants to hear about how painful it is to go through a break-up. You won’t find nearly as much support if you want to talk about how much it sucks to be single, how lonely the world can feel without a companion, the emptiness that comes with parting from someone who fundamentally understood you, or the way that memories of past relationships can haunt you at random moments throughout your day.

Admittedly, it’s tricky stuff. Assuming you care about the people in your life – past and present – you have to take so much caution with what you let slip out. Oversharing can damage more lives than just your own. The safest option is often to say nothing at all, to grit your teeth and bear it.

But for myself – and I have to assume for many others – so much of my life experience is wrapped up in my past relationships. I learned so much. There are beautiful memories. intense pain, embarrassment, frustration, lessons learned, time lost, and wisdom gained.

It feels like such a dishonesty to say nothing about these things, but I lack any notion of a healthy way to broach these topics through this medium. I don’t know what the solution is, or if one exists at all. Perhaps facebook will never be a place where that kind of honesty is truly safe.

It seems a grave tragedy that the parts of our lives that would benefit the most from community support, open communication, and honest discussion, are ostensibly the most taboo. How many marriages would benefit if we were more willing to discuss the thorny, complicated realities of long-term relationships? Could we not all learn from each other’s mistakes? Don’t we all have lessons that we wish someone had shared with us earlier in our lives, that might have made us better partners, better human beings?

awarewolf

One of my ponderances of late has been how our exposure to the news shapes our perception of the world.

I read at least 100 headlines a day, knowingly or otherwise. I scroll through facebook, reddit, twitter, and my RSS feeds a few times a day. It’s all filtered through the people and organizations I like or trust, building into some vague sense of what the state of the world is, what the nearest possible futures look like. But that whole sensation of knowing what really goes on in the world is just a complicated lie, a house of cards built from countless availability heuristics.

I try to counter that by searching for data and statistics, but this is just a fart in the hurricane. For instance, there’s no way to test the idea that global xenophobia is actually getting worse; I can only make a guess based on the number of bigoted statements that make it into the headlines over the last month. And the certainty of that guess is always haunted by the very plausible notion that the world is the same as it has always been, and I just happen to hear about more of the awful things that occur.

What is the true value in this increased awareness? There’s so much anxiety to be found in keeping up with the goings-on of humanity, but I feel a responsibility to keep trying, lest I unknowingly perpetuate the sins of my ancestors or participate in the errors of my own generation through my ignorance.

Some of these matters, I tacitly know that I lack the discipline to contribute to the solution. Knowing full well the horrors of industrial farming, I really do just love beef, even the stuff they dole out at Taco Bell. Meanwhile, my outrage over racial injustice seems to be limitless. My heart ached in very literal pain and anger as I read of the latest shootings last week, even though these incidents are total deja vu.

There is a temptation towards nihilism as I add all of the latest crises together. There are so many, and none of them can be considered unimportant or irrelevant. Is it possible to care about everything that much? Can our hearts stretch infinitely so that we become capable of empathizing with all the important goings-on of the world? Or are we forced to pick our battles and hope that, between the lot of us, someone else cares enough about the other problems – climate change, education, sexism, poverty, health care – to take care of them? Don’t most of these problems require effort and attention from everyone to truly solve? Is humanity really capable of solving its own problems, or have we built a society more complicated than our meager brains can manage?

Happy Monday, friends.

art_work

They say that writing about art is like dancing about architecture.

Just kidding, I’ve never heard anyone say that. But I wanted to record a little formal history of how I started making artwork, explain some of the different kinds of pieces I make, talk a bit about process and such. There will be a smattering of personal details and hopefully very little philosophy about the meaning of art or its practice. There are few questions less interesting than “what is art?” and I do not intend to indulge the inquiry here.

Without further ado, a brief history of my journey with art.

Continue reading art_work

chronistic

Here we are, once more.  Familiar ground.  Another long period of neglect and zero writing.  Another blog redesign complete.  Another chance to reflect on this thing which is now legitimately one of the oldest active (ish) blogs on the internet.  I thought it might be fun to do a quick little jaunt across time to see how the design has evolved.

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Time Will Tell


I


One of the most consistent features of getting older has been the changing nature of my relationship with time. It’s not just, as the cliche goes, that it flies by, but the passing of days takes on a very different tone and architecture. I remember how agonizingly slow the world felt as a child. I remember staring helplessly at the clock in school, knowing that the very act of watching the hands tick was increasing my agony.

Tick. Fuck. Tick. Fuck. Tick. Fuck. Tick.

But lately, days blur seamlessly into weeks and months. Some of this is circumstantial; I now work entirely from home, and it is not uncommon that I go weeks without prolonged human interaction, even while I live in one of the most densely populated areas on the planet. I have no commute. No morning or evening routine. I have virtually no interruptions during my day. I work. I read. I might play some games for an hour or two. I watch some lectures or a movie. I sleep.

When I look at the clock, there is no anticipation, nor any dread. Time is just a number to make sure I don’t forget my appointments. Once in a while, it’s a pressure, a deadline, a countdown — but I love my work, so I have no resentment for this aspect.

Memories begin to slip through my fingers more and more as there are fewer landmarks to orient my internal narrative. For perhaps a brief moment recent experiences stay near to me, but it’s not long before they disperse into a vast ocean of thoughts, or become lost inside the dense forest of my subconscious. Though I know these experiences are still a part of me, floating somewhere in the expanse of my cognition, many are no longer retrievable as distinct events.

Continue reading Time Will Tell

fantasybook

After 8 years on Facebook, I deactivated my account this weekend for the first time. I can’t quite say it’s the last time, as it’s turned out that third-party applications are able to reactivate your account (I’m glaring at you, Spotify) – but the idea is to be done with Facebook for all personal matters. It’s still a necessary broadcast node, so I’ve converted to a fan page, but it’s nonetheless on its way out as a core website in my internet experience.

Continue reading fantasybook

parentstroika

If I said that I’ve had enough controversy in the last year to last for the remainder of my life, it would be an understatement and a lie. At this point, I’ve come to accept that for whatever reason, my actions frequently generate drama at a rate that greatly surpasses the national average. I don’t see myself as a dramatic person, but my personality, values, choices, preferences, and circumstances seem to combine with one another in such a way that results in situations where emotions run high, sides are formed, and battles ensue.

This blog has been the platform for more minor battles in the past. This time, however, the myriad details of the catalogue of nonsense that my life has become are not suitable for a blog post. As much as I would love the convenience of updating everyone on all the specifics in one place, there are too many friends I prefer to hold on to, or in some cases, keep a minimum of respect intact. It’s not just about pissing people off, either, but about respecting the privacy of others. No one should have to force me to sign an NDA before being honest with me.

There’s also the problem of objectivity. It’s easy to remain fair when describing simpler situations, but as more players are added to the game, it becomes much more difficult to give appropriate consideration to all relevant perspectives. Sports fans have argued passionately for weeks over who was to blame for the outcome of a single game and yet never reach a definitive conclusion; there is no reason to believe I would have any more success in trying to analyze this debacle. The best I can do is describe a few of the precipitating factors and then provide some illumination on my current course of action.

Continue reading parentstroika

control

Recently, John Campbell, the author of my most favorite webcomic, pictures for sad children, wrote a series of articles (for lack of a better word) that have generated some interesting controversy that’s relevant to my previous post about trolls.  Although they’re an interesting read, the titles alone rather succinctly describe the content.  The only background you need here is that John Campbell’s comics and street art are nothing if not compulsively melancholic, but never, ever serious.

His entire confession and apology was fake.  A lot of his readers and fellow artists were pretty offended, and not unfairly – but one line in particular got me thinking.

I regret the borderline people, those who could identify the problems in their life, face them, and allow themselves to be changed, but instead found it necessary to conceive of themselves as “struggling with depression” rather than being genuinely held back emotionally by some nasty and real situation. Any work participating in the “culture of depression” has probably contributed to these sad and unnecessary cases.

Continue reading control

electrophoria

I went to my first electronica concert a few weeks ago – but to describe it properly, I have to start from the beginning.  The beginning of my love for electronic music, that is.

The first time I put a track on repeat was when I was 10 years-old.  My dad had bought an album after hearing a song in a commercial; the album was from the electric quarter Bond, the album was their first – Born – and the track was Alexander the Great.  It was arguably the closest thing to electronic music that I’d yet encountered, and it promptly crawled through my ears and into my soul.  I was utterly smitten.  I loved the whole album, actually, but I played that one track well beyond 10,000 times over the course of the following years.  It had certain features that, as it turns out, are hallmarks of the music I love most today:

Continue reading electrophoria

Discussion: Terraria & Minecraft

And Lo, the Bloglomerate did descend upon Terraria, consuming it with fervor in the fallout of the catastrophe known as Diablo the Third. Verily, Terraria did provide a unique and thrilling video game experience that the blogging conglomerate thoroughly enjoyed, and experimentation began with creating PvP arenas to siphon further joy from the game – but disagreement lurked on the horizon.

Continue reading Discussion: Terraria & Minecraft

quibble

A foray onto the topic of gay marriage, inspired by the book of faces.  I’d like to take a look at a few ideas that seem to fuel much of the opposition to homosexuality.

  • Strictly defined gender roles

I watched a great Norwegian documentary a few months back that investigated some of the dominant theory in psychology and sociology in Norway, where most explanations tend to favor nurture over nature in the development of the human psyche and society.  Over the course of the series, he demonstrates how the desire to create total equality leads to dogma which rejects the possibility that people aren’t just blank slates.  To the point: as much of the anecdotal evidence suggests, men and women are fundamentally different from one another in certain ways.  This observation forms much of the basis for “ought” statements concerning the genders, but to stop here is to use incomplete evidence.

Continue reading quibble

identiclasm

There’s a lot of work yet left to do, but so far I’m pleased with how things are coming along.  From the design side of things, I want to convert the background to SVG so that I can take it to the next step, that being a dynamic and potentially interactive scene.  I’ve had musings of changing it based on the tags within a given post, or perhaps animating the birds, waves, the sun, and so on.  It’ll be a while before I get around to that, but I’m already getting a bit tired of the existing scene, so the clock is ticking.  Moving on: thoughts after reading my entire blog from start to finish – the first time I’ve ever done so.

Memories are recorded very differently in words than in photos.  I go through all of my pictures on facebook once a year or so –  not as a ritual, but at some point I just find myself scanning through them, revisiting the progress of my life, trying to see what the pictures say about the names and faces contained therein.  Photos capture moments, but they don’t immerse you into the time and place.  They make that moment easier to access, but the only story they tell is the one you already know.  Writing, on the other hand, is quite like a short film of thoughts and feelings, available to be re-experienced an infinite number of times.  In this sense, I relived the last nine years of my life through the lens of my writing.  It was more intense than I had expected it to be.

Continue reading identiclasm

landmarkish

I did it.  Sweet mother mary on a sesame seed bun, I did it.  All 627 posts have been categorized and tagged. There’s a few stragglers that I have to take care of due to some database errors, but 99% is close enough for now. Image and text links have been successfully restored for about half of the posts.  It took a solid 15 hours of work, but for the first time, most of the content on this blog is once again properly viewable and accessible.

Continue reading landmarkish

swanful

Going through old posts is getting harder.  I’m halfway through 2006, and the decent pieces of writing are becoming more sparse.  I’m having to resist the urge to throw down “bullshit” and “pseudo-intellectualism” tags left and right.  Even more tempting is the desire to censor the stuff that really makes me groan.  In a few cases I have changed things that I realize, now, are not ideal to have sitting on a blog, but so far I’ve refrained from eliminating stuff just because it’s embarrassing.  If I were to start doing that, I might as well just start over on another blog.

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dividulous

Another thing I wrote for this lame psych class. The prompt this time: why is depression & its treatment so popular in American society?

For better or worse, America is a highly individualistic society. Self-reliance is generally considered to be a major virtue. Once an adult, an American is expected to provide for him or herself with minimal dependence on family or friends. In general, people who have not attained the expected level of independence are considered lazy or slothful. A failure to perform well in school or work is usually called a flaw of that person’s work ethic before anything else. In short, Americans tend to believe that most of a person’s successes and failures are up to that individual, and too much help will make them weaker and dependent. While these beliefs have probably helped maintain strong economic performance, they have encouraged behaviors and attitudes that leave Americans vulnerable to psychological instability.

Continue reading dividulous

standardly

I wrote another thingadoodle for my abnormal psych class. The prompt was “How is the DSM IV a vital tool in the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders? How is it an obstacle to the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders?”.

In the Biblical story of the Tower of Babel, the Judeo-Christian god interferes with the attempts of mankind to build a temple that reached to the sky (now believed to be a Babylonian ziggurat) by inflicting a curse upon the men building the temple. The curse was that of individual language; by causing each man to speak and understand only his own language, they were no longer able to collaborate and finish the complex task of constructing the temple, and it was abandoned. This story speaks to a basic truth of mankind: collaboration requires that we have a shared understanding of one another. The DSM-IV is our current best attempt at achieving this shared understanding in the field of mental health.

Continue reading standardly

expectaculous

I wrote this for my abnormal psychology class, in response to the prompt “Identify a behavior that you engage in that others might classify as ‘abnormal’. Why is this behavior seen as different or unusual? How have you responded to the reactions of others?”. My choice of topic may at first seem glib, but I enjoyed writing it, and I like where I ended with it. I love being in school again. Nowhere else might I be asked to conjure up something of this nature.

I work in an office where the median age is in the late 50’s to early 60’s. Being 22 years-old, a number of my habits and behaviors naturally come across as abnormal to my co-workers. Some of these are merely a feature of different tastes and interests, but those that seem to have the most significant impact upon my interaction with my co-workers seem closely related to the different kind of relationship I have with technology. I have been using computers in various shapes and sizes since I was three years-old, and I generally find it extremely easy to engage in multiple activities (of a specific nature) simultaneously or in rapid succession.

Continue reading expectaculous

carry

Three months ago, I said I had begun taking bupropion. It’s time for an update on that. For the record, if you believe it unwise that I should discuss such a topic on the medium of blogs, I no longer see this as being fundamentally different from prescribing an antibiotic for an infection. This is not to suggest that modern psychotropic medication even begins to approach the level of accuracy or certainty as there exists with, say, penicillin. It is more to posit that I don’t think this should be a subject of taboo. I would rather like to be able to discuss this without that awkward sensation of entering a zone of excess intimacy.

To recap a bit: medication was not something I had an interest in at any point prior. I felt strongly that the causes of my void of progress were a fatal cocktail of environmental issues combined with self-disciplinary failures. I saw myself as too unprincipled to maintain the kind of long-term responsibility necessary to make it through higher education, a problem that was exacerbated by the fundamental errors of the structure of American society as was available to me. I’m sure that both of these things contained a kernel of truth. However, the medication has brought about a level of change that I had previously not thought possible. I am now faced with the possibility that accepting medication may have been one of the best decisions of my life.

Continue reading carry

dreamy

I wrote an email. Wouldn’t you like to read it? It’s about Minecraft.

Dear Notch,

I’m a long-time player of Minecraft – since 1.1.0 alpha. The single player mode consumed about 20 hours of my time, but I put it down when I realized that no one else would ever be able to enjoy the fortress I’d created. A few weeks later, I got together with a group of my friends and we started a server. It’s tough to say how much time I’ve put into the projects on that server (see here) – a thousand hours would be a low estimate. I mention this solely to support the statement that I’ve spent a great deal of time thinking about where Minecraft has been, where it’s going, and what its potential is. Right now, that potential is being squandered. You created a wonderful game, the first viable entry into what could be a totally new genre of video games. However, I feel strongly that the direction you’ve taken the game is one of very, very limited potential.

Continue reading dreamy

acclaim

Of late, I’ve had a certain experiment on my mind. It’s a well-known study that involves placing an electrode into a specific area of a rat’s brain, and putting the rat into a box with a lever that activates the electrode.

Rats will perform lever-pressing at rates of several thousand responses per hour for days in order to obtain direct electrical stimulation of the lateral hypothalamus. Multiple studies have demonstrated that rats will perform reinforced behaviors at the exclusion of all other behaviors. Experiments have shown rats to forgo food to the point of starvation in order to work for brain stimulation or intravenous cocaine when both food and stimulation are offered concurrently for a limited time each day. Rats will even cross electrified grids to press a lever, and they are willing to withstand higher levels of shock to obtain electrical stimulation than they are to accept for food (thanks Wikipedia)

Reading this, I immediately see myself pressing the levers that make the pretty pictures appear on my screen and sounds burst from my speakers. My relationship with technology has been highly isolating. For as long as I can remember, my pattern of behavior has often resembled strong addiction and compulsion. I’ve spent a great deal of time wondering what my life would be like in an age without computers, the internet, and the many video games I’ve devoted tens of thousands of hours to. These entities have also enriched my life in myriad ways, enabling me to acquire knowledge and hone skills that have become the foundation of my identity. If I have any claim to mastery over rhetoric or vocabulary, I owe that to technology (and my grandmother, for all those games of Boggle). But the internet is a poor teacher of self-mastery, and my lack of this has been my continued downfall.

Continue reading acclaim