The I’m Back-Post! (Not a vacation recap, but an epiphany!)
The concept of the flaneur is contingent on movement; in order to be a philosopher, you must be able to move, to have time for your thoughts. This notion always rang true to me. As much as my strange brain seems to work best while subjected to multiple stimuli at once, there is no substitution for either time spent alone, or for genuine human connection and company.
…know when you are treading the ole’ hamster wheel, day in, day out, working and feeling like you have not done enough, like you fail everyone, like you’re never fast enough, never good enough? I’m a workaholic, I guess – nothing new there. But it took my trip to the US to show me a couple of things that could be summed up at getting myself a reality check in many ways, as finally having the time to reflect.
It took me a physical symptom to realize how badly things have run off course. You see, I drove exactly 4750 miles; a long time on the road. And I realized while driving that, once I’m getting tired, my left eye started to twitch and become tired. My sight blurred to a degree. Not badly, but for someone who always had excellent sight, a frightening and sudden phenomenon.
Anyhow, I had planned to drive less during the trip and spend more time on social media, but my US SIM-card activation was bungled by AT&T, which meant I was disconnected for a few days, and after it had been reconnected, I distinctly felt that I had to stay off it. No screens, no reason to look at the phone. And presto – the twitch vanished, my sight normalized. Crisp and clear once more. This struck me as a puzzling development. I’m no opthamologist, so I can’t explain it, but it still struck me as uncommon. Anyhow, I started thinking about how this happened, and what changed, apart from me aging, obviously.
And the answer is simple – I’m staring at the screen in basically every waking hour when I’m not teaching or spending 15 minutes grocery shopping twice a week. Over the course of the last year in particular, I’ve spent more and more time staring at the screen, and in many ways, with diminishing results. Not that my productivity has slumped or anything like that, but some of the joy I usually feel has drained out of the equation, and while reviewing has always been both something I love AND work to me (hence my work-ethics), in retrospect, the number of days where I didn’t really want to stare at the screen, typing, and still did, has been increasing slowly but steadily for a while.
I used to go to concerts, theater, FLGS, etc. – or just have an awesome meal at a restaurant, read, cook… but there was this vicious circle. Less funding via patreon causes less resources, causes the feeling that I don’t do enough. This then leads to more working, but, and I know that, there is no true correlation here; correlation does not imply causation. Intellectually, I always knew this, and yet, the fallacy had taken a hold of me. My patreon supporters are amazing and actually have, time and again, told me to take time off. I really should listen to more they say, not just review-requests. ;P (Kidding aside, thank you!)
And here is the twisted thing: It’s NOT my reviewing that caused this growing sense of distress, nor all the catastrophes in my life; I am rather emotionally resilient to horrible things happening to me. Know what turned out to be this constant drain of time and emotional (and thus, physical) resources? It took me a failed AT&T SIM-card activation to realize that. It’s social media.
When I opened my e-mail folder today, it contained 1,973 unread e-mails, not counting the SPAM-folder. Picture it. If you’re hyperventilating at the thought, well, that’s something I can relate to. I did not close the folder, and started going through them, deleting all that did not require an immediate response. If you sent me an important e-mail, please contact me again if you don’t have a reply by the start of next week, as I’m genuinely not sure how long it’ll take to get through them – and I don’t know if I want to, frankly. You see, in many ways, social media has allowed me to connect with many people from all around the world whom I really, truly, cherish as people, and not just as para-social colleagues. And for that, I love it. I have met genuine FRIENDS via social media.
But social media is not just amazing; it is also a cesspool of toxicity characterized by a cacophony of rapid-fire, thoughtless and oftentimes inconsiderate interaction between people, who just don’t spend enough time thinking. Without accountability through business (in the case of professionals) or immediate conversation, the sheer amount of misery being spread by not taking enough time to think is staggering. Both the politicking and factionalism is grating as well, and it’s exhausting to me. I started reviewing because I wanted to contribute MEANINGFUL and FAIR critique to RPG-supplements. And not to spend my time arguing and discussing stuff I have no control over; I love RPGs, and I’m hereby officially stepping away from edition-discussions, “my system is better than thine”, etc. – all the BS, outrage, sparring and warring. I am not, nor have I been in the past, part of a culture-war. If you come to my site, you’ll have reviews, and analysis; my opinion. That’s not the option that will net the most traction, and I probably could, “activate,” as they say, more support by diving headfirst into the whole social media ring. But that’s not what I enjoy; it’s the opposite. I like analyzing elfgames and providing exposure to people that do a great job, regardless of system, ethnicity, ability, sexuality, etc. – ultimately, I am interested in whether your game/book/etc. is good.
More importantly, in hindsight, I’ve realized that I spend at least 2 hours a day with messenger, answering e-mails, etc. Sometimes up to 6 hours. Only a fraction of that time is spent communicating with people in meaningful ways, and the rest is…wasted time that drains emotional resources. And nothing of value gets done during that time. So, ultimately, here are a couple of direct consequences I’m drawing from this epiphany of sorts:
- I’m only going to spend a maximum of 30 minutes each day answering “business” e-mails. I’ll open my folder, and start typing. I’ll still respond, but it might take time. I will not respond to every single mail.
- I’ve deinstalled Facebook messenger. With 6-9 hours of time delay, the messages there tend to hit me when I’m winding down, and nothing ruins your late evening and/or winding down to sleep more efficiently than 10+ messages about stuff going haywire at 10 PM. Particularly if you have a hard time falling asleep anyhow. I’ll still reply to messages (within the time-frame) and lead conversations, but the app stays off my phone.
- If you want to/are interested in that sort of thing, you can hit me up for my skype-handle. Talking tends to be more efficient and fulfilling than typing. Plus, you know, you get to look at people. Their faces and gestures. Additionally, I certainly appreciate you contacting me with meaningful interactions; ideally, please use my homepage’s contact-tab.
- I will try to spend the time this partial disconnection offers to do more things that help promote my continued physical, financial and mental well-being. Like being actually outside, doing some sports, enjoying an evening instead of working 12+ hours a day. That kind of thing. The thing that also helps me come up with ideas.
- I humbly ask you to please refrain from hitting me with rapid-fire e-mail exchanges, excluding the ones directly pertaining to a book I’m working on, particularly my own work. Please take the time to craft a single e-mail, and send it my way. Sifting through 20+ e-mails of conversation and filtering the relevant information from them is a waste of everybody’s time.
- I will be writing posts like this whenever I feel like it. I will write reviews with different formulae than my standard one when it makes sense to me.
So yeah, I’m back!
Things change, yet stay the same, as they say. Reviews will commence, and ole’ endy is back. Thank you for bearing with me. There will be more posts about my little journey as well.
Cheers, and here’s to the future!