Back in October, 2016, my main gaming desktop essentially became unusable. At first, I thought it was a relatively simple matter of the graphics card having given up the ghost, but it turns out that this was not the case. Long story short, it’s looking like a new system is in my future (which may not be such a bad thing, considering that the AMD Ryzen CPUs are coming very soon as well as the new Radeon Vega graphics architecture), though thankfully quite a few things will be salvageable from the “old” computer. Yet, as luck (or bad luck?) would have it, my dual-graphics laptop then had an unfortunate run in with one of my cats in late-November, which resulted in both the touch-screen and laptop frame being badly damaged, leaving me with no computers at all, as I waited for that to get fixed as per its warranty (a matter still pending even as I write this article).
That whole experience resulted in me being forced to disconnect for a while and find other things to do with my spare time. Sure, I had a smartphone and tablet that I could use, but PC gaming, media production, and just general mainstream computer use were out of the question for quite some time. There was a time, even just a year or two ago, where the very thought of “going offline” would have been abhorrent to me, but having been forced into that state of affairs I’ve actually found that it’s not really as bad as it seems. There’s something to be said about learning to live with what you’ve got. There’s also truth in the idea that you’ll realize that you didn’t really need something once you’ve been away from it for long enough.
While I am looking forward to getting a new gaming rig (as well as a new gaming laptop, for that matter), I can’t really say that I’ve been pining away without them. Sure, I see Steam notifications in my email telling me about sales going on, notices from other gaming stores with lots of great deals, and I still get a ton of PR emails with codes to redeem and check out, but given the time that has elapsed since this started going on, none of that really phases me. I used to feel that if I didn’t put out regular articles and YouTube videos, or even post things on Twitter, that I would somehow be letting my followers down, but I’ve since discovered that ultimately none of that really matters. All that actually matters is what I want to do and what I am capable of doing. This is a lesson I’ve learned in other ways in the past, but it certainly applies to this situation here as well.
Disconnecting for a while actually seems like a good thing to do from time to time. The 2016 Presidential Election here in the United States resulted in constant bombardment with articles, opinions, and just overall negativity, and I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I muted or blocked an awful lot of people in my feeds in the months leading up to the election. The constant negativity was one of the reasons I took a break from Twitter in the first place, and frankly I think it was a well-needed time off. Not being sucked into social media over-exposure, obsessions with video production or coming up with interesting and timely articles on various outlets, and also not feeling the need to finish games within certain timelines, or just waste time compulsively checking certain sites, frees up an awful lot of your time. In the end, I’ve found that the feeling of being connected with others online sometimes results in you being disconnected offline.
I’ve often thought about the fact that when I’m out at a public location, like one of the many parks around here on a nice day, there’s a surprising number of people who are there with their eyes glued to a screen of some sort. Sometimes I even see parents who should be playing with or at least watching their kids who are just off at a bench in the corner browsing the web, texting, or on the phone and not paying any attention. People also use their phones as a way to appear busy and avoid unwanted social interactions, because, as sad as it may seem in this context, being glued to your phone has become fairly socially acceptable in the modern world. Not constantly being online therefore allows you to actually spend time in the world around you and maybe connect more with your friends and loved ones. I do realize that for some, the internet and the connections found within may be the only meaningful connections that they have, or they may serve as an escape from some other difficult situations. Still, I think we just need to be careful with how much we allow some of these things to absorb us.
Whenever I get a new gaming computer set up (and eventually a laptop as well), I still plan to take my experiences from this period and apply them to my behaviors then. I’ll most definitely enjoy being able to play computer games again, make some fun YouTube videos, and do more work with the sites I help manage, but I don’t want to let any of those things (or anything related to them) to take precedence over the real world. These things are all meant to be tools and sources for entertainment, and for some of us they can be passions as well, but we should not let them take over our lives.
This period has been surprisingly enjoyable for me. I’d most certainly be interested to hear from any of you who are reading this to see if you’ve gone through anything similar and what you thought about it.